From the Land of Band Box Records

Real Surfaris Please Stand Up!

July 13, 2017

A Tale of Two Bands

Original Surfaris

The Original Surfaris were formed in 1962 out of Fullerton, California starting off in 1960 as “The Vogues” (not the Kansas group).  They next became “The Customs” in 1961 landing an appearance on a Mexican radio station.  Members of the first group acquiring the “Surfari” name were Jim Tran, Doug Wiseman, Larry Weed, Chuck Vehle and Mike Blondo – now playing as “The Surfaris”.

Original Surfaris First Release

It appeared that the group was well on their way to releasing an LP on the Del-Fi record label but were interrupted when a lawsuit popped up due to the arrival of another California group (above) who were hitting it big with the instrumental “Wipe Out”.  A judge ruled in favor of the new Surfaris gaining rights to the name since they were demonstrating national success, but the same judge permitted the Fullerton group to continue on as “The Original Surfaris”.

Diplomat Records and the Kasen Brothers

New Kids On the Block (with a big hit)

The Del-Fi LP never materialized .  So moving ahead enter the “Synthetic Plastics” recording company, which was founded by Daniel Kasen way back in the 1920’s providing garment industry products.  The company evolved into records by the 1940’s establishing the children’s series “Peter Pan” records, then moving to the “Promenade” label which was a series of budget ‘sound-alike’ release by Enoch Light and his orchestra.  Next, in 1962, the brothers founded two additional labels, “Guest Star” and “Diplomat”.  The SPS story is complex and well worth the purchase of the excellent book “Rock Rarities for a Song – Budget LPs That Saved the Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Brian McFadden).

So speeding ahead – the Kasens  compiled a various artists LP featuring Dick Dale – but containing what McFadden describes as “excellent” cuts by “The Surfaris” who were now “The Original Surfaris” and had basically fizzled out and lost some original members.

The next step for the Kasens was to move the group (now as “The Original Surfaris”) to their Diplomat label on the LP shown below.  McFadden reports that only one cut was worth the effort, “Delano Soul Beat” and “after that it’s all downhill EXCEPT for the very last cut on the album”.  For the record the cut was titled “Way Out Wheeler” which was a fake title of a song actually titled “The Bug”.  The song had been released  back in 1958 by a group called “Jerry Dallman and the Knightcaps”.  McFadden reports that the song surfaced 30 years later in a movie titled “Hairspray”.  He further reports that “The Bug” on the original 45 on the “Punch” label commands some bucks (around $40) – but can be had on this Diplomat LP for pennies!.

Image result for hairspray movie poster

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