Behind the Band Name: The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

Before they were one of America’s earliest and most adored boy bands, The Beach Boys were a fashion trend. That’s right, they wore wool flannels that were popular among surfers and beach bums of 1960s southern California. That shirt, a Pendleton, was an influential part of the surf boom in the ’60s that shaped surfing culture today. Mix this trend with quirky musical terms and you have not only a play on words, but The Beach Boys’ first band name: The Pendletones. 

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The boys grew up in Hawthorne, California, amidst the new wave of surfing taking place at that time. Pendletons emerged around the same time as surfing, and both were in high demand. Five young southern California boys saw this and quickly took advantage of it. The band wore the flannel fit and sang the beachside tunes, but it wasn’t until 1961, after they changed their band name, that they had America surfin’ U.S.A

A Change in Name

In the mid-to-late 1950s, three brothers, their cousin, and their neighborhood friend performed and produced record music as The Pendletones. Once Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine brought their music to Candix records, however, their name was thrown for a loop. The record label wanted to rename the band “The Surfers,” to which music executive Russ Regan discovered that the name was already taken. Regan then changed their name to “The Beach Boys,” the perfect combo of beach bums and beautiful boys that commercialized them for decades. “Russ was a promoter and he changed our name to The Beach Boys,” guitarist Brian Wilson said in a Twitter statement after Regan’s death in 2018. “We didn’t even know until we saw our first records pressed!” 

Surf’s Up for Drummer Dennis Wilson

Perhaps the most logical reason as to why The Beach Boys were not “The Surfers” is because out of the five original band members, only one knew how to surf. That was Dennis Wilson, drummer of the boy band, who wanted to create surfing-centric music both for his own sake and for the resurgence and popularity of surfing. Wilson’s move to make surf music was smart and strategic because as it turns out, wearing a trend to riding one really does catch the coast and the country’s attention. 

The Beach Boys have sold over 100 million records worldwide, had at least 36 songs on the US Top 40, and four on Billboard top 100. They entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Today, the band is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an expanded edition of Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys, an upcoming feature documentary, and a world tour, performing in the U.S. in August. You can view their tour dates HERE

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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