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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

Permalink The Pharos

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I've been away from the forum for way too long but I wanted to ask this ages ago. Has anyone ever got the real lowdown on who were the Pharos? Only two songs that I can recall tonight came from them... Pintor and Rhythm Surfer. Pintor is a really great song and I have always wanted to know more.
And as long as I am posing questions... Kathy Marshall...has anyone ever heard those home recordings she supposedly made in the 60's? I saw her once at the Pavalon and she was remarkable.

I think the Pharos remain a huge mystery; I've never seen anything written about them. Too bad, as like you said, Pintor is a classic.

Tom Duncan has hinted that they have got the scoop on Kathy Marshall for the upcoming film Sound of the Surf.

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"It starts... when it begins" -- Ralf Kilauea

Does anybody know if they were named after the Lighthouse of Alexandria(Pharos) or the Egyptian Kings(Pharaohs)?

The newest I heard on the Pharos was from this CD: Dave Aerni Presents The Best of the Aertaun, Daani, Ador & Daytone Labels The liner notes have this to say:

At this point, Dave Aerni created the persona of Jack Irvin to license and/or release recordings at Pal Studios. This was done to make it look like a different person was producing all these records! Occasionally, he asked fellow Pal musician Frank Zappa to be his co-producing and engineering partner in crime on these releases. Zappa’s pseudonym was Curry.

The first record that Aerni was involved with as Irvin was a single by The Pharos: “Pintor”/ “Rhythm Surfer.” The disc was licensed to the Del-Fi label for release in May 1963. It is also considered a surf instrumental classic. The A-side was Aerni’s arrangement of the Spanish traditional number, with the B-side being a more conventional pop instrumental.

Ron Roman was a local singer that Dave Aerni produced to do the single “Tell Me”/ “Love Of My Life.” Kenny Williams wrote the A-side, with Frank Zappa providing the flipside. The record was released on the Daani label in late July 1963. It sells for well over $500 if you can find one!

Another label that Dave Aerni had going at the same time was Daytone. The Pharos mutated into The Rhythm Surfers (the B-side of their first record) after some personnel changes. One of the new recruits was drummer Dan Braymer. Before they officially changed their name, The Pharos cut three tracks at Pal Studios with Aerni and Zappa producing. Two of these were released on Daytone: “502 (Like Getting Pinched On A 502)” and “Big City Surfer.” The third, Aerni’s “Steel Wheels,” has not been released until now. It comes from the only existing acetate of the track.

It stilll really doesn't let us in on any names of the musicians other than Dave's for sure but the versions on the CD are exactly those of the Pharos. The sound quality is not great but it is a decent CD for those of us who love the early days of the music.

Kathy Marshall in a film... All right!!!!!!

Thanks very much.

Very interesting, Teoslola! I wondered who Irvin was!

It turns out Pintor, contrary to those liner notes, isn't exactly "a Spanish traditional number." It dates to 1946 and the actual title is Angelitos Negros. The composer was Mexican actor and singer/composer Manuel Alvárez Maciste. His lyrics were adapted from a poem (written sometime in the 1940s) by Venezuelan author/politician Andrés Eloy Blanco. Presumably Alvárez Maciste wrote the music. Or, of course, he may have adapted that, too!

Angelitos Negros may have been recorded first for commercial release in 1947 by Antonio Machin, a Cuban singer working in Spain. This may be his commercial recording dubbed over a performance in a film:

The song has been recorded numerous times since as a vocal under its original name, in the the US and elsewhere, and it is used in two different Mexican movies. It may have been written for the first movie. The Aemi title Pintor is explained by the lyrics of the original, which start "Pintor nacido en mi tierra ..."

So, at the time Aemi was putting this out, the song was about 12 or 13 years old and in this case as in many others "traditional" just means "history not investigated."

My notes on some of this from a couple of years ago:

The links seem to have fallen out of this!

I'd guess the Pharos were Aemi, Zappa, and the usual suspects. Maybe not the same ones on both sides.

Jake - My money's on your suggestion that the Pharos = Pharaohs, but that's just a gut feeling.

FWIW, the initial history of Perfidia is about the same as that of Angelitos Negros, except for the change of title, and the fact that its source has always been acknowledged: it was written for a Mexican movie. It became popular in the Latin musical world in its own right and, like Angelitos, found its way into circulation into the US. The Glen Miller version is in Casablanca. It has (different) lyrics in Spanish and English both, but these were omitted when the Ventures adapted it as an instrumental.

Last edited: May 31, 2011 11:26:16

Yeah, I presumed as much. Although Pharos wouldn't be a bad name, for a surf band, since it means lighthouse in Greek.

It's the archetype of the lighthouse, right? The beacon that Ptolemy built on the island of Pharos in the harbor of Alexandria. I think Alexandria must be a bit hard to find from the sea without a beacon, not being much above sea level anywhere.

I figure that the name of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World smells a bit of the lamp for the name of a surf band (especially if it's a lighthouse), but "the Pharaohs," makes a good gang/band name, and the variant/trademark spelling is par for the course, what with the Sentinals and (I think originally) the Centurians. I figure people who argue for the lighthouse explanation just haven't thought of spelling "the Pharaohs" as "the Pharos." Heck, I have to look up the spelling of Pharoah every time as it is. I think the Spanish version is Faraon, which helps a bit.

There's a topical conection, too. The waves parted for Pharaoh. Of course, he would have been better advised to stick to the shore on that particular day.

It is kind of a disappoinment that Pintor isn't the name of some famous surfing spot. Or is it?

How do people say Pintor? I've heard PIN-ter though even when I thought it was a place I assumed it was (El) Peen-TOR.

Last edited: May 31, 2011 13:29:36

I would think Peen-TOR is the more correct...with the rolling last r too.

Thanks for all the help and comments. I can't wait to see if Kathy Marshall will really be in a film.

Last edited: May 31, 2011 23:53:41

De veras! For Marshall in Sound of the Surf, too! Plus, I have got to get that Aerni CD ... Why don't I find things like this when I search CD Baby?

I must have hit it just by luck. I was searching for Dave Aerni and it just popped up in Google.

I was born in the very early 1970's and Pintor by The Pharos was one of the first tracks that i personally remember hearing and associating somehow w/ Surf Guitar Music in a general....for years i didn't even know who the band were or the name of the track in question.

I just thought that this band, who had created such an exotic mystical piece of guitar music history must of been a huge musical act at some stage...however.... it seem that the band are in fact a group surrounded by a fair amount of mystery - even today.

Well regardless, even today i place Pintor in my top 5 Greatest Surf tracks (in No Order) :

Wipe Out
Surf Rider
Penetration / Pipeline
( Comanche by The Revels 1960? )

See this additional thread, with information on the band:

What a great site this is!

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