- Carey Fleiner
Surf music originated in the late 1950s on the West Coast of the United States—especially in Southern California—and reached its peak between 1962 and 1964. The term surf music includes surf-rock, a type of instrumental rock, and surf-pop, a close-harmony, lyrical dance music.
The musical antecedents of surf-rock define its sound: the shimmery twang of the ukulele, imported to Southern California from Hawaii along with surfing as a sport and lifestyle in the 1910s and 1920s; Spanish flamenco guitar and melodies brought to Southern California via Mexican musicians; and rockabilly and early rock and roll by instrumentalists such as Duane Eddy (“Ramrod”) and Link Wray (“Jack the Ripper”). Surf-rock began to emerge as a genre in 1959, and by 1961 instrumental surf-rock dominated dance clubs in Orange County (such as the Rendezvous Ballroom) and local radio station playlists.
While some influential instrumental surf bands came from outside of California (Seattle’s Ventures, Minneapolis’s Trashmen, and Colorado’s Astronauts), most early surf-rock bands gained popularity in Southern California. The first national surf hit, complete with ocean wave sound-effects, was “Bustin’ Surfboards” (...