26 Miles (Santa Catalina)

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"26 Miles (Santa Catalina)"
Single by The Four Preps
from the album The Four Preps
B-side"It's You"
Songwriter(s)Bruce Belland, Glen Larson[1]
The Four Preps singles chronology
"Dreamy Eyes"
"26 Miles (Santa Catalina)"
"Big Man"

"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.[2] The song sold over a million copies[3] and the group appeared on several television shows, including The Gisele MacKenzie Show (March 15, 1958) and The Ed Sullivan Show.



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.[4] The main theme 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.

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 number 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.

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by Dent May on his album Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele.[5]


The song served as an influence to Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson, as well as Jimmy Buffett.[4] 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."[6]

In popular culture[edit]

The song was one of many California-related songs played throughout "Sunshine Plaza" in the original Disney California Adventure.[7]

The song was featured playing on a radio in the opening scene of Bad Times at the El Royale.[8]

SI reference[edit]

An alternate chorus in the song includes the words "Forty kilometers 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).


  1. ^ "secondhandsongs.com". secondhandsongs.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "Artist Search for "the four preps"". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  3. ^ "Catalina Island". Long Beach Press-Telegram. July 6, 2007. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "'26 Miles (Santa Catalina)' The Four Preps | 1957". LA Times. 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  5. ^ "26 Miles (Santa Catalina) - Dent May Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele". AllMusic.
  6. ^ "Magnetic Mirages". NeilPeart.net. August 2007. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  7. ^ "Sunshine Plaza". Theme Park Music. Archived from the original on 2016-08-20. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  8. ^ Frazier, Adam (2018-10-11). "Review: Goddard's 'Bad Times at the El Royale' is Nothin' But a Good Time". FirstShowing. First Showing LLC. Retrieved 2018-10-14. ... "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)" by The Four Preps plays ...

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