The Surfaris were an American surf rock group originating from Glendora, California. They are best known for their Top 10 pop single and now-classic rock and roll track “Wipe Out” during the early 60s music era where surf music reigned supreme, so to speak. Although they are labeled by mainstream music scene as a one hit wonder, the Surfaris also achieved minor hits such as “Surfer Joe” and “Point Panic.” But “Wipe Out” is became the quintessential beach background music, aside from being and oldies music classic. More on the Surfaris here in this article!
Formation and early career
All of the original band members of the Surfaris met each other during their high school days, circa 1962. The band members consisted of drummer and lead singer Ron Wilson, lead guitarist Jim Fuller, rhythm guitarist Bob Berryhill and bassist Pat Connolly.
The band’s only big hit with “Wipe Out”
Rather offhandedly, The Surfaris wrote an instrumental track titled “Wipe Out” which consisted of the standard twelve-bar blues. While they were recording the song they put gimmick emulating a wiping out off a surfboard, as part of the gimmick. This was followed by a rather lunatic-sounding spoken voice: “ha ha ha ha ha, wipe out,” which was the voice of Dale Smallin, the band’s manager at the time of the recording. The track is especially known by Wilson’s high-energy drumming.
Jim Pash, a saxophonist, joined the band after their “Wipe Out” recording sessions.
The single was released on Dot label. It almost reached the top of the Billboard pop charts at #2 in the fall of 1963 (Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips” only prevented it from becoming number one on the chart). It sold over a million copies and became certified gold.
The band after the hit
Up until about the mid-1960s, the Surfaris went on to release about six more albums and a handful of singles, only all to struggle to get a place on the charts (like “Surfer Joe” and “Point Panic” which only peaked at #62 and #49, respectively).
In 1965 Connelly left the band before they embarked their Japanese tour, to be replaced by Ken Forssi. Fuller eventually quit which led to their disbandment in early 1966 (but he would later return to the group).
However, The Surfaris has since reunited in one time or another. Wilson passed away in May 1989, a month short before he turned 45. He had also embarked on a solo career and sung lead vocals on several Beach Boys imitations. Forssi died in 1998 while Pash passed away in 2005. Connolly has since been out of the music business.
Only Fuller and Berryhill are the active members of The Surfaris, with occasional guest band members. In 2015 the band released their latest album The Surfari Hurley Sessions.