Beach music refers to songs that are based on rhythm and blues which have emerged from different musical styles of the '40s, '50s, and the '60s. It is a regional form of music. Its styles vary right from big band swing instrumental music to jazz, and rock and roll. This type of music straddles fields like those of jump blues, boogie, rockabilly, and reggae.
Swing dance or a shag, also known as the Carolina shag, developed from the swing style of jazz music as early as in the 1920s. There are different swing dance communities having different local cultures. They define swing dance and the most-suited music accompaniment for it, in their own way. Carolina shag came up during the 1940s. It is associated with beach music. It is the official state dance of the northern and southern states of Carolina. Rhythmic music played in a medium or fast tempo characterizes this dance form.
Many believe that the concepts of beach music and shag dance highly influenced teenagers who came to vacation on the North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Before the Civil Rights Act came into existence, Whites were not allowed to listen to music by the Blacks. Even after racial discrimination was abolished, the custom continued in some places. Disapproving this prohibition, the youth took to bars and beaches to enjoy this type of music.
Lately, Beach music has started becoming a blend of rhythm and blues with funk, disco, gangsta rap, and hip-hop. However, most beach music fans prefer its older form. The older school has remained to be popular among beach music enthusiasts, owing to its tempo and beat.
In its initial years, Artie Shaw, Ruth Brown, and Little Willie John made beach music popular. Groups like The Four Tops, The Coasters, The Tams, and The 5 Royales contributed to the rising popularity of this music during its early days. Many of their numbers topped the music charts of their time. During the sixties and the seventies, beach bands came up. The Tassels, The Attractions, and The Embers were some of them. For some years from then, the mass appeal for this music reduced. But an organization called The Society of Stranders gave a boost to beach music to regain its popularity. Many music groups evolved during this time. Some young artists joined the group of those in beach music. Radio stations began to air beach music.
Since 1981, this music has received further impetus due to various beach music shows and award functions that are organized throughout the year. It started with John Aragona, an entrepreneur from Virginia who hosted the Beach Music Awards for the very first time in Myrtle Beach. Today, the Southeastern music industry of the United States produces many beach music numbers. The relation of beach music with shag dance has led many to closely associate this music with the dance form. It has resulted in this music being referred to as 'shag music'. 'Sixty Minute Man' by the Dominoes, 'I Love Beach Music' by the Embers, 'My Girl' by Temptations and the Fantastic Shakers' 'Myrtle Beach Days' are some of the chartbusters.
After going through its share of good and bad days, beach music continues to be popular with a large section of music lovers. The next time you are out on a beach, have a great time swaying to some foot-tapping beach music numbers.