Beach Music and the Shag
A few years ago I drove down from New York to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina (a long drive I recall) to catch some early spring sunshine and also to see if I could find some beach music and shagging (the dance, that is). It turned out to be cold and disappointing music-wise, although if I had been interested in playing golf I would have been spoilt for choice as there are dozens of golf courses in the area.
My memory of the trip was jogged by a book that I have just read called It's Better To Cry by British northern soul fan E. Mark Windle, which he describes as 'a 1960s rare soul collector's perspective of beach bands, garage bands and black vocal groups from the south eastern states'. The book features interviews with members of many of the groups that operated in the Carolinas and Georgia in the sixties, most of which are obscure, to say the least, but whose records have been favourites at one time or another in some of the northern soul clubs. Best known of the featured groups are Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, who had a big hit with Stay in 1960, the Embers and the Tempests, while others, such as Bob Collins and the Fabulous Five, The Greater Experience and Ron Moody and the Centaurs, were previously unknown to me.
Beach music, along with the shag dance craze, is very much a local affair, with links into 1950s R and B, Memphis and Detroit soul and white blue eyed soul and garage music. Its best known exponents were the Tams, General Johnson and the Chairmen Of The Board and Clifford Curry, while other acts from the greater Carolina region included the Swingin' Medallions and the O'Kaysions. The 100 most popular beach music songs list gives an idea of the variety of records played around the area over the years. http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_songs-beach.html/
Much of the music is really excellent and under-rated or little known, but here are a few of the better known beach music 45s.
First the Tams and a highly collectable demo of their 1964 record Hey Girl Don't Bother Me which became a big hit when reissued in the UK in 1971. Although well known as a beach music group they originally came from Atlanta, Georgia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9jPEsV8URQ
Maurice Williams and Zodiacs were previously known as the Charms and Gladiolas and had the original hit of Little Darlin' in 1957 (covered by The Diamonds) before changing their name and having a US number one with Stay in 1960, the shortest 45 ever to top the US charts. This is the follow up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN-DM2Mz17shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raJWuz7qQVc