Ron Wilson (drummer)

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Ron Wilson (June 1944 – May 12, 1989) was an American musician and recording artist, best known as an original member and drummer of The Surfaris, an early surf rock group of the 1960s. Wilson's energetic drum solo on "Wipe Out" (a #2 US/#5 UK hit) made it the best-remembered instrumental song of the period.

Ron Wilson's drum riff on "Wipe Out" was so striking that "the yardstick for every aspiring young drummer in the early 60s was to be able to play a drum solo called 'Wipe Out'."[1] Wilson played Drums for a high school band Charter Oak Lancers in Covina, California in 1962.[2] Their parents took them to gigs because none of them was old enough to drive. The members were inspired by the guitarist Dick Dale[3] but it was the drummer who inspired their biggest hit. Wilson said he had dreamed of a surfer and with the others wrote a song called "Surfer Joe", sung by Wilson.[2] It was recorded at Pal Studios in Cucamonga[2] in January 1963.

The band needed a B-side and Wilson played a drummer's practice exercise called a paradiddle. Wilson added stresses to what had been a rhythm he played in his school marching band, and the guitarists followed. One of the band members, Bob Berryhill, said:

Ronnie loved Scottish marches and played with our high school Tartan marching band. That came into play coupled with my suggestion of bongo rock-type breaks for an arrangement, a drum-solo type of song with a simple guitar melody. Ronnie started playing the famous Wipe Out solo and in about ten minutes we had the song together.[2]

The band toured in various forms for many years and at times invited members of the audience to attempt Wilson's drum riff while the guitarists played the melody.[1]

He died of a brain aneurysm on May 12, 1989.


  1. ^ a b Pore-Lee-Dunn Productions (1996-04-12). "The Surfaris". Classic Bands. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Official Site - Wipe Out". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  3. ^ "The Surfaris". Musician Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 

It was their manager, Dale Smallin's manic vocal introduction on the Wipeout instrumental.