Adrian & the Sunsets

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A short-lived but influential Southern California surf music act of the mid-'60s led by drummer Adrian Lloyd.
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One of the many notable bands on the Southern California surf music scene of the mid-'60s, Adrian & the Sunsets were a short-lived act who gained a cult following years after their brief day in the sun. Adrian & the Sunsets were led by Adrian Lloyd, who was born in Cornwall, England before his family relocated to the United States and settled in Long Beach, California when Lloyd was 15 years old. A fan of drumming bandleaders like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, Lloyd took up the drums in high school; by the time he graduated in 1960, he was playing in a local rock band called the Outlaws (not to be confused with the later country-rock act). In 1962, Lloyd joined the Rumblers, a combo that scored a hit instrumental that same year, "Boss."

Lloyd quit the Rumblers in 1963, and promptly auditioned for a new group being put together by a businessman and self-styled entrepreneur named Bob Sheets. Lloyd landed the gig, along with guitarists Ron Eglit and Clyde Brown, bassist Dick Lambert, and saxman Bruce Riddar. The band was to be called the Sunsets, but given Lloyd's age and experience (he was the only one in the lineup who was over 18), he was named the group's leader and they took the title Adrian & the Sunsets. The group also worked with a vocalist named Bobby Forest, though he wasn't considered an official member of the band; Sheets was said to be grooming Forest for a movie career than never took off.

Sheets put the group on salary and they played a variety of dances and teen clubs, cutting the album Breakthrough for the Sheets-owned Sunset label in the summer of 1963. The album -- pressed on multi-colored vinyl to gain consumer attention -- didn't sell especially well, despite being one of the strongest small-label LPs to come from the SoCal surf scene, and two singles pulled from the set -- "Breakthrough" b/w "Cherry Pie" and "Justine" b/w "She Treats Me Better Than You" -- failed to chart. When Adrian & the Sunsets became disenchanted with their business arrangement with Sheets, the group split up after a run of about 11 months.

However, with time the Breakthrough album became one of the most sought-after collectors items among fans of classic-era surf music. Adrian Lloyd went on to release a handful of solo singles (including the rare garage rock raver "Lorna") and joined the Playbacks before working the California supper club circuit into the early '70s. Ron Eglit went on to play bass with Dick Dale's combo and produced a number of surf revival groups. In 2013, Sundazed Records reissued the Adrian & the Sunsets album, with a handful of rare unreleased solo recordings from Lloyd included as bonus material.