Catalina from A to Z: The Four Preps

Hello, and welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge! This year my theme is Catalina from A to Z, featuring posts about the Southern California island of Catalina. With a focus on the island’s romantic side, I’ll be sharing info about where to go, what to see and do, plus a few sneak peeks from my novel in progress, Wife For A Weekend, which is set on the island!

Back in the day, The Four Preps was a boy band of four, way back before the concept of “boy bands” even existed. As Wikipedia describes them, they were “a male quartet,” but for our purposes I’d call them four clean-cut young fellows in button-down shirts and khakis. These all-American boys were signed to a contract with Capitol Records fresh out of Hollywood High School (they were actually spotted at a talent show, can you believe it?), and wrote a hit song called “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” in 1957 that made it all the way to the number two slot on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958.

As you can probably guess, “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” is about Catalina Island! The island is, indeed, located approximately 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, and the lyrics basically talk about their desire to get to the island to dance and flirt with the girls. It’s a pretty wholesome song as you might expect from something penned by a group of boys who were high schoolers in the 1950s. The word “romance” is repeated four times in a row in each chorus, so it’s pretty clear what was on these boys’ minds.

The band’s original line-up included Bruce Belland (lead vocals), Ed Cobb (bass), Marv Ingram (high tenor), and Glen A. Larson (baritone). The group still performs on occasion, with current members including co-founder Bellend as well as Bob Duncan and Michael Redman (both formerly of the Crew Cuts), plus Jim Armstrong.

I can’t remember how I originally discovered this song, but it immediately grabbed my attention and made me want to learn more about this “island of romance”! It seems I’m not the only one, as Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson has cited it as an influence on his own music, as have Jimmy Buffett and the recently-deceased Neil Peart from Rush.

A final factoid about the song “26 Miles” that I find amusing: Wikipedia calls attention to its “alternate chorus,” which “contains a rare mention of a metric unit in American popular music,” citing the lyrics “40 kilometers in a leaky old boat…” To be entirely accurate, 26 miles translates to 41.8 kilometers, but hey, close enough, right?

Eager to learn more about Catalina?

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