Chart Performance: Pop (#3) and R&B (#20); 1963
Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne
Although Brian Wilson was the architect of the Beach Boys‘ sound, he knew nothing about surfing. Such sun-and-sand-related activities were brother Dennis’ specialty. Upon his return from the beach one day in 1961, Dennis encouraged Brian and cousin Mike Love to write a song about the newest beach fad. Recorded crudely and released on the tiny Candix label in December, Surfin’ became an instant hit in LA, and even reached #75 on the national list. Candix soon foundered, and the Beach Boys signed up with Capitol where they immediately capitalized on their earlier success with Surfin’ Safari. Safari crested at #14. The California boys returned to the waves again in the 1963 with a record built on a melody copped directly from Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen. Surfin’ U.S.A. swept to #3 in May: the Beach Boys’ first Top 10 hit. Later, Berry sued to have his name added to Brian’s as co-writer, and both graced a 1974 reissue of Surfin’ U.S.A. that rose to #36.
This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.
- Nick Venet
Lyrics Written by:
- Chuck Berry
- Brian Wilson