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Everybody—even Dick Clark—knows that the bird is the word: The Trashmen on ‘American Bandstand’


 
While it may be a stretch to say that the Trashmen invented punk rock, with 1963’s “Surfin’ Bird” they were very clearly one of the earliest bands to capture its snotty, anarchic spirit. The song has been a rallying cry for hip weirdos ever since. It was even the voice of a singing asshole in John Waters’ magnum opus Pink Flamingos. Pee-wee Herman belted it out on the soundtrack of Back to the Beach. It’s also been covered by dozens of bands, including The Ramones, the pre-Stooges Iguanas, and even German thrash metal giants Sodom. The Cramps basically owed their entire career to the song.

There is no way to sit in silence when “Surfin’ Bird” comes on the radio. You will scream along and probably flail around the room, flapping your arms like a big dumb ostrich. That song could start an all-night party at a funeral. The bird remains the word, even after all these years.
 

Pee-wee heard about the bird back in 1986

But what do we know about this mutant anthem, really? Well, for one thing, The Trashmen didn’t write “Surfin’ Bird.” It was a mash-up of two Rivingtons’ songs, 1962’s “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and its sound-alike follow-up, ‘63’s “Bird is the Word.” The Trashmen never even heard the original. They actually nicked it off another local Minneapolis band called The Sorensen Brothers. The Trashmen version was even louder and wilder, and once DJ Bill Diehl heard it, he encouraged the band to record it. They did, and the word-of-the-bird quickly spread, eventually getting the band to number four on the Billboard charts and ensuring their place in Freak Heaven forever.
 

The unlikely granddaddies of punk: Trashmen in 1964

But here’s the thing. The Trashmen initially attempted a rock n’ roll swindle, stating that they wrote the song themselves. The ‘63 single credits Trashmen singer/drummer Steve Wahrer as the composer and by the time the song was racing up the charts, he was happy to take the credit. Eventually, the Rivingtons got a lawyer and worked it all out but by then the world moved on to other dance crazes.  While “Surfin’ Bird” remained the Trashmen’s biggest hit, they had a fistful of ‘em as the decade wore on, including “Bird Dance Beat”, “Peppermint Man” and “Whoa Dad”. None of ‘em were as good as “Surfin’ Bird,” but what could be?
 

The little-known follow-up to “Surfin’ Bird.”
 
After the jump, the greatest thing you’ll see this week, I promise…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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05.11.2017
09:22 am
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Unsung surf rock girl group The Trashwomen RULE
02.08.2017
11:54 am
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San Francisco area surf queens, The Trashwomen.

The great Dave Crider of Estrus Records knew what he was doing when he signed San Francisco area girl group The Trashwomen to the label back in the early 90s. The group was originally conceived as a kind of one-off thing when they were asked to perform a live set of covers by 60s Minneapolis teen rockers The Trashmen. The glue for the concept was the talent of long-time smoking hot guitarist Elka “Kitten Kaboodle” Zolot who joined forces with Tina “Boom Boom” Lucchesi on drums and Dannielle “Lead Pedal” Pimm on bass—neither of which could play their assigned instruments at the time. Four weeks later the day of the gig arrived and according to those who were there to see it, their fledgling show was a success. 

The Trashwomen quickly released a couple of singles before getting picked up by Estrus that was already home to bands such as The Mummies; New York fuzz-freaks The Mooney Suzuki; Southern Culture on the Skids; and one best bands to ever come out of Bellingham, Washington (led by Crider himself), Mono Men. Sometime during their existence, the girls crowned themselves the “Queens of Tease Rock” and Zolot’s powerful riffs added an extra layer of cool to The Trashwomen’s smutty lyrics, like their nod to the usefulness of sex toys, “Batteries.” Playing up their tough vibe, the band was all about cultivating an image of a pin-up girl gang gone bad. Who instead of running away with the band, stole their fucking instruments and started their own groovy group.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.08.2017
11:54 am
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