Coming of age in South Carolina in the ’60s and ’70s, less than 100 miles from Myrtle Beach and “The Grand Strand” meant listening to and loving beach music. The state dance was “The Shag,” which I never did learn to do well, but I still got out on the floor and faked it with the best of them. Beach music are still the tunes I turn to when I want to go back to a simpler time when a neighborhood was a safe place for children to play and computers and video games did not exist.
Beach Music Bands
While California had The Beach Boys, we had some of the best R&B bands in the world. Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters taught us all about being “Under the Boardwalk” and “Up On The Roof,” while The Tams told us to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.” The Chairmen of the Board said we “Carolina Girls” were “the best in the world” and we couldn’t help but wish that someone would love us like David Ruffin of The Temptations loved “My Girl.” The Four Tops couldn’t help themselves when talking about their “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch,” while The Coasters admonished men that to find lasting happiness, you must ” Make an Ugly Woman Your Wife .” The Catalinas taught us that having a broken heart “Ain’t No Big Thing.”
Single Beach Music Artists
The bands were amazing, but the single artists touched our hearts and made us cling to each other in the slow dances. Percy Sledge told us all about what happens “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Otis Redding encouraged men to “Try a Little Tenderness,” but painted a poignant picture of loneliness with “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay.” Ben E. King sang about his beautiful Rose in “Spanish Harlem” and implored his lover to “Stand by Me.”
Marvin Gaye: A Mighty Talent
Out of all the wonderful bands and single artists of that era, one stood out for me, and that man was Marvin Gaye. He brought some “funk” into soul music, with songs such as “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and spoke to our consciences with “What’s Going On,” “Inner City Blues” and “Mercy, Mercy Me.” His duets with Tammi Terrell taught us that there “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when you are in love and how heaven must have sent “Your Precious Love” to you.
I wish every young person could experience the joy we did growing up during those days, dancing on the roof of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion or “Barefootin” in the sand on the beach. We felt safe and protected, and were able to relax and enjoy our youth. But it was the music that brought it all together. Like the Embers said so eloquently, “I love beach music. I always have and always will. There ain’t no other kind of music in the world that gives me quite the thrill.”
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