Album: Wipe Out
. . .
So the reason I knew that Mike in my post high-school covers band — the one where I attempted (and failed) to be a front man — was a great drummer was that he could play the tom rolls in “Wipe Out.”
I mean there were other reasons, of course, but I seem to recall that “Wipe Out” was a particular highlight in our sets — and not just because it was a song that I didn’t sing (I don’t think) — and that had to do with his drumming. Which got him into Fresno hardcore kings Capital Punishment, and is still a thing he’s doing today.
Anyways, the guy who is playing drums on the original Surfaris version of “Wipe Out” is named Ron Wilson, and it’s his incredibly controlled but supercharged drum part that elevates the song to its status in the pantheon, as the rest of it is a perfectly serviceable surf instrumental, with a catchy-enough guitar hook, and those cool parts where the rest of the band all hits chords at the same time during those tom rolls.
Oh, and extra points for the songs intro: their manager screaming “ha ha ha ha ha, wipe out” in a crazed falsetto, leading directly into Wilson’s madness, an opening that kinda sorta tilted “Wipe Out” in to novelty territory, despite the tremendous drum part.
“Wipe Out” was a massive hit in 1963, making it up to number two, blocked only by another novelty-adjacent song, “Fingertips Pt. 2” by the 13-year-old Motown artist “Little” Stevie Wonder. And while “Wipe Out” was the only hit by the Surfaris, it has remained in popular culture over the past six decades. Unlike Wonder, of course, who was never heard from again.
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