The tune, originally called "Liberty's Whip", was renamed after the band members saw a surfing movie showing scenes of the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. The tune, fitting in with the popular surfing craze of the time, swiftly rose up the Billboard Pop charts, reaching #4, and becoming a classic hit of its time. The tune is notable for usingAlberti bass arpeggios.
Although they had a myriad of surf tunes, "Pipeline" was the Chantays' only hit single, and is considered one of the landmarks of the surf genre. The track's distinctive sound was largely due to the mix being "upside down"; the bass guitar, electric piano and rhythm guitar were at the forefront, while the lead guitar and drums were buried. Although the 45-rpm was released only in monaural, the track was recorded in wide stereo, with the rhythm guitar hard left, the bass and drums hard right, and the electric piano and lead guitar centered. Modern reissues, beginning with the 1984 MCA Records 7" single, are stereophonic.
In November 1997, the Chantays recorded a new acoustic version of the tune, entitled "Pipeline Unplugged", which was released on their album Waiting for the Tide.
The original release was on Downey 104-B, and was picked up for nationwide distribution by Dot Records, which released it as Dot 16440-B. The band's 45-rpm releases spelled their name as "Chantay's", with the so-called greengrocer's apostrophe. The ostensible A-side, "Move It", never charted, making this release an example of a "flipped disc".)
The song was previously used as background music for BBC Match of the Day "Goal of the Month" competition. It was also used for many years during the 1980s and 1990s as the entrance music for the Edmonton Oilers ice hockey team at home games in the Northlands Coliseum; "pipeline" being a pun on the oil industry.
"Pipeline" was covered and recorded by a large number of other musicians including Johnny Thunders (whose live version plays over the closing credits to TV-series The Sopranos episode 74, entitled "The Ride"),Dick Dale (with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan), The Eagles, The Ventures, Ventures' guitarist Nokie Edwards in collaboration with The Light Crust Doughboys for the 2003 album "Guitars Over Texas", Art Greenhaw in a contemporary world fusion version with sitarist Vatsal Dave for the 2006 album "Lone Star Sitar", Incredible Bongo Band, Hanoi Rocks, Hank Marvin (duet with Duane Eddy on Hank's 1992 album "Into the Light"), Elton Motello, Agent Orange, The Challengers, Anthrax, The Astronauts, Assassin, Hot Butter, Bruce Johnston, Sandy Nelson, and Les Claypool's Duo de Twang.
- Bob Spickard — lead guitar
- Brian Carman — slide guitar
- Warren Waters — bass
- Bob Welch — drums
- Rob Marshall — electric piano