CATCH A WAVE
“two Step Side Step”
Bad news arrived when the “Surfin'” royalty check showed up from Candix: It was for less than $1,000, to be split five ways. The Wilsons and Mike were bitterly disappointed, and Al, who had been preparing to study dentistry, quit the band. “You've got to understand,” he told a stunned Brian, “it's not working for me.” Murry quickly hired a thirteen-year-old friend of Dennis's named David Marks to replace Al on their upcoming tour. At Murry's insistence, David took over for Brian on rhythm guitar while Brian reluctantly switched to bass.
Around that time, Brian met fellow musician and Beach Boys fan Gary Usher. The two hit it off right away and began working on songs together. They cowrote “The Lonely Sea” and “409,” the Beach Boys' first hot-rod song, as well as the moody “In My Room,” which described the sense of peace Brian felt in his music room. The two boys enjoyed writing together, but Murry was suspicious of Gary's motives. He resented the time Brian spent with Gary, and he did his best to break up the friendship. In the end, he succeeded: Gary and Murry came to blows during a recording session for the group's first album, and Brian sided with his dad. It would be years before Brian and Gary would meet again.
Murry managed to interest Capitol Records executive Nick Venet in the Beach Boys. Unhappy with the group's commitment to the Morgans, Murry had the group rerecord a handful of Brian and Mike's new songs at Western Studios and brought them to Capitol for Venet to hear. The young A&R man flipped, particularly over “Surfin’ Safari.” “Before eight bars had spun around, I knew it was a hit record,” Venet later said. “I knew the song was going to change West Coast music.” It would definitely change the Beach Boys' lives: Capitol agreed to release the songs and later offered them a recording contract. Murry quickly formed his own music publishing company, Sea of Tunes, to secure the rights to all Beach Boys songs.
Capitol released “409” in June 1962. To the group's disappointment, the song received little airplay. But once Capitol began plugging its B-side, “Surfin’ Safari,” both tunes became hits—“Safari” eventually climbed to number fourteen on the charts. Capitol wanted an album to back up the record's success.
Surfin' Safari was recorded during several long sessions and released on October 1, 1962. It didn't generate as much enthusiasm as the singles, due in part to the record company's rush to get it out, but it still reached number thirty-two on the album charts by Thanksgiving. Murry contacted KFWB disc jockey Roger Christian, a car buff who had praised “409” on the air, and set up a meeting between Brian and the DJ. The two were soon writing songs together, with Roger filling the void left by Gary Usher's departure.