By Danny Ritz

Randy Nauert and his band, The Challengers, changed the course of music forever when they released their album Surfbeat in the early months of 1963, selling more than 200,000 copies. With Southern California responsible for roughly 10 percent of worldwide record sales at that time, in today’s world, The Challengers would have, theoretically, sold millions. The San Onofre Parks Foundation, in its final Summer Lecture Series event of the 2017 season, presents “Surfbeat” on Wednesday, Aug. 16, featuring guest speaker Nauert, bassist of The Challengers.

The Challengers, one of the first “surf” bands in Southern California, are seen in this 1960s photo. Randy Nauert of the band will speak at the San Onofre Park Foundation’s final event of the Summer Lecture Series. Photo: Courtesy of San Onofre Parks Foundation
The Challengers, one of the first “surf” bands in Southern California, are seen in this 1960s photo. Randy Nauert of the band will speak at the San Onofre Park Foundation’s final event of the Summer Lecture Series. Photo: Courtesy of San Onofre Parks Foundation

“San Onofre is a great place to surf,” Nauert said. “I first met John Severson when I was a 10th-grader and John showed his movie Surf Safari at our high school. Afterwards, I showed John a cartoon story that my friend and I were working on, Murphy and the Surf Contest. About a year later, John started his magazine, Surfer, and Rick Griffin redrew the story in Surfer’s first issues. More than a decade later, John came to me to provide music for his last surf movie called Pacific Vibrations. During the scoring of the film, John, Rick Griffin and I surfed in front of Severson’s house next door to Richard Nixon’s on Cottons Point. Being invited to speak at the Historic Cottage fills me with good memories.”

Musically, Nauert is credited with being one of the first to incorporate the electric bass guitar and its driving rhythm to the “dance” music of the era. This new-found pulse, found throughout Surfbeat’s tracks, took coastal California and the world by storm.

The son of an Olympic springboard diver, Nauert grew up in the South Bay of Los Angeles. As a surfer in the Palos Verdes and Manhattan Beach communities of the 1950s, Nauert quickly joined the ranks of iconic figures such as Noll, Griffin, Severson, and Duke Kahanamoku.
Able to quickly transition between incredible stories of wave-chasing, art-creation and record selling, Nauert’s lecture promises to entertain.

Randy Nauert and his Summer Lecture Series will be held at 6 p.m. within the Historic Cottage area inside the San Clemente State Beach Campgrounds. Limited parking is free with a paid lecture ticket. A reception will begin at 6 p.m., sponsored by BK Cellars and Artifex Brewing Company, featuring a live musical performance by The Curl Riders. The lecture is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 at the door and $15 in advance, available for purchase at www.surfbeat.eventbrite.com.

 

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