While it’s fairly easy to classify certain genre’s of Music such as Rock, Country, Reggea and Classical, Surf Music is a bit more broad and hence more difficult to actually identify. Surf Music has been associated with the “California sound” influenced by So Cal Surfing culture and is said to have originated in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. Although guitar avatar Jimi Hendrix sang in the late 60’s about never hearing Surf Music again Surf Music has grown up and is alive and well!
Way back when guitarist Dick Dale was known as the “King” of Surf Music”. Mostly known for his “wet and wild” sound with machine gun fast double picking Dale pronounced real Surf Music to be strictly instrumental. One may wonder if Dale was a real surfer? There was also vocal Surf Music from young groups such as the Beach Boys the Safaris and Jan and Dean. However according to Dale in Wikipedia the Music wasn’t surfing Music it was the lyrics that made them surfing songs.
Which brings us to the present. Currently there are more and more surfers making Surf Music including Jack Johnson, Tom Curren, Rob Machado and yes the Willis brothers Milton and Michael. Some songs are Surf instrumental some are Surf vocal but all have that certain “feeling and flow” that radiates from surfing and surfing culture. Surf Music just has that certain untamed sound ! As Murry Wilson the father of the Beach Boys deftly articulated years ago, “Surfing music has to sound untrained with a certain rough flavor.” When the Music gets to good and too polished, it isn’t considered the real thing!