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David Marks & the Marksmen

At the tail-end of his first run with the Beach Boys, David Marks had become disillusioned with being relegated to rhythm guitar in spite of his burgeoning six-string abilities. David found an outlet for his musical expression after forming his own group, which he dubbed the Marksmen, to record his original music that had been passed over for Beach Boys records in the wake of Brian Wilson’s remarkable output. By the end of 1963, at the age of 15, Marks left the Beach Boys after a blow-up about money between his parents and Murry Wilson, and the Marksmen became his full-time venture. 


David Marks and the Marksmen, under the guidance of Russ Regan (who played a seminal role in The Beach Boys), were signed as the first outside act on Herb Albert’s A&M Records. The new group featured the Honeys on backing vocals on their first single, Cruisin’ . They were immediately booked on a tour with Eddie and the Showman and Kathy Marshall, Queen of the Surf Guitar, as well as sharing the bill with Beach Boys pals Glenn Campbell and Jan & Dean. 


The Marksmen continued to sellout venues; however, DJs were pressured by Murry Wilson not to play David’s music or risk losing out on the latest Beach Boys exclusives, essentially hobbling the new band’s growing momentum. Lack of airplay resulted in the Marksmen being dropped from A&M after their second release. 

After their third single failed to garner a national chart position on the Warner Brother’s label, bassist Bill Trenkle, enlistment to Vietnam and the Marksmen naturally disbanded. By mid-1965, Marks and Groseclose, joined Casey Kasem’s Band Without a Name, featuring Casey’s cousin, Eddie Haddad on lead vocals. The band served, predominantly, as a local backing band for the major acts of the day who didn’t travel with their own musicians. Marks & Groseclose also penned  Blue Roses, the B-side of Ramona King's You Say Pretty Words single.

David Marks & the Marksmen have seen a few revivals over the years. The original lineup performed at the South Bay Surf Reunion in 1986. David also penned an original song for the soundtrack to, Rap: the Musical, attributing his MIDI tracks to “the Marksmen”. David and Bill Trenkle reunited several times in the mid-00’s to pay tribute to their former band. Their last appearance together was in 2007 at the US release party for David’s book, The Lost Beach Boy. 

In 2003, Sundazed Records released their Lost Legends of Surf Guitar series which included two previously unreleased Marksmen instrumental called Sheriff of Noddingham and Travelin’ and colored-vinyl single of Sheriff of Noddingham and Kustom Kar Show. The entire Marksmen catalog was released in 2008 as The Ultimate Collector's Edition 1962-1964.


Sherriff has since become a posthumous Marksmen classic, influencing a new generation of Surf Music disciples. It's been played on the radio all over the world and  licensed for film. Spanish surf instrumental band, the A-Phonics, cite David Marks and the Marksmen as an inspiration, covering Kustom Kar Show themselves. The A-Phonics invited David to perform with them at the Surf-O-Rama Festival in Valencia, Spain in 2015; the success of the collaboration resulted in a tour of Spain in 2016 and the release of the Back in the Garage CD in 2017.   

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