Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Little Surfin' Sixteen USA

On this date in 1963 the Beach Boys hit Surfin' USA made its debut on Billboard's Hot 100. It would peak at #3 and stay on the charts for 17 weeks. Three years earlier, also around this time of year, Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen was topping the charts. It made its debut on 17 February 1958, peaked at #2, and stayed on the charts for a sweet sixteen weeks.

Everyone knows that Chuck Berry sued the Beach Boys for copyright infringement because of the similarities of those two songs. Here's why Chuck Berry won that case and was granted composer credits and royalties for the Beach Boys song:

Of course, Bobby Rydell's 1959 hit, Kissin' Time, also borrowed the melody from Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen and probably inspired a bit of Surfin' USA as well. It first hit the Billboard Hot 100 on 29 June 1959, went up to #11 and stayed on the charts for 17 weeks. If you tuned around on an AM radio in 1963 and heard three distant stations coming in at the same time, it might have sounded something like this:

I call it Sweet Kissin' Little Surfin' Sixteen Time. No, I don't play mashups on MusicMaster Oldies, but you will hear the original hits, even those who got caught stealing!

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