Surf City (song)

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"Surf City"
Single by Jan and Dean
from the album Surf City and Other Swingin' Cities
B-side "She's My Summer Girl"
Released May 17, 1963 (1963-05-17)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded March 20, 1963 (1963-03-20)
United Western Recorders, Hollywood
Genre Surf rock, pop
Length 2:36
Label Liberty #55580
Writer(s) Brian Wilson, Jan Berry
Producer(s) Jan Berry
Jan and Dean singles chronology
"Linda"
(1963)
"Surf City"
(1963)
"Honolulu Lulu"
(1963)

"Surf City" is a song co-written by Brian Wilson and Jan Berry about a fictitious surf spot where there are "two girls for every boy."[1] It was first recorded and made popular by the American duo Jan and Dean in 1963, and their single became the first surf song to become a national number-one hit.[2]

In 1991, after moving to Huntington Beach, California, Dean Torrence helped convince elected officials that the town be officially nicknamed Surf City, USA.[3] As of 2009, more than 65 businesses in the city included "Surf City" as part of their name.[citation needed]

Jan and Dean version[edit]

The first draft of the song, with the working title "Goody Connie Won't You Come Back Home", was written by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.[4] While at a party with Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, Wilson played them "Surfin' U.S.A." on the piano. Berry and Torrence suggested that they do the song as a single, but Wilson refused, as "Surfin' U.S.A." was intended for the Beach Boys. Wilson then suggested that the duo record "Surf City" instead, demoing the opening, verse, and chorus.[5] Wilson had lost interest in the song and believed he was never going to complete it himself.[6] Berry later contributed additional writing to the song,[1] while Torrence also contributed several phrases, but never insisted that he be given writing credit.[citation needed]

Released in May 1963, two months later it became the first surf song to reach number one on national record charts, remaining at the top of Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.[6][2] The single also crossed over to the Billboard R&B Chart where it peaked at number 3.[citation needed]

Before the single, Jan and Dean made music which was largely inspired by East Coast black vocal group records. The success of "Surf City" gave them a unique sound and identity which would be followed by five more top ten hits inspired by Los Angeles surf or hot rod life.[7]

The Beach Boys' manager and Wilson's father Murry was reportedly irate about the song, believing that Brian had wasted a number one record which could have gone to his group, the Beach Boys. Brian later told Teen Beat, "I was proud of the fact that another group had had a number 1 track with a song I had written ... But dad would hear none of it. ... He called Jan a 'record pirate'."[6]

Personnel[edit]

Per the American Federation of Musicians contract.[8] Two drummers was a sound preference of arranger Billy Strange.[citation needed]

Preceded by
"Easier Said Than Done" by The Essex
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
July 20, 1963 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"So Much in Love" by The Tymes

Other versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Barres, Pamela Des (1996). "Riding the Wild Surf to Deadman's Cove". Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon. St. Martin's Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-312-14853-9. 
  2. ^ a b Marcus, Ben (2013). Surfing: An Illustrated History of the Coolest Sport of All Time. MBI Publishing Company. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-61058-761-7. 
  3. ^ Miller, Michael (April 26, 2011). "Two Bites for Everyone". The Independent. 
  4. ^ Lambert, Philip (19 March 2007). Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4411-0748-0. 
  5. ^ Preiss, Byron (1979). The Beach Boys. Ballantine Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-345-27398-7. 
  6. ^ a b c Badman, Keith (2004). The Beach Boys: The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band, on Stage and in the Studio. Backbeat Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-87930-818-6. 
  7. ^ Gillett, Charlie (2011). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock & Roll. Souvenir Press Limited. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-285-64024-5. 
  8. ^ "Phonograph Recording Contract" (PDF). The Wrecking Crew. American Federation of Musicians. Retrieved 18 June 2012.