From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Surf Punks, ‘My Beach’

The Captain and Tennille’s Daryl Dragon was only one successful member of a very musical family. His father, Carmen, was a film composer, Grammy winner, and conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. Both Daryl’s brother, Douglas, and sister, Carmen, were musicians in their own right.

And then there’s Daryl’s other brother, drummer Dennis. Like the Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis (Wilson), Dennis Dragon was a true blue Southern California surfer, one of those guys who lived a lifestyle the rest of us only dream about. Professionally, Dennis played on and engineered the Captain and Tennille’s debut album, 1975’s Love Will Keep Us Together, but he’d already tasted success as a studio musician prior to that. Though never officially a member of the band, in 1973 Dragon briefly served as the Byrds’ stage drummer. During his career, he also played with the Beach Boys, Neil Young, and Rick Springfield.

But the Surf Punks are Dennis Dragon’s real claim to fame. Formed in 1976, the band wasn’t so much punk as kind of a mashup of novelty songs and new wave. Their songs were silly, day-glo updates of Beach Boys themes with the rhythm section cranked way up in the mix. And what a great rhythm section: John Hunt may not have been a technically great bass player, but he pounded those heavy gauge strings with a ferocity that matched Dragon’s on the drum kit.

My Beach was the band’s sophomore album but their first on a major label, which is probably why it remains the Surf Punks album with which most people are familiar. They released three more albums before calling it quits, all during the ’80s.

While Dennis Dragon is remembered as a happy, free-spirited guy, his story has a tragic ending: Dragon apparently committed suicide at age 70. Some of his friends suspected that the surfer/musician may have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease prior to taking his life. If so, that may have been a diagnosis that he shared with his brother, the Captain, though I don’t believe either diagnosis has been publicly confirmed.

My Beach is one of those rare records that is worth more on CD than vinyl, at least until Cherry Red or a similar label trots out a reissue. Right now you can expect to pay around 25 bucks for a CD copy, while a vinyl one will only run you 5-10 dollars. Happy hunting.


7 replies »

  1. I remember the album just because of the cover, but never heard any of it until just now when I played the “My Beach” link. It sure sounds like the members of The B-52s had this record in their collection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That first album was basically this same album minus a track or two with a different label on their own imprint.


    • Exactly, the eponymous l.p & My Beach- same album, w/ Locals Only as the other main output. A few yrs later they churned out 2 more but they literally only had a few new tracks each on top of literal filler. Severely underrated band & they were ‘no wave’ not new wave; they might possibly be the most significant soCal punkrock of the past 4 decades.


  3. I serviced his Satellite system not long before his death and he was in a bathrobe in the afternoon looking stale and eating oatmeal that was in hard chunk which looked like it was made days before. He truly seemed to lack focus and real happiness and seemed a little depressed, so I have no doubt that he took his own life. I had heard of his band very vaguely and remembered the music of his brother even though I didn’t know them by name as he mentioned it all to me. He filled me in on the details and gave me a grand tour of the studio. Nice enough guy and he mentioned he was producing with some local bands. Pretty shocking to hear about this of course.


  4. I love this album. I played it as a college DJ at the University of Idaho. Never had been to California, knew nothing about surfing, but I laughed my ass off and the music was awesome. My friends and I loved the slang and the in/out crowd attitude. The inner sleeve of my vinyl copy is a treasure, with all the lyrics and the Surf Punk Dictionary. As Frank Zappa said ” Does Humor Belong In Music ? ” Yes ! Bless you Surf Punks, Ramones, DEVO. Gave it a listen again and still sounds great. There is an awesome live clip on the amazing URGH ! A Music War concert video.


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