‘Misirlou’ by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones
Dick Dale is widely regarded as the father of surf rock, pioneering a new genre drawing on Middle-Eastern keys and a recognizable staccato picking style. ‘Misirlou’ was catapulted into fame when Quentin Tarantino cast it as the theme song to his 1994 cult classic, Pulp Fiction.
‘Malagueña’ by The Trashmen
Written in 1928 by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, ‘Malagueña’ was conceived for his magnum opus, The Andalucia Suite. The song has been reimagined in a variety of musical contexts, performed by full orchestras, pianists, flamenco guitarists, and surf rockers who crank up the reverb, like this classic rendition by The Trashmen.
‘Cheater Stomp’ by The Fabulous Playboys
‘Cheater Stomp’ is replete with the tame ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that marked letting loose in the early 60s, high-strung finger-picking, and an incessant snare drum line. Picture yourself shimmy-shaking beachside to this tune.
‘Rising Surf’ by Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers
Richie Allen’s languid licks mimic waves lapping the seashore, accompanied by the sounds of the waves breaking and seagulls chirping. The rolling, repetitive riff is pensive and woozy, perfect for daydreaming about your next break.
‘Pipeline’ by The Chantays
Named for the infamous, yet irresistible, break on Hawaii’s North Shore, the slow, gradual build of ‘Pipeline’ resembles the anticipation and drama of a surf challenge many greats have ridden to victory.
‘Walk, Don’t Run’ by The Ventures
This is one of The Ventures’ most famous songs, named after their eponymous first album. The group went on to record a hit version of ‘Hawaii Five-O.’ With over 100 million records sold – 40 million of which were sold in Japan – the band is the best-selling instrumental group of all time.
‘Lost Soul’ by The Strangers
This soulful jam by Aussie band The Strangers is like the sonic version of the sun dipping into the ocean or the sweet haze that clings to your skin like salt after a long day at the beach.
‘Bustin’ Surfboards’ by The Tornadoes
The sounds of surf ebb and flow through The Tornadoes’ classic and best-known track. Unable to follow up on their initial success, this is the tune music history remembers them by.
‘Mr. Moto’ by The Bel-Airs
The famous flamenco-inspired guitar intro and the iconic piano interlude have made ‘Mr. Moto’ a mainstay of the surf genre. Despite their highfalutin namesake, the band hailed from Long Beach, California.