The Trashmen’s immortal rock ‘n’ roll classic “Surfin’ Bird” continues to demonstrate its timeless appeal this holiday season. The beloved 1963 garage-surf anthem is currently at the center of a successful grass-roots campaign in Britain to return the 47-year-old song to the upper reaches of the pop charts.
This holiday season, a cadre of British rock ‘n’ roll fanatics—represented by a Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/birdbirdbirdistheword) that boasts over 620,000 members—has mounted an audacious campaign that has already pushed the song to the Number Three spot on the U.K. charts, alongside the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna. The effort, originally launched by “Birdman Jack,” has achieved this unprecedented feat by encouraging its members to purchase the song.
In a recent statement, the group explained that the campaign represents a concerted effort to strike a blow for real music, and to wrest the U.K. chart spotlight back from the domination of lightweight manufactured pop, as exemplified by Simon Cowell’s wildly successful TV show X Factor. “Our mission,” the group explains, “is to continue the success of last year’s ‘Rage Against The Machine’ Facebook campaign, which snatched the Christmas Number One spot from X Factor. The reason behind this campaign is to further prevent the domination of manufactured music, and to allow something truly great to take the limelight. We are quickly closing the gap on the Number One spot, and we won’t stop until everybody knows that the bird is the word!”
As part of the effort, the group is also supporting several charities and is asking members to make donations to these worthy causes, including Shelter, PinkRibbon, British Heart Foundation, Childline and the wildlife preservation organization the RSPB. The RSPB, which has long worked to protect the welfare of actual birds, has produced a new video to help promote the “Surfin’ Bird” chart campaign (http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.aspx?id=266053).
The Trashmen were already regional heroes on the Minnesota teen scene when they released “Surfin’ Bird” as their debut single in late 1963. The song brilliantly encapsulated the primitive, uninhibited abandon of the quartet’s uniquely primitive take on the surf-music sound. In the early months of 1964, as America was in the grip of the early stages of Beatlemania, the Bird ascended to the Number Four spot on the Billboard pop singles chart, as well as becoming a smash in such far-flung locales as Australia, Sweden, Mexico and Venezuela.
In the decades since, “Surfin’ Bird” has remained an enduring pop-culture touchstone, appearing in numerous movies, TV shows and commercials, and inspiring cover versions by the Ramones, the Cramps and countless other bands. Most recently, the Bird reentered the mainstream consciousness when the animated TV sitcom The Family Guy built an entire episode around protagonist Peter Griffin’s obsession with the song. Meanwhile, the Trashmen—still anchored by original members Tony Andreason, Dal Winslow and Bob Reed—continue to perform for rabid, ecstatic audiences in America and overseas.
The Trashmen’s vintage catalog remains a mainstay of Sundazed Music, which has released multiple packages of the band’s original recordings. In addition to the label’s recently-released 7″ vinyl single pairing “Surfin’ Bird” with its original B-side “King of the Surf,” the song is also featured on Sundazed’s reissue of the original Surfin’ Bird album on both CD and vinyl LP, as well as Tube City! The Best of the Trashmen and the exhaustive four-CD box set Bird Call! The Twin City Stomp of the Trashmen.