SAN DIEGO — The Beach Boys, the old men of surf music, are back with a new video: "Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue."
The stars of the video, which will debut July 2 on the cable music channel VH-1, are the "old men" of surfing: the Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club and Precision Marching Surfboard Drill Team.
It's a match made in heaven--surf heaven, that is, where angels with zinc oxide halos and Hawaiian-print wings spend eternity chasing the perfect celestial wave on surfboards light as clouds.
For 25 years, there have been three basic topics for Beach Boys songs: surfing, girls and cars.
For nearly two years, there have been three basic requirements for membership in the Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club: "You have to be over 30, you can't be trusted, and, most importantly, you still have to surf every chance you get," said Rick Grosch, who founded the club with nine others to march, boards in hand, in the 1984 Ocean Beach Christmas Parade.
Today, Grosch said, the group has more than 160 members, ranging from "doctors and lawyers to janitors and plumbers." (Grosch is an aide to San Diego City Councilman Mike Gotch when he's not out surfing.)
Most of the group's time, Grosch said, is spent surfing.
"Everyone's president and there are no meetings," he said, "so that's pretty much all we can do."
Despite the lack of a formal structure, Grosch added, the group does manage to come out of the water on occasion and, in full surfing regalia, participate in more than a dozen parades and other events each year--like the annual Padres-Beach Boys concert double-header, held each May since 1981 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
That's where the old men of surf music first encountered the old men of surfing in May, 1985. Between the game and the concert, about 40 members of the Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club--and about 20 members of the supporting (all-female) Gidget Patrol--marched around the field.
The guys wore baggy trunks and Hawaiian shirts and each carried a surfboard. As soon as they were on the field, they stopped marching and began a perfectly synchronized demonstration of surfing maneuvers, right on the grass.
Meanwhile, the Gidgets--clad in bikini tops and shorts or pedal-pushers--put on a show of their own. They swung their beach chairs around and danced to the vintage surf music broadcast over the stadium sound system.
The crowd loved them. So, apparently, did the Beach Boys, who invited them back for an encore performance when the rock group returned to the stadium in May.
A few weeks after that concert, Grosch said, he received a call from the Beach Boys' managers in Los Angeles, inviting the surf club--and the Gidget Patrol--to appear in the band's next video, part of a 25th anniversary package that includes a single ("Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue") and a two-record "best-of" album.
"So (on May 29), about 40 of us drove up to L.A. and spent the day on Venice Beach, while the cameras filmed us for about three or four hours," Grosch said.
"We went through all of our routines, and even showed the camera crew how to do the Cool Kim, an old surf dance. And at the end of the day, they gave us $500 and promised us several copies of the completed video once it's out of the editing room."
So far, Grosch said, he hasn't heard how the shooting came out, but Mick Kleber, director of music video development for Picture Music International--the video arm of Capitol Records, the Beach Boys' label--said he's "more than pleased."
The "Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue" video starts out, Kleber said, with concert footage shot in May at the stadium. Then it cuts to a caravan of vintage Woodies and Corvettes, each driven by a different Beach Boy, cruising the streets of Venice Beach. Along the way, Kleber said, the vehicles stop to pick up a variety of passengers "who are in need of a rock 'n' roll rescue, so to speak."
The caravan's final destination, he added, is the beach, where the Beach Boys and their passengers climb out and join the Ocean Beach club in a mad dance party on the sand. As the song winds down, the video ends with more concert footage shot at the stadium here.
"The Ocean Beach Surf Club fit in perfectly, just as we had hoped," Kleber said. "They really were the life of the party scene that comes as the video's climax."
When he heard that, Grosch closed his eyes and smiled. After all, being the life of any party is what the Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club and Precision Marching Surfboard Drill Team is all about.