Wipe Out is an instrumental song written by Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Fuller and Ron Wilson. The tune was first performed and recorded by The Surfaris, who were elevated to international status with the release of the Surfer Joe and Wipe Out single in 1963.
Wilsons energetic drum solo made Wipe Out one of the best-remembered instrumental songs of the period. Wipe Out is also remembered particularly for its introduction. Before the music starts, Berryhills dad broke a board (imitating a breaking surf board) near the mic, followed by a maniacal laugh and the words Wipe Out spoken by band manager Dale Smallin. Wipe Out was written in the studio by the four original members (Berryhill, Connolly, Fuller & Wilson) and was originally going to be titled Switchblade. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
The song both the Surfaris version as well as cover versions has been featured in over 20 films and television series since 1964, appearing at least once a decade. First heard in Kenneth Angers short Scorpio Rising, its most recent appearance was in Dominic Senas 2009 thriller, Whiteout.
The term wipeout refers to a fall from a surfboard, especially one that looks painful.
Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Fuller and Ron Wilson wrote the tune almost on the spot, as a suitable B-side was needed for the intended Surfer Joe single. In late 1962, while the band was in Cucamongas Pal Recording Studio recording the single, one of the band members suggested that a gimmick sound indicating a wipe out off a surfboard be emulated. The suggestion was made that during the introduction before the music starts, a cracking sound, imitating a breaking surfboard, should be made. This followed by a manic voice babbling, ha ha ha ha ha, wipe out. The spoken voice at the beginning of the song is the voice of the bands manager of the time, Dale Smallin.
The afterthought track spent four months on the national Billboard chart in the autumn of 1963, reaching #2 and kept out of the top slot only by Stevie Wonders Fingertips. The smash hit Wipe Out returned to the Hot 100 in 1966, reaching #16 in Billboard and #9 in Cash Box in its second national chart run, landing at #63 on the Year-end chart. This time it is said to have sold around 700,000 copies in the US to add to its original million-plus. Meanwhile, original A-side Surfer Joe, sung by Ron Wilson, only attracted airplay in the wake of Wipe Outs success, and peaked at #62 during its six-week run. Ron Wilsons energetic drum solo for Wipe Out (a sped-up version of his Charter Oak High School marching bands drum cadence) was beaten out on malt-shop tables all over the country, helping the song become one of the best-remembered instrumental tunes of the period. Drummer Sandy Nelson issued different versions on different LPs. Wipe Out, in 1970, peaked at number 10 in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
In the summer of 1987 a remake of Wipe Out by The Fat Boys & The Beach Boys collaborating made #12 US and #2 UK.
Following the 2001 death of television personality Morton Downey, Jr., news reports and obituaries incorrectly credited him as the composer of Wipe Out. As of 2010, Downeys official website continued to make this claim but it has been changed to state he also played major roles in the production of the hit surf music era songs Pipeline and Wipeout.
In 1993, Animal covered the song for the album Muppet Beach Party. A music video was created to promote the single and the album.
In science fiction author Robert J. Sawyers Neanderthal Parallax series, the DNA sequence for a deadly virus is saved in a computer folder entitled Surfaris. A character immediately recognizes this as a reference to Wipe Out and determines that the virus will wipe out all of the Neanderthals on a parallel universes Earth. She then rewrites the DNA code to a non-lethal version and calls the file Surfer Joe in reference to the A-side of Wipe Out.
In the late 2000s, the track was used on Harry Hills TV Burp, usually played when Harry or the Knitted Character ride a jelly.
Wipe Out has been used on a number of film tracks, including Dark Star (1974) and The Sandlot (1993).
Wipe Out was also played during some of the intervals at Sheffield Steelers ice hockey matches in the 1990s.
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