B-Bird's the word: New book explores Minneapolis music scene in the 60s


After all these years, it seems that the bird is indeed the word.

Believe it or not, Minneapolis was the site of a 1960s rock 'n roll mini-revolution that would have a serious influence on pop music as a whole, and that lively scene is the subject of a newly released book, "Everybody's Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock 'n' Roll in Minnesota."

The title refers to the legendary "Surfin' Bird," the signature 1963 hit of the Trashmen, who formed the year before in Minneapolis. You can listen to it in the video below, but we guarantee you already know it:


The book's author, Rick Shefchik, will be at the Electric Fetus record store next Wednesday to discuss the era, and joining him are some of the book's stars, the store says.

That includes a member of the Trashmen, the Castaways (whose psychedelic single "Liar, Liar" has been featured in movies like "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") and other pioneers of the Minneapolis scene.

After a talk, Shefchik and the musicians will sign copies of the book, Electric Fetus says.

A 'goofy' musical milestone

The publisher, the University of Minnesota Press, describes the book as "the first comprehensive history to trace the evolution of Minnesota 1960s rock and roll," adding that it offers a "behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal account (that) relates how a handful of Minnesota rock bands erupted out of a small Midwest market and made it big."

As for the catchy, boisterous tune that serves as the book's namesake, it may hold a more important place in history than you might think.

In an interview with MPR News, which points out that "Surfin' Bird" was released the year of President John F. Kennedy's assassination but wasn't a hit until after his death, Shefchik says "it was almost like the nation was looking to say, 'I don't want to be this serious any more, I'm looking for something goofy, I'm looking for something fun.'"

And the song became a smash and continues to be an influence decades later, with MPR noting that one very serious figure in modern pop music – "Weird Al" Yankovic – argues both it and the Trashmen should receive rock's highest honor.

Though "loud, dumb and pointless," Yankovic wrote in an NPR piece in 2009, "Surfin' Bird" was "absolutely everything that was great about rock 'n' roll, distilled into one song," and is the reason why the Trashmen "deserve to be immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"

Yankovic conceded, however, that there's "no stinkin' chance" that will happen.

It did, however, make an appearance in one of the most popular television comedies of the past decade – another sign of its influence on pop culture.


The book was released on Oct. 31, according to Amazon.

Next Up

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

MN up to 45 counties with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission

Delta is leading to more cases – and more severe cases – involving children in other states.

Screen Shot 2021-05-23 at 9.08.48 AM

University of St. Thomas latest to require vaccines for students, staff

The college had previously offered incentives to get vaccinated, but is now mandating them.

Pixabay - crowd park outdoors CROP

New forecast predicts more than 4 million Twin Cities residents by 2050

The Met Council believes job opportunities will also steadily grow.

Mike Zimmer

Zimmer on unvaccinated players: 'Some of the things they've read are just, woof, out there'

The coach says he's doesn't understand why some players won't get vaccinated.

Ramsey County - Karina Her booking photo crop 2

Charges: St. Paul woman killed ex-husband, buried him in her back yard

A woman is accused of fatally shooting her ex-husband and burying him in the yard.

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 8.02.46 AM

Riverview Cafe in south Minneapolis closes, plans to 'reassess' its future

The cafe and wine bar was open in the Longfellow neighborhood for 23 years.

Pixabay - camp food fire

Bear sightings prompt food storage mandate up north

Visitors to the forest and BWCAW will be required to 'properly' store their food.

covid, vaccine

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, August 2

The delta variant has been leading to higher case counts and hospitalizations in Minnesota.

Bloomington Walmart

Customers reportedly flee after scare inside Bloomington Walmart

People ran believing it was gunshots, but police say it was actually fireworks.

Racket website screengrab aug 2

New alt news site from former City Pages editors launches this month

Racket will be supported through a reader subscription model.

Flickr - Grand Canyon National Park - bison close-up

Dakota County to reintroduce bison to the area next year

The bison will be introduced to Spring Lake Park Reserve near Hastings and Rosemont.

Smoke and haze Minneapolis

Where to expect wildfire smoke in Minnesota on Monday, Tuesday

After a brief weekend break, the poor air quality will be back to start the week.