Who Wrote Surfin USA Song?

We’ve all heard the song Surfin USA since we can remember, but do we know who wrote Surfin USA? 

Who wrote Surfin USA comes with its controversy due to claims of copyright and plagiarism!

Let’s settle once and for all who wrote Surfin USA!

Who Wrote Surfin USA?

Surfin USA was written by Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson of the American rock band the Beach Boys.

The song is a modified rendition of Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," featuring new lyrics crafted by Brian Wilson and an unattributed contribution from Mike Love.

When Was Surfin USA Released?

Surfin USA by the Beach Boys was released as a single on March 4, 1963.

Did The Beach Boys Plagiarism The Song Sweet Sixteen?

Yes, "Surfin USA" by the Beach Boys is a song that draws heavily from Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen". The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson was inspired by Berry's song and decided to use its melody and structure for "Surfin USA" 

The lyrics were rewritten to reflect the surfing culture of California. While Brian Wilson has acknowledged the influence and stated that he reworked the song into something of their own, the similarities between the two songs are evident, leading to a copyright issue. Eventually, Chuck Berry's publisher obtained the copyright for "Surfin USA" and credited Chuck Berry as a songwriter alongside Brian Wilson.

Surfin USA by The Beach Boys 

Chuck Berry Sweet Little Sixteen 

Who Wrote Surfin USA Explained

Surfin USA by the Beach Boys was written by Brian Wilson, the band's lead songwriter. The inspiration for the song came from Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." Brian Wilson was struck by Berry's use of locational descriptors in the lyrics, such as "They're really rockin' in Boston/In Pittsburgh, PA/Deep in the heart of Texas/And round the 'Frisco Bay."

Brian Wilson decided to take the framework of Chuck Berry's song and give it a Californian twist. He wanted to create a song that highlighted various surfing spots in California. Wilson shared his idea with a friend, Jimmy Bowles, whose brother was a surfer. Bowles provided Wilson with a list of surfing spots, and Wilson set about creating new lyrics for the modified version of Berry's melody.

The resulting song, "Surfin USA" became a classic and a signature tune for the Beach Boys. However, due to the similarities with Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," there was a copyright issue. Eventually, Chuck Berry's publisher obtained the copyright, and Chuck Berry was credited as a songwriter alongside Brian Wilson for "Surfin USA"

What Is Surfin USA About?

"Surfin USA" by the Beach Boys is a song that celebrates the surfing culture of Southern California. The lyrics depict the joy and excitement of surfing and the idyllic lifestyle associated with it. The song mentions various surfing spots, capturing the essence of the Californian surf scene.

The opening lyrics set the scene with an imaginative concept: "If everybody had an ocean across the USA, then everybody be surfin' like Californi-a." It envisions a world where everyone has access to an ocean, and as a result, they would all be enjoying the thrill of surfing.

Throughout the song, different surfing locations are mentioned, primarily in California but also including places like Australia and Hawaii. The lyrics express a carefree and adventurous spirit, reflecting the popular image of surf culture during that time.

"Surfin USA" is known for its catchy melody, upbeat tempo, and the way it captures the energy and enthusiasm associated with the surfing lifestyle. While the song is often celebrated for its musical qualities, it's essential to note its origins and the controversy surrounding its similarity to Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," which led to Chuck Berry being credited as a co-writer of the song.

the beach boys
The Beach Boys

Who Are The Beach Boys?

The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961. The group's original members were:

Brian Wilson: The primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and creative force behind many of the band's most significant achievements. Brian Wilson is renowned for his innovative musical arrangements.

Mike Love: The lead vocalist for many of the Beach Boys' popular songs. Love also contributed to the band's lyrics.

Carl Wilson: Brian Wilson's younger brother, who played lead guitar and contributed vocals. Carl Wilson played a crucial role in the band's harmonies.

Dennis Wilson: Another Wilson brother, who played drums and provided vocals. Dennis Wilson also contributed to the band's songwriting.

Al Jardine: A childhood friend of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine played rhythm guitar and sang vocals. He was an on-and-off member of the band during various periods.

The Beach Boys are known for their close vocal harmonies and lyrics that often centred around surfing, cars, romance, and the Southern California lifestyle. They gained immense popularity in the 1960s and are considered one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music.

Some of their most famous albums include "Pet Sounds" and "Surfin USA.," and their hits include songs like "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," and "Wouldn't It Be Nice." The band's sound contributed to the development of the "California Sound" and influenced many other artists.

Surfin USA Summary

Surfin USA by the Beach Boys performed well in the charts upon its release. Here are some details about its chart performance:

  • Release Date: The single was released on March 4, 1963.
  • Chart Rankings: The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • It reached number two on the chart of the Music Vendor trade paper (later renamed Record World). Billboard ranked "Surfin' U.S.A." as the number one song of 1963.
  • International Performance: In the United Kingdom, the single was released in June 1963 and peaked at number 34. In Australia, the single peaked at number 9, becoming the band's first charting single in the country. In Canada and Sweden, the single peaked at number 6 in 1963.
  • Reissues: The song was reissued in the U.S. as a single in July 1974, backed with "The Warmth of the Sun." This reissue also hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at 36.

Summing It Up: What To Do Now

Okay now we have finally settled who wrote Surfin USA you can enjoy your next journey to your favourite surf spot with the beach boys playing! Want more surf culture? Ensure you know the best surf films to keep you entertained!

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