The Trashmen

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The Trashmen
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota
Years active1962–1967, 1982–2016
LabelsSoma, Major Label Records
Past members
  • Steve Wahrer
  • Mark Andreason
  • Tony Andreason
  • Dal Winslow
  • Bob Reed
  • Robin Reed

The Trashmen were an American rock band formed in Minneapolis in 1962.[1] The original line-up of the group featured guitarists Tony Andreason and Dal Winslow, bassist Bob Reed, and drummer Steve Wahrer.

Along with Colorado-based contemporaries the Astronauts, the Trashmen have been described as "the premier landlocked Midwestern surf group of the '60s."[2] The band took their name from "Trashman's Blues", a song written and recorded in 1961 by Minneapolis musician Kai Ray (Richard Caire, 1935–2017), who later wrote songs for the band.[3]



Tony Andreason and Mike Jann were friends who learned and played guitar together, starting in 1955. They primarily played country. In 1957, at the Crystal Coliseum, Tony and Mike met Steve Wahrer, a drummer, Dallas "Dal" Winslow, a guitar player, and a saxophone player. Tony, Steve, Dal, and the saxophone player played as The String Kings for a brief time period. Mike wasn't part of the group, due to being more interested in country music. Tony met Jim Thaxter through Steve and Dale. Jim was a singer who was looking to front a band. "Jim Thaxter and the Travelers" was then formed with the following line-up: Jim Thaxter on lead vocals and guitar (tuned to a bass guitar); Tony Andreason on lead guitar; Dal Winslow on rhythm guitar; Tom Diehl on piano; and Steve Wahrer on drums. In Spring 1961, the group took a break as Tony and Jim had to go into the military. In February or March 1962, the two returned. However, disagreements on musical direction between the two caused Tony to leave the band. Steve and Dal left with him.

Early Trashmen[edit]

Don (Woody) Wood, a bass player, joined the group. Steve made the decision to call the band "The Trashmen" when a friend of Don's showed them an album by guitarist Tony Caire, alias Kai Ray, titled "The Trashmen's Blues." The group was primarily an instrumental group, with occasional lead vocals by Steve. Steve began to sing more and more. Tony has occasionally sung lead. Don left the band and was replaced by Bob Reed, picked from an audition. The group gained an interest in surf rock after listening to Dick Dale. A song called "Surfin' Bird" was conceptualized by Steve and was instantly liked by their audience at shows.[4]

"Surfin' Bird" as first success[edit]

Cover of the 1995 reissue of the album featuring the hit single

The Trashmen's biggest hit was 1963's "Surfin' Bird",[1] which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the latter part of that year. The song was a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, "The Bird's the Word" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow".[5] Early pressings of the single credit the Trashmen's drummer and vocalist Steve Wahrer as the composer, but following a threat from The Rivingtons' legal counsel, the writing credit was removed from Wahrer and transferred to the members of The Rivingtons.[6]

The song was later covered by The Ramones, The Cramps, Silverchair, The Psychotic Petunias, Pee-wee Herman, Equipe 84, and the thrash metal band Sodom. It has also been featured in several films, including Full Metal Jacket, Fred Claus, Pink Flamingos, Back to the Beach, and The Big Year.

"Surfin' Bird" was the subject of the episode "I Dream of Jesus" of the television series Family Guy, sending the song to No. 8 on the iTunes Top 10 Rock songs chart and No. 50 on the UK Singles Chart in 2009. It has since become a running gag on the show.[who?]

In 2010, a Facebook campaign was launched to send the song to No. 1 in the UK over the Christmas season; this was largely intended (as with Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name", in 2009) as a protest against the takeover of the Christmas No. 1 spot by The X Factor winner's song. The track debuted in the UK Top Ten for the first time on December 19, at No. 3.

It was also featured in the video game Battlefield Vietnam.

Continuing of music career[edit]

Beyond "Surfin' Bird", The Trashmen experienced limited success. In 1964, "Bird Dance Beat" reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States[7] and was a top 10 hit in Canada. The group disbanded in 1967. A four-CD box set of their work was released by Sundazed Records.[8]


The group made sporadic reunions in the 1970s and 1980s, performing together until Steve Wahrer died of throat cancer in 1989.[9][10] Later, Tony Andreason's brother Mark replaced Wahrer as drummer. Reed's son Robin joined as a touring member in 2009 on drums, filling in for Mark Andreason.

In 1999, the Trashmen played at the Las Vegas Grind. They also performed in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Spain in 2007 and 2008.

The Trashmen toured Europe in 2008 and in 2010, performing in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

The band recorded four tracks at Custom Recording Studios in Golden Valley, Minnesota, with longtime fan and guitarist Deke Dickerson, for the record label Major Label, releasing the 7-inch EP I'm a Trashman in March 2013. A full-length follow-up LP, Bringing Back the Trash, was released in April 2014. After several 2015 shows in the band's hometown of Minneapolis, the band re-entered retirement.


Classic line-up[edit]

  • Tony Andreason – lead guitar, vocals (1962–1967, 1970s, 1982–2016)
  • Dal Winslow – rhythm guitar, vocals (1962–1967, 1970s, 1982–2016)
  • Bob Reed – bass guitar, vocals (1962–1967, 1970s, 1982–2016)
  • Steve Wahrer – drums, lead vocals (1962–1967, 1970s, 1982–1989) Wahrer died of throat cancer in 1989.

Other members[edit]

  • Jim Woody – bass guitar (1962); replaced by Bob Reed
  • Mark Andreason – drums, backing vocals (1989–probably 2009)
  • Robin Reed – drums, backing vocals (2009–2016)
  • Deke Dickerson – guitar (2013–2014 (possibly featured in other years))



Year Album Label Reissue US 200 Notes
1963 Surfin' Bird Garrett Sundazed (1995) 48[11]
1965 Bird Dance Beat Garrett Soma (1996±) Debatably a compilation. The recordings span a range of time, but none were featured on Surfin' Bird and only one on The Great Lost Trashmen Album. The album was released during the original era of the band.
1989 Comic Book Collector NPR
1994 The Great Lost Trashmen Album!
2014 Deke Dickerson and the Trashmen: Bringing Back the Trash Major Label Records

Compilations, live albums, and EPs[edit]

Year Album Label Reissue Notes
1990 Live Bird '65–'67 Sundazed Live album
1992 Tube City!: The Best of the Trashmen Compilation album
1998 Bird Call!: The Twin City Stomp of the Trashmen 4-CD box set Compilation album
2009 Teen Trot: Live At Ellsworth, WI, August 22, 1965 Live album
2013 I'm a Trashman Tracklisting
  1. "I'm a Trashman"
  2. "Torture"
  3. "Bop a Lena"
  4. "Brewski"


Year Single B-side Peak positions Album
1963 "Surfin' Bird" "King of the Surf" 4 3 Surfin' Bird
1964 "Bird Dance Beat" "A-Bone" 30 Bird Dance Beat
1964 "Bad News" "On the Move" 124 Bird Dance Beat
1964 "Peppermint Man" "New Generation" Bird Dance Beat
1964 "Whoa Dad" "Walking My Baby" Bird Dance Beat
1964 "Dancing with Santa" "Real Live Doll" Bird Dance Beat
1965 "Hanging on Me" "Same Lines" Bird Dance Beat
1965 "Bird '65" "Ubangi Stomp" Bird Dance Beat
1965 "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" "Lost Angel"
1967 "Green, Green Backs Back Home" "Address Enclosed"


  1. ^ a b Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Astronauts Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  3. ^ Miguel Otárola, "Richard Caire, rock 'n' roll musician known as Kai-Ray, dies at 81", Star Tribune, June 24, 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2019
  4. ^ "Trashmen". Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  5. ^ Scholtes, Peter S. (October 14, 1998). "Birdland Revisited". City Pages. Archived from the original on May 21, 2001.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ "The Trashmen – Surfin' Bird" at Discogs
  7. ^ Koda, Cub. "The Trashmen Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "The Trashmen – Bird Call". Sundazed Records. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  9. ^ "Trashmen Drummer Steve Wahrer Dies At 47". AP News. Associated Press. January 23, 1989. Archived from the original on March 8, 2020.
  10. ^ Simmonds, Jeremy (2008). The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches. Chicago Review Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-1556527548. Steve Wahrer (born November 22, 1941 in Minnesota – January 21, 1989)
  11. ^ "The Trashmen | Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010.

External links[edit]