A Jazz Feel on a Surf Hit

Do you hear what I hear? It's a now-famous drum beat on "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys. Maybe it has been some time since you paid close attention to the driving drums, but take a listen, you might hear what I hear. I hear studio musician Frank De Vito. Frank played in New York jazz clubs in the 50s and worked with Elvis on his 1967 TV comeback special. His creativity didn't stop with playing, in fact, in 1971 he formed his own percussion company that produced a number of instruments he engineered himself. What I hear is a little different than the regular driving rock backbeat, I hear a little swing and a little blues. I also hear the talents of a very fine gentleman who just couldn't turn Elvis' offer of a cigar down, even if Frank didn't smoke.  After all, the King did offer!

Make sure to check out our interview with Frank De Vito!

Dan Del Fiorentino
NAMM Music Historian