Many historical figures call Minnesota home — Judy Garland, the Jolly Green Giant, Paul Bunyan and Babe, and the Bird — the “Surfin’ Bird,” that is, created by Steve Wahrer of The Trashmen back in 1963.
The catchy tune, a combination of two songs by the Rivingtons, “Pa-Pa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s the Word,” mixed with unique vocal effects and a pounding rhythm, launched The Trashmen to national and worldwide fame.
The Bird was not the beginning for The Trashmen. Though many people consider them a novelty act or one-hit wonder, in reality, the group was on the ground floor of what was to become a thriving, reverb-drenched era in Minnesota rock-and-roll.
Comprised of Tony Andreason on lead guitar, Dan Winslow on guitar and vocals, Bob Reed on bass and Steve Wahrer on drums and vocals (after Steve’s death in 1989, Mark Andreason took over as drummer), the group was enormously popular on the teen-club circuit. Bringing surf rock music to Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest, The Trashmen quickly became one of the most sought-after musical acts in the country.
After “Surfin’ Bird,” caused The Trashmen to be the first Minnesota-born group to top the national music charts, the group launched a year-long national tour of more than 250 one-night shows, followed by additional gigs overseas. They went on to produce a national follow-up record to ride on the Bird’s success, titled “Bird Dance Beat,” as well as several other regional hits.
The Trashmen’s Minneapolis surf sound has since become the stuff legends are made of. Through tours of Spain, France and sold out appearances in Las Vegas, “Surfin’ Bird” fever continues to thrive. In fact, “Surfin’ Bird” has been covered by artists like The Ramones, The Beach Boys, and even Pee-Wee Herman.
It was after a 1999 show in Las Vegas that The Trashmen decided to wrap things up, choosing to go out at the top of a resurgence in surf and ‘60s music. Since then, they have done a show here and there when the time, cause and karma felt just right. The 60th anniversary celebration of KOZY Radio in Grand Rapids is one of those occasions.
The Trashmen haven’t played in Grand Rapids since a show at the Armory in 1964, but they will return on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Reif Center as the headline attraction for KOZY Radio’s 60th birthday party.
KOZY Radio’s own Curb Feelers Rock-N-Roll Revue band will open the show. The night promises to be filled with memories, voices from the past, prizes, birthday cake and great rock-and-roll.
Don’t miss your opportunity to catch a wave with The Trashmen. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at Reed Drug or the Reif Center Box Office, by calling 218-327-5780 or visiting www.reifcenter.org. For more information, visit the Reif’s Web site or www.kozyradio.com.
This performance is made possible through a partnership with the Reif Center and KOZY (1320 AM)/KMFY (96.9 FM).