Surfin' Safari is the debut studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on October 1, 1962 on Capitol. Surfin' Safari peaked at number 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts and would be the lowest charting Beach Boys album until Smiley Smile in 1967.
In the autumn of 1961, cousins Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed a song on surfing, titled "Surfin'" at the behest of Brian's younger sibling, Dennis Wilson. They quickly formed a band, bringing in the youngest Wilson brother Carl on lead guitar and Brian's high school friend Al Jardine on rhythm guitar. Brian took up bass, Dennis the drums and Mike would be the frontman, while they all would harmonize vocals arranged by Brian. Released that December, produced by Hite Morgan, and backed by "Luau", "Surfin'" made number 75 in the US Top 100 in early 1962.
Father Murry Wilson became the band's manager. He submitted a professionally recorded demo tape to Capitol Records that spring. The Beach Boys were signed and "Surfin' Safari" b/w "409" (from the April 1962 demo tape) was released as a single that June. Al Jardine left the band after the recording of the song "Surfin'" but before the demo session and album session, replaced by Wilson-family friend David Marks— Jardine would rejoin to form a six-member band in the fall of 1963, appearing on the third studio album. With both "Surfin' Safari" and "409" becoming hits (the former reaching US number 14), Capitol Records approved a full album. Brian Wilson, who regularly collaborated with Mike Love and Gary Usher, contributed the songs that made up the bulk of the LP.
The official production credit on Surfin' Safari went to Nick Venet, though some[who?] have reported Brian Wilson contributed to the production. The second single, "Ten Little Indians", was less successful, reaching only number 49, with Brian feeling that "Chug-A-Lug" would have made a far better follow-up. Though Mike and Brian are the most prominent singers, Dennis makes his first vocal appearance on "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" (shown as "Little Miss America" on the album cover).
In the UK, the album was not released until April 1963, and failed to chart.
The front cover of Surfin' Safari features a yellow pickup truck and surfboard, with band mates David Marks (on hood), Dennis Wilson (driver), Mike Love (front roof), Brian Wilson (back roof) and Carl Wilson. The photo was taken on the beach at Paradise Cove, north of Malibu. The picture was taken by in-house Capitol photographer Ken Veeder, in a photo shoot that would also produce the cover for the band's 1963 album Surfer Girl.
4 of the 12 songs on the album have been performed live in concert by The Beach Boys. "Surfin' Safari" and "409" have become concert staples for the group since their release and have been played on almost all Beach Boys tours, often as part of the "Car Medley" or "Surf Medley".
The two other songs performed live ("Surfin'" and "Summertime Blues") have been played less frequently. "Summertime Blues" was played at several concerts in 1963 when David Marks was still in the band, however it was not played again until 2002 this time with Mike Love on lead vocals. Marks sang the song live for the first time in 50 years during his 2013 tour with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine.
"Surfin'" was also played at several concerts in 1963 following its release. The band also performed it on their 1967, 1981 and 1992 tours. The song was also used, although infrequently, as the opening song during Mike Love and Bruce Johnston's Beach Boys tours in the early 2000s.