Steve Wahrer, who as drummer with the 1960s’ rock group The Trashmen snarled out the memorable lyric, “The bird is the word,” in the hit song “Surfin’ Bird,” died Saturday in St. Paul, Minn. He was 47.
The song, which also featured the immortal line “Pa-pa-ooh-mau-mau, Pa-pa-ooh-mau-mau,” climbed to No. 4 on the national charts in 1964 before the Beatles arrived with their hit “She Loves You” and swept away the surfing sound.
The Trashmen were formed by Wahrer and his high school buddy, Dal Winslow, who settled into their surfing sound after a 1962 trip to California. They picked up the name The Trashmen from a local hit at the time, “Trashmen Blues.”
The group broke up in 1967. Wahrer remained in the music business, playing in various bands in the Twin Cities area.
The Trashmen regrouped a few years ago with the increased popularity of rock ‘n’ roll revivals and Wahrer remained with the group until he fell ill with throat cancer about a year ago.