Every so often we think it is fun to dig deep into YouTube to find classic videos by early rock and roll bands. Some of these clips are remarkably well preserved and sound great. Well, we just found a fantastic video from the Ted Mack Show all the way back in 1961. In this clip, we get to see a young Rock ‘n’ Roll band called The Continentals perform their big hit “Thunderbird.” The song is great, but wait till you see the singer dance. And if that does not impress you, you are going to be blown away by their drummer’s big solo. This song rocks and you are going to be singing it all day long, once you watch the video.
This song is a great example of a type of Rock ‘n’ Roll called Surf Music. What began as an instrumental style promoted by the likes of Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, grew to include bands like the beach Boys and Jan and Dean who put more emphasis on vocal harmonies than on the musical riffs.
The Continentals may be pioneers bridging the gap between the two sub-genres, and they certainly captured the sound and subjects that the Beach Boys would later make famous.
Songs about cars, girls, and surfing were all the rage in the early sixties. Surf Music bands soon became as popular as the girl groups and Motown acts that dominated the charts. Eventually, The Beach Boys would become one of the most important bands in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.
The Beach Boys were founded in 1961, the same year that “Thunderbird” was a hit. The original lineup included brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, with their cousin Mike Love and neighborhood friend Al Jardine.
Managed by the Wilson’s father, Murry, they quickly became one of the hottest acts in America. Brian Wilson wrote most of their songs and quickly emerged as a genius. His melody lines and lyrics were instantly captivating to audiences and the bands squeaky clean image helped smooth over any apprehensions parents may have had about their kids listening to the music.
However, behind the scenes, things were not always so smooth. Murry Wilson was a harsh taskmaster and abusive to his sons, especially to the precocious genius Brian. Brian also suffered from depression, and he, along with other band mates began to experiment with the rise of California’s drug culture.
Even with all of this baggage, Brian still managed to create one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most ambitious and influential records of all times, “Pet Sounds.” This album was so important to the development of modern Rock music that it has been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as the second greatest record of all time.
Paul McCartney often talks about his feelings for “Pet Sounds, saying that the track “God Only Knows” is his favorite song of all time, and that the record was the inspiration for the Beatles own “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
What is your favorite Surf Music song? Please share your thoughts with us here.