The Trashmen were a surf and garage rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota that became famous during the early 1960s. Formed in 1962, the original lineup consisted of Tony Andreason (guitar), Dal Winslow (guitar, vocals), Bob Reed (bass), and drummer/singer Steve Wahrer (November 22, 1941 - January 21, 1989). The Trashmen were discovered by a local DJ who was at a show where Wahrer was fooling around onstage and spontaneously ad-libbed what would later become the band's greatest hit, "Surfin' Bird." He convinced The Trashmen to record this song, a wild and woolly proto-punk rocker featuring Wahrer's goofy, snarly vocals, which eventually led to the band being signed to Garrett Records.
The Trashmen debuted in late 1963 on the Pop/Rock charts with "Surfin' Bird," which became a Top 5 hit. Both this smash and its similarly-styled Top 40 sequel, "Bird Dance Beat" (1964), are amalgams of The Rivingtons' "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" (1962) and "The Bird's The Word" (1963). The Trashmen had two other hits in 1964 with "Bad News" and "Peppermint Man." In addition, "King Of The Surf," the B-side of "Surfin' Bird," also got considerable airplay in the Minneapolis area and elsewhere.
"Surfin' Bird" had a resurgence in popularity in 2009 after being featured in an episode of "Family Guy," reaching #8 and #50 on the iTunes Top 10 Rock Songs and U.K. Singles charts, respectively. This song reappeared on the U.K. charts in 2010, this time reaching the Top 10. "Surfin' Bird" has been covered over the years by such bands and artists as The Ramones, The Cramps, Pee-Wee Herman, and the thrash metal band, Sodom. It has also been featured in a number of movies and video games.
The Trashmen toured and recorded actively and made a number of TV appearances until their split in 1967. The band reunited in 1982 and continued through 2015, with some personnel changes.
- Original member Tony Andreason discusses the making of "Surfin' Bird," how the band got its name, and other topics in an interview with Gary James on classicbands.com (ca. 2011).
- AP News remembers Steve Wahrer.
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