Dennis was, but Carl and Brian Wilson weren’t really “beach boys”. In fact their first group, along with cousin Mike Love and family friend Al Jardine, was called The Pendletones. A young man named Russ Regan, who later became a successful record executive, is credited with changing the name, without their knowledge, to “Beach Boys” on a batch of single records that were pressed for their first song titled Surfin’.
Turned out rather well, I’d say.
On December 16, 2011, original members Brian, Mike and Alan, and long time members David Marks and Bruce Johnston, announced a 50th Anniversary reunion tour as well as a new album.
The “surfer sound” became a comfortable niche for the group, and no one did it better. Their close harmonies both in and out of the genre produced 36 top 40’s hits. In 1988 The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The bands ups and downs have been well chronicled, but it’s the life struggles of Brian that have generated the most attention. Painstakingly documented in Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin, and available in paperback and Kindle, the substance abuse and interpersonal conflicts makes a reunion concert with these guys seem the most implausible yet captivating event, literally, in decades.
Here’s a rare live version of their hit song Dance, Dance, Dance from the television show Shindig! circa 1964.
Another great clip features a live version of Good Vibrations and includes all the original band members at a birthday celebration for Brian Wilson in 1976 with a cut-in of an intimate party with Paul and Linda McCartney.
Probably the quickest way to get up-to-speed on The Beach Boys is to get a copy of The Very Best Of The Beach Boys: Sounds Of Summer which contains 30 of their original, remastered hits. They also produced a great, one-of-a-kind Christmas album, Christmas with the Beach Boys.
And then there’s SMiLE. Probably the most anticipated album that Brian Wilson almost never produced. Wilson was considered a great song writer, but it was his obsession with every aspect of development and production that made his approach to music so exceptional. Beyond the tight harmonies of the surfer songs, Brian wrote, sang, mixed, arranged, played, edited and produced music.
The SMiLE Sessions and The SMiLE Sessions Box Set are extraordinary recordings that chronicle the development of his music and showcase the unique talents of one of rock & roll’s most remarkable composers.
When a great band breaks up there are always rumors about a reunion that seldom materialize. Even more obscure is the band that produces new music as good as the music they produced at their peak. In 2011 The Beach Boys announced the release of a 50th Anniversary tour and album with some brief interviews and live clips displaying that great Beach Boys sound.
The Beach Boys released their new album in 2012 and it contains 12 brand new songs. It’s called That’s Why God Made the Radio. Also released in 2012 in both DVD and BlueRay was The Beach Boys Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary. And in 2013 they released the CD/Digital version of their anniversary concert called The Beach Boys Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour which contains 41 live tracks. So take out your best Hawaiian shirt, put on your shades and crank up some Beach Boys magic. I doesn’t matter how cold it is where you are, this will make it feel like summer, I promise.
In 2015 Lions Gate Entertainment released the Brian Wilson biography “Love & Mercy”. A movie starring Paul Dano as a young Brian Wilson and John Cusack as the older entertainer, Love & Mercy is still in theaters as of this writing with a combined Rotten Tomatoes rating of 91%.
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