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(Read all about the Surfaris after the video)
The Surfaris were an American surf rock band formed in Glendora, California in 1962. They are best known for two songs that hit the charts in the Los Angeles area, and nationally by May 1963: "Surfer Joe" and "Wipe Out", which were the A-side and B-side of the same 45 rpm single.
The original band members were Ron Wilson (drums, vocals), Jim Fuller (lead guitar), Bob Berryhill (rhythm guitar) and Pat Connolly (bass).
In the fall of 1962, Southern California high school students Jim Fuller and Pat Connolly called friend and guitarist Berryhill for a practice session at Berryhill's house. The trio practiced for about 4 hours and met drummer Wilson at a high school dance later that evening, whereupon the band was born. "Wipe Out" was written and recorded by the quartet later that winter, with the song reaching #2 nationally in 1963 before becoming an international hit.
Saxophone player Jim Pash joined after their "Wipe Out"/"Surfer Joe" recording sessions at Pal Studios.
Wilson's energetic drum solo made "Wipe Out" one of the best-remembered instrumental songs of the period. "Wipe Out" is also remembered particularly for its introduction. Before the music starts, Berryhill's dad broke a board (imitating a breaking surf board) near the mic, followed by a maniacal laugh and the words "Wipe Out" spoken by band manager Dale Smallin. "Wipe Out" was written in the studio by the four original members (Berryhill, Connolly, Fuller, and Wilson). It was initially issued on the tiny DFS label (#11/12) in January 1963. It was reissued on the tiny Princess label (#50) in February 1963. It was picked up by Dot (45-16479) in April 1963, and later reissued as Dot 45-144 in April 1965. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
Disbanding and reformation
The band released a series of records, with two other singles, "Surfer Joe" (written and sung by Wilson) and "Point Panic" (another group-composed instrumental), having an impact on the charts. Point Panic is a renowned surfing venue in Hawaii after which the song was named.
The original 1963 membership remained intact until August 1965 when Connolly departed before their Japanese tour. Ken Forssi replaced him on bass for the tour. Fuller resigned after the tour and the band folded in early 1966.
The group has periodically reunited and are still active, performing and recording, often re-recording their old and new songs. Drummer Ron Wilson died on May 12, 1989, one month short of his 45th birthday. Wilson had released an album of his songs, entitled Lost It In The Surf, on Bennet House Records of Grass Valley, California, which was recorded in June 1987. A very small number of cassettes of this album were produced. Lost It in the Surf included a cover of "Louie Louie", complete with Scottish bagpipes. Forssi died from a brain tumor in 1998, and Pash died from heart failure in 2005.
Bob Berryhill currently performs worldwide under the Surfaris banner as "Bob Berryhill's Surfaris." The Surfaris with Bob Berryhill in 2015 released a critically acclaimed album entitled "The Surfaris Hurley Sessions.". See discography below.
Connolly has since left the music business.
Jim Fuller played with his own band, "Jim Fuller and the Beatnik". He died on March 3, 2017 in Monrovia, California at age 69.
"Wipe Out" hoax
Following the death of television personality Morton Downey, Jr., news reports and obituaries incorrectly credited him as the composer of "Wipe Out" (as well as The Chantays' "Pipeline"). As of 2010, Downey's official website continued to make this claim but it has been changed to state he "also played major roles in the production of the hit surf music era songs Pipeline and Wipeout."