L.A.’s Instro Surf Labels Pt 2


Deltone Records issued Dick Dale’s first LP Surfer’s Choice and 12 singles before Dale signed with Capital Records in 1964. One story told is that Del Fi wanted to sign Dale but his father Jim Monsour was not happy with the terms so he started Deltone to record his son. Deltone issued three other artists besides Dale: Jim August, Tommy Stevens, and the duo of Walt Phillips & Barry Young. After Dick Dale left Deltone the label folded. 


Dub-Tone Records released three LPs, one surf (1964) & two Huggy Boy compilations. The Surf Family featuring Dick Dale and introducing the Surfers features two Dick Dale cuts in which he croons ballads…dreadful.  The surf family band has adequate players but dull arrangements and no reverb. Can’t find any info on this label nor why Huggy Boy’s comps appear on it.  Maybe it was his label?


Aertaun Records was a small short-lived California regional surf label founded by Dave Aerni in 1962. The label released the Tornadoes hit Bustin’ Surfboards as well as 10 other singles including several surf tunes. Dave Aerni managed the Tornadoes and was part of a group of musicians in Cucamonga who hung out and recorded at Paul Buff’s Pal Recording Studio in the 60s. Dave Aerni managed several other local bands and contributed to Frank Zappa’s early recordings which were all done at the same recording studio. Here’s info on the Cucamonga recording studio posted on Discogs. Check out all the tiny independent labels Paul Buff produced out of his studio.

Pal Recording Studio was a popular studio for aspiring bands to record their work ‘on a budget’. The unique 12-track built by Buff would help create some memorable works, especially in the era of the ‘surf sound’ for bands such as The Surfaris. Quite surprising, for a studio in the desert, rather than the California coast.

The studio became very popular with Frank Zappa, who spent much time there, honing his craft, with Buff and his circle of friends – such as Dave Aerni. FZ would later gain the studio from Buff and renamed it Studio Z on 1st August, 1964. Buff then worked at Original Sound Studio for Art Laboe

Whilst operating Pal Studio, Buff also created/ran independent labels – such as; “Pal”, “Emmy”, “Yukon”, “Plaza” and “Vigah”. It should also be noted that, in early years, Buff recorded work at PAL and sold it on to Original Sound (e.g. Tijuana Surf/Grunion Run with FZ) – later actually recording work at Original Sound Studios (e.g. Drums-A-Go-Go).


Challenge Records was known for the Champs but they released at least one surf LP by the Rhythm Rockers.  The Rhythm Rockers were session musician Mike Patterson, Dave Garland, Mike Moran and Chuck Spencer. Challenge Records is featured in a previous blog entry. The Rhythm Rockers are good but the recording is thin, perhaps a weak live recording; not great listening material.


Linda Records issued this one surf single by Gene Gray and the Stingerays among their 25 releases. This is Gene Gray’s only known recording and ended up on several vinyl instro comps such as Strummin Mental Part Two. Linda Records was one of several labels & publishing companies created by singer/songwriter Eddie Davis, a former child actor and restaurateur. His music businesses included Faro Productions, Inc., Faro Productions, Padua Music Company / Poochum and Rampart Records. Davis became well known in East Los Angeles for recording a lot of the classic East Side Sound bands such as Cannibal and the Head Hunters. There’s a good archived bio of Eddie Davis at this UC Santa Barbara site.  



Sutton Records (covered elsewhere on this site) was a low budget record company churning out LPs similar in style & content to Tops & Crown. Sutton’s surf releases  included Surf N Bongos by the New Dimensions  and several LPs by the Surf Teens.  Sundazed reissued the best of the New Dimensions on vinyl but sadly it is out of print (but go to the link for detailed credits for the New Dimensions LPs). Surf N B Bongos is the best of the surf instro LPs featured here. Fine recording and excellent reverb-drenched surf sound though a little too much sax in some cuts for my tastes. 


Crown Records also released a slew of so-called surf LPs but in true Crown tradition none of them were actual surf bands. Joe Houston was a honkin’ sax player from South LA and his style is unchanged for his surf LP.  Twangy Guitars sounds like a decent garage band and was reissued several times under different titles & artists.  The hot rod & motor cycle LPs are all session guitarist Jerry Cole and sound more rock & psycho than surf. All of these LPs are reviewed in great detail earlier on this site. 


Titan Recording Company – The GIANT of SOUND – released several singles by the Surfmen, a local instro band together for one year (1961) whose members (Armon Frank, Nick Drury, Ray Hunt, Tim Fitzpatrick) contributed to  recordings by Dick Dale & the Lively Ones. Titan also released vocal hot rod singles by Gary Usher who receives credit for other productions at the label. Titan’s most exciting band (at least to my ears) was The Strangers, a wild garage band whose guitarist (and leader?) was guitarist Joel Hill Scott. Scott had a raw rock/blues guitar sound and ended up in Canned Heat.


Titan was owned by George Brown who co-owned Demon Records with Sy Aronson and Joe Greene. Demon is known for releasing singles by rockabilly artist Jody Reynolds whose catalogue has been reissued by Ace UK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s