"California Sun" is a cheery, straightforward song with a shadowy, convoluted history, so let's try to fill in the gaps as best we can. It was originally credited as written by Henry Glover and Morris Levy. Glover was a producer for an independent record label King Records; Levy was the founder and owner of Roulette Records, which Tommy James told Songfacts
was run by the mafia. Their song ended up being recorded by the New Orleans singer Joe Jones and released by EMI, fizzling out after barely scratching the top 100.
The Rivieras then covered it, and launched themselves into history by becoming one-hit wonders. So, were The Rivieras from Orange County, California, during this heyday of the surf rock revolution? Nope, they were from South Bend, Indiana, specifically alumni of South Bend Central High School. And they were literally a teenage garage band, in which the lead singer Marty "Bo" Fortson left shortly after this single came out to join the Marines and go off to Vietnam. The other band members dropped out one by one under pressure from their parents to go on to college and stop this rock 'n' roll nonsense at once.