Merrell Fankhauser: Rock n’ Lono

Merrell Fankhauser has led one of the most diverse and interesting careers in music. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and moved to California when he was 13 years old. Merrell went on to become one of the innovators of surf music and psychedelic folk rock. His travels from Hollywood to his 15 year jungle experience on the island of Maui have been documented in numerous music books and magazines. Merrell has gained legendary international status throughout the field of rock music; his credits include over 400 songs published and released. He is a multi-talented singer/songwriter and unique guitar player whose sound has delighted listeners for over 50+ years. In the early 60s, Merrell led the instrumental surf group The Impacts who had a hit with their album “WIPE OUT”. Upon moving to the high desert area of California in 1964, Merrell formed Merrell and the Exiles whose album “FAPARDOKLY” is one of the most sought after 60s psychedelic recordings. In the late 60s, Merrell led his group H.M.S. Bounty to several hits with album “THINGS”. Merrell joined forces with Jeff Cotton from Captain Beefheart’s Band in 1970 to form the group MU, and the next year the band released their debut album.


(Photo: MU, 1973 Randy Wimer, Jeff Cotton, Merrell Fankhauser & Jeff Parker)

Interview © by Michael Limnios

Special Thanks: Nikos Syllas (audio engineer, producer) 

In 1973, Merrell and his group MU moved to the island of Maui to further their studies of the fabled Lost Continent of Mu or Lemuria. In 1975, after MU disbanded, Merrell began work on a group of songs for a solo album that described perfectly the feeling of his lifestyle in his jungle house beside a free-flowing stream in the Maui rainforest. These songs were released in 1976 by an independent Hawaiian label and was titled “The Maui Album”. The following years found Merrell spending his time writing songs and performing in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1986, Merrell teamed up with the late John Cipollina to record “DR. FANKHAUSER”. In 1994, with the release of the film “PULP FICTION”, instrumental surf music came back in a big way. In 1995, Merrell and Ed Cassidy, drummer from the group Spirit recorded a great blues rock CD titled “ON THE BLUE ROAD”. From 1995 to 1997, Merrell hosted a local California TV show called “Route 66 TV Live”. His project “RETURN TO MU”, produced by movie and record producer William E. McEuen. In 2001, Merrell began hosting a music TV show called, “Tiki Lounge” that airs on California, Hawaii, and parts of the East Coast. Merrel recordered a “Tiki Lounge Live” album that was filmed and recorded on his Tiki Lounge TV show stage and released Christmas 2016.


Photo © by Luis Escobar, 2010