SG101 on the Web

Follow SurfGuitar101 on Twitter

Shoutbox

bigtikidude: 2018 SG101 convention,
172 days ago

bigtikidude: Who's coming ?
172 days ago

bigtikidude: https://surf...
172 days ago

Clint: I started a YouTube channel: “Surf Music Videos”. https://www.... Hit me up with your favorite “surf” videos and I add them to the list. Thanks!
172 days ago

Tqi: Synchro, I managed to squeeze the Axial's in. Still working on how to lay them out next to the pots though.
161 days ago

dragonfly: Being homebound I just downloaded SG101 2014 music and loving it. Hooray for downloads. Thanks to everyone responsible. HBISM retired coordinator 2014 Cool
91 days ago

dragonfly: Thanks whoever posted photo of the day with Dean Dick and yours truly. What an awesome day that was. Love to all the surf community!
88 days ago

DannySnyder: People often say "icy" is the easiest word to spell and looking at it now, I see why.
35 days ago

Emilien03: BAJA SURF STOMP!
20 days ago

Emilien03: https://www....
20 days ago

Please login or register to shout.

Current Polls

No polls at this time. Check out our past polls.

Current Contests

No contests at this time. Check out our past contests.

Donations

Help us meet our monthly goal:

51%

51%

Donate Now

SG101 Banner

SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

Permalink Surftone Memories / Dave Myers And The Surftones By Dennis Merritt

New Topic
Goto Page: 1 2 Next

A couple years ago I put down my recollections of being with Dave Myers and the Surftones from 1963-1969. I wrote down these thoughts with no purpose in mind other than just pen to paper for my own reflection.
Everyone of us has their own personal memories of the times we've had and I would like to share with you some of the experiences, insights and stories over the years. It was fun to compile these moments of 'bitchin' times and journeys traveled.

(1)

General Notes / Dave Myers & the Surftones / 1963-1969 / Dennis Merritt

I attended Rancho Alimitos high school in Garden Grove California and played in some small garage bands like everyone at that time. One of the earliest groups was called the Hydros in 1961; we played a little pizza place on Sundays that was so small you could hardly turn around in. Then came a group called the ‘Dynamics’, gold matching blazers, black ‘Racer’ slacks with white shirts and skinny 1” ties. We played more of the same but the leader of the group Don Casino booked us into a few high school dances and a pretty steady gig at a roller rink in Garden Grove. It was here that Dave Myers and Seaton Blanco came up to me on a break and complimented me on the way I played the sax at that time. It was a very sharp staccato style reminiscent of the sax player for the ‘Coasters’, sometimes called ‘Yakety Sax’. I think I was 15 years old at the time.
Dave asked if I would be interested in playing with the Surftones. I don’t recall ever auditioning. The next thing I knew I was a Surftone playing at the Rendezvous ballroom in Newport Beach. We played all over Southern California in the beginning, The Rendezvous, we took the place of Dick Dale as house band, Dick moved on to Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim. We played at The Castle Club in Santa Monica, San Bernadino Civic, Crestline, Palm Springs, Disneyland, tons of High school gigs, The Pavilion at Huntington Beach Pier, The Airport Club in Seal Beach, etc. you name it we were playing every weekend somewhere. In about 64 we moved on to a steady gig at Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim California. We played every Sunday night from 6-10 pm. Surf music basically had run it’s course by then.
We changed as did the music at the time, no longer was double picking in vogue but the instrumental had given way to the vocal thanks to the Beatles and the English invasion.

The Clothes:

The blazers that had dominated the scene were at first replaced with ‘Neru’ collarless jackets and suits with two inch heeled boots. I remember I had this idea to wear knee high black riding boots with white pants tucked in and dark blue jackets with collarless shirts underneath, similar to the Dave Clark Five look. One night we stepped onto the stage at Harmony Park with those outfits and created quite a stir, in a good way. At that time we had four basic outfits, An all black suit with white stripes down the pant leg and around the lapels, Gray and white seersucker jackets with black pants and high heeled boots, Yellow and black stripped shiny silk jackets with black pants and finally a version of the high knee high boots, Yellow and black stripped shiny silk jackets with black pants and finally a version of the knee high boots previously described. Sometimes we would change out outfits every set, which was pretty cool at the time and dependent on the night a much refreshing change, especially in the summer.
Later our style of clothes would change again as did the times.

Practice:
We would practice every Sunday year round and every Wednesday as well in the summertime. Practice would start promptly at 10:00 am and last until 4 or 5 pm with a break for lunch. All in all we were pretty disciplined and serious about our music. Almost all of the guys in the band were music majors at Orange Coast Jr. College except for Dave Mohr who attended Fullerton State. I was the only one who had a different major as I attended Orange Coast College as an Advertising Design major 64-66 then moved on to Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles for a few years after that.
Sometimes a few of us would drop by Jack in The Box at lunch and grab some tacos, take them back to Bob Riley’s house and chase them down with a couple shots of Tequila, then back to practice. We started 6pm at Harmony Park and ended at 10:00 pm on Sunday nights. It made for some pretty long days by the time you ended the gig, packed up and got home at midnight or 2am. What was really tough was that all of us were going to school at the time and you would have to do homework for the next day.
In later years I was attending Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, which was tough enough by itself but doing an all nighter after practicing all day, playing a gig and driving back to L.A. was a challenge to say the least?

Auditions / Trial periods:

Most of the time when a new member of the group was introduced it was at practice. The new guy would play along and show his stuff to see how good he was and if he clicked with the personalities of the group. If he sounded OK, Dave would put him on a trial basis to see if it was a fit. Most of the time it was fine since we didn’t have that many turnovers in the group.
Everyone knew their place and responsibilities and what was expected of them.

Rendezvous Ballroom and Harmony Park:

The Rendezvous of course was the hottest venue to play at that time. Although the Retail Clerks Union Hall was very popular with Eddie and the Showmen, The ‘Vous’ and Harmony were the hot tickets.
The Rendezvous Ballroom was in Newport Beach California on the Oceanside of the Newport peninsula. It was right on the beach next to the pier and was perfect for a surf venue. It had been around since the big band era and was a giant two-story structure easily over two blocks long and a block wide. The floor was entirely made of wood that floated and actually moved and throbbed under the stomping of over two thousand to three thousand people. The second story was about a thirty-foot wide mezzanine that surrounded three sides of building; tables, chairs and the control booth lined its sides. It was a great place to kick back and view the stage and the dance floor and check out all the action or create some of your own.

The ‘Green Room’ was next to the stage and you had to take a few steps down to access it from the stage area. It was fairly big, lined with old sofas, chairs and mirrors that had seen better times. Graffiti and signatures of those who had been there before were all over every carvable or writing surface available. It smelled of Lysol or of a cheap bar, but it was home and generated many good memories. One bad memory was of almost filling a bucket with puke after spending the day at the Huntington Beach Pier surfing and partaking of some food poisoning along with the nachos. Not a pleasant evening for sure.
A guy named Bob Hass managed the Rendezvous and manned the sound and lighting booth as well, a very cool character and all around good guy.
It was at the ‘Rendezvous’ that we backed up many a visiting talent. The Righteous Brothers, Jan & Dean, Dick & Dee Dee and Stevie Wonder to name a few. I remember talking to Stevie Wonder before we went on stage one night, he was only 13 at the time and was such a nice, polite kid it made my heart sink that he was afflicted with his blindness. When we got on stage and he started ‘Fingertips, part two’ it was an experience I will never forget, the passion and soul that little kid pumped out filled the air with love and joy and over two thousand usually screaming kids fell silent in awe.
I remember practicing at the Rendezvous, the stage was so big and when you looked out at the giant dark empty space that was usually teaming with peeps it was kind of spooky. Every once in awhile they would wax this enormous dance floor while we were practicing, the smell was amazing but would soon be replaced by the musky scent of sweat that night when the dance started.
We would eventually leave the Rendezvous and start playing Harmony Park Friday and Sunday nights. I know just as we left the Rendezvous ‘The Bobby Fuller Four’ played a few gigs there and ironically a group called the ‘Cindermen’ played there when it burned to the ground. They say the fire started in a broom closet from a cigarette, who knows?
All that remains of the Rendezvous now is a parking lot and a lot of good memories,

Harmony Park Ballroom:

Harmony Park Ballroom was in Anaheim California about a mile from Disneyland. It was in a warehouse district with steel storage tanks, train tracks and old red brick buildings. The building itself had a rough stucco texture and was adorned by a couple of Romanesque pillars and gingerbread out front. Harmony Park was fenced in with a tall green wooden fence and you entered through a gate next to a ticket booth. Once inside the fenced area you had to go up concrete steps to enter the building. The building itself was a single story structure but tall, 30-40 ft. It was probably about 150-200 feet long with a wooden floor and built in benches on two sides. Off to one side was a snack bar where you could get hamburgers, soft drinks etc.
The stage was about four feet off the ground and almost as wide as the building. It had a wooden railing that surrounded the stage on three sides. The stage was also divided in half by two levels; the back half was about a foot higher and usually was the staging area for the drummer and the amps. The lower half had a black and white checkered tile floor.
There were two entrances to the stage from the back with curtains covering them. The three back rooms were small but large enough for an old sofa and racks for wardrobe.
Even before joining the Surftones I frequented Harmony when Dick Dale played there.
The place was always packed to capacity with kids from all over Southern California. If you wanted to hook up with the opposite sex this was the place. Every once in awhile a fight would break out but it was soon squelched and the offenders were shown the door by the Anaheim off duty cops that provided security. The owner of Harmony Park in fact was an Anaheim cop himself named Glenn. Glenn himself was a very understanding, level headed guy that was savvy to what was happening in our little world and ran a pretty tight ship named Harmony Park.
The entire building would tremble when Dick played, the Fender Dual Showman amps that Dick used must have been turned to eleven at all times. Dick was and still is such a powerful player that you physically would feel the music, the acoustics of the building would just naturally amplify his presence.
I had a new Selmer Mark VI tenor sax that my parents had bought for me, it was probably the best saxophone in the world and very expensive for it’s day, almost $900.
Being a musician I got to know almost all the guys in Dicks band including Dick himself. Dick and his dad would let me into Harmony for free every Friday night because I would let Dick borrow my saxophone for the evening to play.
I got to know Barry Rillera, one of Dicks sax players pretty well over time and we talked on breaks about everything from metal mouthpieces to reeds and sax techniques. It was Barry in fact that taught me how to create a growling tone with my horn that was very raunchy and cool at the time, not to be confused with a flutter tongue style which was completely different. Barry was an amazing saxophonist; he played a ‘King Silver Bell’ tenor sax that had a tone unlike any other sax. The Silver Bell had a much more shrill and raunchier tone than the Selmer which was much more mellow. The King Silver Bell was much better suited to rock than the Selmer, which was more suited to jazz. Later when I was in the Surftones Barry would join us once in awhile for a gig. Barry was also an amazing guitar player and would later join Ray Charles band.
The other sax player with Dick was Armon Frank, another amazing saxophonist and a very nice guy. In 2000 there was a Rendezvous reunion sponsored by the International Surfing Museum at the ‘Hard Rock Café’ in Newport Beach. Armon sat with Dave Myers, Seaton Blanco and myself at a table and we reminisced about earlier times. In fact I think he said he was only sixteen when he joined the Deltones. We talked of some of the other Deltones but most everyone had lost touch or had fallen off the radar.
One thing that stood out about the Deltones was the sound that Brian Dietz, Dicks bass player got out of his bass. It was a scratchy low slapping sound that was very distinctive and lent itself to Dick’s style. We all figured Brian had raised the pickups to slap the strings on his bass, played through a broken speaker in his Fender Baseman or just had a picking style unique unto itself, we never did find out, but it was very cool for the time.
Larry Gillette later joined the Deltones as a sax player and we became good friends. I would travel with him to some of Dicks gigs and hang out.

(5)

Harmony Park Cont:

Larry in fact invited me to join him recording a demo track for the song ‘Bahareba’
Larry was an amazing sax player as well with a style rooted in technical ability and precision.
Harmony Park previous to Dick’s arrival was known as a country western venue and early rock and talent shows as well, in fact the original ‘Louie Louie’ was conceived at Harmony Park by Richard Berry in 1955.
The Rillera Bros./ Rhythm Rockers were doing gigs there before Dick arrived as well in the latter part of 1961.
Dave Myers and the Surftones arrived at Harmony about the end of 63 and remained there under different group name changes uninterrupted until 1969. We packed the house to capacity for years and I can still look out at a sea of people moving as one on a hot summers eve, it was a bitchen time to be young and a Southern Californian kid.
After we left Harmony it sat empty for many years and then became an antiques warehouse and finally a post office. I remember stopping by Harmony Park about 1998 and walking around inside thanks to an understanding postal worker. The dance floor was full of sorting tables and bins and every inch was crowded with machines and postal workers. The rooms behind the stage were as they were 30 some years ago, the old sofa and the clothing racks were still there as we had left them. A Dave Myers sign was leaning against the wall in the hallway. I stepped on stage and looked out at a sea of memories, good times and friends, rehearsals, past loves and lost innocence, for a brief moment Harmony came alive again and I was home.
I went back again the summer of 2000 and Harmony Park Ballroom was non-existent, all that remained was some of the asphalt parking lot. The warehouse next door that served as a backdrop for many a photo session was now dozed as well. By 2002 I stopped once more and found a new industrial set of buildings occupying this hollowed ground.
Goodbye old friend.

Band Members:

The names and members of our group changed, as did our music in the sixties. Previous to my joining the group in 1963 Dave had started with an entirely different group of guys in the Surftones infancy. I did not ever meet any of the original Surftones except for Johnny Curtis but know that in 1962 the group consisted of Dave Myers / Lead Guitar, Bob Hirte / Saxophone, John Curtis / Rhythm Guitar, John Miller / Bass, Tom Long / Drums and Joe Morrosco . Drums as well.

In about 1963 the members other than Dave consisted of Bob Colwell / Drums, Later replaced by Ross Von Kliest. Seaton Blanco / Bass, Ed Quarry / Piano, Johnny Curtis / Rhythm Guitar and myself Dennis Merritt / Saxophone.

(6)

In the latter part of 1966 we changed our name to Dave Myers and the Disciples in response to surf music’s decline.
Members at that time were Dave Myers / Lead Guitar, Seaton Blanco / Bass. Johnny Curtis was replaced by Bob Riley on Rhythm Guitar and Bob was to be replaced by Don Snow in about 67, Ross Von Kleist / on Drums was later replaced by Larry Blodgett, Dave Mohr / Piano, and Dennis Merritt / Sax.
At this time vocals were playing a more dominant role in our repertoire and most of the lead vocals were done by Dave Myers, Dennis Merritt and Dave Mohr.
We all played various instruments as well, lending to the diversity of the music we wrote and played. Dave of course played the guitar, trumpet, and bongo drums, Conga drum, vocals and a little sax. I played the saxophone, of which I had three on stage at all times, a Selmer Tenor, a Selmer Soprano and a Candy Apple Red ‘C’ melody, a total piece of crap, Vocals, harmonica and a strong compulsion with the Tambourine along with a little guitar and conga drum filled out my repertoire, I used to go through a tambourine a night because the skin would break because I hit it so hard as did my own skin as well. I would throw it up in the air about ten feet or so and catch it most of the time. I think I used the Tambourine in conjunction with vocals to make up for the decline of the saxophone in rock music at the time. To this day the sax has not come back as a dominant instrument in rock music but for the occasional solo. Dave Mohr excelled of course on the electric piano and vocals and would prove later to be a very good composer and songwriter. Every one of the group was an excellent musician in their own right, all understanding music theory and communicating with each other on a professional level.
As in any good team, after awhile you instinctively know what the other guy is going to do and the group becomes as one naturally.
About 1967 there was another name change to the Dave Myers Effect.
The group members at that time were Dave Myers / Lead Guitar and vocals, Seaton Blanco on Bass was replaced at this time due to his graduate school studies by Bob Gaye, Dave Mohr / Piano and vocals, Darryl Devlin / Drums and vocals, Dennis Merritt / Sax and vocals.
In about 1968 we changed our name again to ‘Rainbow’ and the group began recording another album under the Crescendo label with the title of ‘Rainbow, After The Storm.’ The album was mostly written and composed by Dave Mohr. Dave
Myers I think at this time was growing increasingly frustrated with the direction the group was going, He left the group and like Seaton concentrated on his studies. I stuck around briefly and continued to play with ‘Rainbow’ for a few gigs at Harmony Park but it just wasn’t the same, the cohesiveness and camaraderie we all once shared became mired down with egos and animosity. It was time to leave, Vietnam was heating up and the draft was knocking at the door, besides school was taking more and more time. Sadly, I put the Selmer in it's case for the last time. In the summer of 2000 after coming back from the Rendezvous Reunion at the Hard Rock Cafe I sent the sax away and had it completely refurbished and play it now and again.

Recording Sessions / Pay and Royalties:

Cutting a new single or album of course was always a lot of fun but sessions were long and tedious as we placed the bar high for ourselves. Rehearsals lasting days and weeks in advance of going into the studio were the norm. Of course there were exceptions as is the case of our first album ‘Hanging Twenty”. We recorded in a small studio in a garage in East L.A. great studio, great engineer but since I was new to the group I had to memorize new songs and parts at the studio the day of recording. I think I was only 15 or so at the time and was a total sensual overload at cutting my first album let alone learning new songs and harmonies on the spot. It was exciting then but I listen to some of the tracks now and think you really sucked on a particular part or song. Some came off OK but it seemed as if there was never enough time or budget to perfect every little nuance and do another take. I think the album for it’s time showed a diversity and range few groups ever attained, this in part because most of the bands members were very seriously trained musicians for their age and that in itself help contribute to the groups unique style.
The songs were more complex than the typical E,A,B progressions that dominated the surf scene at the time. The introduction of Conga Drums, Soprano Saxophone, Clave's, etc. combined with Blue Notes and strangely enchanting guitar rhythms made for a very distinct musical experience.
Later we would record another instrumental album, ‘Greatest Racing Themes’ for Mike Curb and Sidewalk productions for Crescendo records. Amazingly, we actually had 8 tracks to work with in the studio, big time technology for its day.
Then, when we called ourselves ‘Rainbow’ we recorded the album ‘After The Storm’ for Gene Norman and Crescendo Records. I think we recorded at Sunset studios.
We were on many compilation albums and finally released ‘Dave Myers Greatest Hits’ which was basically the Hanging Twenty album with a couple of songs from the Greatest Racing Themes album added.
We recorded a few singles like Gear, Moment of Truth, Church Key and Come On Love, which I wrote and sang with Dave Mohr. I do remember the producer made us add really stupid lyrics at the end similar to ‘Wild Thing’ at the time, we protested but lost the battle. Regardless, we never really had a hit. They would do ok regionally but none ever became a classic like Pipeline, Miserlou, or even Wipe Out. Putting a #1 hit on the charts always eluded us. Whether it was timing, management and promotion or the right song at the right time it was not to be.
To this day I have never seen a penny from any of the recordings we did, We were naïve and young as many a kid in the day, excited just to be recording an album. Many of our albums have been re-released on CD and generate sales everyday, still nothing. All have gone into the Public Domain or have been claimed by major corporations.
Pay for the band member was based on union scale at the time, which was basically $24.00 for a four-hour gig. We played forty five minute sets with a fifteen minute break in between which was required by the union. We belonged to Local #7 of the Musicians Union based in Santa Ana Ca.
Dues were deducted from our paychecks to the tune of about $88.00 per year. Unfortunately, being union isolated us from doing many venues at the time.

Random notes:

Dave Myers was a good and very fair leader. Let there be no mistake about it though, it was Dave’s band and like Dick Dale it was his show. Dave was always open to new ideas and trends and wasn’t afraid to let others show off their skills and talents. I don’t think Dave was ever worried about someone upstaging him or stealing the show. The sets were always varied to showcase the variety of talents of every member of the group.

Clothing obviously changed with the times as mentioned before. From about 1966 on the formal band look completely disappeared. Long gone were the suits and uniforms that had dominated the scene in previous years, replaced by each member’s individual interpretation of what his own identity should be. The clothes and attitudes changed with the times. Long multicolored silk scarves, puffy shirts, embroidered jackets, bell bottom hip hugger pants in orange and red, wide belts with big buckles, brightly colored shoes, I think I dyed a pair of yellow and a pair of red shoes myself. The stage must have looked like the ‘Yellow Submarine’ meets Jimmy Hendrix with a little Mick Jagger and David Bowie mixed in. It was really fun and definite masquerades ball every gig as everyone used his creativity to create an individual mystique all of there own. Oh yeah, chicks dug it too!

The Girls, What can you say except it was to be expected of a rock band, not as cool as in later years of the rock scene but we had our share of good times. There was of course groupies that hung around the stage and after gigs, then there were the loyal girlfriends of some of us that stood on the sidelines to make sure none of our eyes strayed too far from them at any one time.
Dave Mohr the piano player was a good looking dude and had the ‘cool’ personality to match, he always had the hot women around. Luckily for me, Dave was a good friend of mine and we would hang out, go to gigs together in his yellow Volkswagen bus and surf together. This of course usually put me in close proximity to the action and the women.
I lost my virginity after a gig playing at the Orange County Fair. The hottest girl kept hanging around my end of the stage all night, At the end of the night we ended up piled into my fastback Mustang heading for Huntington Beach Cliffs. It was there between lifeguard towers 21 and 22 that I think I fell in love?, at least for a few seconds. I saw Mary a couple more times but she lived in Riverside which made her GU / Geographically Undesirable, too bad, she was very hot and sweet as well.
There were others of course that that I foolishly let get away, Debbie, long black hair beautiful in every respect, looked like Cher but prettier, Left me for some college guy with a Porsche. I wonder whatever happened to her? Sally, a sweet little blonde surfer girl with soft eyes and great lips, I still have the signed picture she gave me, Sam, crazy but fun, fogged up a few windows in the Harmony parking lot.
More times than not we left alone at the end of show. We always put on a very physical performance and were usually soaked in sweat and exhausted.

(9)

Girls Cont:

Many times we just hung around for a while after a gig to unwind with our friends or went out to get something to eat. Obviously, there were times when we just partied all night at some club or someone’s house and slept it off at the beach the next day.
A friend of Dave Mohr’s had a house in Hollywood at the time and it was the designated party house when we did gigs in L.A. We played for a while on the Sunset strip at a place called Gazarri’s, a very happening scene in the late 60’s, right next to the‘Whisky’. We played there for next to nothing because of its exposure to the major labels. I think it was five bucks. A and R guys always hung out there as well as some very hot women, what’s not to love? We all loved it except for Dave Myers, I don’t know why but I think it was the dough or the lack of it.
Anyway one night after finishing the gig at Gazarri’s I picked up on a very hot blonde that hung around me on stage all night. We talked at the breaks, a very beautiful, bright and sweet girl. We went back to her place in the Hollywood Hills and proceeded to get stoned and lets say comfortable with each other, one thing led to another and the only clothing remaining on her was a long scarf she had worn around her neck all night. When I brought my hand up to untie it she pulled my hand away, after a little while she stood up totally nude and took the scarf off in a very slow and seductive manner, it doesn’t get much better than this I thought, what a turn on. When she turned into the light a large scar from ear to ear around her neck revealed itself. It was a bit of a shock but didn’t diminish her beauty or kindness. She broke down crying and we talked all night until morning when I left with a kiss and her phone number. Somehow, I lost her phone number and although I searched the hills later, it was all in vain as I never found her house again. Too bad, she was a kind, beautiful angel I was lucky enough to share but a fleeting moment with, I really liked her and to this day think of her often and what became of her. Once again, another ship passing in the night. I never did ask or find out how the scar got there but it would have made no difference.
Later one of the girls from harmony Park became my wife. We were just kids and grew away from each other and separated after only seven years, but we have a wonderful son, wise beyond his years, named John that became the joy of my life.

Summers:

Summers in Orange County as a member of the band took on a different scope. First, none of us had school to worry about so the days and nights were free to do, as we wanted. Second, we played and rehearsed more often do the free time.
Most of us actually lived by the beach, Dave Myers was in Laguna Beach, Seaton Blanco was in Newport Beach on the Newport Peninsula, Johnny Curtis lived in Costa Mesa, Dennis Merritt was in Garden Grove initially but moved to Huntington Beach and Dave Mohr lived a little inland in Fullerton.
A typical day would be to either get up early and head to the beach and catch some early surf or just sleep in a little.

(10)

If we didn’t have practice or a gig that night it made for some long warm California summer days. If I didn’t go surfing with my neighbors down at the Cliffs I would go down to Seaton’s our Bass player’s house. He lived right on Newport bay and I usually would head out to his place early to catch some waves. Then as the surf blew out about 10 am we would catch some rays and grab a couple tacos from the ‘Funzone’ in Newport and head over to his dads sailboat. We would sail the rest of the day either out to sea or just around the bay taking in the sights. (I recently owned a boat and kept it in a slip in Newport, whenever I would take it out for a cruise around the bay it would be as if it were the summer of ‘67’) After sailing we would dock about four, so that there was enough time to head home, clean up and get ready for whatever was planned that night.
A typical practice and or gig day would usually start with a run to the cleaners to get the clothes for the evening and the music store to pick up some new reeds, guitar strings, tambourines, etc, whatever was needed for the day.
Practice would usually start around 10AM and we would break for lunch. Sometimes we would head off to the local pool hall to get a few rounds in before getting back to rehearsals. I remember Dave and Seaton got me a pool cue for my birthday with my name engraved on it, very cool. Rehearsals were usually long and tedious, more times than not one person was learning a new part while the rest of us just sat around waiting in frustration as they were trying to get their riff or part down.
Finally, it would come together and everyone would have his part hammered out hopefully. A couple of run throughs and we were good to go.
We would go over the play list for the night and usually discuss what worked before and what didn’t. Then we had about an hour or so to kick back before going on stage. If it was just a practice and no gig was scheduled for the night it was home to get ready for a date or clubbing with friends.
Many a summer night ended up cruising to ‘Bobs Big Boy’ or ‘Oscars’ to grab a burger and seeing who was still out on the streets. Pacific Coast Highway, Garden Grove Blvd. and Newport Blvd. were pretty hot places to cruise.
Sometimes it was to the drive in theater, the beach at night or the drag races at OC. Summers were usually when we did our recording sessions for a new album as well. We would drive to L.A. and spend some very long days and nights in the studio, sometimes leaving early in the A.M to drive back to the O.C after the session, Then, get up the next day and do it all over again, sometimes for days.
I remember fog along the coast being a real bitch in the spring and summer. The fog could be really thick and just lay there all night. Many a time I remember coming out of the Rendezvous after a gig and having to drive home up the coast in a thick blanket of fog. Sometimes it was so thick you had to roll the window down in your car and stick your head out just to see the stripe of the road ten feet ahead, this while you’re driving ten miles an hour on Pacific Coast Highway, The fog was cool though if you didn’t have to go anywhere, especially if you were at the beach. It was ghostly silent except for the surf, very spooky and haunting but peaceful at the same time. If you were with someone you cared about it was all the better.

(11)

Dave Myers Father / Manager:

Dave’s dad was our manager not unlike Dick Dales father and many other groups’ fathers at the time.
His name was Bob Myers and one of the smartest, fairest, kind and understanding people to ever grace the planet. Bob owned the Laguna Beach rock and concrete yard in Laguna Canyon and was a very successful businessman in Southern California. He would schedule gigs, do the books, help with the equipment, man the gate at Harmony Park and basically watch over all of us as a surrogate father. He always was in the background and never interfered with any of the group’s decisions but was always there to council if called upon to do so. You always felt safe but not smothered when he was around, his wisdom and knowledge were respected by all the members of the group and you could see a real father and son bond between himself and Dave.
Unfortunately, many years later after the groups demise Bob stopped by the side of the freeway in Southern California to help a stranger and render aid and was killed. An undeserving end to a great guy who cared for all.

Disneyland:

August 1, 1964 found us playing Disneyland at the Spacebar in Tomorrowland. It was a four-hour gig and you would enter the stage below ground level and magically rise above ground to the dance floor and seating area. Then play a forty-five minute set before disappearing underground once again.
I know that I had to get a haircut before playing Disneyland because of their strict dress code, not only to work there but also to even get in the main gate. Disneyland at that time and for many years thereafter enforced the code by denying entrance to the park if your hair was too long or your skirt too short.
It was pretty cool to drive into the back of Disneyland through the employee’s entrance and be escorted to the dressing rooms and staging area behind the scenes. Maybe it was no big deal, but to a bunch of Orange County kids growing up next to Disneyland and always being on the outside looking in it was a thrill.
Well, it was at night and the atmosphere was electric, the lights, the fireworks, the girls, the sounds and people actually asking for your autograph, pretty amazing for the time. I think we got union scale, which was twenty-four bucks for a four-hour gig.

Filling in:

From time to time I think some of us filled in with Dick and other groups when their own guys got sick or were taking taking time off. I know Dave subbed for Dick once and Seaton and I sat in a few gigs when band members were missing for whatever reason.
We all knew each others material, so it was an easy fit and fun.

(12)

Where we are today:

Not a clue. I talk to Seaton once in awhile and catch up on what Dave is doing as he and Seaton stay in touch, Seaton actually married Dave’s sister although both have remarried.
The last time we saw each other was as mentioned before at the Rendezvous Reunion at the Hard Rock Café in Newport Beach around 2000.
I know that Seaton has retired from teaching music in the Huntington Beach School District.
Dave was president of Fenwick Fishing for many years and is now consulting and owns a fishing store in Dana Point Ca. I remember Dave was always a very active sportsman in the professional fishing arena and is well respected as a businessman and sportsman.
Johnny Curtis I hear was working at a warehouse in Costa Mesa and still playing clubs.
I heard just recently that Dave Mohr our piano player for many years has passed away.
As for other members of the group I really don’t know but hope everyone has found their way and is fine.
Myself, Dennis Merritt, After attending Art Center College in Los Angeles I moved to San Diego and was an art director for Psychology Today magazine for awhile then moved back to Santa Monica in ‘Rustic Canyon’ to become a Creative Director with a number of advertising agencies and design studios such as Young & Rubicam , Landor Associates, The Designory and Saatchi & Sattchi advertising.
After a few years on the advertising side I became a Film Director/Cameraman shooting commercials for many national automotive and fashion accounts.
Then it was back to Carefree Arizona just north of Scottsdale to be a creative director for SHR Perceptual Design working on the Audi and Volkswagen accounts. It was there that I worked with J.Mays on the introduction of the new Beetle. J. Is now chief designer of Ford Motor Company? Quite an experience.
It seems I have always been on the move. I can’t be away from the ocean too long but I have a love for the desert and ranchlands as well.
In between I’ve experienced some great adventures along the way. I volunteered for the Air Force and flew around in jet fighters documenting some of those adventures.
In the late seventies I took a couple summers off and was a river guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The experiences and sights in the canyons own majestic world are more than one can ever describe.
In 1988 I bought a ranch in Durango Colorado with Elk and deer as my neighbors and the breeze in the Aspens and my dog ‘Bo’ to keep me company.
Today I split my time commuting from my home in Phoenix and Los Angeles consulting for advertising agencies. For many years I did illustrations for Road & Track and other automotive publications and still do commissions of guys cars from time to time.
You can visit my website at dwmerritt.com
In retrospect although we never made the big time with a number one hit but it was and still is a good ride.
Well, the sax and a few guitars now preside in the study, just beckoning a brief strum or note in passing to bring it all rushing back once again and keeping the music timeless.

Awesome!
Thanks!
I was born n raised in OC,
But not till 71.
I wish I could have grown up here in the 60s.

Jeff(bigtikidude)

Great stories! Thank you so much for that!
Though I am quite scared by the though of practicing whole days! I don't think any surf band nowadays does this... We are all so lazy! Wink

You onyl briefly mentioned him, but Ross von Kleist also wrote down some of his memories here on SG101 some years ago, mostly about the recording of "Gear":
http://surfguitar101.com/forums/post/97652/

There is an email adress mentioned in the thread and also in his user profile, just in case you want to establish contact!

Los Apollos - interplanetary surf music trio (Berlin)
"Chaos at the Lobster Lounge" OUT NOW as LP and download on Surf Cookie Records!

Thank you Dennis for posting such a great recollection of the early days. I bought a ’65 Fender Jaguar in about 1992 to learn Pipeline, Diamond Head and your Cecilia Ann! A few years later, I went on to form my own surf band which is still together and gigging. It's great to read a history of your band which was very influential.

Craig Skelly
www.thebreakaways.com
www.thecurlriders.com

Priceless stuff, Dennis! Your writing was so wonderfully descriptive I felt like I was there. What a blast you guys had being a part of this great moment in time. Thanks for sharing your memories!

BOSS FINK "R.P.M." available now from DOUBLE CROWN RECORDS!
www.facebook.com/BossFink
www.doublecrownrecords.com

Thanks guys...it was a great time for sure. I can almost smell the Coppertone.

One thing I didn't mention before was the reasons some members left the group. Some quit because of school schedules or families moving from the area. Some were asked to leave because of conflicting personalities within the group or constantly being late. We would show up at practice and a member was not there and someone was taking their place. I was not privy to specific reasons certain members were let go but Dave was always fair and it always was for the betterment of the group.

Those were surely halcyon days. Thanks so much for sharing these memories with us, Dennis. I'm glad they won't get lost in the passing of time.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. And if you're ever looking to jam, we have a few members in your area that I'm sure would jump at the chance!

Thank you Dennis. Brings back some great memories of a great time. Your reminiscences are vivid and valuable to the Surf Community! Did you ever play the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach? Another long-gone venue which my girlfriend, now wife, and I frequented.

Rick

Rick

Last edited: Feb 18, 2014 12:15:44

Hey Rick, thank you.
We never played the Bear but I used to go there all the time as I lived in Huntington,
Funny story about the Bear...one night when we there to see Paul Butterfields Blues Band, Canned Heat opened for them. They almost got booed off the stage because no one had ever heard of them at the time.
Later of course they became legendary.

Craig Skelly wrote: "I bought a ’65 Fender Jaguar in about 1992 to learn Pipeline, Diamond Head and your Cecilia Ann!"

Minor correction: "Cecilia Ann" was not recorded by Dave Myers & The Surftones. True, it was credited to The Surftones when it was released for the first time in 1988, but it was a newly recorded track by producer Steve Hoffman (had me going when I first heard it, too). Here's the story:

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/cecilia-ann-by-the-pixies-surftones-and-many-others-on-youtube.272578/

www.johnblair.us
www.soundofthesurf.com

Found a couple pics on the web of the Rendezvous.
image
image

Hey Dennis (and everybody else of course),
if you are interessted in more pictures from the Rendezvous (and bands who played there), take a look here: Rendezvous Ballroom photo album

Los Apollos - interplanetary surf music trio (Berlin)
"Chaos at the Lobster Lounge" OUT NOW as LP and download on Surf Cookie Records!

Great link...thanks!

Hi Dennis,

I was wondering if you had any particular memories of writing, recording, or playing "Gear". It has become quite an iconic song amongst the present day surf music fans. It seems like a song ahead of its time.

Site dude - S3 Agent #202
Need help with the site? SG101 FAQ - Send me a private message - Email me

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

Thanks Brian,
You're right 'Gear' was ahead of it's time. We thought it was going to be more of a hit with the airtime it was getting but it just didn't take off for some reason.
I remember comments from people at Harmony at the time that it was hard to dance to and that might have been a contributing factor? More of a listening tune than a dancing one?
Dave did a great job of changing the expected dynamics of the guitar as always.
Personally I had little to do with 'Gear' at the session other than to play the tambourine.

Dennis, thank you so much for writing this up and sharing it. There's so little remaining of the history and thinking of the bands that it's great to have anything, let alone something this comprehensive and insightful!

Were you involved in recording Moment of Truth?

Last edited: Feb 19, 2014 19:50:24

Thanks Tuck,
I did record Moment Of Truth but there might have been an earlier version recorded before I joined the group.
I can't count the number of times I've played that song with my Soprano sax, one of our most popular tunes for sure.
Besides Dave doing a great melody on the guitar I always loved the way Johnny Curtis played the driving rhythm.

Dennis, I wondered when you mentioned "soprano sax," since that song has always stuck with me as the example of soprano sax in a surf instrumental. Others know the Surftones discography much better than I do, but I think there's only the one recording known, or well known, which is the one on the collection now known as Surf Crazy. You had a picture of the CD cover in your collection of album cover pictures. I think for most people this is the definitive version of Moment of Truth, even though the song comes from the Original Surfaris. I apologize for asking a question like this, but do you happen to recall anything about the way that got into the Surftones repertoire? I'm interested in how certain songs that were done by several groups, especially several groups recorded by Ton Hilder & Bob Hafner, were propagated.

Others that I wonder about, that have several different versions, include Intoxica and Exotic. In both those cases I have a feeling that the Dave Myers version was sort of seminal in the development of the song. That is, although the order of recording isn't clear it looks like the Dave Myers arrangement might be the one that shifted things from one approach to another.

It's really exciting for me to hear so much about saxophone in the working of the band(s). It's something that a lot of modern surf music fans and musicians are kind of lost with, because of the way it has fallen out of popular music since then.

Goto Page: 1 2 Next
Top