April 6, 2007

The Beach Boys - A Sad Story

It was 42 years ago today that the Beach Boys recorded California Girls. My grandparents lived in the same neighborhood as the Wilsons so it was always cool for me to brag about that when I was a little kid. And when they came out with "Barbara Ann", I lied to all my friends saying my middle name was Ann (lol - I was just a little kid!).

Although they started out with a ton of potential, talent and youthful energy, things didn't go well for the band. After they became hugely successful (on the same level as The Beatles and The Stones in 1966), they fell apart - literally.

In 1961 Brian formed the band with his two younger brothers, Carl and Dennis, his cousin, Mike Love and a friend, Al Jardine. Apparently Brian had some issues with "fame" because his goal became to be more popular than The Beatles (of course at that time he had no idea that The Beatles were going to be... well....The Beatles!).

They hit it big time in 1966 with Pet Sounds, but after that started declining in popularity so Brian QUIT the band!!!

Dennis took the motto "sex, drugs and rock n roll" literally. He was heavily involved in drugs and alcohol and married and divorced five times. He died at the age of 39 after diving off a yacht while intoxicated.

Side-note: I met Dennis and Mike love at a bar in Newport Beach in the early 80's. Dennis was very drunk and eventually Mike took him home. I remember thinking that I should be excited to meet a "Beach Boy" but it was pretty pathetic to see him like that.

Carl left the band for awhile when he felt they were just becoming a "nostalgia act" (he was right, I think people around here got bored seeing them show up at baseball games, and other events, all the time. They had become passe). He eventually rejoined the band and then was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer. Carl toured up to the last months of his life.

Another side note - Carl asked Philip Bardowell to take over for him as lead guitar and vocalist when he could no longer perform. Today Philip leads the worship band at my church and his brother, Habib, is my pastor...kinda cool to listen to rock and roll on Sunday mornings :)

I think the Beach Boys had a lot of talent but let fame and fun get ahead of the music. They are still around today, but I am not sure what they are up to.

Its a sad story if ya ask me.


Bruce said...

Brian still writes and tours, believe it or not. About a year ago, he was on with Don and Mike, and Don was telling him how big a fan he was, and how much "Don't Worry Baby" meant to him. Don's wife Freda was killed in a car wreck in July, 2005, and "DWB" was their song. Brian was very touched and ended up giving Don and his son Bart backstage passes for his concert that night.

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

I'm glad Brian still does that. I still love their music.

Charlie said...

Brian did not leave the band because of their declining popularity. He never totally quit. However, his influence and participation declined with each succeeding album. He retreated because of his mental breakdown that was hastened by excessive amounts of illegal harmful substances. His brutal family life, the drugs, and the pressures of the recording business all contributed to Brian's almost 20 years in Hell. It never had anything to do with the decline in The Beach Boys popularity.

Perplexio said...

The Beach Boys today are a shell of the band they once were. They're no longer a band, today they're the Mike Love Cash Cow Band.

I've heard some interesting stories from females who have met Mike Love backstage in recent years... Many of the stories included the line, "Hey, I'm up HERE." (he has a tendency to look at women's breasts rather than in their eyes when he's talking to them).

As far as I'm concerned the Beach Boys ceased to be the Beach Boys after Carl died. As long as there was at least one of the Wilson brothers in the band they were still the Beach Boys to me. But after Carl died there were no more Wilson brothers in the band and thus no more Beach Boys imho.

Back in 2000, Gerry Beckley (of America) and Robert Lamm (of Chicago) released an album they'd recorded with Carl Wilson over the course of the 1990s titled Like a Brother. Given that Carl had been dead for a few years at that point the album was dedicated to his memory. The 3 singers sound very good together. Each singer takes a couple turns on lead vocals with the other 2 singing harmony making for some downright beautiful vocals.

There's a track on it that's absolutely beautiful, it was written and sung by Carl for his children. I believe it was recorded shortly before his death because the song sounds kind of like a goodbye to his family-- as if he knew his days were numbered, it's titled I Wish For You. The title track was one Carl wrote for Brian and it's also quite good, but I Wish For You is a tearjerker of a song if I ever heard one.

Charlie said...

This is a totally self-serving post but I thought some of you may be interested in the details of a Brian Wilson solo concert I went to 2 summers ago. Here is the link:
Brian Wilson Live In Philadelphia

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

Charlie, no such thing, you're just passing on good info!!

warnakey said...

Your story is more than a little inaccurate.

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