America’s Summer Dream – The Beach Boys Before Dealey Plaza

by Shaun Kelly

When John F. Kennedy flew to Texas to begin his reelection campaign for the presidency on Thursday morning, November 21, 1963, the number-one band in the US consisted of five teens from Southern California called, appropriately enough, The Beach Boys. A heady mixture of cousins, siblings, and neighbors ranging in age from 17 to 23, the fledgling band had already released four long-playing records between 1962 and ’63, with their latest album release, Little Deuce Coupe, establishing itself as one of rock’s first “concept albums.” Within 18 months of their arrival onto the pop musical scene The Beach Boys had already manifested themselves as quintessentially American in style, concept, and sound.

Why then did such an improbable collection of kids from a working-class suburb of Los Angeles grab hold of the imaginations of millions in such a short time? It’s fairly simple, really: The Beach Boys’ were blessed to be led by the group’s lead vocalist, bass player, and primary composer, Brian Wilson. A musical wunderkind whose tastes ranged from Beethoven to The Kingston Trio, Wilson had been influenced by such disparate composers as George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Chuck Berry, and the R&B songwriting duo of Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller…

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Behind the Sounds: YouTube Channel Documents the Creation of Brian Wilson’s Masterpiece, Song by Song



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Beach Boy Father/Manager Murry Wilson Tries to Ruin Up “Help Me Rhonda” Session

From early 1965. As the Beach Boys record what would become their second #1 hit, a drunken Murry Wilson (father of Brian, Carl and Dennis) offers the kind of unsolicited input that eventually led to the Boys purchasing a fake mixing console that he could man harmlessly.

murryMurry’s “help” mostly seems to take the form of taunts, put-downs, muzzy musical advice, and morale-crushing references to how much better they used to sing–and includes his infamous “I’m a genius too” at 2:09.

Notorious head case Brian comes across as the clear-headed one here. And despite Murry’s request to stop recording, Brian makes sure the tape keeps rolling to preserve their exchange. As a result, we have this audio document of the relationship between the band and the father they ultimately had to fire as manager.

Murry’s presence so marred the recording of  “Rhonda” that the Beach Boys recorded a new version weeks later.

Incidentally, in a vindictive attempt to top his own sons’ act Murry Wilson began managing a cover band called the Renegades, changing their name to the Sunrays. They hit #51 with “I Live for the Sun”.

Beautiful Dreamer – Brian Wilson and the Story of ‘SMiLE’

Brian Wilson’s Girl-Powered New LP


(via Rolling Stone)
July 18, 2014 10:00 AM ET

Brian Wilson was deep into writing songs for a new Beach Boys album when Mike Love pulled the plug on the group’s 2012 reunion tour. “It was a shock,” Wilson says. “I was so proud of how the Boys were singing. Then it just ended.”

For a while, Wilson let the music go: “I was writing for the Boys, so I thought, ‘What am I gonna do without them?'”

But last year he got the idea to bring in guest singers to finish the songs. Wilson had loved working with female vocalists since his early Beach Boys days, when he’d moonlight producing tracks for girl groups like the Honeys, which featured his first wife, Marilyn Rovell. He invited some of his favorite young singers to Ocean Way studios in Hollywood, including Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves and Zooey Deschanel. Frank Ocean rapped on “Special Love,” though the track remains unfinished and may not make the album. A track with Nate Ruess from fun. was more successful: He “sounds a little like my brother Carl,” Wilson says…

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Bad Vibrations: The 6 Worst Beach Boys Tracks

Beach Boys

The Beach Boys have a justified place among pop music’s pantheon of all-time greats, and Brian Wilson is one of the few songwriters of the past half-century who can be mentioned in the same breath as Lennon and McCartney and Burt Bacharach.


Like most pop acts of the era (the Beatles being the notable exception) the Beach Boys were also a product of their time in that their early albums contained “filler” tracks. You see, until albums like Revolver began to focus listeners’ attention more on the long-play album as a potentially more significant pop music canvas, it was all about the 45″ single. The little records with the big holes were the measure of an artist’s success; albums were mostly an afterthought–a hit song, maybe two, served up along with a batch of sub-par, often rush-recorded tunes to take a little more cash from the more dedicated fans.

This is not to mention Capitol Records’ proclivities for packaging (and re-packaging, and re-re-packaging) the work of their roster of artists in the most egregious and artistically-demeaning ways to make an extra buck or three. One Beach Boys bootleg box set acknowledges this in its title, Capitol Punishment. That’s why they call it the record business I guess.

The Beach Boys recorded a staggering five albums within an eighteen-month span in the early-to-mid 60’s. Looking back, the results would have been better had it been four. Nestled between the “Don’t Worry Baby”s and the “Surfer Girl”s were some first class turds. They weren’t all songs per se, which is why the word “tracks” is used in this post’s title.

The excellence of their classic material has been justifiably lauded at length. It’s time someone focused on the lowest low points.

So, to borrow a phrase from Elvis Costello, let’s take a look at the other side of summer:

1) “‘Cassius’ Love Vs. ‘Sonny’ Wilson”

A mock studio battle breaks out between Mike Love and Brian Wilson. Nothing here sounds staged at all–just a little behind-the-curtain snapshot of a Beach Boys session.

This one’s positively painful to hear.

mike love

2) “Denny’s Drums”

Yeah, the Beach Boys had a drumming sibling. But there’s a reason Brian tended to employ ace Wrecking Crew drummers for sessions instead. This two-minute solo (thought to be the first recorded by a member of a vocal group) is something you’ll hear bettered by some 12-year-old the next time you walk through the drum section of your neighborhood music store.

3) “Our Favorite Recording Sessions”

Not half as embarrassing as “‘Cassius’ Love Vs. “Sonny” Wilson”, this track seems to depict actual candid studio banter. But that doesn’t mean it was a good idea to put it on an album. The Beatles kept the banter private, and so were able to heighten the mystery as to what the process of recording legendary albums was really like–and Capitolize (sorry) by releasing six CDs worth of the Anthology series to fans starved for anything unfamiliar. Oh, and the ‘Cassius’ Lennon Vs. ‘Sonny’ McCartney stuff was infused into really good songs like “Too Many People” and “How Do You Sleep”.

4) “Louie, Louie”

It was simply ill-advised and supremely unnecessary to cover a song that had been done in such definitive, ragged glory by the Kingsmen, not to mention a hundred other garagier bands than the ‘Boys.

5) “Bull Session with Big Daddy”


Taken in context, this unfocused, rambling semi-interview with Teen Set magazine editor Earl Leaf–with food delivered mid-discussion apparently–is the most wince-inducing of all. The reason is that it closes what was side two of the Beach Boys Today album and follows five of the more sublime ballads in the band’s cannon. Whatever mood Brian’s gorgeous crooning and aching lyrics have induced is pulverized in about 2.5 seconds.

6) “County Fair”

With lines like “the most specialist girl I knew”, an annoying fair barker and a more annoying girlfriend whining about winning her a koala bear “Oooohh! Come on, baby!”, this is the opposite of “Fun, Fun, Fun” and serves to make a county fair sound like a teenage boy’s worst nightmare. Oddly enough, this one’s not a concert encore.

Breaking News: Mike Love is Still a Giant Ass Clown

(Reprinted from Reverb music blog)

Apparently, the 50th anniversary reunion tour of the surviving members of the original Beach Boys will be the last we see of that line-up, at least until the 100th anniversary rolls around. Founding members Brian Wilson (who wrote/co-wrote most of the Beach Boys songs that anyone knows and loves), Al Jardine and David Marks were informed by an e-mail that lead singer/notorious rock and roll jerk Mike Love won’t be requiring their services any longer—he intends to go back to what he’s been doing for the past few decades: touring as The Beach Boys at casinos and resorts (oh, and the Reagan White House) backed by a hired band of minimum-wage ringers. You have to give Love credit for consistency, I suppose…
(Huffington Post picks up the story…)
Beach Boys Dump Three Founding Members Without Telling Them
The Beach Boys might still be Keepin’ the Summer Alive with their U.K. tour, but for three members it will be a cold harsh winter.

The band’s frontman Mike Love announced that the group will split after this week in the U.K. and three members — Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks — have been dropped from the group. The three did not find out they had been dropped until Love and Bruce Johnston released a public statement.

The statement announcing the big shake up reads: “The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band.”

The exiting Beach Boys will be replaced by the group’s long-time backing band, which includes Love’s son Christian, according to the Telegraph. Love added that the decision to drop the three members was financially motivated. “You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed. There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited line-up], but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year’. The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5.”

Wilson was blindsided.

“I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he (Love) doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me,” he told CNN. “We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.”

If the five members of the Beach Boys do not rekindle their bond, the September 28 concert at Wembley Stadium may be the last show they play together, CNN noted.

There is already a petition on asking for Love, who owns the rights to the band’s name, to rethink the decision to break up the original Beach Boys.

The petition, addressed to Love, reads: “In order to preserve the validity of ‘The Beach Boys’ as a whole, and not as a ‘money saving, stripped down version’ that only contains 1 original member, and 1 member that joined in 1965, we ask you to re-instate the 3 other members to the touring group for your final years performing.”

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s what the fans want,” the message concludes.

Jardine linked to the petition in a tweet. As of Wednesday morning, it had over 2,000 signatures.

In December 2011, the Beach Boys confirmed 50 shows to celebrate their 50th anniversary, Rolling Stone previously reported. The band formed in California in 1961. The reunion tour marks the first time the Boys have toured together in more than two decades.

Although the group had problems in the past, like nasty comments in the press and numerous lawsuits, Love swore that all the negativity was behind them. “All that stuff is long forgotten,” he told Rolling Stone.

Back in June, Rolling Stone had reported that Love booked shows for his version of the Beach Boys without consulting the other members.


In retrospect I’m glad I missed this tour. As much as it would have meant to me to see one of my top two or three living musical idols in Brian Wilson, I really don’t want one more dollar to change hands between me and Mike Love. The ego of the man defies belief. Seriously, when the band’s resident genius, muse and living legend is up to touring and they’re fortunate enough to have a fiftieth anniversary to celebrate, who the hell is Love to disband them and tour with an imposter band under the Beach Boys name–for financial reasons, no less? Haven’t you made enough money in the last fifty years, Mike?

It should make their long time fans nauseous. Rock and Roll has a lot of villians, creeps and douchebags, but for my money Mike Love is number one.

Songs You May Have Missed #136


Sagittarius: “My World Fell Down” (1967)

This song, whose harmonies and complex arrangement split the difference between the Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys and perhaps the Cowsills, certainly sounds like a top ten hit from 1967. And probably only the trippy sound collage and organ/vocal break (from 1:50 and 2:50) held it back. Strangely, only the single version of the song (see below video) contains this 60-second bit of psychedelia, while the more straightforward, sub-3:00 LP version included here probably would have been a top ten hit as the single.

Still, you can’t fault ambition, even at the cost of a gold record, right? As it was, the song still charted, but only rose to #70 nationally. I’m guessing it did somewhat better in San Francisco than Peoria.

Sagittarius was a trio comprised of Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, Beach Boy collaborator (and co-writer of “In My Room”) Gary Usher, and, believe it or not, Glen Campbell (that’s him on lead vocals). The influence of producer and studio genius Curt Boettcher, whose work with the Association helped define the sixties’ sunshine pop sound, is also evident in the vocal mix.

Johnston, incidentally, was Glen Campbell’s replacement in the Beach Boys. He also wrote what became Barry Manilow’s signature tune, “I Write the Songs”, which he is said to have written about Brian Wilson.

Beach Boys 1960’s Vocab…”Giddy”?


(Source: Paste magazine)

Okay, I figure a bunch of those “Giddys” (“giddies”?) are in the form of  the much-repeated giddy-up, giddy-up 409. But then, where’s the word “up” on this list? It should be above “giddy” I think…

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