Steve Wahrer of The Trashmen going all out on American Bandstand in 1964.
The Trashmen's biggest hit was 1963's "Surfin' Bird", which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the latter part of that year. The song was a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, "The Bird's the Word" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow". The earliest pressings of the single credit the Trashmen as composers, but following a threat from The Rivingtons' legal counsel, that group was subsequently credited as composers. The early single was credited solely to the drummer (and singer) – Steve Wahrer. The song was later re-recorded by artists including the Ramones, The Cramps, Silverchair, The Psychotic Petunias, Pee-Wee Herman, Equipe 84, and the thrash metal band Sodom. It has been used in filmmaking and television productions including, most notably, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket; Vince Vaughn's "Fred Claus"; John Waters' Pink Flamingos; Lyndall Hobbs' Back to the Beach (where Pee-Wee Herman sang it); and the soundtrack to the video game Battlefield Vietnam.
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Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects