Label art for the 7-inch single "Surfin' Bird", with the original songwriting credit.
|Single by the Trashmen|
|from the album Surfin' Bird|
|B-side||"King of the Surf"|
|Released||November 13, 1963|
|the Trashmen singles chronology|
The Rivingtons followed up their 1963 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" with the similar "The Bird's the Word" in 1963. The Trashmen had not heard this version but saw a band called the Sorensen Brothers playing it. They decided to play the song that night at their own gig. During this first performance, drummer and vocalist Steve Wahrer stopped playing and ad-libbed the "Surfin' Bird" middle section. Despite not knowing "The Bird's the Word" was a Rivingtons song, the similarity to "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" was obvious and the Trashmen added the chorus to the end of their new track.
A local disc jockey, Bill Diehl, was at the gig and convinced the band to record the track. It was recorded at Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis. Diehl entered it into a local battle of the bands competition and it won. It was then sent to a battle of the bands competition in Chicago where it also won. This led to the group being signed to Garrett Records with the single being quickly released. It reportedly sold 30,000 copies in its first weekend before going on to national success, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Wahrer was originally credited as the song's writer, but that was changed to the Rivingtons (Al Frazier, Carl White, Sonny Harris, and Turner Wilson Jr.) after the group threatened to sue the Trashmen for plagiarism.
Album track listing
- "Surfin' Bird" (Al Frazier / Sonny Harris / Carl White / Turner Wilson) – 2:23
- "King of the Surf" (Larry LaPole) – 2:30
- "Henrietta" (Jimmy Dee / Larry Hitzfeld) – 2:35
- "Miserlou" (Milton Leeds / Nicholas Roubanis / Bob Russell / Fred Wise) – 2:08
- "Malagueña" (Ernesto Lecuona) – 2:35
- "It's So Easy" (Buddy Holly / Norman Petty) – 2:06
- "Tube City" (Steve Wahrer) – 3:23
- "My Woodie" (Larry LaPole) – 1:55
- "Bird Bath" (Dan Darnold / Dal Winslow) – 2:37
- "Kuk" (Bob Demmon / Rich Fifield / Jim Gallagher / Dennis Lindsey) – 2:05
- "Money" (Janie Bradford / Berry Gordy, Jr.) – 3:12
- "Sleeper" (Larry LaPole) – 2:33
Bonus tracks (CD)
- "Surfin' Bird" [demo version]
- "Bird Dance Beat" [demo version]
- "Walkin' My Baby" (L Mathis / M Mathis)
- "Dancin' with Santa" (L LaPole)
- "Surfin' Bird" was covered by the Cramps as their 1978 debut single on Vengeance Records; it also appeared on their 1979 album Gravest Hits and on their 1983 compilation album Off the Bone. The Cramps often ended their concerts with the song.
- Paul Reubens (as Pee-wee Herman) covered the song on the soundtrack of the film Back to the Beach.
- "Surfin' Bird" was covered by Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo on the maxi single "The Bird" in 1993.
- Orbital sampled heavily from the original version on "Tension" from their 2001 album The Altogether.
- "Surfin' Bird" was covered by Ramones on their Rocket to Russia album, released on November 4, 1977.
- "Surfin' Bird" was covered by Sodom on their 2001 album M-16.
- Poultry-themed punk band the Radioactive Chicken Heads released a cover as a single in June 2017 and later as a music video in August, the same day the band performed the song on the ABC revival of The Gong Show.
- Brazilian rock band Os Cascavelletes made a Portuguese-language version of the song, entitled "Pombo Surfista", for their 1987 demo tape Vórtex Demo.
- Swedish band Hep Stars performed the song for their live album Hep Stars on Stage
- Mike McPadden (2012). If You Like Metallica...: Here Are Over 200 Bands, CDs, Movies, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Backbeat Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4768-1357-8.
-  Archived August 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- "A whole new generation is 'hearing the word'". Herald-journal.com. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- Riemenschneider, Chris (January 23, 2015). "Minnesota's 'Surfin' Bird' makers the Trashmen are riding another wave". StarTribune. Minneapolis, Minn. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- "Cash Box Top 100 1/18/64". 19 July 2014. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter
|deadurl=(help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Official Charts Company - The Chart Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "Top 100 Hits of 1964/Top 100 Songs of 1964". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
- Porter, Dick (January 12, 2015). Journey to the Centre Of The Cramps. Music Sales Limited. p. 141. ISBN 9781783233885.
- Ramones (1977-11-04). "Ramones - Rocket to Russia". Store.ramones.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27.