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Surf music has its roots in instrumental rock music from the 50s and early 60s by groups like Link Wray and the Raymen, Duane Eddy, The Ventures, The Fireballs, Johnny And The Hurricanes, Santo and Johnny, The Shadows, The Spotniks, Los Jets, The Champs, The Fendermen, and The Fabulous Wailers. It incorporates a wide spectrum of additional elements such as rockabilly, R&B, cowboy, spy, country & western, jazz, flamenco, Mexican, Latin and Middle Eastern. Instrumental surf music is quite different from vocal surf music, performed by such groups as Jan and Dean or, with some exceptions, the Beach Boys, that sings about surfing. Where vocal surf bands sing about surfing, instrumental surf bands instrumentally create the sensation of actually surfing. Vocal surf music deals mainly with the lifestyle associated with the surf scene - while instrumental surf music is about the raw experience of confronting the elements.

Early pioneers of surf music include The Bel-Airs, whose song "Mr. Moto" was released in May 1961, and Dick Dale. With his band, The Del-Tones, Dick Dale's first instrumental "Let's go trippin'" was released in August 1961. Dick Dale was the first to use a prototype of the guitar reverb unit developed by The Fender Music Company. The reverb unit provides the wet echo that is a major component of the surf sound. Dick Dale also, through his work with Leo Fender, was instrumental in the development of the Fender Dual Showman amplifier. Many traditional surf bands used Fender Jaguar, Jazzmaster or Stratocaster guitars, Fender Showman amps, and the Fender outboard reverb unit; however, any guitar and amp with reverb can be used to play surf music.

Much classic surf is now available in a variety of formats. Excellent reviews, a history of surf music, and other information can be found on Reverb Central ("Surfmeister" Phil Dirt's home page). A very interesting discography of surf music is: The illustrated discography of surf music, 1961-1965, 3rd ed., by John Blair (Ann Arbor, MI : Popular Culture, 1995). Also essential is the 364 page dictionary with discographies: Surfin' guitars : instrumental surf bands of the sixties, 2nd ed., by Robert J. Dalley (Ann Arbor, MI : Popular Culture, Ink., 1996).

Some Classic Surf Bands:

The Astronauts
The Atlantics
Johnny Barakat and the Vestells
The Bel-Airs
Al Casey
The Centurians
The Challengers
The Chantays
The Cornells
The Crossfires
Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
Eddie & the Showmen
The Fender Four
Johnny Fortune
Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics
The Impacts
The Journeymen
Jim Messina & his Jesters
The Lively Ones
The Marketts
Dave Myers and the Surftones
The New Dimensions
The Nocturnes
The Original Surfaris
The Pyramids
Los Relampagos
The Revels
The Rhythm Rockers
The Sentinals
The Superstocks
The Surfaris
Takeshi Terauchi
The Tornadoes
The Trashmen
Bob Vaught and the Renegaids
The Ventures
Jim Waller and the Deltas

In addition to the bands listed above, countless other bands issued great, reverb-drenched surf singles in the early sixties that can be found on many of the compilations that are available.

Today, there are a prolific number of instrumental surf bands playing in nearly every city the world over, pushing the envelope of what surf music is and infusing new life into this exciting genre. Due to the sporadic nature of many of these bands, a comprehensive list of current or almost current surf/instrumental bands is very difficult to maintain. Check out the Surf Guitar 101 site for news, show announcements, show reports, reviews, web based discussion forums, a database of useful links, surf music FAQ's, photos, events calendar, etc. Also, excellent reviews can be found at Reverb Central. Finally, in addition to listening to my own Big Surf Radio show, Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00 p.m., on WOBC 91.5 FM, look at my playlists and listen to some of the other excellent surf shows listed below.

Below are some current or recent surf bands, all of which you can hear on my Big Surf Radio show. Feel free to Google any of these names to find out more (just copy and paste into the Google search box to the right; enclosing the names in quotation marks will help; also, non-distinctive band names might need words such as "surf" added):

Some Modern Surf Bands:

3 Balls of Fire
9th Wave
13 Tikis
'63 Burnout
The 427's
The A-Phonics
Acapulco Riders Band
Achtung Rakete!
The Aftons
Les Agamemnonz
Agent Octopus
Agent Twang!
The Air Cats Band
Davie Allan and the Arrows
Robbie Allen and the Outer Edge
Aloha Screwdriver
The Alohas
The Alvarados Alwaro Negro
Os Ambervisions
The AmpFibians
The Amino Acids
The Anacondas
Thee Andrews Surfers
Angle 39
Antena Tres
The Apehangers
The Apemen
The Apollo Four
The Aqua Velvets
Aqua Vista
The Aqualads
The Aquamarines
The Aquamen
The Aquanauts
The Aquatudes
The Archers
Os Argonautas
Los Asskickers Enmascarados
The Astroglides
The Atlantics
Atomic 7
The Atomic Blast
The Atomic Mosquitos
The Awkwards
The Bahareebas
The Balboas
The Balls
Balu & die Surfgrammeln
The Bambi Molestors
The Bananas
Los Banditos
Bang! Mustang!
Banned from the Beach
The Barbarellatones
The Barbwires
The Baronics
The Bastard Sons of Neptune
Bat City Surfers The Batesville Ghouls
Bay of Pigs
The Baywatchers
Beach Coma
The Beat Tornados
Thom Beckman
The Beloved Invaders
The Berzerkers
Bevel Emboss
Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion
The Beyonderers
The Biarritz Boys
Big Galoot
Big Lazy
Big Ray and the Futuras
Big Surf
The Bikini Bombers
Bikini Men
The Binge Birke Maier Trio
Bitch Boys
Kev Black and the Muffdivers
The Black Widows
Blacque Jacque Shellacque
The Blanks
Blazing Surfboards
The Blue Demons
The Blue Hawaiians
Los Blue Marinos
The Bomboras
The Bone Sharks
Bongo King
Bongo Surf
Boss Fink
The Boss Martians
The Brainwashers
Bradipos IV
Brazil 2001
The Break
The Breakaways
The Brimstones
Mark Brodie & the Beaver Patrol
Boss Fink
Buckaroo Bandits
Búfalos D´água
Bum Shakers
Der Bunker
Cadillac Angels
The Cadillac Hitmen
The Calrizians
Cannibal Mosquitos
The Cannibals
Los Cataclismos
The Cavaliers
Cave 4
Chachi, BobaFett and the Wookiee
The Charades
The Chewbaccas
Chief Firewater Surf Band
Martin Cilia
The Civil Tones
The Closet Surfers
Los Cobras
The Cocktail Preachers
The Coffin Daggers
Colonel Klink
The Concaves
The Concrete Rivals
The Concussions
Miles Corbin
Los Coronas
The Corsairs
Crazy Aces
The Creepers
The Creepniks
The Crickettes (featuring Zoe McCulloch)
The Crimson Ghosts
The Crimson Ghosts (Massachusetts)
The Cruncher
The Cuban Cowboys
Los Cuchillos
The D-Rays
Dick Dale
Ray Daytona and the Googoobombos
The Daytonas
Arno De Cea & The Clockwork Wizards
Dead Man's Curve
The Dead Rocks
The Deadlies
Laramie Dean
Death Valley
The Deep End
The Defiant Ones
The Del Mars
Del Noah and the Mt. Ararat Finks
Teisco Del Rey
The Del Rios
The Del Vipers
The Deoras
The Derangers
Los Derrumbes
Destination Earth
The Detonators
The Diamondheads
The Dingos
Dirk Doom and the Overdrive Orchestra
Django Twango
Docteur Legume et Les Surfwerks
Don't Fear the Reverb
Double Naught Spies
Double Naught Spy Car
Dr Frankenstein
Dr. Reverb
Dr. Surf
Dr. Tasty
Drifting Sand
Buddy Dughi
Dunlop Devils
The Dynamic Subarashii
The Dynotones
East Coast Tremors
Nokie Edwards
The El Caminos
The El Dorados
El Ray
The Eliminators
The Evanstones
The Evil Eyes
The Exotics
The Extremes
The Fabulous Breaker Boys
Fabulous Nomads
The Fabulous Planktones
The Falcons
Merrell Fankhauser
Los Fantasticos
I Fantomatici
Fascinating Creatures of the Deep
The Fathoms
The Fellows
Fenomeno Fuzz
Fifty Foot Combo
The Fin-Dicators
The Five
Los Flamingos
The Flaps
Flying Ali Baba & The Radical New Waves
Les Fradkin and Get Wet
Frankie & the Poolboys
The Frantic V
G i O
The Galaxians
The Gasolines
Gein and the Grave Robbers
Get Three Coffins Ready
The Ghastly Ones
Ghostman & Sandman
The Ghosttones
Glamour Puss
The Goldfingers
The Good, The Bad
The Grande Bois
The Grease Monkeys
The Greaseballs
The Green Reflectors
Greenwich Alley
The Gremmies
GT Stringer
The Gypsy Surfers
The Halibuts
Hang-Ten Hangmen
Happy Times
Hawaii Samurai
The Hawaiian Astro Boys
Hazze One Line
Hella Vader
The Hellbenders
Herman the German
The Hi-Frequencies
The High Fidelics
The Hillbilly Soul Surfers
Da HoBras
Brian Hoeflich and the All-Nighters
Randy Holden (of The Fender IV)
The Hollow Grinders
The Honkeys
The Howlin' Thurstons
Huevos Rancheros
Hula Hoop
The Human Tornadoes
Huntington Bitches
The Huntington Cads
Husky & the Sandmen
The Hydrotones
The Hypnomen
The Hypnotic IV
The Illuminators
The Illuminoids
The Impacts
The Incredible Sucking Spongies
The Infernos
The Infoiatis
The Infrareds
The Insanitizers
Insect Surfers
The Interceptors
The Intruders
The Invisible Surfers
The Irradiates
The Irreversible Slacks
The Isotopes
The Jacks
Jaguar & The Savanas
Thee Jaguar Sharks
The Jars
Los Jets
The Jim Lindseys
Paul Johnson
Robert Johnson and Punchdrunks
Jon & the Nightriders
Jonnie Dog & The Dingos
Simon Jones
Jones Beach
Jonnie Dog & The Dingos
Jonny and the Shamen
Kahuna Kawentzmann
Los Kahunas
Kaiser Bill's Batmen
The Kanaloas
KB and the Riptides
The Kilaueas
Kill, Baby...Kill!
The Killer Bananazz
Killer Wail
King Beez (Matt Groopie)
King Charles Head
The King Kongs
King of Hawaii
King Pelican
Kings of Makaha
Kingsway Cowboy And The Hydraulics
The Knights
Knuckel Drager
Die Kosmonauten
The Krontjong Devils
Laika & the Cosmonauts
Ronnie Lake
The Lava Rats
Light Valley Shadows
Michael Lindner
The Lo-Fi Drifters
Lobos Negros
Jake Logan and the Midnight Riders
The Lombego Surfers
The Long Boards
Longboard Ranch
The Longhorn Devils
The Looney Tunes
Lords of the Highway
Lost Acapulco
Lost Lake
The Lo-Fi Drifters
The Lowtides
The Luau Cinders
The Lunar Tiki's
The Lunatics
The Mach IV
The Madeira
Maeds Dominos
Los Magnificos
Mal and the Longboarders
Malibu (Surf Power Trio)
The Maladroits
The Man From RavCon
Man or Astroman?
The Manatees
Maraca Five-O
The Mariners
Danny Marks
The Matching Suits
Zoe McCulloch
Los Mel-Tones
The Men From E.N.C.O.R.E.
Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
The Men From S.U.R.F.
Men In Grey Suits
The Mercury Four
The Mermen
Meshugga Beach Party
Messer Chups
The Metalunas
The Meteors
The Mighty Land Shark!
The Mighty Surf Lords
The Migs
Mike Trem (Mike Junewicz)
Mister K
Mister Neutron
The Mobsmen
The Modelos
The Moe Greene Specials
Molly Maguires
The Moments
Moms I'd Like To Surf
The Mono-Tones
Monster Pete and the Chiefs
Monsters From Mars
The Moon-Rays
The Morlox
The Mosquitos
The Moto-Litas
The MuerTones
Los Muertos Vivientos
Muffin Mates
The Mulchmen
The Mullet Monster Mafia
The Murgatroyds
Mustang Lightning
The Mustangs
The Mutants
The Mysterons
The Mystery Men
Los Nachos
The Nebula Five
The Nebulas
The Nelsonics
The Nematoads
The Neptunas
The Neptunes
New World Relampagos
No Smoking On Board
The Nocturnes
North Of Malibu
Da North Shore Surf Band
Nova Surfer
The NovaRays
The O'Haras
The One Night Standards
The Orbitrons
Orestes Prezza
The Orions
Les Orques
The Other TimeLines
The Outsiders
The Papaya Kings
El Patapsco
Pavlov's Woody
Os Pazuzus
Pedrito Diablo & Los Cadáveras
The Penetrators
Perversos Cetaceos
Thee Phantom 5ive
The Phantom Four
Phantom Frank
The Phantom Operators
The Phantom Riders
The Phantom Surfers
The Pipelines
Pirato Ketchup
The Pistoleros
Plan 9
The Planet Crashers
Planet Creep
Planet Seven
Los Plantronics
The Plungers
Pollo Del Mar
Primal Sky (Timothy B. Smith)
The Prosthetics
Los Protones
The Psycho Surfers
Puppe & The Boys
The Pyronauts
The Quiets
The Ramblin' Ambassadors
The Rapiers
Rat Holic
The Rattlesnakes
Los Rauncheros
The Raybeats
The Razorblades
Ralph Rebel
The Rebel Surfers
The Reckless Reefers
The Recruders
Red Elvises
Red Guitars
The Red Planets
Reef Rider
The Reigning Monarchs
The Reluctant Aquanauts
Rencontrez L'Amour
Retroactive Gamma Rays
The Retroliners
Rev Hank
The Revelaires
The Reventlos
Reverb Galaxy
The Reverburritos
Robert and the Roboters
Rock A Boom
Burt Rocket
Rocket Motors
Roger and the Wraybands
Ben Rogers' Instrumental Asylum
Jamie Rounds
The Route 66 Killers
The Royal Aces
The Royal Batfangs
The Royal Fingers
RPS Surfers
Rubens & The Barrichellos
Rudy and the Surf Kings
Salon Kingsadore
The Sand Devils
The Sandblasters
The Sandworms
Los Santisimos Snorkels
El Santo
Angelo Santoro
Satan's Pilgrims
Scathodick Surfers
Martin Schmidt
The Sea Lions
The Sea Turtles
Secret Asian Man
The Secret Samurai
Seks Bomba
The Sellcancers
Los Sfinters
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
The Shakin' Arrows
The Shanons
Shig & Buzz
The Shockwave!
Shoot The Pier
The Sidemen
Sidewalk Surfers
The Silencers
The Silhouettes
The Silicon
Simon & the Bar Sinisters
The Sin-Tones
The Sir Finks
The Skegs
The Slackmates
The Soda Pop Spys
The Sonars
Sonodrom Express
The Sound Bytes
Sound Waves
Southern Culture on the Skids
The Space Agency
The Space Cossacks
Die Space Hobos
Space Party
The Space Plan
The Special Agents
The Spectre
Speed Chicken
The Spoilers
The Spoils
Spring Break Shark Attack!
The SpyTones
The Squares
Squid Pussy
Squid Vicious
Sr. Bikini
Gary Sredzienski & The Serfs
The Staggers
Star and Key of the Indian Ocean
Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited
Stevie and his Sideburns
The Stingrays
Stinky Pete
Los Stomias
Stories from Shamehill
Los Straitjackets
Strange But Surf
Stronzo Gelantino & the Boo-Men
The Sub-Mersians
SumpPump Monkeys
Los Super Avengers
Super Stereo Surf
El Supernaut
The Supersonicos
The Supertones
The Surf A's
Surf Beat
Surf Cinema
The Surf City Neptunes
The Surf Coasters
The Surf Dawgs
The Surf Kings
The Surf-Liners
The Surf Lords
Surf Me Up, Scotty
Surf Nation
Surf Project (Jeff Janning)
Surf Raiders
Surf Report
The Surf Sluts
The Surf Trio
The Surf Zombies
The Surfacers
The Surfaders
The Surfaholics
Surfer Joe
Surfer Rex
The Surfin' Barmaids
The Surfin' Gorillas
Surfin' Lungs
The Surfing Spacemen
The Surfites
The Surfmotherfuckers
Da Surfones
The Surfonics
The Surfside IV
The Surftones
The Surge
Susan & the Surftones
Jerry Swallow
The Swamis
Swamp Donkeys
Thee Swank Bastards
Switch Trout
The Swiv-O-Matics
Tabernacos Surfers
The Taikonauts
The Tail Gators
The TakeOffs
The TarantinosNYC
The Tarantulas
The Telestons
The Televisionaries
Los Temerarios
Ten Penny Heroes
Tequila Worms
Los Thunder Surfers
The Thunderchiefs
The Thurston Lava Tube
Pekka Tiilikainen & Beatmakers
The Tijuana Bibles
Los Tiki Phantoms
Tiki Tiki Bamboooos
The Tiki Tones
The Tikiyaki Orchestra
The TomorrowMen
Toni OK
The Tormentos
Los Tornados
The Torpedoes
The Torquays
Toxic Mutants
The Toy Dolls
The Trampolins
The Trashwomen
The Treble Spankers
The Treblemakers
The Tremolo Beer Gut
The Tremelo Wankers
The Tridents
The Tritones
Tsunami of Sound
The Tsunamibots
The Tube Sharks
The Turbosonics
Los Twang! Marvels
The Twang-O-Matics
Los Twangers
Twin Tones
The Twinkle Arrows
The Typhoons
The Ultras
Urban Surf Kings
The Vampires
The Vanduras
The Vara-Tones
Vegas Beach
Los Vengadores
Los Venturas
The Ventures
The 'Verb
The Verbtones
Los Vibradores
The Vibrants
The Vibratos
The VibroCounts
Les Vice Barons
The Vickings
The Vision
The Vivisectors
The Volcanics
The Volcanos
The Von Drats
Von Rippers
Voodoo Court
The Vulcanos
Wadadli Riders
Les Wangs
Terry "Buffalo" Ware
The Waterdogs
The Waterboarders
Wave Invasion
Way Out West
The Weisstronauts
West Samoa Surfer League
The Wet-Tones
The WHYs
Webb Wilder
Bert Wills
James Wilsey
The Windows
The Wipeouters
The Woggles
The Woodies
Didi Wray
Link Wray
The Wrecks House
The X-Rays
The Youngers
Dr. Zaius and the Chimps
Zorros Petardos Salvajes

Radio and Online Surf Music Shows: