When Paul Buff opened Pal Studios in Rancho Cucamonga little did he know that some of the longest lived names in pop music would converge then disperse as rapidly as they came in the first place. Among the songs and names; Zappa Wipeout Surfaris Pipeline, and the Chantays. Throw into that mix a some innovative studio technology and you have the ingredients for an interesting musical narrative.
When Buff opened his new Pal Recording Studio he meant to amaze people and attract a large clientele. He also loved to tinker with recording equipment and after awhile he created a five track half inch multi track recorder. This in a time when four tracks were considered the absolute most amazing things and only available in the most high rent studios. Abbey Road Studios at the time, for instance, had four track machines.
Then an extremely talented guy named Frank Zappa came down from Antelope Valley to help with engineering and producing. Ultimately Zappa would own Pal Studios renaming it Z Studios and even live there for several months, but in the beginning he just worked there.
The big clients never showed up but by the quirkiness that is the music business a small time group called the Surfaris came to Pal Studios to record a single “Surfer Joe.” At the time the bands manager Dale Smallin thought they needed another song to be the B side of the single so they composed one on the spot and called it “Wipeout.” Its was actually Smallin who did the “vocal” on that one, you know the “ha ha ha ha ha wipeout” part of it. As it turned out the “B” side turned out to be the monster hit.
Next in line came the Chantays. They worked out their song “Pipeline” at Pal Studios and made a demo of that song, which was recorded again later and of course became a monster hit.
While tinkering with his electronic recording equipment Buff created a device called the kepex, which was a sonic expander. This device was probably most noted for its use by Gram Parsons as the producer for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Parsons used the kepex to help enhance the sound of the heartbeat used in the song.
So when you put the whole puzzle together you get cutting edge technology, surf-music, a great classic rock album, Frank Zappa, and of course not yet mentioned, Jack Benny who started his national radio show with the line, “Train Leaving, track 5, Anaheim, Azusa, Cucaaamoooooonga.” and that is how the puzzle, Zappa, Wipeout, Surfaris, Pipeline, Chantays, Jack Benny, and Rancho Cucamonga all fit together.