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The Beach Boys @ 50 years
As The Beatles in Sgt. Pepper, "it was twenty years ago today"... well, not quite, but if there was ever a new sound for American rock music that ignited the youth as The Beatles did, it would be The Beach Boys. This band is as iconic as the Fab Four. Yet, it predates the Beatles by three years.
It was in mid-October, 1961, that the Pendletones recorded their first composition, Surfin, for Candix Records. It took 12 takes to capture the iconic sound and remixing. When the single was released in mid-November, the band was shocked to see their name had changed to, the Beach Boys! Changed by their undeclared manager. The song faced stiff competition from Elvis, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson and so on, thus, it slowly rose on the charts. Much of the promotions were in song contests with DJs playing five new singles and fans deciding the best. When Surfin was played in such a contest, the band members rallied everyone they knew to call in and vote for Surfin. The Beatles did exactly the same thing with their first single, Love Me Do ( in fact, Brian Epstein, their manager, bought 10,000 copies of the record) that only got to number 17 on the Top 100).
Being from LA, the Beach Boys had a fan base. The most odd thing about this debut for the American band was that Surfin, which was an original composition, was not the song they wanted to release. The song they wanted to record had been done by the Four Freshman, "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring". You see, the Beach Boys, unlike the Beatles, were novices at playing instruments. Thus, when the Wilson parents went on a vacation to Mexico, they left their teen boys (Brian, Dennis, Carl) money for food. The money went to buy guitars and drums and related amps and that is when Surfin took shape and the boys learned how to play instruments!
Since that humble start, The Beach Boys became a real competitor for the Beatles, as the Rolling Stones had. However, The Beatles dominated the music scene in 1964-6, with only occasional competition by their American equivilient The Beach Boys. Like the Fab Four, the Beach Boys sound was so distinctive, one could immediately know which band it was.