26 Miles (Santa Catalina) The Island of Romance

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year's Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.
          Each one of our books required research not only for 1950s but for the location where the clues lead us. We spent a week on Catalina and found a great deal of information by visiting the libraries, museums and the Casino Ballroom. Every, I mean every,  place we went to research mentioned the song with pride. I remember the song in 1958 and it's upbeat, catchy tune.  So I looked it up. Unfortunately, it was too late for us to use it in the book but I enjoyed reading about, and listening to the song. After all the island is all about romance!

          26 Miles (Santa Catalina) was written and performed by the 1950s pop band The Four Preps. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Billboard R&B chart in 1958.  The song sold over a million copies and the group appeared on several television shows, including The Gisele MacKenzie Show (March 15, 1958) and The Ed Sullivan Show.

          At the age of 15, the band's lead singer Bruce Belland broke his ankle and took up the ukulele to pass the time while recuperating. He learned four chords, which ended up becoming the song's opening music. The chorus was developed some time later when, while body surfing at a California beach, Belland's friend said he could see Santa Catalina, "it's  only 26 miles away". (It's really 23 miles from the L.A. coast-but whose measuring?)

          In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the group had eight gold singles and three gold albums. Its million-selling signature tunes included "26 Miles," "Big Man," "Lazy Summer Night," and "Down by the Station." Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb, Marv Ingram, and Glen Larson were students at Hollywood High School.  One of Capitol's executives saw them at a talent show at school in 1956. After the performance they were signed to a recording contract by Capitol Records,.
          Their biggest hit, 26 Miles (Santa Catalina), reached #2 in 1958. The record sold over one million copies, earning a gold disc. Glen Larson also receives credit for writing the song, as he contributed to the lyrics.
          The song served as an influence to Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson, as well as Jimmy Buffett

          This song played constantly in our heads when writing this mystery, especially the romantic scenes. SLICK DEAL is the fourth book in the series, and yes we are still married.

For a waltz down memory lane, here is the address to the Four Preps performing 26 Miles on the Gisele MacKenzie show on March 15, 1958

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn     www.janetlynnauthor.com
Website:  Will Zeilinger                  www.willzeilingerauthor.com


Janet Lynn said…
Thank you For hosting us on your blog. Marilyn, it looks great. Janet
I loved this post, thanks for sharing!

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