1946 - 1989
I found another rabbit hole to get lost in. Some good soul has posted the annual Top 20 beach music songs from 1946 through 1989. The source of his/her information is 'Fessa John Hook's compilation of the Top 40 beach songs by year. I've never been quite sure how 'Fessa Hook generates his lists, especially for the early years of beach music -- probably a little bit of science and a whole lot of beer.
I pulled all the data into a spreadsheet so it is easier to look at. It's fun to see how the early days were truly "race" music -- mostly blues and in many cases "risque" blues. I can easily imagine how those songs would not be played on many radio stations and how them being on juke boxes at the beach seemed special to the teenagers.
I could be wrong but it looks to me like Bobby Darin was the first white artist to make the list -- in 1960.
You can see an evolution of the songs that made the list -- by the early 1960s it wasn't so much the blues -- and no more risque blues as more "pop" music. Probably still music that was hard to find away from the Grand Strand.
The mid to late 60s is more Motown and "main stream" R&B that I suspect was being played on radio stations all over the country.
By the 1970s, there are many more White bands and Top 40 songs showing up on the list.
For me the early 1980s are the last good beach songs -- "bubblegum" beach -- that while good, have little in common with the early beach music songs from the 40's and 50's.
Today, the new beach music is made by white bands targeting the beach music market -- many of the songs are covers of earlier great tunes. It's still popular with some but not me.
Here's a link to my spreadsheet: