- Surf Music
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Paul Johnson, one of the founders and pioneers of surf music (Mr. Moto anyone?), is having some health problems, and hopefully you've been following along in this forum thread. Recently his daughter Anne setup a GoFundMe Campaign to help with his many expenses. Please consider helping out if you are able to contribute!
Paul has been a champion of and a constant presence at the SurfGuitar101 conventions over the years. Everyone who has attended a convention will remember Paul walking around grinning, giving the thumbs up to the bands, and of course performing tunes from his extensive and amazing catalog. He has contributed many insightful posts to our forums and has written a nice history of surf music which you can go read here.
Everyone at SurfGuitar101 wishes all the best to Paul on his tough road ahead. We can't wait to see him at a future convention!
Prior to 1961, Southern California kids didn’t hang out at the beach all that much; you’d be more likely to see them cruising in their cars, hanging out at the ice cream / root beer drive-ins, or dancing to 45 rpm records at sock hops. Live music was a rarity, and there was no such thing as “surf music.” In short: prior to 1961, there was no “California surf culture” as we know it today.
But the new trend was on the rise that year: with the advent of lightweight foam boards, surfing caught on big with the beach-area kids; by summer this had grown into a major cultural explosion — a mass youth-movement complete with it’s own styles, mannerisms and slang.
Going into that memorable summer of ‘61, I was 15 and a fledgling guitarist with a fledgling band (the Belairs) that emulated the sounds of the rock-instrumental heroes of the late ‘50s (Duane Eddy, Link Wray, The Fireballs, Johnny and the Hurricanes, the Ventures, etc.). When we heard that a lot of these new young “surfers” were driving thirty miles south to Balboa on the weekends to hear somebody named Dick Dale play similar stuff, we decided to throw our own dances locally. The result was like jumping onto a speeding train!
We had never given the slightest thought to calling ourselves a “surf” band. But at our first dance that summer, which drew about 200 beach-area kids, a prominent local surfer came up to me and said: “Wow, man — your music sounds just like it feels out on a wave! You oughta call it ‘surf music’!!” By summer’s end we were filling halls with 1500 fully “stoked” surfers who were doing just that: over the summer they had embraced our music (along with Dale’s) as their own, and now they were calling it “surf music!”