Will Glover: The Only Black Player in Surf Rock History

0 Posted by - February 12, 2022 - BLACK MEN, BLACK MUSIC, MUSIC

Raised in part in North Carolina, most of Will Glover’s early life was spent in Long Beach, California. His father’s aspirations for young Willie was to enter the military like he did but by 12 he already had his heart set on a career in music. As a matter of fact, he had been playing the guitar as early as 9-years old and did so left-handed.


Music Career

Willie Glover’s first band was the Pyramids, a Long Beach-based surf rock band formed in 1962. Surf rock is a mostly instrumental subgenre that was very popular in the late 1950s into the early 1960s. This is largely thanks to the surf and beach-centered lifestyle of the area and films.

The Pyramids consisted of Glover on rhythm guitar, Skip Mercier on lead, Steve Leonard as the bassist, Ken McMullen on drums, and Tom Pitman on sax. Glover and Mercier formed the band as surf rock was starting to peak. The two friends taught each other songs by the popular band The Ventures.

Glover wrote “I Don’t Wanna Cry” and the B-side track “Here Comes Marsha” of their hit song “Penetration” from 1963. He is recognized as the genre’s only Black player. The group would appear in the beach movie Bikini Beach.

As surf rock lost popularity during the remainder of the decade, Will Glover would continue playing. One band of note was The Family Cat, which featured former Pyramids members Mercier and Leonard. The Family Cat ended in 1973. Sometime afterward, Glover started a family and moved to Riverside. There he first began working at a gas station before eventually becoming a construction contractor.

His career resumed in the late 1980s and 1990s when he entered local talent contests. Will Glover, who had since been living on a ranch now played country music as well as blues. His debut album was 1997’s Standing in the Line of Fire.

He continues to play today with his second album The Will Glover Experience being released in 2014.


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