Surf rock was a short lived music phenomenon associated with surf culture found in Southern California and largely apart of Orange County. It was often confined to an isolated region, but had worldwide appeal Surf rock celebrated not just catching the perfect wave, but such carefree adolescent phenomena as the sun, beach, parties, girls and hot rods. This is not to state that all surf music came from the area of the US; on the contrary, there were some very popular groups who adopted the sound as their own from various locations in the US and the world. The musical genre was an extension of rockabilly and 1950s rhythm and blues compositions. It has two major forms: one is instrumental surf rock with an electric guitar or saxophone playing the melody, and the other is vocal surf pop with strong vocal harmonies, including ballads and wild dance music.
Surf rock most popular surf music was recorded between 1961 and 1965 soon making it to mainstream media in the mid 1960’s. Bands that hit the mainstream national audience were Dick Dale, The Chantays, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Ronny and the Datonas and the Ventures. The group that is most popular within the genre is the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys introduced mass market pop vocals to surf music. They were the ultimate surf band for many listeners, simply because they put the appeal of the beach and surfing into words instead of conveying it with loose music. The beach boys first 3 albums have the word “Surfin” or “Surfer”. However, it is Southern California guitarist Dick Dale who is often acknowledged as the ‘Father of Surf Music.’ In the late 1950s, he developed the genre defining ‘reverb sound’ which enabled music lovers to hear the melody lines played on the low end of the strings of a Fender Stratocaster guitar which in turn gave it a wet, dripping-like sound; which was supposed to capture the feel of actually riding the waves.
Once the British invasion hit the American shores, surf music disappeared from the major charts, but has remained popular in local clubs and venues in some regions. Surf music has influenced many artists.
Now a days surf bands are often seen performing in conjunction with classic car shows, and the genre still gets a fair amount of airplay on Oldies and some Classic Rock radio stations. From the early foundations of surf music either surf rock or instrumental, the impact can still be heard in today’s rock and roll music.