Sad News and an Appreciation of Surf Music

Vistalite Black

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RIP Astronauts drummer Jim Gallagher, who died recently at 78 in Boulder.

News of his death brings up a topic we don't talk about enough on the forum, the explosion of mainly instrumental Surf Music bands in the pre-Beatles 60s.

I wasn't there to remember it, but I've always love Surf Music and it's been important to my drumming, especially early on because on most Surf Music songs, the drums are far more clear and distinct than on pop songs with vocals -- helping drummers like me identify beats and techniques to power our practice sessions ... I did it more as a beginner, but there are still days when I'll pop on a Surf Music playlist to play along to for a little while -- four hours.

I'd love to hear from drummers who played in 60s Surf bands or who still use Surf records for practice (or recreation).

Here's a news item about Gallagher. It doesn't include that the Astronauts reached 94 on the Billboard 100 with "Baja" in 1963. "Surfing with the Astronauts" went to 61 on the album chart.

Astronauts drummer, longtime Boulder resident Jim Gallagher dies at 78 (dailycamera.com)

The Astronauts - Baja - YouTube
 

scaramanga

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From time to time I play with a band called the Mofos, playing a more modern aggressive approach to surf rock. I love it. I was recently introduced to a Ventures live in Japan album and the drumming is FIERCE. I also love the more sedate Shadows. I'm basically a guitar freak who chose drums when I couldn't make my fingers move the right way.
 

Tama CW

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Being on the East Coast I was not aware of this group or the song "Baja." I am now. Sorry to hear of the drummer's passing.
For me it was Ventures "Knock Me Out." My all time favorite Surf album. I put in lots of time playing to Venture's songs over the past 40 yrs. Mel Taylor left us early in his mid-60's.

 
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little rock

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Loved the Astronauts’ album Everything Is A-OK. It was a live album and had a lot of songs my band played at the armory when I was in high school. Also loved the Ventures’ album Walk Don’t Run.
 

gwbasley

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Earl Palmer was the drummer on a lot of those early surf tunes. He preceded Hal Blaine as the "A list" studio man on the west coast. Then, of course, there was Mel Taylor drumming with the Ventures, but the guy who really stood out remains little known, and he was Ron Wilson of "Wipe Out" who wrote and played "Wipe Out". Today, when you bring up the subject of "surf music" most people will think of that song.
 

gwbasley

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There was a series of "Surf Satire" albums released under the title "Surfink". They were a collaboration with studio men, (notably Earl Palmer and Leon Russell), and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the hot rod cartoonist and promoter. Despite the tung-in-cheek subject matter, the music was top shelf.

 

RogersLudwig

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Started Jr. High in 1961 and everyone I knew wanted to surf. Our parents even let us hitchhike to the beach at Malibu from the San Fernando Valley. Dropped us off at the freeway onramp with a board and a days worth of food at the ripe old age of 13. Surf music was a huge part of my jr. high years that I remember with joy. We danced to it at all of the parties. Then the Beatles arrived. Changed the whole musical landscape.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I am a volunteer instructor for a large kids acoustic guitar ensemble and also the resident drummer. I am proud that they learn Wipeout and Pipeline and we play them live to very appreciative crowds! It's cool that some 8-18 year olds actually listen to surf music and not just Miley Bieber Swift Gaga flavors of the week...
 

RogersLudwig

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Don't forget "Pipeline." I think "Surfing USA" was the first hit for the Beach Boys.

In SoCal it was "Surfin'", released Nov 1961. Luau was the B-side. It is the only 45 I still own


Surfin' is the only life
The only way for me
Now surf, surf with me

I got up this mornin' turned on my radio
I was checkin' on the surfin' scene
To see if I would go
And when the dj tells me that the surfin' is fine
That's when I know my baby and I will have a good time
 

Vicey

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I love vocally-based songs, but anyone who can create a popular stir with an instrumental deserves a special award. And I agree with VLB that surf music made the drums very easy to hear and appreciate. No matter what Jimi said about it.
 

KevinD

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I've always thought surf music was cool, in fact that (and the girls) was the prime reason to watch a lot of those 60s beach movies, they often had those bands featured (like Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters :).
I used to listen to a lot of Dick Dale stuff, he had some things that was pretty far out there for the time.
really interesting player to listen to.
 

crash

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RIP Astronauts drummer Jim Gallagher, who died recently at 78 in Boulder.

News of his death brings up a topic we don't talk about enough on the forum, the explosion of mainly instrumental Surf Music bands in the pre-Beatles 60s.

I wasn't there to remember it, but I've always love Surf Music and it's been important to my drumming, especially early on because on most Surf Music songs, the drums are far more clear and distinct than on pop songs with vocals -- helping drummers like me identify beats and techniques to power our practice sessions ... I did it more as a beginner, but there are still days when I'll pop on a Surf Music playlist to play along to for a little while -- four hours.

I'd love to hear from drummers who played in 60s Surf bands or who still use Surf records for practice (or recreation).

Here's a news item about Gallagher. It doesn't include that the Astronauts reached 94 on the Billboard 100 with "Baja" in 1963. "Surfing with the Astronauts" went to 61 on the album chart.

Astronauts drummer, longtime Boulder resident Jim Gallagher dies at 78 (dailycamera.com)

The Astronauts - Baja - YouTube
You need to see this, then! I have a signed copy I'd make you a deal on. I played a bunch with Paul Johnson, the guy who put it together. PM me, if interested."
Pounding Surf - “The Original Full-Length Surf Music Documentary”

The Pounding Surf is an amazing DVD with two complete features: A Drummer's Guide to Surf Music, a colorful history of the surf music genre which features great live performances and interviews with key figures, hosted by surf guitar pioneer Paul Johnson from the Belairs. The second part is The Art of Surf Drumming, which is an instructional video for drummers with tips and lessons from four great drummers!".
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 

Sinclair

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Ok growing up in LA I'll admit I had a crush on Annette Funicello for a month in '63. My first girlfriend looked just like her but wasn't as wholesome. I was too young to know the difference anyway.
My first band was lucky enough to have a guitar player who could play a lot of the surf tunes note for note. We did the Ventures hits, The Surfaris, The Challengers. Whittier Blvd but The Midniters a local East LA band. Most of these were regional hits not heard on the East coast. They had their hits too I'm sure that we never heard. I remember going to the The Teenage Fair at the Hollywood Palladium. Sort of the precursor to the NAMM show.
Sandy Nelson came up around that time too.
 

kluger

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Started Jr. High in 1961 and everyone I knew wanted to surf. Our parents even let us hitchhike to the beach at Malibu from the San Fernando Valley. Dropped us off at the freeway onramp with a board and a days worth of food at the ripe old age of 13. Surf music was a huge part of my jr. high years that I remember with joy. We danced to it at all of the parties. Then the Beatles arrived. Changed the whole musical landscape.
Now that’s good parenting!
 


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