These Beach Boys Went Hungry to Write 1 of Their Songs

The Beach Boys became a very successful classic rock band; however, one of their early hits left them hungry. They were unable to eat for a while because of a decision they made during the creation of the song. Here’s a look at one of The Beach Boys’ early hits — and how the public reacted to it.

The Beach Boys and a car
The Beach Boys | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Brian Wilson remembers the creation of 1 of his band’s early songs

Elton John inducted The Beach Boys into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. During the ceremony, band member Brian Wilson discussed the creation of his band. He recalled deciding to write a song with his cousin Mike Love in 1961. His parents left them alone that weekend and gave them some money for food. 

Rather than buy food, Wilson and Love went to a music store and rented some equipment. When Wilson’s parents came home, Wilson and Love had written a song called “Surfin’” and they were very hungry. Wilson said there was no way he could have even imagined writing that song would help The Beach Boys get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame decades later.

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys near plants
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Brain Wilson’s mother remembers how The Beach Boys wrote ‘Surfin”

Wilson’s mother, Audree, remembers the creation of “Surfin’” a little differently. Notably, she doesn’t mention anything about Wilson and Love going hungry for a while. “My husband was in the machinery business, big lathes from England, and the people from whom he imported them were here to visit us,” she told Rolling Stone. “And we took them to Mexico City. When we left, the refrigerator was completely stocked and we gave the boys enough money to buy whatever else they needed. 

“We came back and here they had gone out and rented a bass, a big standup, as tall as Al [Jardine] for sure, and drums and a microphone,” she added. “They had used every bit of their food money. And they said, ‘We want to play something for you.’ They were very excited about it, and I thought the song was darling — never dreaming anything would happen.”


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How the world reacted to The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin”

“Surfin’” was a minor hit, reaching No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining on the chart for six weeks. The song’s parent album, Surfin’ Safari, was a bigger hit. It reached No. 47 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 12 weeks.

The Beach Boys went on to sing about surfing and enjoying the beach in a number of other singles, including “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Surfer Girl,” “California Girls,” and “Kokomo.” The band would later re-record “Surfin’” for their album Summer in Paradise while Love re-recorded it for his solo album 12 Sides of Summer. While “Surfin’” isn’t one of the band’s most sophisticated songs it definitely had an influence on the development of their career — even if writing it left Wilson and Love hungry for a while.

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