Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Beach Music

Posted May 22, 2007
Updated June 14, 2007

What song best defines Beach Music? That's the question of the day as Governor Easley and thousands of others celebrate Beach Music Day in North Carolina.

I love all sorts of music. Growing up in Morganton, Beach Music was huge. I remember dances at the rec center with groups like Harry Deal and the Galaxies covering songs recorded by the Drifters, the Platters and Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. I recall going to Hickory to see the Tams, the Embers and the Castaways.

I also remember recording music with my group The Cyntriks at Charlotte's Arthur Smith Studios where Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs taped "Stay" and where the Swingin' Medallions laid down tracks for their hit "Double Shot of My Baby's Love."

When I worked as a newsman at WKIX Radio Steve Roddy and the late Dale Van Horn put together a wonderful series on the history of Beach Music which became popular after World War II in the Carolinas. We called it "soul music." Some folks called it rhythm and blues. It's popularity continues today.

Please share your stories as we get some sand in our shoes and go shagging today.

40 Comments

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  • bleslie May 24, 3:20 a.m.

    If you are an avid listener of James Taylor you can tell many of his songs over the years have been flavored with a bit of that beach music sound. He grew up with that in Chapel Hill. Listen to some of the brass parts in his original songs.

  • gbullock May 23, 4:38 p.m.

    for the person who asked about Jackie Gore, he is playing June 2 in Wilson with his band the mighty all-stars, along with Chairmen of the Board, Band of Oz , and Craig Woolard band.

    My favorite beach music song is "give me just a little more time" by the chairmen

  • robster May 23, 11:34 a.m.

    "Faraway Places" by the Embers...favorite beach music tune; maybe not the best to shag to, but it's my favorite!!! Great article, Bill!!!

  • packandcanesfan May 23, 9:59 a.m.

    Happy Birthday General!! If you have never seen this group live, please do if you ever get the chance. They are so much fun. "Dangling On A String" has everybody's hands up. The first time I ever saw them was at Myrtle Beach and we were all burnt to a crisp from falling asleep in the sun. We could barely walk. But we danced our hineys off because the music was so darn good.

  • Beach Music Forever May 23, 9:55 a.m.

    Just read in the N&O that today is General Norman Johnson of the Chairmem of the Board birthday. Happy 64th Birthday to a truly great entertainer and Beach Music icon.

  • Shagger May 23, 8:34 a.m.

    We've taught our kids to shag and they love beach music, too! The Chairman of the Board is a great group. What about Archie Bell and the Drells,Tams,Drifters and Black and Blue? Songs-Cowboys To Girls, Be Young, Be Foolish, Miss Grace, Gone Fishin'.......

  • ADN4now May 23, 7:29 a.m.

    So many memories, so little space. My first memory of beach music was Mom taking me to the White Lake Pavilion when I was about 12 years old and seeing the Embers. That was in the Jackie Gore days.

    I run into Bobby Tomlinson, the founder of the Embers, in Raleigh on occasion. He is a super nice man.

    My absolute favorite song of all time is "I love Beach Music" Simply because it pays homage to it all. But they left out the Chairmen of the Board.

    How can you pick one??? I cannot.

  • HootyHoo May 22, 10:46 p.m.

    Ho many of us remember the good old days at Atlantic Beach? There were several clubs to choose from ( Embers, Pavillion and Jolly Knave) No one cared that it took 2 hrs to cross the drawbridge. How about the Embers Club downtown on Davie St? We have all had some good times there. Beach music will never die. As the song says "It will stand".

  • tennispro May 22, 6:20 p.m.

    Oh yes, there was the Cat's Eye nightclub at Five Points where we used to go see the Tams, Embers,etc. I can't believe our parents let us go all the way to Raleigh back then to hear music and we were in high school. What I find most interesting is that my daughter who is a junior in college loves Chairman of the Board and all her friends went to the beach music festival in Garner and love the same music we do!! No Their favoritesong is Gone Fishing by the Chairman!! No generation gap there!! Ha! Carl Newton and the Fifth Avenue band are terrific and from Wilmington. They play alot at Saltys Restaurant!! Twyla

  • fishnett5977 May 22, 4:50 p.m.

    "Carolina Girls" best in the world! My all time favorite!!! When I was a freshman in high school, I went with a senior to the prom and that was my first experience with beach music - saw Maurice Williams and the Zodiac! Saw the Embers when I was pregnant with my first child at the old Hilton Underground. And just recently saw the new Embers at "Sundown in Downtown" in Benson! Dunn and Benson are both doing these beach music shows this summer but luckly they coordinated and they dont have them at the same time! Lucky for us fans!!!lol Beach music is as much a Carolina tradition as barbeque - without the calories! ;)

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