Jan and Dean Sidewalk Surfin’


Jan and Dean’s 1964 song Sidewalk Surfin’ is pretty much the first skatesploitation song. I haven’t actually researched that, Doc Skaterock probably knows for sure. It’s easily the most famous one. As a young lad I remember buying a cutout Jan & Dean greatest hits compilation on cassette tape just because of this song. Before we were exposed to the larger world of punk rock and skate rock, we actually used to derive a bit of stoke from this cheesy tune, and later on would bust it out for a laugh and some nostalgia.

These 45 sleeves were available on Ebay for a handful of bucks. I neglected to adequately read the auction description and was surprised to get an empty sleeve without a 45. Fortunately, the plain single of Sidewalk Surfin’ b/w When it’s Over in a generic sleeve are abundant and cheap on Ebay as well.



I don’t usually publish unsolicited material, but since I haven’t been updating S&A regularly I thought I would run this piece on Sidewalk Surfin’ sent in by Beatle Bob.

Jan and Dean’s Sidewalk Surfin’ by Beatle Bob.

This hot trend of skateboarding in the 60s amongst teenagers did not go unnoticed among the rock & roll crowd. Looking for another unusual sporting craze to turn into a musical trend after surfing, Jan & Dean’s Jan Berry hit upon skateboarding, which was a relatively new phenomenon in the early ’60s. However, after trying to unsuccessfully come up with a song on the subject himself, he remembered The Beach Boys’ song, “Catch A Wave.” He asked the original writers of the song, Brian Wilson and Roger “Hot Dog Rog” Christian, to re-tool it for him, and the result was “Sidewalk Surfin,'” which was essentially, “Catch A Wave,” with different lyrics that referred to skateboarding. Jan & Dean recorded it in an arrangement that aped that of The Beach Boy’s original with some skateboarding sound effects.

“Sidewalk Surfin'” entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at #83 on Halloween, October 31, 1964, and would peak at #25. To hear and see Jan & Dean performing “Sidewalk Surfin'” watch the video below. It’s from their performance on Dick Clark’s Saturday afternoon teen rock & roll ABC show American Bandstand.

And also watch the other video clip to hear the same song. This time it’s a live performance from the movie many consider the greatest rock ‘n roll live concert film of all time: The T.A.M.I. Show; which Jan Dean had the honor of MCeeing. (Editor’s Note: Featured before on S&A)

On the T.A.M.I. show, 1964.

Below are the lyrics to Jan & Dean’s “Sidewalk Surfin.'” There are bracketed numbers next to some of the lyrics for some of phrases that are used in skateboarding. For you “poledads” who don’t know the sidewalk surfin’ lingo, there is a glossary just below the lyrics that explains everything.

“Sidewalk Surfin’

Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me…

Don’t be afraid to try the newest sport around
(Bust your buns {1}, bust your buns now.)
It’s catchin’ on in every city and town.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.
You can do the tricks the surfers do
Just try a “Quasimodo” {2) or “The Coffin” {3} too.
(Why don’t you), grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

You”ll probably wipeout when,
You first try to shoot the curve.
(Bust your buns, bust your buns now.)
Takin’ gas {4} in a bush takes a lotta of nerve.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, oow-wa, ooo-wa.)
Those hopscotch poledads {5} and pedestrians, too,
Will bug ya, shout “Cuyabunga!” {6}
Now, and skate right on through.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

{Instrumental break.}

(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.)

You can do the tricks the surfers do,
Just try the “Quasimodo” or “The Coffin” too.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

So get your girl and take your tandem {7} down the street.
(Bust your buns, bust your buns now.)
Then she’ll know you’re an asphalt athlete.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.)
A downhill grade, now, will give you a kick,
But if the sidewalks cracked, you better pull out quick.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)
Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me.
(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)
Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me.
(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)

{1} Since sidewalk surfers were riding skateboards on pavement, there was a possibility of “busting ones buns,” if they wiped out.
{2} A “Quasimodo” (named after the Hunchback of Notre Dame character), was a maneuver where one bent over on the board with a hunched back.
{3} Doing “The Coffin” is to lie on ones back, arms folded, eyes closed and ride the surfboard in.
{4} “Taking gas” mean to wipe out.
{5} Poledad is a term used by skateboarders that describes someone, especially pedestrians, who annoy them, or get in their way.
{6} The surfing battle cry, Cuyabunga, is just a slight variation of the more familiar, Cowabunga.
{7} Tandem skateboarding is pulling another person on a skateboard along with you.

1 Comment

  1. It´s pretty hard to tell, which song was the first one about skateboarding. When I did all the research for my book (VINTAGE SKATEROCK – skateboard music of the 1960s and 1970s) I came to those conclusions:

    1.) The first vocal tune about skateboarding probably was JAN & DEAN´s “sidewalk surfin´”, except maybe some tunes, that never made it out of the garage they were performed in 😉
    “Sidewalk Surfin´” was recorded on July 29, 1964.

    2.) Prior to that date, a few instrumental tunes with skateboard-related titles were recorded. The “Sidewalk Surfing!” LP by THE GOOD GUYS must have been released just a couple days earlier, because it was reviewed in Billboard Magazine on July 18, 1964.

    3.) And then there were THE SIDEWALK SURFERS, another surf band/project, that recorded two instrumental tunes (“shoot the curb” and “skateboarding”) around April 1964. The SIDEWALK SURFERS were something like a more or less illegal side-project by JAN & DEAN. Only a few test pressings exist of that record.
    Note: in 1965 another band with the same name recorded a very nice vocal tune (“skate board”). Main guy between that project was BEACH BOY Bruce Johnston.

    Hope that helps 😉

Leave a Reply

Want an avatar? Upload a Globally Recognized Avatar for free at gravatar.com Note: Avatars are tied to a single email address, including comments left before the system was activated.

 eBay Watch 

Shot of the Week
December 2nd

American GI

May - June 2015 - 68 items

eBay Action

Grover's Video Korner #100
Burnside Halloween 2015

Grover's Video Korner

Annoying Kid of the Month
Generic Segway at the skatepark

Annoying Kid of the Month

Categories and Archives

Tag Cloud

Search and Annoy

Search Skate and Annoy - Daily

Search in Features, Ebay Watch, GVK...

Search in Galleries

Search in Reviews

This is none of your business