“Surfin’ USA” and “Sweet Little Sixteen”

4 Mar

The Beach Boys  “Surfin’ USA.” was a copy of  the melody of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” but uses new lyrics. After Berry sued, he was granted royalties, and all further issues of the song gave him writing credit.

 According to Wilson,

“I was going with a girl called Judy Bowles, and her brother Jimmy was a surfer. He knew all the surfing spots. I started humming the melody to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and I got fascinated with the fact of doing it, and I thought to myself, ‘God! What about trying to put surf lyrics to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’s melody? The concept was about, ‘They are doing this in this city, and they’re doing that in that city’ So I said to Jimmy, ‘Hey Jimmy, I want to do a song mentioning all the surf spots.’ So he gave me a list.”[1]

“Surfin’ U.S.A.” was released as a single on March 4, 1963. “Sweet Little Sixteen” was released in January 1958.


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