Listening to the new CD "The Birth Of Surf" (Ace CDCHD 1155), one track stood head and shoulders above the rest for me, "Pipeline" by the Chantays. I have known and liked the record for 44 years, but hearing it in the context of other surfing music, it made me realize that this is really the cream of the genre. When it came out in the spring of 1963 I had no idea that this was a "surf" record, nor did anyone else in Europe. Dick Dale, the creator of surf music, had not yet had any releases in Europe, at least not in the UK, and I doubt if even in the US surf had already been recognized as a separate genre in those days. "Pipeline" was the first surf instrumental to reach the Billboard Top 10. Only one other record managed the same feat, "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris. 1963 was the big year for surf instrumentals. Surf music was not immediately swept away by the British Invasion and managed to last until 1965.
According to Wayne Jancik, Bob Spickard and Brian Carman had only eight months of musical experience when they created "Pipeline". The Chantays were formed in the summer of 1961 by a group of students at Santa Ana High School in Orange County, California. The original members were Bob Spickard (lead guitar), Brian Carman (guitar), Warren Waters (bass), Bob Marshall (piano) and Bob Welch (drums). Some sources also mention a sax player, Jim Frias, but he was probably addded later, as all known publicity shots of the group show them as a five-piece band. "Pipeline" started out as a tough little dual-guitar idea that Spickard and Carman originally called "Liberty Whip" and later "44 Magnum". After seeing a TV documentary about the notorious Hawaiian Pipeline, they decided to rename the song "Pipeline", a perfect title for the record. It was recorded as a demo at the Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga in the summer of 1962, along with a few other sides. Their manager / discoverer, DJ Jack Sands, tried to interest various West Coast record companies and finally found a taker in the small Downey label, from Downey, Southern California, run by Bill Wenzel and his son Jack. Within weeks of its release on Downey 104 in December 1962, "Pipeline" was a national hit. Downey 103, "Boss" by the Rumblers (another instrumental), also sold more copies than Wenzel could handle and both masters were sold to Randy Wood's Dot Records for national distribution. Rereleased on Dot 16440, "Pipeline" peaked at # 4 in Billboard in the week of May 4, 1963. In the UK it was issued on London HLD 9696 and went to # 16. Dot also rereleased the LP "Pipeline", originally on Downey 1002, on Dot DLP 3516. However, promotion and touring by the group was limited, as they were all full-time high school students. Downey released several follow-up singles, "Monsoon" (also picked up by Dot), "Space Probe", "Only If You Care", "Beyond", "Greenz", but nothing charted. In 1966, Dot reissued "Pipeline"/ "Move It" in their Dot All Time Hit series (Dot 45-104) and also issued a second LP, "Two Sides Of the Chantays", (Dot DLP 3771), which featured one instrumental side and one vocal side.
By then, the Chantays were contracted to Reprise Records and had taken on a new name, the Ill Winds. As such, they had one (vocal) single released on the label, "Fear Of the Rain"/"So Be On Your Way" (Reprise 0423, Nov. 1965). In late 1965 / early 1966, the group toured Japan for three weeks. One more single followed, on the E-X-P-A-N-D label, credited to The Leapin' Ferns, before the group decided to call it quits. Spickard, Carman and Welch relaunched the Chantays in the late 1980s, with two additional members. CDs with new material were released in 1994 ("Next Set") and 1997 ("Waiting For the Tide") and the group is still performing today.
In the UK, a long-running magazine devoted to instrumental rock n roll was named after Pipeline : http://www.pipelinemag.co.uk/
Acknowledgements : Wayne Jancik and especially this site (in French!):
The two LPs from the 60s, "Pipeline" and "Two Sides Of the Chantays" were reissued on one CD by the German Repertoire label, but this is now out of print. There is also a CD reissue of the "Pipeline" LP on Varese Sarabande with three bonus tracks.
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