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Music Influence

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In the early 1960's, as rock music was evolving from the doo-wap dominated airwaves of the 50's to the harder edged rock and roll of the 60's, one group became the most popular American band of the time by finding a healthy medium. By 1965, the Beach Boys established themselves as the most popular American band of the day by perfecting their image, sound, and by taking advantage of their location.

The Beach Boys' home in Southern California was not far from the beaches where "Surf music" was gaining a hold. The band's proximity to this, and with the help of their father's music connections, led to their initial hit singles "Surfin' Safari", "409", "Surfin' USA", and "Surfer Girl" in 1962 and 1963. The songs subject matter of surfing, cars, girls, and sun, and their popularity, had a two fold effect on American popular culture.

On one hand, the success of The Beach Boys' "Surf music", allowed that style to become popular nationwide, and not just in California. This musical genre was an extension of Rockabilly and 1950s Rhythm and Blues compositions. The music would first begin with instrumental compositions and the surf music later included the vocal harmonies. An example of this style of music being transplanted because of The Beach Boys' success is the song "California Sun" by The Rivieras, who were from Indiana. This surf theme carried across genres as well, as is shown by Bo Diddley's "Surfin' with Bo Diddly", released in 1963. The Beach Boys' initial success and popularity led to the increased popularity of "Surf music" in America.

Secondly, The Beach Boys' popularity can be attributed to their wholesome image, and their fairly tame song subjects. Unlike Elvis Presley before them, whose overt sexuality caused rumblings from conservative circles, and The Rolling Stones after them, whose image was less than clean cut, The Beach Boys presented a clean cut, boyish image that resonated well with traditional American households. Their matching outfits, along with their songs detailing wholesome fun, made them the most popular band in America at the time. This formula was similar to the one the Beatles used to great success in England at the time.

The Beach Boys' early success and popularity was the result of good timing, good location, and good image. Without these, the band would not have taken off, would not have helped popularize "Surf music", and ultimately would not have released "Pet Sounds", considered among the best albums in rock history. The fact that the band members continue to tour in different forms today confirms The Beach Boys' impact on American popular culture in the 1960's still continues today.

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