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.