Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Sunday Chart Bonus

Clark Besch (the guy behind most of the charts we run in our new Saturday Surveys feature) sent me this chart and asked if there was any way I could squeeze it in over the weekend.  

Check out the date ... it's from exactly 52 year ago today!  

And look who's sitting at #3!

Why it's The Beach Boys ... with their very first chart hit "Surfin'", released on the Candix record label.  (Please note ... they're listed here as the "single-word" Beachboys ... which is a bit unusual as I don't think that's the way their name appeared on those early pressings of this 45 ... or, if it is, I've never seen a copy like this.  Even the earlier release on "X" records showed their name as two words:  The Beach Boys.  (Of course, at the time, the "boys" themselves didn't know that the record label had changed their name!)

These were the days when your favorite radio station could help promote the local talent in the area ... and KFWB claims to have been first on board with playing this exciting new track.  As such, The Beach Boys (or The Beachboys) are right up there near the top, sharing chart space with monster hits from 1962 like "Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler, "The Wanderer" by Dion, "The Twist" by Chubby Checker and "Hey Baby" by Bruce Channel.

And they weren't the only artists on the survey with a "surf" tune ... check out The Marketts at #15 with "Surfer's Stomp", (here shown as The Mar-Kets as they were on the Union Label ... before Liberty picked this track up for national release), another example of KFWB helping out the local talent.  (Two years later these guys would have a #3 smash with "Out Of Limits".)  Between surfin' and the twist (in addition to Chubby's hit record you also had "Dear Lady Twist"  by Gary U.S. Bonds, "Percolator (Twist)" by Billy Joe and the Checkmates and "Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee and the Starliters on the chart this week!), it sounds like there was all kinds of "fun in the sun" going on out California way this week in '62!  (kk)

This from Fred Vail after I showed him an advance "sneak peek" of today's chart ..

Greetings, Kent,   
Thanks so much for the chart and for thinking of me. Yes, those were the 'early years' when the world had not yet discovered Brian Wilson and 'the boys.' Southern California  radio, in fact most of the west coast, were on the group early -- compared to much of the US -- and the first two singles, including the Candix "Surfin" single, only went into the 60's on the national charts. "Surfin' USA" changed all that in the spring of '63 -- when it went all the way to #3 in Billboard -- certainly a solid hit. However, it would be nearly a full year later before they actually had their first #1 single, "I Get Around," in the spring of '64.   
In fact, when I produced my very first BB concert -- May 24, 1963 -- at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium -- "Surfin, USA" had peaked at #1 the previous  Friday on the KXOA survey! Talk about perfect timing! (Note: Did you notice that they charted as "The Beachboys," as opposed to "The Beach Boys?") Those were glory days for T-40 radio! I remember the KFWB jingle as if it were yesterday: "KFWB. Channel 98. Color Radio!"    
We had just done the third Sacramento concert on Dec 21, 1963 -- can you imagine playing a city three times in less than eight months -- May, September, December! But the Dec 21st concert was special as it was the one we recorded for release as their "Beach Boys Concert" album and I was blessed to produce and emcee the concert and to introduce them on the album.   
Following that show, I was in LA with 'the boys,' and Brian wanted to show me his new office at the recently opened Sunset - Vine Tower -- yes, at the corner of Sunset Blvd and North Vine -- catty-corner with Wallich's Music City. Brian was so proud of his office which was on one of the higher floors. It faced south -- you could almost see Long Beach and Compton on a 'rare' clear day :) He had a very small office -- I doubt it was 500 square feet. A small lobby / reception area -- a secretary desk but no secretary :), a small pass through hallway with an alcove for a coffee pot, supplies, etc., and a small executive office at the end of the short hallway. It had the only window. He had a large executive leather chair, but no desk, and an upright piano -- no room for a baby grand. He was putting the finishing touches on a new song they would record on January 1, 1964 -- just a few days away. Brian knew I was pretty good at singing along to their music and I'd often join in as we drove to the gigs -- the first few we had borrowed my folk's 1954 Chevy wagon -- and it held three of the guys and all their equipment! So, Bri tells me to join him with a harmony part on the chorus. The song was "Fun, Fun, Fun!"
On December 31st -- New Years Eve -- we had played Bob Eubanks' "Cinnamon Cinder" teen club in San Bernardio -- Carl and Denny were still living at the family home in Hawthorne, and Carl Wilson had just gotten his first car -- a new Pontiac Grand Prix. After the set, which ended slightly before midnight, Carl and I got into his car and we headed back to Hawthorne. KFWB was "counting down the hits of the southland" and played the #1 record of 1963 at the stroke of midnight. You guessed it! "Surfin, USA!"  We let out a yell that I'm sure could be heard all over Southern Cal! 
As always, thanks for the memories, Kent!
Fred / Nashville
Feb 9, 2014