Surfin' Safari

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Surfin' Safari
Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released October 1, 1962
Recorded October 3, 1961; April 19, August 8, September 5–6, 1962
Studio Capitol Studios and Hite Morgan Studios, California
Length 24:53
Label Capitol
Producer Nick Venet
The Beach Boys chronology
Surfin' Safari
Surfin' U.S.A.
(1963)Surfin' U.S.A.1963
The Beach Boys UK chronology
Surfin' Safari
(1963) Surfin' Safari1963
Shut Down Volume 2
(1964) Shut Down Volume 21964
Singles from Surfin' Safari
  1. "Surfin'"
    Released: November 1961
  2. "Surfin' Safari" / "409"
    Released: June 4, 1962
  3. "Ten Little Indians" / "County Fair"
    Released: November 26, 1962

Surfin' Safari is the debut studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on October 1, 1962 on Capitol Records. The official production credit went to Nick Venet, though it was Brian Wilson with his father Murry who contributed substantially to the album's production; Brian also wrote or co-wrote nine of its 12 tracks.[1] The album peaked at No. 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts.

The album was preceded by two singles: "Surfin'" and "Surfin' Safari", which charted at Nos. 75 and 14, respectively. The success of "Surfin' Safari" helped secure a full album for the group while an additional single, "Ten Little Indians", was issued, charting at No. 49.


The group is mainly comprised of people from Hawthorne, California, named Wilson … there’s Brian, Dennis, Carl, and their Dad, Murry Wilson, a long-time songwriter who acts as manager for the outfit. Then there’s the boys' talented cousin, Mike Love … who sings both the lead tenor and deep bass parts in their unusual vocal arrangements. … [and] young David Marks, a neighbor of the Wilsons who plays a driving rhythm guitar. Brian, the oldest of the Wilson boys, is the group’s leader and vocal arranger. Carl is the very accomplished lead guitarist, while brother Dennis sings and plays the drums. None of them, incidentally, had any formal training, but they all grew up in an atmosphere where music was a regular part of their lives.

— excerpt taken from the album's original liner notes[1]

In the autumn of 1961, cousins Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed a song on surfing, titled "Surfin'" at the behest of Brian's younger sibling, Dennis Wilson. They quickly formed a band, bringing in the youngest Wilson brother Carl on lead guitar and Brian's high school friend Al Jardine on rhythm guitar. Brian took up bass, Dennis the drums and Mike would be the frontman, while they all would harmonize vocals arranged by Brian. Released that December, produced by Hite Morgan, and backed by "Luau", "Surfin'" made No. 75 in the US Top 100 in early 1962.

Father Murry Wilson became the band's manager. He submitted a professionally recorded demo tape to Capitol Records that spring. The Beach Boys were signed and "Surfin' Safari" b/w "409" (from the April 1962 demo tape) was released as a single that June. Al Jardine left the band after the recording of the song "Surfin'" but before the demo session and album session, replaced by Wilson-family friend David Marks— Jardine would rejoin to form a six-member band in the fall of 1963, appearing on the third studio album. With both "Surfin' Safari" and "409" becoming hits (the former reaching US No. 14), Capitol Records approved a full album. Brian Wilson, who regularly collaborated with Mike Love and Gary Usher, contributed the songs that made up the bulk of the LP.

The second single, "Ten Little Indians", was less successful, reaching only No. 49, with Brian feeling that "Chug-A-Lug" would have made a better follow-up.[1] Though Mike and Brian are the most prominent singers, Dennis makes his first vocal appearance on "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" (shown as "Little Miss America" on the album cover).

Cover artwork[edit]

The front cover of Surfin' Safari features a yellow pickup truck and surfboard, with band mates David Marks (on hood), Dennis Wilson (driver), Mike Love (front roof), Brian Wilson (back roof) and Carl Wilson.[1] The photo was taken on the beach at Paradise Cove, north of Malibu. The picture was taken by in-house Capitol photographer Ken Veeder, in a photo shoot that would also produce the cover for the band's 1963 album Surfer Girl.[original research?]


The album was released through Capitol on October 1, 1962, and peaked at No. 32[1] in its 37-week run on the US charts. In the UK, the album was not released until April 1963, and failed to chart.[citation needed]


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[2]
Blender 3/5 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 2/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[5]

Richie Unterberger, in a retrospective review for AllMusic, feels that most of the songs are substandard, but that as the album was recorded by the Beach Boys themselves rather than session musicians it does offer an opportunity to hear what the band sounded like in the studio.[2]

Live performances[edit]

4 of the 12 songs on the album have been performed live in concert by the Beach Boys. "Surfin' Safari" and "409" are regulars in set lists while "Surfin'" and "Summertime Blues" have been played with varying frequency.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Brian Wilson/Gary Usher except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Surfin' Safari" (B. Wilson/Mike Love) Love 2:05
2. "County Fair" Love 2:15
3. "Ten Little Indians" Love 1:26
4. "Chug-A-Lug" (B. Wilson/Usher/Love) Love 1:59
5. "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" (Herb Alpert/Vincent Catalano) Dennis Wilson 2:04
6. "409" (B. Wilson/Usher/Love) Love 1:59
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Surfin'" (B. Wilson/Love) Love 2:10
2. "Heads You Win–Tails I Lose" Love 2:17
3. "Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart) David Marks and Carl Wilson 2:09
4. "Cuckoo Clock" B. Wilson 2:08
5. "Moon Dawg" (Derry Weaver) instrumental 2:00
6. "The Shift" (B. Wilson/Love) Love 1:52

Some reissue pressings omit "Surfin'" and "Cuckoo Clock", and move "Chug-A-Lug" onto Side two after "Heads You Win".


The Beach Boys
Additional musicians and production staff


Year Chart Position
1963 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 32[7]
Year Single Chart Position
1962 "Surfin' Safari" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 14
1962 "409" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 76
1962 "Surfin'" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 75


  1. ^ a b c d e Leaf, David (1990). Surfin Safari / Surfin U.S.A. (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 
  2. ^ a b Surfin' Safari at AllMusic Allmusic review
  3. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2004). "The Beach Boys Surfin Safari/Surfin U.S.A.". Blender. Archived from the original on June 30, 2006. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4. 
  5. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  6. ^ "The Beach Boys Tour Statistics". Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Surfin' Safari - The Beach Boys: Awards". AllMusic.