Sausalito Summernight

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"Sausalito Summer Night"
Sausolito Summernight.gif
picture sleeve from the original
1980 Netherlands release
Single by Diesel
from the album Watts in a Tank
B-side"Bite Back" (1981 Netherlands re-release b/w "My Kind of Woman")
Released1980, 1981 (Netherlands)
1981 (international)
Format7" single
StudioDMC Studio (Baarn)
GenrePower pop
LabelPolydor (Netherlands)
Regency (US/ Canada)
Songwriter(s)Mark Boon, Rob Vunderink
Producer(s)Pim Koopman
Diesel's Netherlands singles chronology
"Sausalito Summer Night"
"Leader of the Pacman"
Diesel's US/ Canada singles chronology
"Sausalito Summernight"
"Goin' Back to China"

"Sausalito Summernight" is the title of a 1981 U.S. Top 40 hit by Nederpop band Diesel. It was fourth of four singles issued from the band's 1980 debut album Watts in a Tank, the final three of which became chart hits. It was the greatest hit from the LP (U.S. #25).

The track became a #1 hit in Canada.[1] It was also their only charting single there.


The song was written in 1979 by Diesel members Mark Boon and Rob Vunderink at Boon's parental home in the Hague: (Rob Vunderink quote:) "I came up with the riff, [Boon] added some chords, and then I came up with the melody", the song's tune being completed in roughly an hour's time. The lyrics were written the following day by Boon who in 1962 - at age 11 - had moved to Los Angeles and had lived in California until 1967,[2], [3] and had also sojourned in California prior to joining Diesel in 1978:[4][5] Boon would later recall that he had spent time in Sausalito the summer before writing the song.[6]

Gene Triplett (The Oklahoman) on "Sausalito Summernight"
"A remarkably American-sounding pop-rocker [that's] hook- & harmony-laden fare...The guitar chops are loose & goosey, the melody is upbeat & instantly engaging, & the lyrics invoke the smell of salt sea air & the exhilaration of cruising on Friday night with the top down & inhibitions cast to the wind."[7]

An ironic car ode, the lyrics of "Sausalito Summernight" focus on a couple driving a "clunker" north from Los Angeles to San Francisco who take a breather in Sausalito, four miles from San Francisco (and in fact to its north).

In other countries, the track is known as "Sausolito Summernight", as a result of a misspelling on the Netherlands releases of the single and the album. This was corrected on the 1981 U.S. and Canadian releases.[8]

Although eventually afforded classic hit status in the Netherlands, "Sausalito Summernight" was only a modest chart success in its original 1980 local release, but did in 1981 became a U.S. Top 40 hit and also reach #1 in Canada: further international releases ensued but - apart from nicking the charts in a Netherlands re-release[9] - with no further success.

"Sausalito Summernight" was oft-cited as a Steve Miller Band soundalike:[10][11] [12][13]eg. "'Sausalito Summernight' is a top-notch number with power, melody and snap that sounds like the seemingly defunct Steve Miller Band at more than its best" (from Pittsburgh Press 18 October 1981).[14] In fact "Sausalito Summernight" would reach the U.S. Top 40 a week prior to the 23 October 1981 release of Circle of Love, the first non-compilation Steve Miller Band album in four years, with the Top 40 tenure of that album's lead single: "Heart Like a Wheel", overlapping with that of "Sausalito Summernight" for four weeks in November 1981.[15]

It was reported in December 1981 that "Sausalito Summernight" had sold 600,000 units worldwide.[16]

Netherlands release and reception[edit]

"Sausolito Summernight" was introduced on Diesel's debut album Watts in a Tank, whose producer Pim Koopman would recall that the recording of "Sausolito Summernight" cost half the budget for the entire album.[17] Watts in a Tank had been recorded in 1979 subsequent to the band's first single: "Goin' Back to China", reaching #34 on the [Netherlands] Single Top 50: upon the album's March 1980 release - by which time the advance single: "Down in the Silvermine", had charted at #16 - Koopman and the band members all considered "Sausolito Summernight" the obvious choice for single release:however Diesel's label Polydor chose another album cut: "Alibi", and only after "Alibi" proved a flop did Polydor give single release to "Sausolito Summernight" - edited to 3:30 from the 5:06 album track - which afforded the group a modest chart comeback peaking at #33.[18]

The track's U.S. Top 40 success in the autumn of 1981 - see Section 3 below - would occasion its re-release in the Netherlands, with a resultant one-week tenure in the Single Top 50 at #49.[19] However despite the lack of interest generated by "Sausolito Summernight" in its Netherlands releases, the track would eventually earn the status of a classic hit in the Netherlands, evinced by its appearing in the Top 2000 almost every year since 1999 ranking as high as #984 (in 2000).[20]

U.S./ Canadian release and reception[edit]

Veteran record producer Kim Fowley discovered Diesel via his affiliation with Southern Music with whom Diesel had a pact, and Fowley's advocacy led to the U.S. rights for Diesel's recordings being acquired by the independent Regency label in 1981.[21][22] Ensuant to the U.S. release of its parent album: Watts in a Tank, the last week of May 1981, the track "Sausalito Summernight" quickly garnered airplay on FM radio - WWCK-FM in Flint (Michigan) is credited with inaugurating the track's U.S. airplay - ;[22][23] however while Regency's U.S. distributor MCA Records did release a promo single of "Sausalito Summernight" (edited to 3:06) the track did not have a commercial single release until August 1981 when Regency switched distribution from MCA to Atlantic Records who issued "Sausalito Summernight" as a single - formatted to 3:30 as in its original Netherlands release - within a week of contracting with Regency.[24]

The single of "Sausalito Summernight" debuted on the Hot 100 in Billboard dated 12 September 1981 at #86. Diesel's producer Pim Koopman would later allege that his perusal of Billboard showed "Sausalito Summernight" strongly supported throughout the United States with the "curious" exception of Sausalito's home state of California:[17] the track - which did in fact rank in the Top 20 on hit parades for the California cities of San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and San Jose - was indeed supported in U.S. secondary markets over a wide geographic range, including Top Ten rankings in hit parades in New England, the South - including Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Texas - and in the states of Arizona and Nevada.[25]However after reaching the Top 40 in October 1981, "Sausalito Summernight" began to lose traction, the final quarter of the year evidently unfavorable to this summer-themed song. The single was afforded an "eleventh hour" top-tier market breakout when playlisted in mid-October by Chicago Top 40 station WLS (AM): with a peak of #18,[26] the WLS hit parade tenure of "Sausalito Summernight" failed to significantly augment the track's Top 40 fortunes, the track peaking at #25 on the Hot 100 dated 21 November 1981.[5][27]

In its Canadian release - distributed by Regency through RCA Records - "Sausalito Summernight" received airplay on the nation's flagship Top 40 station: CHUM (AM) out of Toronto, as early as July 1981: debuting at #27 on the CHUM Chart dated 1 August 1981, the track was promptly playlisted throughout the CHUM Limited broadcasting chain - which included CFRW in Winnipeg and CFUN in Vancouver - with airplay spreading to additional stations:[26] in the RPM magazine issued 29 August 1981 - immediately after the Canadian release of "Sausalito Summernight" as a commercial single - the track (which that week ranked #1 on the hit parade for CFRW and ranked at #2 by CHUM-AM) debuted on the National 50s Single Survey at #5, moving up to #1 on the chart dated 5 September 1981.[28] Ultimately ranked at #13 on the listing of the biggest hits of the year,[29] "Sausalito Summernight" in December 1981 had its Canadian sales reported as 100,000 units.[16]


  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1981-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Oklahoman 13 December 1981 "Tour of U.S. Gives Group New Outlook" by Gene Triplett p.98
  4. ^ Michaels, Randdolph (2005). Flashbacks to Happiness: 80s music revisited. Lincoln, Nebraska: ¡Universe. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-595-81415-2.
  5. ^ a b "Diesel". External link in |website= (help)
  6. ^ Boon, Mark (March 7, 2018). "Interview with Mark Boon". In Gesprek Met... (Interview). Interviewed by Jan-Willem van den Akken. Rosmalen NL: TV73.
  7. ^ The Oklahoman 1 December 1981 "'Diesel' Provides High-Octane Disc" by Gene Triplett p.S16
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Billboard Vol 93 #25 (27 June 1981) p.70
  12. ^ Cash Box Vol 43 #17 (12 September 1981) p.13
  13. ^ Quad-City Times "This is a recording" by Mike Kuchta 4 October 1981 p.51
  14. ^ Pittsburgh Press 18 October 1981 "Books & Music" by Pete Bishop p.J-6
  15. ^ Billboard Vol 93 #42 (24 October 1981) p.33
  16. ^ a b Billboard Vol 93 #51 (26 December 1981) p.76
  17. ^ a b Koopmann, Pim (December 26, 2003). "Interview with Mark Boon, Rob Vunderink & Pim Koopman". Top 2000 à Go-Go (Interview). Interviewed by Matthijs van Nieuwkerk. Hilversum NL: Nederlandse Programma Stichting.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Steffen Hung. "Diesel [NL] - Sausolito Summernight". Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b Billboard Vol 93 #45 (14 November 1981) p.B-10
  23. ^ Flint Voice 19 March - 1 April 1982 p.7
  24. ^ Billboard Vol 93 #40 (10 October 1981) p.12
  25. ^ Billboard Vol 93 #35 - #51 (5 September - 26 December 1981) "Singles Radio Action"
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^ "Cookies op -". External link in |website= (help)
  28. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1981-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  29. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1981-09-05. Retrieved 2018-10-02.

External links[edit]