YEARS AGO – SURF’s UP

 

 

little pattie

He’s My Blond-Headed, Stompie-Wompie, Real Gone, Surfer Boy (Halford/Justin) and Stompin’ at Maroubra (Halford/Justin) – Little Pattie 1963

 Little Pattie (real name Patricia Amphlett, aunt of Chrissy Amphlett) was discovered by Jay Justin at the Bronte Surf Club and he combined with producer Joe Halford to co-write her debut double A-side hit Stompin’ At Maroubra/My Blonde-Headed Stompie-Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy and launch the stomp dance craze in December ’63. Stompin’ charted at #19 nationally and it seemed everyone was jumping on the surf music bandwagon, the Beach Boys had namechecked our own Narrabeen beach in their song Surfin USA in ’63, and the Atlantics had charted in the USA with their echo-inflected surf hit Bombora. Even classical dancer Robert Helpmann had swapped his ballet tights for board shorts and released a quaint minor surf pop hit titled “Surfer Doll” in 1964; his mimed performance of this song on Bandstand indicated that Bobby was more familiar with the pirouette and the pas de deux, than the pipeline and the point break.

Little Pattie appeared on such TV shows as Opportunity Knocks and Saturday Date at the age of thirteen with her backing band the Statesmen and they had a regular gig at the Bronte Surf Club, so Pattie was naturally aligned with the emerging surf/stomp culture in Sydney.

Jay Justin (real name Justin McCarthy) introduced Pattie to EMI and after he and Joe Halford wrote the double-A side surf debut record, Little Pattie, bleached blonde fringe, gingham dresses, and sweetly innocent persona, was riding, a stomping wave of success.

HMB-H, S-W, RG, SB was a sizeable hit for Little Pattie and epitomized the “Beach Blanket Bingo” mood of the period, best captured in the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon movie of the same name, the title of the song was inspired by a Brian Hyland #1 US hit from 1960 – Itsy-Bitsy Teenie-Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. In the lyrics Sandy (Little Pattie) and Johnny, featured as the loved up local surf equivalents in this song, even though the real life version of the romantic couple was Little Pattie and fellow performer Bryan Davies.

The lead vocals are enthusiastic rather than accomplished, Pattie was a very young girl at the time and an untrained singer, the spoken word insert between our two young lovers is awkward, naïve, and slightly cringeworthy.

Little Pattie’s sweet personality and chirpy surf-pop tunes did however catch the tempo of the times perfectly, and this charted at #19 nationally.

Little Pattie would become a member of the “Bandstand Family” of artists, and take We Gonna Have a Party Tonight, Pushin’ a Good Thing Too Far, and Dance Puppet Dance, into the national top forty in 1964-65. She continues to perform on the rock heritage circuit, and has been National President of the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the entertainers’ union, for many years. Little Pattie was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009 along with John Paul Young, Mental as Anything, the Dingoes and Kev Carmody.

 

 

 

 

Hanging Five (B Acton/F Kirkham) 1963 and Out the Back (B Acton) – The Delltones 1964

Hanging Five was written by Manly policeman Ben Acton and a young aspiring Sydney lawyer Fred Kirkham, who would in the future become a NSW District Court judge. The composers combined Beach Boys- style lyrics and harmonies to carry this local surf rock classic to national top 10 status in 1963, as the Dellies went back to their Bronte Surf Club roots to ride the charts.

They followed up in 1964 with yet another Ben Acton surf rock genre hit with Out the Back, a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted song, about waiting for the big waves that are “out the back” with Pee Wee Wilson displaying his resonant bassman cadences by repeating the song’s title. The record seemed to aimlessly jangle along in a confusion of guitars, harmonica, drums, and blokes yelling out, the surf music craze was ebbing, and this one only charted #58 nationally

 

delltones

 

 

My Little Rocker’s Turned Surfie (J Devlin) – Digger Revell and the Denvermen 1964

Digger Revell (real name Gary Hildred) backed by the talented Denvermen had scored with a series of surf and stomp singles in 1963/64 and following the success of Surfside, Avalon Stomp and Stomp Fever, he charted with the Johnny Devlin song My Little Rocker’s Turned Surfie, in January ’64 when this one climbed to #32 nationally.

Digger’s ode to the two teenage tribes of the time, surfies and rockers, was delightfully naïve but musically it rocked; drums and bass guitar intro Revell’s vocals, which are supported by a ringing lead guitar and percussive handclaps.

Digger used Buddy Holly-style hiccupping vocals as he bemoaned the cost of updating his ever-changing wardrobe to keep up with his fickle girlfriend, who has taken up with a blonde surferboy.

 

 

 

Beach Ball (McGuinn/Gari) – Jimmy Hannan 1963

                                                                      jimmy hannan

Jimmy Hannan was a toothy, lanky, grinning, gregarious television performer and compere in the 60’s hosting such shows as Saturday Date and the Jimmy Hannan Show. Surf rock music was in full swing, everyone from Little Pattie to Robert Helpmann had jumped on the boardwagon, so it was no surprise when Jimmy Hannan emerged with this bouncy, good-time surf party hit, complete with background party sound effects, and took it to #22 in December ’63. The Bee Gees made one of their earliest recorded appearances here when they provided backing vocals on Beach Ball.

The song was written by Frank Gari and Roger McGuinn, the latter would ultimately become more famous as a founding member of the Byrds.

The original version of the song was recorded by the City Surfers who recorded it as a session group, their members included – McGuinn on guitar, Gari on vocals and some guy called Bobby Darin on drums.

Jimmy Hannan was a pioneer of Australian television and a Gold Logie winner in 1965, he sadly passed away in 2019.

 

 

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