Simmons' fifth book focuses on Carolina beach music

Feb 7, 2013 | General News, Liberal Arts

A Louisiana Tech endowed professor of English has just published his fifth book.
“Carolina Beach Music from the 60s to the 80s: The New Wave” is written by Dr. Rick Simmons, who also serves as director of the Tech’s Honors Program.
Published by the History Press (London & Charleston), this book picks up where Simmons’ last book, “Carolina Beach Music: The Classic Years,” left off, covering more classic beach music as well as the newer songs that were the beginning of a new wave of beach music in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“Beach music is a mixture of mainly rhythm and blues, soul, Motown, even some doo-wop and ‘60s frat rock,” Simmons said. “There are even some Louisiana musicians who are important to the genre — Benny Spellman, Ernie K-Doe, Jewel and the Rubies, Brenton Wood and others. In the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia, this type of music started to become popular in the 1960s and eventually became known as Carolina beach music to differentiate it from California beach/surf music. It still has a large following today.”
Simmons’ book looks at 80 recordings from the years 1966 through 1982, featuring interviews and insights from the artists who sang them.
Simmons, who is from Pawleys Island, S.C., said he didn’t start enjoying beach music until high school, and his appreciation for the genre increased in college.
“I grew up with this music,” he said. “Over the years I realized that almost nothing had been written about it, and so after doing a few books about other things, for my fourth book I decided it was time to write about this subject. It was well received when published in 2011, and considering that I’d really only just started on the subject, I decided to write ‘Carolina Beach Music from the ’60s to the ’80s: The New Wave’ as a follow-up.”
As a result of interviews conducted by Dr. Simmons over the past three years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has asked to house his working notes, papers, and recorded interviews in its Southern Folklife Collection, the foremost archives of American roots music in the United States. Steven Weiss, the curator of the Southern Folklife Collection referred to Dr. Simmons research as an invaluable resource for researchers studying Carolina beach music. However, Simmons said the book will appeal to any music lover, not just an academic researcher.
“I wrote them for a non-academic audience,” Simmons said. “I really never considered it to be a research project as much as a way to tell the stories behind the songs and artists — how and if they charted in mainstream America, the songs’ origins, and the artists’ involvement with the songs. As time went on I realized others were viewing these interviews and materials as being research, and considering that since the first book several of the artists have passed away; that makes sense. But the books are for anybody, not just for beach music fans, because many of these songs made the Top 40 so people everywhere will know them.”
The book is available at and other online booksellers, as well as in bookstores on the East Coast.