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Surf City Soul

Hite and Dorinda Morgan owned Guild Music, a mom-and-pop music publishing business on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. They'd published Murry's “Two Step Side Step” several years earlier, and they felt obligated to listen to the band his sons had formed. The boys had decided on the group name the Pendletones—a reference to the Pendleton-brand plaid flannel shirts popular at the time—and played a traditional folk song called “Sloop John B” for the occasion. (Five years later, Brian would include the track on the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds.)

The Morgans, while impressed with the five hopeful teenagers’ obvious talent, were unexcited by the song. Brian remembers Hite telling them, “These days you need something original. You gotta have an angle. The music business is all about selling a product.” Thinking quickly, Dennis began telling the Morgans about surfing and the surf crowd he hung out with. He even said that Brian had written a surfing tune. The couple was interested and told the boys to go practice the song and call them when they were ready for another audition. Brian, who had started writing a tune called “Surfin'” while still in high school, was determined to finish the song. Back home, he elaborated on the basic melody while Mike hit upon the chorus in a moment of inspiration. This was to be the beginning of an on-again, off-again songwriting partnership that would last for over thirty years.

When the Pendletones returned to perform “Surfin'” for the Morgans a few days later, Hite had just three words to say: “That's a smash!”

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesThe Beach BoysWHEN I GROW UP (TO BE A MAN) - California Saga, “rock And Roll Music”, Family Affair, Surf City Soul, What's In A Name?