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Ron Wilson 5/1989

ron-wilson-the-surfarisMay 7, 1989 – Ronald Lee “Ron” Wilson was born on June 26, 1944 in Los Angeles.

Wilson played Drums for a high school band Charter Oak Lancers in Covina, California in 1962. The members of the outfit were inspired by Boston born surf guitarist Dick Dale, but it was drummer Ron Wilson who inspired the biggest hit of the Surf Music genre.

As one of the original members of The Surfaris, an early surf rock group formed in Glendora, California in 1962, he introduced  a vigorous cadence-laced drumming style which made their music much more energetic than other surf bands.

Wilson said he had dreamed of a surfer and with the others wrote a song called “Surfer Joe”, sung by Wilson. It was recorded at Pal Studios in Cucamonga, California in January 1963.

The band needed a B-side and Wilson played a drummer’s practice exercise called a paradiddle. Wilson added stresses to what had been a rhythm he played in his school marching band, and the guitarists followed. According to band member Bob Berryhill, “Ronnie loved Scottish marches and played with our high school Tartan marching band. That came into play coupled with my suggestion of bongo rock-type breaks for an arrangement, a drum-solo type of song with a simple guitar melody. Ronnie started playing the famous Wipe Out solo and in about ten minutes we had the song together.”

His energetic drum solo made ‘Wipe Out’ the best-remembered instrumental of the period. The band toured in various forms for many years and at times invited members of the audience to attempt Wilson’s drum riff while the guitarists played the melody.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wilson was the drummer with the Monica Dupont band, which included Mel Brown, Johnny Heartsman, Bobby Forte’ and from time to time Bard Dupont. They recorded Honky Tonk live at the Stony Inn, in Sacramento, California available as a free download at

He was only 44 when he died of a brain aneurysm on May 7, 1989

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