Surf Culture in the 50’s & 60’s

Beautiful beaches, fast cars, and gorgeous women. This was the image associated with California during the 60’s. After WWII, California’s population grew by more than 10 million. Major magazines like Life and Newsweek promoted life in California by calling it “unassuming and carefree” with “plenty” of houses and a “wide open” job market.


Movies like “Slippery When Wet,” “Barefoot Adventure,” “Beach Party,” and “Bikini Beach” also promoted California’s “surf image.” But the biggest aspect of the surf culture was the music. The surf sound originated when Dale of the
Del-tones and Leo Fender, creator of Fender guitars, teamed up to develop an amplifier that would give the fuzzy surf sound. In 1961 “Let’s Go Trippin'” was released by the Del-Tones. This was the first surf song. Soon after songs like “Wipeout,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “Pipeline,” “and “Surfin’ USA” brought the surf culture to the world.

There were two different types of surf music. There were songs with vocals by groups like the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, and then there were intrumentals. The instrumentals usually had extended electric guitar solos. “Pipeline” by Dale and the Del-Tones, and “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures are good examples of
instrumental surf songs. Chuck Berry was a big influence on the surf sound. Jan and Dean used his guitar riffs in two of their songs “Surf City” and “Dead Man’s Curve.” The Beach Boys also used Chuck Berry’s songs in their music.


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