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Frat Rock


Elvis brough rock n roll into the mainstream, but the real sound of rock n roll belonged to guys like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Unfortunately, racism and incest kept those three giants from getting the amount of airplay they deserved.

However, the kids knew the scene. They were not only gobbling up the surf music and the rock n roll giants, they were using it as a mechanism to just go crazy. Frat rock was a product of those two genres.

The Rivingtons were a doo-wop group from the early 60’s that released one of the most popular novelty songs of all time “Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow”. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was the precursor of a hit by The Trashmen called “Surfin’ Bird”.  This crazy song along with The Sufaris – “Wipe Out” describe Frat Rock. Wipe Out was THE song to test drummers. “Can you play Wipe Out” became a mantra of this era. Surfin Bird was covered by The Ramones and The Cramps. It regained popularity when it was featured on an episode of Family Guy. I always found the song quite annoying, but people responded to it.

Other bands that joined this craze are The Rivieras with  “California Sun” and The Kingsmen with their mega hit “Louie Louie”, also covered by just about everybody. It was one of the early songs that had incoherent lyrics. Adults were certain it contained indecent lyrics. The song was banned on many radio stations, which only increased it’s popularity.

The surf rock/frat rock craze was hitting the mainstream. These were the songs of summer back in the early 60’s and remain as staples of summertime music on many of today’s oldie stations.

Before long, bands like The Ventures had hits. The Tornados had a huge hit with an instrumental that fit in nicely with the space age. It’s one of my favorite instrumentals of this period. “Tellstar”

The Rivingtons – Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow –

The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird –

The Sufaris – Wipe Out –

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie –

The Tornados – Tellstar –


About Stevie GB

60 year old stand up comedian from Long Island. My approach to comedy is telling the truth about being married, middle aged and living in the suburbs. I enjoy making people laugh without making them feel uncomfortable. My act is clean and clever. Featured in Newsday and on News12. Winner of the Huntington Arts Council Laff-off, 2006. 3rd place winner of LI Press Best of LI 2011, A regular on The Long Island Comedy Festival for 9 consecutive years. Opened for Dennis Miller, Louie Anderson, Kevin Pollak, Bobby Collins, Bob Nelson, Uncle Floyd, Kevin Meaney, and many more.

One response to “Frat Rock

  1. Gerard ⋅

    i liked the Papa Oom Mow Mow, part of it was used by a dutch comic with his openingsact. Surfin’ Bird is plain annoying to me… Wipe Out i got to know thanks to fun punkband Toy Dolls. Samples of Telstar are here still used as jingles. Louie Louie is absolute classic to me and though lots of people don’t agree i think was a big influence for Ray while writing YRGM

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