The Trashmen

The Trashmen  are a rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1962.  The group’s original lineup was Tony Andreason on lead guitar and vocals, Dal Winslow on guitar and vocals, Steve Wahrer on drums and vocals, and Bob Reed on bass guitar.  The group played surf rock which included elements from garage rock.  (More from Wikipedia)
Minnesota is not often mentioned in the garage rock world either, but Minneapolis produced one of the finest examples from the genre, the Trashmen, whose legendary 1963 hit Surfin’ Bird transmogrified two hit songs by a doo-wop group called the Rivingtons, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s the Word” and showed America just what surf rock music was capable of producing.  They continued to produce several minor hit singles – I bought “Bird Dance Beat” myself when it came out – and made enough music that a box set was released of Trashmen recordings (by Rhino Records if memory serves – actually it was Sundazed Records).  All this by a band that hailed from a state that is as far from an ocean as it is possible to be and still be in the United States
(September 2010)
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The album cover for Ear-Piercing Punk was in day-glo pink, and the song titles and band names were typed on strips of paper in the manner of many genuine 1970’s punk rock compilation albums of that period.  The album gave no clue as to its origin except for a “Made in U.S.A.” label; it was released by the fictitious Trash Records, and the only credit on the album was “Ripov Design–Ida No”.  There was one clue for 1960’s rock fans though:  The second track was “Ubangi Stomp” by the Trashmen, who were responsible for a delightfully peculiar surf rock hit in 1963 called Surfin’ Bird
(April 2011)
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Normally, I find a narrative thread of some kind.  One that came to me pretty quickly was for Tina and the Total Babes, the UARB for May 2012.  That album and my Trashwomen album were among the first several dozen that I cleaned up from Katrina; I don’t remember how I discovered that Tina Lucchesi had been a member of both bands, but that was a definite connection that I could talk about.  The Trashwomen led obviously to, who had a big hit song in 1963 called “”.  But that’s all most people know about the Trashmen, who are unfairly labeled as a “one-hit wonder” band – worse yet, a “one-novelty-hit wonder”.  Well, IMHO, not only is  not at all a novelty song in my book, the Trashmen are actually a top-notch band that have a pretty extensive body of work – they even have a four-CD box set to their credit, and there are a host of well-known rock bands that can’t make that boast.  Thus, once I started riffing on one-hit wonders, the article just came together very quickly. 
(December 2012)
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It is not really a rare event for a song to come out of nowhere and grab the zeitgeist – that’s virtually the definition of a novelty song – but there have been a host of songs that are just as sideways compared to the recording charts at the time without truly being of the novelty variety.  I have written of several in previous posts:  the Trashmen’s 1963 hit “Surfin’ Bird”, the Ran-Dells’ “Martian Hop” (also from 1963), and “Rip Van Winkle” by the Devotions from 1961.  They were among my very favorite songs for years after I first heard them, so it is easy to see that I am partial to this kind of song. 

(March 2013)
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Now, of all of the songs that Greg Shaw could have used to name and then subtitle his magazine Who Put the Bomp, two of them came out in 1963, and the other in 1964, though that one could just as easily have been made in 1963.  Why 1963?  Greg Shaw was 14 in 1963; and, according to neuroscientist and author Daniel Levitin in his book, This is Your Brain on Music, this is when the brain is most susceptible to the influence of music.  As quoted in Bomp 2, Levitin writes:  “Part of the reason we remember songs from our teenage years is because those years were times of self discovery, and as a consequence, they were emotionally charged.” 


Many years later, Greg Shaw wrote in 2001:  “One of my favorite phases of 60’s garage was 1963, when nobody had ever heard of England, and songs like Louie Louie [by the Kingsmen] and ‘Surfin’ Bird’ [by the Trashmen] were drawing on 50’s R&B to create something new.” 


(May 2013)


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Later I picked up the Pebbles, Volume 4 LP (subtitled “Summer Means Fun”).  There are songs by Lloyd Thaxton, a piano-playing DJ from LA whose show ran on TV in the afternoon when I was growing up; two songs by the immortal Trashmen (the flip side to their big hit “Surfin’ Bird, “King of the Surf”, plus “New Generation” that features a hydrogen bomb blast); “Masked Grandma” by the California Suns, an answer song to the Jan & Dean hit “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”; “California Sun ’65” by the Rivieras (a remake by this Michigan surf band of their own well-known hit, “California Sun”); “Anywhere the Girls Are” by the Fantastic Baggys (composed of P. F. Sloan, author of “Eve of Destruction among many other songs, and Steve Barri); a version of “Hot Rod High” by the Knights; and a paean to the California capital city “Sacramento” by Gary Usher.  A bonus track is a radio jingle for Coca-Cola by Jan & Dean.  


(December 2014)


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But I likely will keep putting out what I call the “Story of the Month” (I have my web pages broken down into short “Items” and longer “Stories” on whomever or whatever I am talking about) that I uncover as I load up the web site. These Stories are on well known (well, better known anyway) songs and albums and rock bands and other topics that are not of the Under Appreciated variety. I started those last year and meant to list the ones in my year-end post last time but forgot, so here is that list from the past two years:
December 2013The Standells 
January 2014 – (skipped)
February 2014Hasil Adkins 
March 2014Bobby Darin 
April 2014Nuggets 
May 2014The Nerves 
June 2014The Outsiders (American band)
September 2014The Piltdown Man and Brontosaurus 
October 2014Walter/Wendy Carlos 
November 2014The Trashmen 
December 2014John Birch Society Blues 
January 2015John Mellencamp 
February 2015Child Is Father to the Man 
March 2015Dion DiMucci 
April 2015Scotch and Soda 
May 2015Stiv Bators/Greg Shaw 
June 2015Walk on the Wild Side 
July 2015Lola
August 2015Bob Dylan the Protest Singer
(Year 6 Review)
Last edited: March 22, 2021