Beach Baby

May 13, 2024

This month I’m focusing on One Hit Wonders of the 70s.

Today our song is:  Beach Baby

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

"Beach Baby" is a song by the British band The First Class. Written by John Carter and his wife, Gillian (Jill) Shakespeare, the song became the band's only substantial hit. The subject of the lyrics is not holiday love, but a broken love relationship between two high school students in Los Angeles in the 1950s. 

Carter and Shakespeare wrote "Beach Baby" in their home in East Sheen, South West London. Shortly afterward, Carter hired lead singer Tony Burrows and session singer Chas Mills to record it under the band name The First Class. Burrows attempts to sing the tune in an American accent, reflecting the song's California setting.

Toward the end of the song are two instrumental quotations, both on the French horn: the main theme from the last movement of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony, and the tune of the title line from one of Carter's previous compositions, "Let's Go to San Francisco", a 1967 hit for The Flower Pot Men. The estate of Jean Sibelius filed a lawsuit against the song's writers, for infringing on the copyright of the Sibelius piece. The case was settled out of court, with the Sibelius estate receiving half of the song's proceeds.

Because the running time was over five minutes, several AM radio stations edited "Beach Baby" by fading it out during the second instrumental bridge. The fade outs took on some importance, helping to avoid further legal implications.

In the 31 August 1974 edition of American Top 40, Casey Kasem claimed:

"Now on American Top 40, I have that song that was launched by a criminal act, an act that could have cost the owner of a British record company at least a stiff fine [sic]. He's also a recording artist, Jonathan King. He's known to Americans as the guy who hit back in 1965 with 'Everyone's Gone to the Moon', remember? Well, since then he's become a successful producer in England, and he started his own label a couple of years ago. Last year, during the United Kingdom's severe energy crisis, a songwriter came to Jonathan's house with a master tape of a new song that he'd just recorded, but he'd come on a bad day of the week. You see, it was a day when Britons were prohibited from using electricity because of the power shortage. But something told King to take a chance. He invited the artist to come in, and, in a room lit only by candles, keeping the volume turned way down, he listened to that tape, and he knew he'd bought a hit song. Here it is, up to #25 this week, 'Beach Baby' by First Class."

The 21 September 1974 edition of the program added the detail that the song was recorded in London on 24 December 1973.

An engineer who was involved in the recording session recalls: "The recording was made in February 1974 at Lansdowne Studios, Holland Park, London. Tony Burrows was singing, John Carter producing and & Paul Holland engineering. At the time, I was a house assistant engineer & remember being very impressed with the high level of professionalism and ability of the visiting engineer Paul Holland, who I had never met before. I don't believe that he sat down at any time during the session ! - If my memory serves me right, the recording was completed in one evening session."

Although the band went on to release two studio albums and a multitude of singles, they were unable to recreate the success of "Beach Baby".



  1. Another great Tony Burrows song with yet another band...

  2. I don't know if I ever heard this song before. It's fun


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