Return To 60’s Main Menu Recording Artists Of The 60s 




(Ron Wilson, James Fuller, Robert Berryhill, Patrick Connolly)

Dot 16479

No. 2   August 10, 1963




Rhythm guitarist Bob Berryhill (b. 1947), lead guitarist Jim Fuller (b. 1947), bassist Pat Connolly (b. 1947),

drummer Ron Wilson (b. 1945), and saxophonist Jim Pash (b. 1949) were looking for practice space when

they found Dale Smallin. Dale, who had a small record­ing studio, became the Surfaris’ manager and, with

the help of parental funds, arranged a four-hour recording session at the Pal Studios in Cucamonga.

“Surfer Joe” (#62, 1963) was to be the single; “Wipe Out” (original­ly called “Stiletto”) was to be a flip side,

so not much thought or time went into doing it.


Gimmicks at the beginning of tunes were, as always, a big thing.  Someone simulated the sound of a

crashing surfboard by breaking a wooden shingle; Smallin’s “witch laugh” was added, Wilson worked up

some drum breaks, and “Wipe Out” was cut and dried in two takes.   Smallin pressed 100 copies of the

disk on his own DFS label.   “Surfer Joe” b/w “Wipe Out” came to the attention of Richard Delvy, the bass

player with another surf group, the well-established Challengers.   Smallin gave Delvy the go-ahead to

manufacture some copies of the disk using his Princess label.   One of Delvy’s press­ings found its way to

Dot Records, which issued the group’s platter nationwide (fanatics, take note: the ver­sion of”Wipe Out” on

the DFS label is a full 10 seconds longer than the Dot version).


While “Wipe Out” was to become one of the best­ selling debut singles ever and one of the most cherished of

all oldies, all was not well with the group, and there were soon lawsuits a-plenty.  There were fishy goings-

on in connection with the group’s first and only LP for Dot, Wipe Out–the only Surfaris cuts on the album

were “Surfer Joe” and “Wipe Out,”  but all the other tracks had Delvy’s Challengers playing on them!   The

result was that the Challengers, and not the Surfaris, received performance royalties from the best-selling

album.  Delvy also managed to swipe publishing rights without the group members’ permission.  To top it

all off, a group from Los Angeles brought suit against the fellows charging that they had the exclusive

rights to the “Surfaris” name.


Once all the legal problems were ironed out, the group recorded some fine surf sounds for Decca, though

their career was largely kaput.  While only one other single made the Hot 100–“Point Panic” (#49, 1963)–

the Surfaris churned out one high-quality sin­gle after another as well as five LPs; the last of the latter saw

Ken Forssi–later of LOVE–replace Connolly.   By the time the group formally signed with Dot Records in

1966 for the issuance of their last two singles, Berryhill, Connolly, and Fuller were gone.


The Surfaris have reformed on many occasions.  In 1976, Berryhill, Fuller, and Pash recorded a greatest-

hits album for K-Tel.  In the spring of 1989, Fuller, Pash, and Wilson toured the nation, but Fuller had to

leave the tour when he broke an arm.   Ron Wilson–who once set a record for drumming endurance by

playing non­-stop for 104 1/2 hours, and who reportedly spent much of his life in poverty in Dutch Flats,

California–died in May 1989 of a brain aneurysm.


Berryhill, a born-again Christian, has played with Christian groups and currently works as an instructor at

an educational-opportunities center.  Fuller was part of California groups like World War III and US, and

was even a member of the SEEDS for a time.   Pash (who was not present at the “Wipe Out” session) is a

born­-again Christian as well; he is also the inventor and man­ufacturer of the Gitsitar.