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The Essential Beach Music Playlist For Charleston Weddings

06 August 2017

Beach music, or simply called "beach pop" is a very regional genre of music that actually has it's origins back to the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina, as well as the southeastern coast of North Carolina as early as the 1940s. It developed from numerous rock, pop, R&B artists from the 1950s and 60s. The "Carolina shag" is the official state dance in North Carolina and South Carolina, and beach music closely related to this style of swing dance commonly known as the "shag". Despite it's roots  up the coast in Myrtle Beach and on the southeast coast of North Carolina, beach music made its presence down the coast in Charleston over the years and is well known by the native of the area. The golden era of beach music was said to have occurred throughout the 1960s, but by the late 60s, beach music was in decline. Beach and shag music saw a bit of a rebirth in the late 1970s. There was no real explanation of this rebirth, but it could have been due to the young college students who were kids in the 60s during the height of beach music wanting an alternative to disco of the mid - late 1970s.  Doing a little research on beach or shag music or even learning to shag might offer a bit of a local flavor to the music for your Charleston wedding.


 As one of the top Charleston Wedding DJs, it's always been my goal to conduct the research for all types of music, especially on very this regionalized genre of music. I found a quite a few websites that talked about it's exact origin, but if you are coming to Charleston for your wedding and want to take a listen to see if it's something you might want to add into your playlist, click over to this website. It's actually a real radio station located in North Myrtle Beach that's format is all beach and shag music.  Please also go ahead and find me on Spotify for most of what you see on this post. You can find me on Spotify by searching for DJ Mike Bills. Under my profile, you'll see many more wedding playlists to give you ideas and inspiration as you begin to plan the soundtrack for your big day.  If you are not on Spotify, feel free to scroll up and down this post and play each song in You Tube clicking the link in the song title. Thank you for your interest in me being your wedding DJ and enjoy this look back at this exclusive genre of music to the South and North Carolina coast.

"I Love Beach Music" | The Embers
Formed in 1958, the Embers came from Raleigh, NC. This track is definitely one that Charleston locals who know their beach music will respond to.  Take a listen by clicking the link inside the song title.  When you hear the song, you'll begin to understand why it's so popular on the beaches in and around Charleston.

 "Build Me Up Buttercup" | The Foundations
Released in 1968, this song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1969 and also hit number 2 in the United Kingdom.  The Foundations were a British soul band that were multi-racial and the first of it's kind to have a number 1 hit in the UK.

 "With This Ring" | The Platters
The Platters were originally formed in Los Angeles in the early 1950s and were one of those R&B bands that found it's way into the beach music genre. "With This Ring" hit the Top 20 in early 1967 and is a perfect addition to your Charleston wedding playlist.

"The Shoop Shoop Song" (It's In His Kiss) | Betty Everett
Merry Clayton first released this track in 1963, but it went nowhere on the charts. A year later, Betty Everett took it all the way to number 1 on the R&B charts.  Cher did a great cover for the song in 1990 for the movie "Mermaids".

"Under The Boardwalk" | The Drifters
It's not hard to see why this song became a beach music staple as it talks about meeting "under the boardwalk" in a seaside town.  It reached number 4 in 1964 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and made the Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all time.

 "Hey Baby" | Bruce Channel
Hey Baby sold a million copies in 1962 and appears on the soundtrack to one of my favorite 80s movies. "Dirty Dancing". Be sure to look up that soundtrack for even more wedding playlist ideas.

 "Stay" | Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs
Maurice Williams was actually born in Lancaster, SC which is west of the Myrtle Beach area, but formed the "doo-wop" sounds of the Zodiacs in the late 1950s and early 60s with their origins to the Nashville area. Another song also on the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack too. Are you seeing a pattern? :)

"Baby I Need Your Lovin" | The Four Tops
The Four Tops were one of those Motown acts that fit nicely into the beach and shag music genre.  Even if beach music is not your thing, this popular Motown artist shows up a lot on the playlists at weddings all around Charleston.

 "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" | The Tams
Hitting #26 on the R&B charts in 1968, this popular group from Atlanta has seen it's share of lineup changes over the years, but this song could easily describe the feeling that beach music lovers always had.

"Girlwatcher" | The O'Kaysions
You were probably doing  a lot of girl watching on the piers around Myrtle Beach and southeastern North Carolina in the late 60s when this became a Top Ten hit. 

 "Just One Look" | Doris Troy
Doris hit the Top Ten in 1963 with this classic that was actually recorded in TEN minutes in the fall of 1962.  After all, it was that one look he gave you when he met you that captivated you and inspired you to learn more. 

"39-21-46" | The Showmen
Coming out of the New Orleans area in the early 1960s, this hit became a standard for Carolina Beach music.

"Miss Grace" | The Tymes
A number 1 song in Great Britain, the song barely cracked the Hot 100 for this Philadelphia-based group. However, it became a local beach music standard in the Carolina Beach music scene.  One of my past clients had a lot of his family come from the Myrtle Beach and him and his mother did a very wonderfully choreographed job on this song for their mother - son dance.

"Sixty Minute Man" | Billy Ward & The Dominoes
One of the oldest and mor epopular beach song was released back in 1951 from Billy Ward & The Dominoes.  For an even more in-depth knowledge of shag music, try to find the 1989 movie "Shag",  as this song is featured in it.

"Shaggin' The Night Away" | Chairmen Of The Board
Even in 2010, beach and shag music is still alive and well.  You can find this song on their album Treasure Chest, and on beach music playlists up and down the South Carolina coast.

"Cool Me Out" | Lamont Dozier
Even in the early 80s, beach music was still fairly popular up and down the Carolina coast. You can find this jazzy beach classic on Lamont Dozier's 1981 album Working On You.

"Dancin', Shaggin' On The Boulevard
Alabama wrote this song to pay tribute to all the times they got to play in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Released back in the summer of 1997, the song would make it all the way to #3 on the Hot Country singles chart.  If you click the link in the song title, you can see the video as it was filmed on the Carolina coast in Myrtle Beach. Perfect for a slower dance on your wedding playlist if you'd like a little bit of a country flair.

"You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book" | The Drifters
As the 1960s moved into the 70s, the Drifters continued to perform locally and regionally and continued to record new music, like this beach classic from 1976.  You can find it  on their album Every Nites A Saturday Night. 

"Some Kinda Wonderful" | Band Of Oz
Released back in 1995, you can find this song on the album Let It Roll. If you aren't into this more modern version of the song, be sure to look up the version by The Drifters.

"Lady Soul" | The Temptations
Even in one of the best music decades (the 80s), the Temptations were still making some awesome music.  Released on the Motown label in 1986, "Lady Soul" would make it all the way to #4 on the Soul chart.

"Use Ta Be My Girl" | The O'Jays
DJs were playing this song back during the late 1970s at clubs on the beaches up and down the Carolina coast.  You can find this classic soul track on their 1978 album So Full Of Love. The song would make it all the way to #1 on the Hot Soul Singles charts that year.

"Just A Gigolo" | Louis Prima
Long before David Lee Roth thought about covering this song in the mid 80s, Louis Prima recorded  the song in April 1956 out in Los Angeles.

"ShamaLamma Ding Dong" | Otis Day & The Knights
You probably remember this song from the 1978 movie National Lampoon's Animal House.  Otis Day & The Knights also did a version of the Isley Brothers "Shout".

"What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am)" | The Tams
This single by The Tams was the most popular in America. Released back in 1964, the song went all the way to Number 1 on the Cash Box R&B chart. Bill Deal & The Rhondells covered the song back in 1969 and it peaked at #23.

"Memphis" | Johnny Rivers
Originally recorded and released back in 1959 by the late, great Chuck Berry, Johnny Rivers released the song in 1964 and scored a #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Swayin To The Music (Slow Dancin') | Johnny Rivers
Even deep into the 70s, Johnny Rivers was still making music, like with his version of this song.  His version of "Swayin' To The Music" would break into the Top 10 of the adult contmeporary chart in the summer of 1977. It would be his last Top 40 hit.

"Yakety Yak" | The Coasters
Released on the Atco Label in 1958, "Yakety Yak" would spend 7 weeks at the top of the R&B charts. The Coasters were one of the biggest acts as rock & roll was coming of age in the late 1950s.

"Give It Up" | KC & The Sunshine Band
Back in the very hot summer of 2010, I had the pleasure of seeing KC & The Sunshine Band alongside The Village People. It was a very hot night for a concert but they did play this early 80s track. Released back in the latter part of 1983, the song would peak at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1984.

NOT ON SPOTIFY | But Worth The Listen And Add To Your Beach Music Wedding Playlist

"Carolina Girls" | General Johnson & The Chairmen Of The Board
During the mini revival of the beach music that happened in the late 1970s on the Carolina coast, this song was released as a single in 1980.  The label was Surfside Records. The song did not chart but has remained in the crates of DJs ever since it's release.

"Myrtle Beach Days" | The Fantastic Shakers
The Fantastic Shakers were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall Of Fame for their contribution to the beach music and allowed it to grow into such a phenomenon. The band was formed in 1978 and according to their website makes the Grand Strand (the Myrtle Beach area) it's home during the summer months.

Ready To Speak With Mike About Being The DJ For Your Wedding In Charleston?
These 22 Beach and shag music songs are just a few of the big ones that have been requested at some of my weddings around Charleston over the years.  Thinking about Charleston as a wedding destination and want to learn about it's beautiful beaches?  Just click the link to see some of the most beautiful beaches on the East coast.Be sure to also check out Amazon for more beach music compilations if you are interested in adding this regional genre of music into the playlists for your Charleston wedding.  Check out this link for a historical perspective of beach music.  If you are in the hunt for a true professional wedding DJ for your Charleston wedding, I LOVE to talk to brides and grooms about music, as music is all that I do. Click HERE to schedule to quickly tell me some details about the big day.