The Surfaris

The Surfaris
The Surfaris in a concert, 2007
The Surfaris in a concert, 2007
Background information
OriginGlendora, California, U.S.
GenresSurf rock
Years active1962–1966, 1973, 1976, 1981–2017 for the actual Surfaris band led by Jim Fuller. Bob Berryhill’s Surfaris began in late 2000
LabelsDFS, Princess, Dot, Decca, GNP Crescendo, MGM Records
MembersPaul Johnson
Robert Watson
David Raven
Jay Truax
Ron Eglit
Dusty Watson
Past members

The Surfaris are an American surf rock band formed in Glendora, California, United States, in 1962.[1][2] They are best known for two songs that hit the charts in the Los Angeles area, and nationally by May 1963: "Surfer Joe" and "Wipe Out", which were the A-side and B-side of the same 45 rpm single.

The Surfaris were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2019 for their hit instrumental song, "Wipe Out".


The original band members were Ron Wilson (drums, vocals), Jim Fuller (lead guitar), Bob Berryhill (rhythm guitar), and Pat Connolly (bass).[1]

In the fall of 1962, Southern California high school students Jim Fuller and Pat Connolly competed against Bob Berryhill in a local talent show and were wanting to create a band. Fuller and Connolly called Berryhill one day to ask if he wanted to practice, since he had an amp. After practicing the two told Berryhill they were going meet with drummer Ron Wilson at a high school dance. After adding Wilson then Berryhill the band was set. That night they played their first dance at Pomona Catholic High School after a football game. "Wipe Out" was written and recorded by the quartet later that winter, with the song reaching No. 2 nationally in 1963 before becoming an international # 1 hit.[1]

Saxophone player Jim Pash joined after their "Wipe Out" / "Surfer Joe" recording sessions at Pal Studios engineer Paul Buff.

Ken Forssi, later of Love, played bass with The Surfaris after Pat Connolly left.[1]

"Wipe Out"[]

Wilson's energetic drum solo made "Wipe Out" one of the best-remembered drum solos instrumental songs of the period. "Wipe Out" is also remembered particularly for its introduction. Before the music starts, Berryhill's dad found a piece of plywood in back of the studio and Pat broke the board (imitating a breaking surf board) over the mic, followed by a maniacal laugh and the words "Wipe Out" spoken by band manager Dale Smallin. After needing a second song to record, Jim Fuller had been working on a guitar riff for almost a month for a song he was writing named "Switchblade". They used the guitar riff and used a sped up Chatter Oak High School drum cadence and "Wipe Out" was born and recorded studio by the four original members (Berryhill, Connolly, Fuller, and Wilson). It was initially issued on the tiny DFS label (#11/12) in January 1963. It was reissued on the tiny Princess label (#50) in February 1963. It was picked up by Dot (45-16479) in April 1963, and reissued as Dot 45-144 in April 1965. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[3]

Following the death of television personality Morton Downey Jr., news reports and obituaries incorrectly cred him as the composer of "Wipe Out" (as well as the Chantays' "Pipeline").[4] As of 2010, Downey's official website continued to make this claim but it has been changed to state he "also played major roles in the production of the hit surf music-era songs "Pipeline" and "Wipeout" which was not the case."[5]

Disbanding and reformation[]

The band released a series of records, with two other singles, "Surfer Joe" (written and sung by Wilson) and "Point Panic" (another group-composed instrumental), having an impact on the charts. Point Panic is a renowned surfing venue in Hawaii after which the song was named.

The original 1963 membership remained intact until August 1965 when Connolly departed before their Japanese tour. Ken Forssi replaced him on bass for the tour.[1] Fuller resigned after the tour and the band folded in early 1966. Forssi died from a brain tumor in 1998.[1] Ken Forssi joined the group and was the bass player for their "It Ain't Me, Babe" LP recorded at Capitol Records in Studio A in late Spring and early Summer of 1965.

Pat Connolly left the music business in 1965.

Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm on May 12, 1989, one month short of his 45th birthday. Wilson had released an album of his songs, entitled Lost In The Surf, on Bennet House Records of Grass Valley, California, which was recorded in June 1987. A very small number of cassettes of this album were produced. Lost in the Surf included a cover of "Louie Louie", complete with Scottish bagpipes.

Jim Pash, who played saxophone in the earlier formation and was later a guitarist, died April 29, 2005 of heart failure at age 56.

Jim Fuller played with the Surfaris starting in the 1980s with Pash and Berryhill. In 1983 Berryhill left because neither Pash nor Fuller wanted Berryhill's wife, Gene to join the band as bassist. By the mid-'80s, Fuller's The Surfaris added new players, such as Kelly Lammers, Robert Watson, Jay Truax, Paul Johnson (Mr. Moto), and Dave Raven, among others. These members were all concurrent with Fuller's own side band, Jim Fuller and the Beatnik, until his passing on March 3, 2017 in Monrovia, California at age 69.[6][7]

After leaving the band, Berryhill became a teacher until late 2000, when he created a new band with his family and named it The Surfaris. Now the last original member playing professionally, Berryhill performs worldwide as The Surfaris with his wife Gene Berryhill and sons, Deven and Joel Berryhill.[1] In 2003, Berryhill's band re-recorded "Wipe Out" and eight original songs, which is what he wanted to do for the first "Wipe Out" session in 1962. At the time, the boys just 15 and 17 years old were forced to play other writers' songs, not by The Surfaris, which were later replaced by the company's players while The Surfaris were on tour. Law suits ensued in favor of The Surfaris. In 2015, Berryhill recorded and released a critically acclaimed album entitled The Surfaris Hurley Sessions.

The Surfaris were among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[8]


Later players[]

The Surfaris featuring Bob Berryhill[]






  1. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1155. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "The Surfaris - Bio". Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 167. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ "Morton Downey Jr. Dies". CBS News. March 13, 2001.
  5. ^ "Morton Downey Jr.'s Home Page". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  6. ^ "Jim Fuller, 'Wipe Out' Guitarist with Surfaris, Dies". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Surfaris Guitarist Jim Fuller Dead at 69". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  8. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.

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