SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Though you might not know her by name, Utah native Shirley England is known nationwide as the girl who had fun, having fun until until his father takes away his T-bird.
When she sat down with Shirley, she laughed as she discussed global success, giving a nod to her claim to fame.
“Yeah, that was a few years ago,” she laughed.
So how did a girl from Salt Lake City become the target of one of the most renowned American rock bands in musical history?
“It was 1964 and my dad owned a radio station here in Salt Lake called KNAK radio. At the time it was the number one rock station in the valley. His business manager, Bill Hesterman, was a friend with Murry Wilson, the father of Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, three of the Beach Boys,” she explained.
“Bill would bring the Beach Boys to town five or six times a year to perform at a local amusement park called Lagoon, or the Terrace Ballroom – one or the other,” Shirley continued.
“They would come to the radio station and do interviews. This station had a very large window where the public could come and see the interviews as they unfolded.
The University of Utah student, then in his 20s, continued, “I used to sit at the window at work and listen to the interviews going on. I kind of got to know them that way, not by first name or anything – I was just kind of one of the fans, but I was inside observing and enjoy the moments.
Little did Shirley know, the group of boys noticed her as much as she noticed them.
When asked how the song came about, Shirley told ABC4 a little family secret.
“So I was going to school at the University of Utah where my dad was also a teacher. He drove a T-bird, and he got a new one every year. Due to the fact that he had the T-bird he had a faculty sticker – it was a driving campus back then. Basically I could take his car and park in front of every classroom and every building I wanted to go. So I traded my little Ford Falcon for his T-bird and went to my lessons. From there I would meet him at the train station after my morning at school for work. I was a little selfish using his car all the time. time,” she admitted.
Although even the nicest among us were guilty of a few juvenile shenanigans, back in the day, the schoolgirl in a convertible had a little rebellious side.
“One day I got off at the station and I was driving my little Ford Falcon, not the T-bird. The rumor spread the night before that I had supposedly gone to the library with my friends. Instead of going to the library, we hitchhiked and went to a local drive-in that had really good food and kids,” she laughed. “I got in trouble, so I didn’t get the car that day.”
That afternoon, the rumors on the radio station said that daddy’s little girl was being punished. According to Shirley, this is where the band got their inspiration for “Fun, fun fun”.
“When they were leaving town, Bill, their manager, would take them to the airport in Salt Lake and they would talk about me. I think Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote the song on the record,” he said. she noted. Adding, “It was just kind of a quick, quick thing. I didn’t know they had done that.
She continued, “A little later this song came out. I turned to Bill and I said ‘Hey, this could be my song’, and he said, ‘Yeah it could be’. And it wasn’t until a few years later that I attended a concert and the Beach Boys were there at the University of Utah for the 4th of July. I opened the program and it had the whole story of Bill driving them to the airport and how the song was really written for me. I looked at this and turned to my daughter and said, ‘Oh my God! Bill said it was for me, but I guess it’s true! That’s how I heard about it. »
From there, Shirley was repeatedly interviewed for her underground fame.
“Last interview I had, I actually mentioned that the band themselves didn’t tell me they wrote that song for me,” she shared. “The interviewer actually said ‘Well Shirley, let me tell you, I was with Mike Love yesterday and he said one of the guys in the band thought they wrote it on a plane. Mike said ‘No, we wrote it about a girl from Salt Lake City.’ He confirmed it to me, so now I’m going to take it, she said cheerfully.
Today, Shirley continues her happy life in Salt Lake as a doctor’s office manager. However, she is keen to keep her legacy alive, joking with her husband that she wants her headstone to say “She had fun, had fun, had fun”.
Looking back on her rise to underground stardom, Shirley notes, “They were a great group of guys. It was just a really fun association, just like working at this station. It was a nice ride.