For the 2020 Rock Marathon I’ll be hosting a special program. On Wednesday morning, April 15 from 7-9 am you’ll enjoy “Your Morning Shag.”
This shag has nothing to do with Austin Powers. Rather, the shag means something special on the East Coast. It’s a dance developed along the Carolina beaches in the 1950s that remains popular today. (Actually, the scene extended from Virginia through Georgia, though concentrated in the Carolinas). According to some, the shag became popular because you could dance it on the sand — ideal for summer beach parties with vacationing teens and college students.
The basic shag is a simple six-step pattern with many variations. In the beginning, Top 40 hits that had the right shuffle tempo were used for beach dances. The Drifters, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, and the Tymes all became beach music favorites.
Start with this…
…end up with this.
In the early 1960s, Motown groups such as the Temptations and the Four Tops filled the bill. When the writing team of Holland/Dozier/Holland left Motown to form their own label, one of their first groups was the Chairmen of the Board. The Detriot-based band, with lead singer General Norman Johnson, transitioned into a Carolina institution.
Several blue-eyed soul bands had national hits that became part of the beach music canon. Spiral Staircase, the Swinging Medallions, and even UK-based Foundations contributed Carolina beach classics.
Regional bands also sprang up, not only capturing the sound but also writing lyrics specific to the area. Greenville, North Carolina’s Band of Oz catalog includes “Shaggin,” “Ocean Boulevard,” and “Southern Belles.” The Poor Souls from Charlotte, NC had several regional hits, including “It Ain’t the Beat, It’s the Motion,” and “My Girl Stormy.”
And of course — for this Virginia-based program — we can’t forget Bill Deal and the Rhondels. Hailing from Portsmith Virginia, their three national hits remain beach music classics.
Join me and Nick Rubin Wednesday morning, 7-9 am on April 15 for “Your Morning Shag.” And when you call in or go online with your pledge to WTJU, let us know which beach was your favorite:
- Virginia Beach
- Carolina Beach
- Nags Head
- Cape Hatteras
- Myrtle Beach