Press Release

Surf’s Up! Instrumental Rock ‘n’ Roll


October 31, 2020

 Charles Schuler 
Director of Marketing & Communications
San Francisco International Airport
(650) 821-5031

Surf’s Up! Instrumental Rock ‘n’ Roll
Exhibition in Terminal 2 presents a history of Instrumental Rock and Surf Music through guitars, posters, record covers and ephemera.

SAN FRANCISCO— Instrumental surf music swept across the United States like a great sonic wave during the early 1960s. Energetic and melodic with little or no vocal accompaniment, instrumental surf music originated in Southern California along with a booming interest in surfing and the subsequent pop-cultural craze. The most authentic surf music reflected a youthful lifestyle and began at the grassroots level, often by teenagers who formed bands to play dances and other functions. 

Surf music was influenced by 1950s–60s rock ‘n’ roll instrumental artists, including Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and The Ventures. The first wave of surf music began during the summer of 1961, when two foundational bands, Dick Dale and his Del-Tones and The Belairs, hosted large dances in Southern California. Young surfers related the new sound to the excitement of wave riding and labeled it “surf music.” By 1963, surf music was a full-fledged phenomenon that received national attention. A revival of instrumental surf music occurred during the early 1980s and spread worldwide in the 1990s. The music is now more diverse than ever, and there are active surf and instrumental scenes throughout the United States and in Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and across Europe. 

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Surf’s Up! Instrumental Rock ‘n’ Roll is located post-security in Terminal 2 of the San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to ticketed passengers and by prior arrangement from October 31, 2020 to July 18, 2021.

About SFO Museum

Established in 1980 by the Airport Commission, SFO Museum’s mission is to delight, engage, and inspire a global audience with programming on a broad range of subjects; to collect, preserve, interpret, and share the history of commercial aviation; and to enrich the public experience at San Francisco International Airport. The Museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1999 and retains the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features twenty-five galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which houses a permanent collection of more than 140,000 objects related to the history of commercial aviation.To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit Follow us on,, or

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