Surfin' Bird

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"Surfin' Bird"

Cover of the 1995 re-issue of the album that featured the single
Single by The Trashmen
from the album Surfin' Bird
A-sideSurfin' Bird
B-side"King of the Surf"
ReleasedNovember 13, 1963 (US)
February 20, 1964 (Canada)
Format7"
Recorded1963
GenreSurf rock, garage rock, protopunk
Length2:24
2:20 (Canada)
LabelGarrett (distributed by Soma), Apex (Canada)
Writer(s)Al Frazier
Carl White
Sonny Harris
Turner Wilson Jr.
ProducerJack Bates
The Trashmen singles chronology
-"Surfin' Bird"
(1963)
"Bird Dance Beat"
(1964)
 
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"Surfin' Bird"

Cover of the 1995 re-issue of the album that featured the single
Single by The Trashmen
from the album Surfin' Bird
A-sideSurfin' Bird
B-side"King of the Surf"
ReleasedNovember 13, 1963 (US)
February 20, 1964 (Canada)
Format7"
Recorded1963
GenreSurf rock, garage rock, protopunk
Length2:24
2:20 (Canada)
LabelGarrett (distributed by Soma), Apex (Canada)
Writer(s)Al Frazier
Carl White
Sonny Harris
Turner Wilson Jr.
ProducerJack Bates
The Trashmen singles chronology
-"Surfin' Bird"
(1963)
"Bird Dance Beat"
(1964)

"Surfin' Bird" is a song performed by the American surf rock band The Trashmen, and it is also the name of the album that featured this hit single. It was released in 1963 and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] It is a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons: "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word",[2] which was influenced by Red Prysock's "What's the word? Thunderbird!"[3]

History[edit]

It is widely rumored but highly unlikely that Surfin' Bird's derives from a radio ad jingle advertising Thunderbird as a brand of cheap wine: "What’s the word? Thunderbird. How’s it sold? Good and cold. What’s the jive? Bird’s alive. What’s the price? Thirty twice."[4] The jazz release that reflects common misconception of the wine jingle and is titled, "What's The Word? Thunderbird!" and was issued in record form as Mercury 71214 in October 1957.[5] This release was written by Wilbur Prysock, and performed by Red Prysock.

The Rivingtons followed up their 1962 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" with the similar "The Bird's the Word" in 1963. The Trashmen had not heard this version but saw a band called The Sorensen Brothers playing it.[2] They decided to play the song that night at their own gig. During this first performance, drummer and vocalist Steve Wahrer stopped playing and ad-libbed the "Surfin' Bird" middle section.[2] Despite not knowing "The Bird's the Word" was a Rivingtons song, the similarity to "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" was obvious and The Trashmen added the chorus to the end of their new track.

A local disc jockey, Bill Diehl, was at the gig and convinced the band to record the track.[2] It was recorded at Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis. Diehl entered it into a local battle of the bands competition and it won. It was then sent to a battle of the bands competition in Chicago where it also won.[2] This led to the group being signed to Garrett Records with the single being quickly released. It reportedly sold 30,000 copies in its first weekend[2] before going on to national success, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Wahrer was originally credited as the song's writer, but that was changed to the Rivingtons (Al Frazier, Carl White, Sonny Harris, and Turner Wilson Jr.) after the group successfully sued The Trashmen for plagiarism.

Album track listing[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Surfin' Bird"
  2. "King of the Surf"
  3. "Henrietta"
  4. "Miserlou"
  5. "Malagueña"
  6. "It's So Easy"

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Tube City"
  2. "My Woodie"
  3. "Bird Bath"
  4. "Kuk"
  5. "Money (That's What I Want)"
  6. "Sleeper"

Bonus tracks (CD)[edit]

  1. "Surfin' Bird [Demo Version]"
  2. "Bird Dance Beat [Demo Version]"
  3. "Walkin' My Baby"
  4. "Dancin' with Santa"

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1963)Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 1004[1]
Chart (2009)Peak
position
UK Singles Chart50[6]
Chart (2010)Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7]3

Covers[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Billboard (date unknown). Surfin' Bird on the Billboard Hot 100. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/charts/1964-02-29/hot-100[dead link].
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gueningsman, Ryan (2009-04-27). "A whole new generation is ‘hearing the word’". Herald Journal, 27 April 2009. Retrieved on 2009-04-29 from http://www.herald-journal.com/archives/2009/stories/new-generation-trashmen.html.
  3. ^ 790WAKY's youTube channel (2012-04-29)."45 RPM: Red Prysock - What's The Word? Thunderbird!". Retrieved on 2013-02-20 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE9u49NfE9c.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Grant (2009-06-05). More credible is that the song was a tribute to legendary surfing grest Bird of Bird's Suf Shop in Miami, Florida. Bird stunned the worldwide surfing community with his surfing skills in the late noneten fifties and early sixties, becoming known not only as 'the surfing bird' but as "the East Coast Duke" as well. His shop was the first surf shop in Florida. "Everybody’s heard that the bird is the word (but it’s not what they think)". Absurd Intellectual. Retrieved on 2013-02-20 from http://www.absurdintellectual.com/2009/06/05/everybodys-heard-that-the-bird-is-the-word-but-its-not-what-they-think/comment-page-1/#comment-22581.
  5. ^ "Red Prysock Discography on Mercury". microgroove.jp. Retrieved on 2013-02-20 from http://microgroove.jp/mercury/byArtist/Prysock_Red.shtml.
  6. ^ http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=34336
  7. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart.
  8. ^ http://www.ugo.com/filmtv/top11-classicrock?page=9

External links[edit]