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The Beach Boys

While most will probably remember the Beach Boys as the slightly campy '60s pop band that sang about fast cars, girls and surfing - and they did write a frightening number of hits about just those subjects - those willing to look behind that will discover an altogether more interesting side to the Beach Boys and in particular the creative genius behind those hits, Brian Wilson.

The Beach Boys were formed in 1961 by brothers Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson, their cousin Mike Love (singer) and Alan Jardine. Influenced early on by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and tight vocal harmony g ...read more

While most will probably remember the Beach Boys as the slightly campy '60s pop band that sang about fast cars, girls and surfing - and they did write a frightening number of hits about just those subjects - those willing to look behind that will discover an altogether more interesting side to the Beach Boys and in particular the creative genius behind those hits, Brian Wilson.

The Beach Boys were formed in 1961 by brothers Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson, their cousin Mike Love (singer) and Alan Jardine. Influenced early on by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and tight vocal harmony groups including the Four Freshmen, Wilson (and occasionally Mike Love) composed a string of classic pop songs celebrating the Californian lifestyle, surfing, cars, girls etc. Between 1962 and 1965, the group charted a level of artistic development rivaled only by the Beatles at this time, with hits ranging from "California Girls," "Fun, Fun, Fun," to "Surfin' USA" and "Surfin' Safari".

This, however, wasn't enough for young Brian. The songwriter wanted to expand his horizons beyond simple pop songs, and in doing so, had to tackle his inner demons. In 1964, he withdrew from touring and began to concentrate on songwriting and production. 1966's Pet Sounds was a huge step forward not just for Wilson himself but for pop music as a whole. The record was so well-received by his fellow musicians that Paul McCartney used it as his inspiration for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; the album itself yielded the classic singles "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Caroline, No" and "God Only Knows," which was banned from radio for the reference to the Almighty.

Not everyone was as pleased as McCartney with the new music: Mike Love famously branded it Brian's "ego music." Nonetheless, Wilson continued working on his next ambitious project, provisionally titled Dumb Angel, but more renowned as Smile! Wilson's intent with the project was simply to make music to make people smile, but unfortunately it was around this time that his personal life fell apart, his drug abuse and depression spiraling out of control. He spent months working on one song- "Good Vibration" - which he dubbed a "pocket symphony," an apt statement if ever one was muttered. "Good Vibrations" remains one of the most remarkable rock and pop performances of all-time, doubly so given Wilson's personal difficulties at the time.

Continuing with the intensive methods used to create "Good Vibrations," Brian went to work with session musician and songwriter Van Dyke Parks on the new album ... but it wasn't completed until 2004 when Wilson released it as a solo outing. The next decade saw Brian retreat further and further from the band and his brother Carl assume leadership of the group. He himself became an accomplished songwriter, though Brian remained chief songwriter for a long time to come. Brother Dennis also succumbed to drug addiction and, mirroring the band's creative and popular decline, he accidentally drowned while drunk in 1983. After a short resurgence in the late '80s thanks in part to David Lee Roth, the band's output slowed to a record every five or six years. Carl Wilson fell victim to lung cancer in 1998.

Today, Brian Wilson records and tours as a solo artist, though he still remains a non-touring member of the band. He finally released Smile! in 2004 under his own name, prompting a lawsuit from Mike Love. The Beach Boys still tour, forty-five years after their formation, though Mike Love is the only remaining original member. « hide

Similar Bands: Brian Wilson, The Beatles, The Byrds, The Tornadoes, The Four Seasons

LPs
That's Why God Made The Radio
06/05/2012

3
101 Votes
Summer in Paradise
1992

1.2
102 Votes
Still Cruisin'
1989

1.5
63 Votes
The Beach Boys
1985

1.8
53 Votes
Keepin' the Summer Alive
1980

1.5
49 Votes
L.A. (Light Album)
1979

2.4
26 Votes
M.I.U. Album
1978

1.8
54 Votes
Love You
1977

3.6
94 Votes
15 Big Ones
1976

2.1
65 Votes
Holland
1973

3.3
81 Votes
Carl and the Passions - "So Tough"
1972

2.7
59 Votes
Surf's Up
1971

3.9
259 Votes
Sunflower
1970

4.1
220 Votes
20/20
1969

3.5
98 Votes
Friends
1968

3.7
142 Votes
Wild Honey
1967

3.7
172 Votes
Smiley Smile
1967

3.7
285 Votes
Pet Sounds
1966

4.5
1,673 Votes
Party!
1965

2.8
60 Votes
Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
1965

3.7
132 Votes
Today!
1965

4.1
243 Votes
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
1964

3.3
52 Votes
All Summer Long
1964

3.6
90 Votes
Shut Down Volume 2
1964

3.1
65 Votes
Little Deuce Coupe
1963

3
65 Votes
Surfer Girl
1963

3.3
79 Votes
Surfin' U.S.A.
1963

3
103 Votes
Surfin' Safari
1962

2.7
104 Votes
Live Albums
Live At Knebworth 1980
1980

2.5
6 Votes
The Beach Boys in Concert
1973

3.6
14 Votes
Live in London
1970

3.3
2 Votes
Compilations
1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow
2017

3.8
3 Votes
Made in California (1962–2012)
08/27/2013

The Smile Sessions
2011

4.5
307 Votes
The Platinum Collection: Sounds of Summer Edition
2005

3.7
13 Votes
Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys
2003

4
33 Votes
20 Good Vibrations: The Greatest Hits
1999

3.9
48 Votes
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys
1993

20 Golden Greats
1976

Spirit Of America
1975

2.8
3 Votes
Endless Summer
1974

4.3
37 Votes
The Beach Boys Biggest Beach Hits
1969

3
1 Votes
Stack-O-Tracks
1968

2.8
2 Votes

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