Surf Rock/Guitar Instrumentals Part 3 – One Hit Wonders

October 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm 4 comments

A number of the biggest rock/surf guitar hits in the early sixties were released by groups that were unable to follow up their chart toppers with another success.

This entry examines four of those: Pipeline, Telstar, Penetration, and Out of Limits. Here are links to my arrangements of these four classic hits:

Pipeline Stream Mp3
Telstar Stream Mp3
Penetration Stream Mp3
Out of Limits Stream Mp3


Surfing a pipelineIn 1963, the song Pipeline was a big hit for the Chantays, peaking at #4. There is amazingly little information about them available on the web. It appears their members were Warren Waters, Bob Spickard, Brian Carman, Bob Marshall, and Bob Welch. In addition to the standard instrumentation (for this type of band) of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums, they also featured an electric piano, which plays the melody in the original version of the hit.

The song title refers to a surfing phenomenon in which the wave actually curves over without fully breaking, encasing the surfer in a tube of swiftly moving water.

The song itself was written by Brian Carman & Bob Spickard. It was covered countless times and many people may in fact associate the song with the Ventures rather than the Chantays.

This Youtube clip features the original Chantays lineup “finger synching” to their recording on what appears to be the Lawrence Welk Show. Yikes!



In 1962, the instrumental Telstar rose to the very top of the charts in both the USA and the UK. It was written by Joe Meek and performed by the Tornadoes, both British artists. A fairly complete account of the song and its production, can be found at This song was also covered by a number of bands.

According to the article linked above, while the Tornadoes were a fairly successful UK instrumental group at the time, the creative driving force behind the record was Joe Meek. He added the unusual sounding melody in the studio after the band had laid down their tracks and left. Supposedly he also used the sound of toilet flushing played backwards to simulate the sound of a rocket lifting off.


In 1964, a group called the Pyramids took Penetration, written by Steve Leonard, to number 18 on the US charts. That it borrows a great deal from Pipeline is evident from the opening bars where the rhythm figure is almost identical. Much like the Chantays, there is very little information available about the Pyramids online.

Out of Limits

The Marketts took Out of Limits to number 3 in 1963. This band was led by Michael Z. Gordon, who subsequently had considerable success as a music, television and movie producer. He is still active today. The Marketts actually had another hit three years later in 1966 – the theme from the campy TV show “Batman”.

Out of Limits was written by Gordon, and actually has nothing thematically in common with the television show of the period called “The Outer Limits”. The opening riff of Out of Limits is clearly ripped from the theme from Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone”, another spooky series from the same era.

Entry filed under: Guitar, Music, Oldies, Vintage Instrumentals.

Cool Cats Medley Trying My Hand

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. George  |  January 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I’m looking for help identifying a song. I hear it occasionally on an oldies station that has no DJ and does not publish a playlist. It is an instrumental with the exception of female vocals harmonizing with ahhh-ah-ah-ah ah ah ah throughout the song. It is very much in the Dick Dale, twangy, echoey surf guitar style. The female vocals give it a somewhat spooky quality to me. It is very similar to Telstar and Outer Limits that you cited above. Similar to a number of Marketts songs as well.

    I have listened to hundreds of 60’s instrumentals, surf guitar instrumentals, etc. No luck.

    It has no actual words so searching Google is useless. The song is rare so my humming it (poorly) is no help to anyone.

    So I’m desperate. Any idea?

    • 2. Bruce  |  April 7, 2016 at 6:20 am

      Hi George,

      I hope you’ve found out by now, but for the benefit of others, you’re looking for “No Matter What Shape” by T-Bones.


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October 2007


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