26 Miles (Santa Catalina)
|"26 Miles (Santa Catalina)"|
|Single by The Four Preps|
|from the album The Four Preps|
|Format||Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM|
|Songwriter(s)||Bruce Belland, Glen Larson|
|The Four Preps singles chronology|
"26 Miles (Santa Catalina)" is a popular song by the 1950s and 1960s pop band The Four Preps. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Billboard R&B chart in 1958. The song sold over a million copies and the group appeared on several television shows, including The Gisele MacKenzie Show (March 15, 1958) and The Ed Sullivan Show.
The main theme of the song is summed up in the last line in the refrain, stating that Santa Catalina is "the island of romance", with the word "romance" repeated four times.
At the age of 15, the band's lead singer Bruce Belland broke his ankle and took up the ukulele to pass the time while recuperating. He learned four chords, which ended up becoming the song's opening music. The chorus was developed some time later when, while body surfing at a California beach, Belland's friend said he could see Santa Catalina 26 miles away.
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the group amassed eight gold singles and three gold albums. Its million-selling signature tunes included "26 Miles," "Big Man," "Lazy Summer Night," and "Down by the Station." Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb, Marv Ingram, and Glen Larson were students at Hollywood High School and were signed to a recording contract by Capitol Records, after one of Capitol's executives saw them at a talent show at that school in 1956.
Their biggest hit was "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)," which reached #2 in 1958. The record sold over one million copies, earning a gold disc. Glen Larson also receives credit for writing the song, as he contributed to the lyrics.
The song served as an influence to Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson, as well as Jimmy Buffett. Neil Peart, lyricist/drummer of the band Rush, recalls that it is one of the first pop music songs that he remembers listening to as a child, stating "I heard that song many times that year (1958). The chorus echoes readily in memory, with its lilting shuffle."
In popular culture
An alternate chorus in the song includes the words "Forty kilometres in a leaky old boat . . .", a rare mention of a metric unit in American popular music, and a tolerably accurate conversion (26 miles = 41.8 km).
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