Little Richard Long Tall Sally – Tutti Frutti
Little Richard – “Long Tall Sally” – from “Don’t Knock The Rock” – HQ 1956
LITTLE RICHARD – Long Tall Sally
Little Richard – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On – It’s Little Richard 1963
It’s Little Richard. 1964 UK TV Show
Little Richard Live in France 1966 Part 1
Little Richard – Live In France . 1966
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti [Live]
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti
Little Richard – Keep a Knockin’ 1990
Little Richard on Sally Jessy Raphael (1994)
Little Richard on Tom Snyder (1997)
Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly (Muhammad Ali’s 50th Birthday)
Little Richard Inducts Otis Redding into the Hall of Fame
Little Richard is The King of Rock’n’Roll
Little Richard Funny Moments Part 1
Little Richard Funny Moments Part 2
Little Richard The Dick Cavett Show 1970 Lucille Lawdy Miss Clawdy + Interview
Little Richard talks about Michael Jackson on Joan Rivers Show
Little Richard Interview with Bill Boggs
Little Richard – ‘Speaking Freely’
LIttle Richard Being Funny
Little Richard Movie 2000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Background informationBirth nameRichard Wayne PennimanBornDecember 5, 1932
Macon, Georgia, United StatesGenresR&B, rock and roll, gospel,soulOccupation(s)Singer-songwriterInstrumentsVocals, pianoYears active1947–presentLabelsRCA Victor, Peacock,Specialty, End, Goldisc Records, Little Star Records,Mercury, Atlantic, Vee-Jay,Modern, Okeh, Brunswick,Reprise, K-Tel, Warner Bros.,DisneyAssociated actsBilly Wright, Larry Williams,Don Covay, Billy Preston, Jimi Hendrix
Richard Wayne Penniman (born December 5, 1932), known by his stage name Little Richard, is an American recording artist, songwriter, and musician. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over six decades. Penniman’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s where his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll. His music also had a pivotal impact on the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. Penniman influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to rap.
Penniman has been honored by many institutions, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and theSongwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Recording Academy and theRhythm and Blues Foundation. Penniman’s “Tutti Frutti” (1955) was included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2010, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music.”
Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, on December 5, 1932, the third-eldest of twelve. His parents were Leva Mae (née Stewart) and Charles “Bud” Penniman. His father was a church deacon who sold bootlegged moonshine on the side and owned his own nightclub, the Tip In Inn. His mother was a member of Macon’s New Hope Baptist Church. Initially, Penniman’s first name was supposed to have been “Ricardo” but an error resulted in “Richard” instead. The Penniman children were raised in the poor neighborhood of Macon called Pleasant Hill. He was nicknamed “Lil’ Richard” by family due to his small and skinny frame as a child. A mischievous child who played pranks on neighbors, Penniman began singing in church at a young age. Possibly due to complications at birth, Penniman had a slight deformity that left one of his legs shorter than the other. This produced an unusual gait, for which he was mocked over its allegedly effeminate appearance.
Penniman’s family was highly religious, joining various A.M.E., Baptist and Pentecostal churches, with some family members becoming ministers. Penniman enjoyed the Pentecostal churches the most due to its charismatic worship and live music. He later recalled that people in his neighborhood during segregation sang gospel songs throughout the day to keep a positive outlook because “there was so much poverty, so much prejudice in those days.” Penniman had observed that people sang “to feel their connection with God” and to wash their trials and burdens away. Gifted with a loud singing voice, Penniman recalled that he was “always changing the key upwards” and that they once stopped him from singing in church for “screaming and hollering” so loud, earning him the nickname “War Hawk”.
Penniman’s initial musical influences were gospel performers, such as Brother Joe May, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams. May, who as a singing evangelist was known as the “Thunderbolt of the Middle West” due to his phenomenal range and vocal power, inspired the boy to become a preacher. Penniman attended Macon’s Hudson High School where he was a below-average student. His musical talent, however, was recognized there when he learned to play the alto saxophone. Penniman’s mother recalled how Richard was “always musical” and that when he was young, he would always “beat on the steps of the house, and on tin cans and pots and pans, or whatever”, while singing. She also recalled that Richard was so quick at learning to play the saxophone that he was allowed to play with the school’s marching band immediately. While in high school, Penniman obtained a part-time job at the Macon City Auditoriumfor local secular and gospel concert promoter Clint Brantley. Penniman sold Coca-Cola to crowds during concerts of star performers of the day, such as Cab Calloway, Lucky Millinder and his favorite singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
On October 27, 1947, Sister Rosetta Tharpe heard 14-year-old Penniman singing two of her gospel recordings before her concert at the Macon City Auditorium. Tharpe was so impressed that she invited him to sing onstage during the concert. Clint Brantley recalled that Penniman approached him before the show, announcing that Tharpe was allowing him to open the show. Brantley, as the promoter, told him he could not. However, when the curtain lifted, Penniman began to sing and surprised Brantley with his vocal ability. The crowd cheered and Tharpe paid him for his performance. Penniman was hooked on performing for a living after that. He began singing with traveling shows that came through town and was losing interest in school. He would sing to draw people to the local town prophet and spiritualist, Doctor Nubilio, who wore a turban, a colorful cape and carried a black stick and something that people came to see which Nubilio called “the devil’s child” – a dried up body of a baby with claw feet like a bird and horns on its head. Nubilio told Penniman that he was “gonna be famous” but that he would have to “go where the grass is greener.” Due to problems at home and school and associations in the community, Penniman left and joined Dr. Hudson’s Medicine Show in 1948, performing “Caldonia“. Penniman recalled the song was the first secular R&B song he learned due to his family’s strict rules against playing R&B music, which they considered “devil music”. Penniman soon joined his first musical band, Buster Brown’s Orchestra. While performing with the band, he began using the name Little Richard. After his tenure with the band ended in 1950, Penniman began performing for various vaudeville groups including Sugarfoot Sam from Alabam, the Tidy Jolly Steppers, the King Brothers Circus and Broadway Follies, earning a reputation as a drag performer. Around this time, Penniman began listening more to R&B and frequented Atlanta clubs where he witnessed Roy Brown and Billy Wright. Heavily influenced by Wright’s flamboyant persona and showmanship, Penniman began performing as a solo artist as part of the chitlin’ circuit. Penniman gained notoriety for high-energy onstage antics during live performances. He eventually befriended Wright during an Atlanta performance in 1950.
In 1951, Wright put Penniman in contact with his manager, Zenas Sears, a local deejay. Sears recorded Penniman at his station backed by Wright’s band. The recordings led to a contract that year with RCA Victor. Penniman recorded a total of eight sides for RCA, including the blues ballad, “Every Hour”, which became his first single and a hit in the Georgia area. The release of “Every Hour” improved his relationship with his father, who began regularly performing the song at his nightclub. After its release, Penniman fronted Perry Welch and His Orchestra, playing at clubs and army bases for $100 a week. Penniman learned how to play boogie-woogie piano from teenage musician Esquerita around this time. Penniman left RCA Victor in February 1952 after his records failed to catch on. That same month, his father was suddenly killed after a confrontation outside his club. Penniman, struggling with poverty, settled for work as a dishwasher for Greyhound Lines and hired Clint Brantley as his manager. He formed a band called the Tempo Toppers that year and began to perform as part of blues package tours in clubs across the south, such as New Orleans’ Club Tijuana and Houston’s Club Matinee. With the Tempo Toppers, Penniman signed with Don Robey‘sPeacock Records in February 1953, recording eight sides, including four with Johnny Otis and his band that were unreleased at the time. Penniman had a contentious relationship with Robey and soon found himself disenchanted with the record business and with his group, leaving Peacock and disbanding the Tempo Toppers. That same year, Penniman formed a hard-driving R&B band, the Upsetters, which included drummer Charles Connor and saxophonist Wilbert “Lee Diamond” Smith, which toured under Brantley’s management. The Upsetters began to tour successfully, even without a bass player on songs, forcing drummer Connor to thump “real hard” on his bass drum in order to get a “bass fiddle effect.”
Under the suggestion of Lloyd Price, Penniman sent a two-song demo for Price’s label, Specialty Records, in February 1955. Time passed before Penniman got a call to record for the label. Art Rupe, owner of Specialty Records, loaned Penniman money to buy out his Peacock contract and Rupe set him up to work with producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell. Upon hearing the demo, Blackwell felt Penniman was Specialty’s answer to Ray Charles. Penniman told Blackwell he preferred the sound of Fats Domino. As a result, Penniman began recording at Cosimo Matassa‘s J&M Studios in New Orleans that September, recording there with several of Domino’s session musicians including drummer Earl Palmer and saxophonist Lee Allen. Initial cuts failed to produce anything to inspire huge sales and Penniman and his producer took a break at a club called the Dew Drop Inn. While there, Penniman performed a risqué song he had improvised from his days on the club circuit called “Tutti Frutti“. The song’s a cappella introduction was based off a drum rhythm Penniman had devised. Blackwell felt the song had hit potential and hired songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie to replace some of Penniman’s sexual lyrics with less controversial words. Recorded in three takes in September 1955, “Tutti Frutti” was released as a single in November.
Initial success and conversion
A lot of songs I sang to crowds first to watch their reaction. That’s how I knew they’d hit.
“Tutti Frutti” became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the United States and overseas in the United Kingdom. It reached No. 17 on the Billboard Top 100 in America and No. 29 on the British singles chart, eventually selling a million copies. Penniman’s next hit single, “Long Tall Sally” (1956), became his first to reach No. 1 on the R&B chart and the first to reach the top ten of the pop charts in both America and Britain. Like “Tutti Frutti”, it sold over a million copies. Following his success, Penniman built up his backup band, The Upsetters, with the addition of saxophonists Clifford “Gene” Burks and leader Grady Gaines, bassist Olsie “Baysee” Robinson and guitarist Nathaniel “Buster” Douglas. Penniman began performing on package tours across the United States, often appearing last, where he would steal the show. Art Rupe described the differences between Penniman and a similar hitmaker of the early rock and roll period by stating that, while “the similarities between Little Richard and Fats Domino for recording purposes were close”, Penniman would sometimes stand up at the piano while he was recording and that onstage, where Domino was “plodding, very slow”, Penniman was “very dynamic, completely uninhibited, unpredictable, wild. So the band took on the ambience of the vocalist.” During a period of racial tension in the United States, Penniman attracted mixed-race audiences at a time when public places were divided into “white” and “colored” domains. H.B. Barnum later explained that Penniman “opened the door. He brought the races together”. Prior to Penniman, audiences in musical shows were either “all black or all white and no one else could come in.” Penniman’s success enabled audiences of both races to enter the building, albeit still segregated (e.g. blacks on the balcony and whites on the main floor). By the end of Penniman’s performances, however, the audiences would come together to dance. Despite broadcasts on TV from local supremacist groups such as the North Alabama White Citizens Council warning how rock and roll “brings the races together”, Penniman’s popularity was helping to shatter shibboleths that held that black performers could not successfully perform at “white-only venues”, especially in the South where racism was most overt.
Penniman’s show, according to Barnum, was the first rock and roll show to use spotlights and flicker lights, which had been a show business tradition, accentuating Penniman’s innovative use of colorful capes, blouse shirts, makeup and suits studded with multi-colored precious stones and sequins. Penniman’s onstage antics often included running on and off the stage, lifting his leg while playing his piano, and jumping up and down onstage and atop the piano, bringing audiences into a frenzy. Fans reacted in similar and sometimes extreme ways. During Penniman’s show at Baltimore’s Royal Theatre in June 1956, several fans had to be restrained from jumping off the balcony. Cops stopped the show twice to prevent fans who had rushed the stage from ripping souvenirs off of Penniman. During the same show, a woman threw a pair of her undergarments onstage at Penniman, leading other female fans to repeat the action.
Penniman had nine hits in America in 1956 and five in Britain, with recordings such as “Slippin’ and Slidin’“, “Rip It Up” “Ready Teddy“, “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Lucille“. Most of Penniman’s earlier hits inspired covers by the likes of Pat Boone, Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. Described as having “electrifying movie-star looks”, Penniman accepted brief roles in movies such as Don’t Knock the Rock, Mister Rock and Roll and The Girl Can’t Help It. His success continued in 1957 with international hits such as “Jenny, Jenny” and “Keep A-Knockin’“. Penniman scored further hit singles such as “Good Golly Miss Molly“, eventually scoring 18 hit singles in less than three years.
“Good Golly, Miss Molly”, 45 rpm recording on Specialty Records
In May 1957, Penniman released his first album, Here’s Little Richard, which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, then a rare feat for a rock and roll artist. Penniman’s success made him a millionaire and in late 1956, he settled in Los Angeles, purchasing a mansion in a wealthy section of the city, where he lived next door to boxer Joe Louis. He had engaged in a serious romance with Audrey Robinson, then a teenage college student and later a stripper under the stage name Lee Angel. In October 1957, Penniman embarked on a package tour in Australia with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. During the middle of the tour, he shocked the public by announcing his decision to follow a life in the ministry.Penniman later explained that during a flight from Melbourne to Sydney that he had seen the plane’s red hot engines and felt angels were holding it up. During the Sydney performance, Penniman saw a bright red fireball flying across the sky above him and was deeply shaken. He took the event, later revealed as the launching of the first artificial Earth satelliteSputnik 1, as a sign from God to repent from performing secular music and his wild lifestyle and enter the ministry.Returning to the states ten days early, Penniman later learned that his original return flight had crashed into the Pacific Ocean solidifying his belief he was doing as God wanted. After a performance at the Apollo Theater and a recording session with Specialty later that month, Penniman enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, to studytheology. Fueling his decision to leave the music business was Penniman’s feeling that he hadn’t received proper remuneration from Specialty. Upon ending his contract with Specialty in 1959, Penniman reluctantly agreed to relinquish any royalties for his material. In 1958, he formed the Little Richard Evangelistic Team, traveling across the country to preach. A month after his conversion, while speaking at an evangelical convention in November 1957, Penniman met Ernestine Campbell, a secretary from Washington, D.C. He married her on July 11, 1959.
Around this time, Penniman began recording gospel and had some chart success with songs such as “He’s Not Just a Soldier” and “Crying in the Chapel”. Another gospel single, “He Got What He Wanted”, reached the top 40 in the UK. Childhood hero Mahalia Jackson acknowledged his gospel efforts after hearing him sing at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles. After working with Penniman on the Mercury album King of the Gospel Singers, Quincy Jones remarked in 1984 that his performance in the studio impressed him more than any other artist with whom he had worked.
Return to secular music
I heard so much about the audience reaction, I thought there must be some exaggeration. But it was all true. He drove the whole house into a complete frenzy … I couldn’t believe the power of Little Richard onstage. He was amazing.
In 1962, concert promoter Don Arden convinced Penniman to tour Europe after telling him his records were still selling well there. Arden booked him as the headline artist with Sam Cooke second on the bill. Penniman performed gospel material at the first show without Cooke opening due to the delay of his arrival, receiving a tepid reaction. After Cooke opened the second show with vigorous applause from the crowd, Penniman and his organist Billy Preston warmed up in darkness before launching into “Long Tall Sally”, resulting in hysterical responses. Penniman’s shows received similar responses wherever he would perform, including a show at Mansfield‘s Granada Theatre, which closed early due to fans rushing the stage.Wanting to capitalize on Penniman’s headline-grabbing performances, Beatles manager Brian Epstein asked Penniman and Arden to allow his newly recorded band to open for Penniman on some tour dates to which they agreed, first opening at New Brighton‘s Tower Ballroom that October. The following month, the Beatles opened for Penniman at the Star Club inHamburg. During this time, Penniman advised the group on how to perform his songs and taught Paul McCartney his trademark vocalizations. Back in the U.S., Penniman recorded six rock and roll songs with the Upsetters for Little Star Records, under the name “World Famous Upsetters”, allowing him to keep his options open in the ministry.
Penniman returned to the UK the following fall, with the Rolling Stones as openers. At the end of that tour, he starred in his own special, The Little Richard Spectacular, for Granada Television. The special became a ratings success and led to two rebroadcasts following over 60,000 fan letters. Footage of the special was shown around the world, highlighting the frenzy associated with rock and roll. In 1964, Penniman returned briefly to Specialty and recorded five songs, including the charted single, “Bama Lama Bama Loo”, which reached the top 20 in the UK but only made 82 in the US. Later that year, he signed with Vee-Jay Records and issued the album Little Richard Is Back (And There’s a Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!). The album failed to catch on domestically, despite a televised performance of the single “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” on Shindig! that drew wild responses from audience members. By September 1964, Jimi Hendrix had joined the Upsetters band, as a full member. In December, Jimi and some ’50s band members joined Richard in New York for a session of remakes. The most successful collaboration between Little Richard and Hendrix came in the following year, also in New York, when Hendrix, Billy Preston, and Penniman recorded the soul ballad “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)”, which became a number 12 R&B hit.[nb 1] Penniman and Hendrix clashed over tardiness, wardrobe and Hendrix’s stage antics and as a result, in July 1965, Penniman’s brother Robert fired him. That same year, Penniman attempted to set up his own record label but only cut two unreleased tracks. Instead he signed with Modern Records, which resulted in a very agreeable string of rock and soul singles but yielded just one chart-maker, “Do You Feel It?”. He left that label in early 1966 for Okeh Records. Okeh paired Penniman musically with his friend from the mid-1950s, Larry Williams, who produced two albums for him in 1966 and 1967; the first being a studio album, The Explosive Little Richard, which generated the modest hit singles, “Poor Dog” and “Commandments of Love”, and the second, Little Richard’s Greatest Hits: Recorded Live!, which returned him to the pop album charts for the first time in ten years, as well hitting number 28 on the Hot R&B LPs chart. Williams also acted as the music director for Penniman’s live performances at the Okeh Club in Los Angeles amid the Okeh period, during which time the demand for Penniman’s appearances increased greatly. Leaving Okeh in late-1967, Penniman briefly recorded with Brunswick but left shortly after his final session.
Penniman struggled when he returned to secular music in the 1960s. He often complained to producers in the 1960s that he felt unappreciated as producers pushed him towards a horn-oriented Motown sound and felt he wasn’t treated with appropriate respect. Penniman often performed in dingy clubs and lounges with little support from his label. Penniman adapted a wilder flamboyant and androgynous image that, while a hit with club audiences, was a problem for labels attempting to promote him to conservative R&B buyers. Angered by his decision to “backslide” from his ministry, clergymen in the South forced radio disk jockeys to ignore Penniman’s work. His insistence on performing in front of mixed audiences prevented him from receiving radio time in the areas of Los Angeles affected by the Watts Riots. Despite recording and public relations struggles, according to hisSongwriters Hall of Fame biography, he had sold over 32 million records worldwide by 1968. Focusing on live performances rather than recordings at the end of the 1960s, Penniman found success with performances in casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, New York City and Los Angeles. Penniman returned to the national spotlight in 1969 as a performer at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, where he stole the show from top performers such as Janis Joplin; he did the same to headliner John Lennon at the Toronto Pop Festival. These successes brought Penniman to talk shows such as the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the Dick Cavett Show, making him a major celebrity again.
Following this, Penniman signed with Reprise Records in 1970, releasing the album, The Rill Thing, which included the charted singles “Freedom Blues” and “Greenwood, Mississippi”. Penniman’s follow-ups for Reprise failed to produce similar success and Penniman spent much of the decade performing as a guest instrumentalist on sessions with rockers such as Delaney and Bonnie, Joey Covington and Joe Walsh. The sessions for Canned Heat‘s “Rockin’ with the King” (1972) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive‘s “Take It Like a Man” (1976) resulted in chart successes. Penniman and three of his brothers formed a management company, Bud Hole Incorporated, around this time. Leaving Reprise in 1973, he charted for independent labels including a Green Mountain Records single, “In the Middle of the Night”, which proceeds went to charity following a string of tornadoes that damaged 12 states. Three years later, the Mainstream Records single “Call My Name” was distributed by Motown but barely charted in 1976. That same year, Penniman re-recorded 18 of his classic hits in Nashville for K-Tel Records, with a single featuring new versions of “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Rip It Up” reaching the UK singles chart. Following over ten years of drug and alcohol abuse and a string of recent personal tragedies, Penniman quit rock and roll music again in 1977 and returned to evangelism, releasing one gospel album, God’s Beautiful City, in 1979.
In 1984, Penniman filed a $112 million lawsuit against Specialty Records, Art Rupe and his publishing company Venice Music and ATV Music for not paying him royalties after he left the label in 1959. The suit would be settled out of court in 1986. According to some reports, Michael Jackson gave Penniman monetary compensation from his work when he co-owned the Beatles and Penniman’s songs with Sony-ATV. In 1985, Charles White released Penniman’s authorized biography, Quasar of Rock: The Life and Times of Little Richard, which returned Penniman to the spotlight due to the book’s subject matter. Penniman returned to show business in what Rolling Stone would refer to as a “formidable comeback” following the book’s release.
Little Richard, interviewed during the 60th Annual Academy Awards, 1988
Reconciling his roles as evangelist and rock and roll musician for the first time, Penniman stated that the genre could be used for good or evil. After accepting a role in the film Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Penniman and Billy Preston penned the faith-based rock and roll song, “Great Gosh A’Mighty” for its soundtrack. Penniman won critical acclaim for his film role and the song found success on the American and British charts. The hit led to the release of the album Lifetime Friend (1986) on Warner Bros. Records, with songs deemed “messages in rhythm” that included a gospel rap track. In addition to a version of “Great Gosh A’Mighty”, cut in England, the album featured two UK charted singles, “Somebody’s Comin'” and “Operator”. Penniman spent much of the rest of the decade guesting on TV shows and appearing in films, winning new fans with what was referred to as his “unique comedic timing”. In 1989, Penniman provided rhythmic preaching and background vocals on the extended live version of the U2/B.B. King hit “When Love Comes To Town“. That same year, Penniman returned to singing his classic hits following a performance of “Lucille” at a Cher-hosted AIDS benefit concert.
In 1990, Penniman contributed a spoken-word rap on Living Colour‘s hit song, “Elvis Is Dead“, from their album Time’s Up. The following year, he was one of the featured performers on the hit single and video “Voices That Care” that was produced to help boost the morale of U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm. He also recorded a rock and roll version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” that year that led to a deal with Disney Records, resulting in the release of a hit 1992 children’s album, Shake It All About. Throughout the 1990s, Penniman performed around the world and appeared on TV, film, and tracks with other artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Elton John and Solomon Burke. In 1992, yet another album of remakes was released, this time with Richard and Japanese guitar hero, Takanaka. Included in the band were swamp guitarist Travis Wammack and his drummer son Monkee, members of Richard’s then current touring band.
In 2000, Penniman’s life was dramatized for the biopic Little Richard, which focused on his early years including his heyday, religious conversion and return to secular music in the early 1960s. Penniman was played by actor Leon, who earned a NAACP Image Award nomination for his role as the musician. In 2002, Penniman contributed to the Johnny Cash tribute album, Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash. In 2006, Penniman was featured in a popular advertisement for the GEICO brand. Then, a 2005 recording of his duet vocals with Jerry Lee Lewis appeared on a cover of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” for Lewis’s 2006 album, Last Man Standing. The same year, Penniman signed on as a guest judge for the TV series Celebrity Duets. In 2008, Penniman and Lewis performed alongside John Fogerty at the Grammy Awards of that year in a tribute to the two artists considered to be cornerstones of rock and roll by NARAS. That same year, Penniman appeared on radio host Don Imus‘ benefit album for sick children, The Imus Ranch Record. In June 2010, Penniman recorded a gospel track for an upcoming tribute album to songwriting legend Dottie Rambo.
Towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Rolling Stone reported that Penniman remained “one of the most recognized and quotable celebrities in the world.” Throughout the decade, he kept up a stringent touring schedule, performing primarily in the States and Europe. However, sciatic nerve pain in his left leg and then replacement of the involved hip began affecting the frequency of his performances by 2010. Despite his health issues, Penniman continued to receive critical acclaim for his performances, with Rolling Stone reporting after a performance at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. in June 2012 that Penniman was “still full of fire, still a master showman, his voice still loaded with deep gospel and raunchy power.” Following the D.C. concert, Penniman performed a full 90 minute show at the Pensacola Interstate Fair in Pensacola in October 2012 and headlined at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas during Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend in March 2013.
In 2014, actor Brandon Mychal Smith won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Little Richard in the James Brown bio-pic “Get On Up.” Mick Jagger co-produced the motion picture.
Relationships and family
In 1956, Penniman began a romantic relationship with Audrey Robinson, a 16-year-old college student, originally from Savannah, Georgia. According to Penniman, he would invite other men to have sex with her in groups and once invited Buddy Holly to have sex with her; Robinson denied those claims. The relationship ended after Penniman’s religious conversion in 1957. Robinson later became a stripper using the name Lee Angel. According to Robinson, Penniman wanted to continue to see her but she felt uncomfortable seeing a preacher as a stripper. Described in GQ’s UK edition as a “lifelong soulmate” , Robinson and Penniman are occasionally in each other’s company.
Penniman met his only wife, Ernestine Campbell, at an evangelical rally in October 1957. They began dating that year and wed in July 1959. According to Campbell, she and Penniman initially enjoyed a happy marriage with “normal” sexual relations. Campbell claimed when the marriage ended in divorce in 1963, it was due to Penniman’s celebrity status, noting that it had made life difficult for her. Penniman claimed the marriage fell apart due to him being a neglectful husband. While married, in 1962, Penniman adopted a one-year-old boy, Danny Jones, from a late church associate. Penniman and his son remain close, with Jones often acting as one of his bodyguards.
Penniman’s sexual orientation has long been a topic of debate. Penniman claimed that as a child he felt feminine and played with girls, which was the source of jokes at his expense. Caught wearing his mother’s makeup and wardrobe at times, he was brutally punished by his father. Penniman began having sexual encounters with both sexes by his early teens. Allegedly due to his effeminate mannerisms, Penniman’s father kicked him out of their family home at 15.Penniman first became involved in voyeurism in his early twenties, when a female friend of his would drive around and pick up men who would allow him to watch them have sex in the backseat of cars. Penniman was once arrested after a gas station attendant in Macon reported sexual activity in a car featuring Penniman and a couple. Cited on a lewd conduct charge, Penniman spent three days in jail and was temporarily banned from performing in Macon.
During the early 1950s, Penniman had appeared as a drag performer in various vaudeville groups. By the time he entered the chitlin’ circuit, he began using makeup regularly, influenced by Billy Wright, who recommended him his brand of makeup, Pancake 31. Later, as he began experiencing success in the mid-1950s, Penniman made members of his band use makeup as a means to gain entry into white clubs during performances. Penniman later told a columnist, “I wore the make-up so that white men wouldn’t think I was after the white girls. It made things easier for me, plus it was colorful too.” Penniman received female attention during his mid-1950s heyday stating that female fans would give him naked photos of themselves and their phone numbers. In 2000, Penniman stated: “I had girlfriends and a stack of women who followed me and traveled with me. I figure if being called a sissy would make me famous, let them say what they want to.”
While attending Oakwood College, Penniman recalled a male student showed himself to him. After the incident was reported to the student’s father, Penniman withdrew from the college. In 1962, Penniman was again arrested after he was caught spying on men urinating at a men’s bathroom at a Trailways bus station in Long Beach, California. Penniman returned to participating in sexual orgies after his return to secular music in the 1960s. He differed in depictions of his sexuality. In 1984, while he noted that he felt homosexuality was “unnatural” and “contagious”, he would tell Charles White that he was “omnisexual” after he was asked about his sex life. In 1995, Penniman told Penthouse that he always knew he was gay. In 2007, Mojo magazine described Penniman as a “bisexualalien”.
Drug and alcohol use
Penniman allegedly was a heavy drinker and cigarette smoker during the mid-1960s. By 1972, he was using cocaine, developing an addiction to the drug. He later lamented during that period, “they should have called me Little Cocaine, I was sniffing so much of that stuff!” He got addicted to heroin and PCP around that same period. Of his drug experiences, he said “I lost my reasoning”. He said of his cocaine addiction that he did whatever he could to use cocaine.Penniman admitted that his addiction to cocaine and heroin was costing him as much as $1,000 a day. In 1977, longtime friend Larry Williams once showed up with a gun and threatened to kill Penniman for failing to pay his drug debt. Penniman later mentioned that this was the most fearful moment of his life because Williams’s own drug addiction made him wildly unpredictable. Penniman did, however, also acknowledge that he and Williams were “very close friends” and when reminiscing of the drug-fueled clash, he recalled thinking “I knew he loved me – I hoped he did”. Within that same year, Penniman had several devastating personal experiences, including his brother Tony’s death of a heart attack, the accidental shooting of his nephew that he loved like a son, and the murder of two close personal friends – one a valet at “the heroin man’s house.” The combination of these experiences convinced Penniman to give up drugs and alcohol, along with rock and roll, and return to the ministry.
Penniman’s family had deep evangelical (Baptist and AME) Christian roots, including two uncles and a grandfather who were preachers. Penniman also took part in Macon’s Pentecostal churches, which were his favorites mainly due to their music, charismatic praise, dancing in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. At age 10, influenced by Pentecostalism, Penniman would go around saying he was a faith healer, singing gospel music to people who were feeling sick and touching them. He later recalled that they would often indicate that they felt better after he prayed for them and would sometimes give him money. Penniman had aspirations of being a preacher due to the influence of singing evangelist Brother Joe May.
After he was born again in 1957, Penniman enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, a mostly black Seventh-day Adventist college, to study theology. Penniman returned to secular music in the early 1960s. He was eventually ordained a minister in 1970, and again resumed evangelical activities in 1977. Penniman represented Memorial Bibles International and sold their Black Heritage Bible, which highlighted the Book’s many black characters. As a preacher, Penniman evangelized in small churches and packed auditoriums of 20,000 or more. His preaching focused on uniting the races and bringing lost souls to repentance through God’s love. In 1984, Penniman’s mother, Leva Mae, died following a period of illness. Only a few months prior to her death, Penniman promised her that he would remain a Christian.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Penniman officiated at celebrity weddings. In 2006, Penniman wedded twenty couples who won a contest in one ceremony. The musician used his experience and knowledge as a minister and elder statesman of rock and roll to preach at funerals of musical friends such as Wilson Pickett andIke Turner. At a benefit concert in 2009 to raise funds to help rebuild children’s playgrounds destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Penniman asked guest of honorFats Domino to pray with him and others. His assistants handed out inspirational booklets at the concert—a common practice at Penniman’s shows. He somberly told a Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. audience in June 2012, “I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord. The world is getting close to the end. Get close to the Lord.” In 2013, Penniman elaborated on his spiritual philosophies, stating “God talked to me the other night. He said He’s getting ready to come. The world’s getting ready to end and He’s coming, wrapped in flames of fire with a rainbow around his throne.” Rolling Stone reported his apocalyptic prophesies generated sniggers from some audience members as well as cheers of support. Penniman responded by stating: “When I talk to you about [Jesus], I’m not playing. I’m almost 81 years old. Without God, I wouldn’t be here.”
In October 1985, Penniman returned to the United States from England, where he had finished recording his album Lifetime Friend, to film a guest spot on the show, Miami Vice. Following the taping, he accidentally crashed his sports car into a telephone pole in West Hollywood, California. He suffered a broken right leg, broken ribs and head and facial injuries. His recovery from the accident took several months. His accident prevented him from being able to attend the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in January 1986 where he was one of several inductees. He instead supplied a recorded message.
In 2007, Penniman was having problems walking due to sciatica in his left leg, requiring him to use crutches. In November 2009, he entered a hospital to have replacement surgery on his left hip. Despite returning to perform the following year, Penniman’s problems with his hip continued and he is nowadays helped onstage by a wheelchair. He has told fans that his surgery has his hip “breaking inside” and refuses to have further work on it. On September 30, 2013, he revealed to Cee Lo Green at a Recording Academy fundraiser that he had suffered a heart attack at his home the week prior and stated he used aspirin and had his son turn the air conditioner on, which his doctor confirmed had saved his life. Penniman stated, “Jesus had something for me. He brought me through.”
“He claims to be ‘the architect of rock and roll’, and history would seem to bear out Little Richard’s boast. More than any other performer – save, perhaps, Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as ‘Tutti Frutti‘, ‘Long Tall Sally‘ and ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly‘ defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll.”
—Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Penniman’s music and performance style had a pivotal impact on the shape of the sound and style of popular music genres of the 20th century. As a rock and roll pioneer, Penniman embodied its spirit more flamboyantly than any other performer. Penniman’s raspy shouting style gave the genre one of its most identifiable and influential vocal sounds and his fusion of boogie-woogie, New Orleans R&B and gospel music blazed its rhythmic trail.
Penniman was blessed with a phenomenal voice able to generate croons, wails, and screams unprecedented in popular music. He was cited by two of soul music’s pioneers, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as contributing to that genre’s early development. Redding stated that most of his music was patterned after Penniman’s and that he had “done a lot for [him] and [his] soul brothers in the music business.” Cooke said in 1962 that Penniman had done “so much for our music”. Cooke had a top 40 hit with his cover of “Send Me Some Loving” in 1963.
James Brown said that Penniman and the Upsetters, including drummer Charles “Chuck” Connor, were “the first to put the funk in rhythm”, with a biographer stating that their music “spark[ed] the musical transition from fifties rock and roll to sixties funk”.
Penniman’s hits of the mid-1950s, such as “Tutti Frutti”, “Long Tall Sally”, “Keep A-Knockin'” and “Good Golly Miss Molly”, were generally characterized by playful lyrics with sexually suggestive connotations. Allmusic writer Richie Unterberger stated that Penniman “merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon”, and that while “other R&B greats of the early ’50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard’s vocals. With his high speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock and roll.” Due to his innovative music and style, he’s often widely acknowledged as the “architect of rock and roll”.
Ray Charles introduced him at a concert in 1988 as “a man that started a kind of music that set the pace for a lot of what’s happening today.” Rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley called Penniman “one of a kind” and “a show business genius” that “influenced so many in the music business”. Penniman’s contemporaries, including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, all recorded covers of Penniman’s works. Taken by Penniman’s music and style, and personally covering four of Penniman’s tunes on his own two breakthrough albums in 1956, Presley told Penniman in 1969 that his music was an inspiration to him and that he was “the greatest”. Pat Boone noted in 1984, “no one person has been more imitated than Little Richard”. As they wrote about Penniman for their Man of the Year – Legend category in 2010, GQ magazine stated that Penniman “is, without question, the boldest and most influential of the founding fathers of rock’n’roll”. R&B pioneer Johnny Otis stated that “Little Richard is twice as valid artistically and important historically as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones put together.”
In addition to his musical style, Penniman was cited as one of the first crossover black artists, reaching audiences of all races. His concerts broke the color line, drawing blacks and whites together despite attempts to sustain segregation. As H.B. Barnum explained in Quasar of Rock, Penniman “opened the door. He brought the races together.” Barnum described Penniman’s music as not being “boy-meets-girl-girl-meets-boy things, they were fun records, all fun. And they had a lot to say sociologically in our country and the world.” Barnum also stated that Penniman’s “charisma was a whole new thing to the music business”, explaining that “he would burst onto the stage from anywhere, and you wouldn’t be able to hear anything but the roar of the audience. He might come out and walk on the piano. He might go out into the audience.” Barnum also stated that Penniman was innovative in that he would wear colorful capes, blouse shirts, makeup and suits studded with multi-colored precious stones and sequins, and that he also brought flickering stage lighting from his show business experience into performance venues where rock and roll artists performed.
Penniman influenced generations of performers across musical genres. James Brown and Otis Redding both idolized Penniman. Brown allegedly came up with the Famous Flames debut hit, “Please, Please, Please“, after Penniman had written the words on a napkin. Redding started his professional career with Penniman’s band, The Upsetters. He first entered a talent show performing Penniman’s “Heeby Jeebies”, winning for 15 consecutive weeks. Ike Turnerclaimed most of Tina Turner‘s early vocal delivery was based on Penniman, something Penniman himself reiterated in the foreword of Turner’s biography, King of Rhythm. Bob Dylan first performed covers of Penniman’s songs on piano in high school with his rock and roll group, the Golden Chords; in 1959 when leaving school, he wrote in his yearbook under “Ambition”: “to join Little Richard”. Jimi Hendrix was influenced in appearance (clothing and hairstyle/mustache) and sound by Penniman. He was quoted in 1966 saying, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.” Others influenced by Penniman early on in their lives included Bob Seger and John Fogerty. Michael Jackson admitted that Penniman had been a huge influence on him prior to Off the Wall.Rock critics noted similarities between Prince‘s androgynous look, music and vocal style to Penniman’s. Upon hearing “Long Tall Sally”, John Lennoncommented that he was so impressed that he “couldn’t speak”. Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were also profoundly influenced by Penniman, with Jagger citing him as his first induction to R&B music and referring to him as “the originator and my first idol”. Upon hearing “Tutti Frutti”, Richards explained, “it was if, in a single instant, the world changed from monochrome to Technicolor“. Penniman was an early vocal influence on Rod Stewart. David Bowie called Penniman his “inspiration” stating upon listening to “Tutti Frutti” that he “heard God”. After opening for him with his band Bluesology, pianistReginald Dwight was inspired to be a “rock and roll piano player”, later changing his name to Elton John. Farookh Bulsara performed covers of Penniman’s songs as a teen, before finding fame as Freddie Mercury, frontman for Queen. Penniman was referred to as Lou Reed‘s rock n roll hero, deriving inspiration from “the soulful, primal force” of the sound made by Penniman and his saxophonist on “Long Tall Sally.” Reed later stated, “I don’t know why and I don’t care, but I wanted to go to wherever that sound was and make a life.” Patti Smith said, “To me, Little Richard was a person that was able to focus a certain physical, anarchistic, and spiritual energy into a form which we call rock ‘n’ roll … I understood it as something that had to do with my future. When I was a little girl, Santa Claus didn’t turn me on. Easter Bunny didn’t turn me on. God turned me on. Little Richard turned me on.” The music of Deep Purple and Motörhead was also influenced by Penniman, as well as that of AC/DC. The latter’s Bon Scott idolized Penniman and aspired to sing like him, and Angus Young was first inspired to play guitar after listening to Penniman’s music. Later performers such as Mystikal, André “André 3000” Benjamin of Outkast and Bruno Marswere cited by critics as having emulated Penniman’s style in their own works. Mystikal’s rap vocal delivery was compared to Penniman’s. André 3000’s vocals in Outkast’s hit, “Hey Ya!“, were compared to an “indie rock Little Richard”. Bruno Mars admitted Penniman influenced him. Mars’ song, “Runaway Baby” from his album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans was cited by the New York Times as “channeling Little Richard”.
Awards and honors
Penniman received the Cashbox Triple Crown Award for “Long Tall Sally” in 1956. In 1984, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He wasinducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Penniman’s influence on rock and roll was later recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1990, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994. In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1997, he was given the American Music Award of Merit. In 2002, along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, Penniman was honored as one of the first group of BMI icons at the 50th Annual BMI Pop Awards. That same year, he was inducted into the NAACPImage Award Hall of Fame. A year later, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame. Four years afterwards, he received a plaque on the theater’s Walk of Fame. In 2008, he received a star at Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.In 2009, he was inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The UK issue of GQ named him its Man of the Year in its Legend category in 2010.
Included in numerous Rolling Stone lists, Penniman’s Here’s Little Richard was ranked fifty on the magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. He was ranked eighth on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone listed three of Penniman’s recordings, “The Girl Can’t Help It”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”, on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Two of the latter songs and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” were listed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The Grammy Hall of Fame inducted several of Penniman’s recordings including “Tutti Frutti”, “Lucille”, “Long Tall Sally” and Here’s Little Richard. “Tutti Frutti” topped music magazine Mojo‘s list of “The 100 Records That Changed the World”. The same recording was inducted to the Library of Congress‘ National Recording Registry with the library claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”.Penniman appeared in person to receive an honorary degree from his hometown’s Mercer University on May 11, 2013. The day before the doctorate of humanities degree was to be bestowed upon him, the mayor of Macon announced that one of Penniman’s childhood homes, an historic site, will be moved to a rejuvenated section of that city’s Pleasant Hill district. It will be restored and named the Richard Penniman – Pleasant Hill Resource House, a meeting place where local history and artifacts will be displayed as provided by residents.
- The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), lip-syncing the title number (different version from record), “Ready Teddy” and “She’s Got It”
- Don’t Knock the Rock (1956), lip-syncing “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”
- Mister Rock and Roll (1957), lip-syncing “Lucille” and “Keep A-Knockin'”, on original prints
- Catalina Caper (aka Never Steal Anything Wet, 1967), Richard lip-syncs an original tune, “Scuba Party”, still unreleased on record by 2013.
- Little Richard: Live at the Toronto Peace Festival (1969) – released on DVD in 2009 by Shout! Factory
- The London Rock & Roll Show (1972), performing “Lucille”, “Rip It Up”, “Good Golly Miss Molly”, “Tutti Frutti”, “I Believe” [a capella, a few lines], and “Jenny Jenny”
- Jimi Hendrix (1973)
- Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), co-starred as Orvis Goodnight and performed the production number, “Great Gosh A-Mighty”
- Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll TV Documentary (1987)
- Goddess of Love Made For TV Movie (1988)
- Purple People Eater (1988)
- Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989) (uncredited)
- Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (1990) (voice)
- Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990)
- The Naked Truth (1992)
- Sunset Heat (1992)
- James Brown: The Man, The Message, The Music TV Documentary (1992)
- Martin TV Series (1992)
- The Pickle (1993)
- Last Action Hero (1993)
- Full House TV Series (1994)
- Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)
- Mystery Alaska (1999)
- Little Richard (2000)
- The Trumpet of the Swan (2001) (voice)
- The Simpsons (2003)
- Jump up^ Three other songs were recorded during the sessions, “Dance A Go Go” aka “Dancin’ All Around The World”, “You Better Stop”, and “Come See About Me” (possibly an instrumental), but Vee Jay did not release the latter two.
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Langdon C. Winner. “Little Richard (American musician)”. Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
- Jump up^ Jonny Whiteside, “Charles Connor: The Rock and Roll Original”, LA Weekly, May 14, 2014.
- Jump up^ “Show 6 – Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll: The rock revolution gets underway. [Part 2]: UNT Digital Library”. Digital.library.unt.edu. March 16, 1969. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
- Jump up^ Pegg 2002, p. 50: “Although they still had the audiences together in the building, they were theretogether. And most times, before the end of the night, they would be all mixed together”.
- Jump up^ Bayles 1996, p. 133: “He’d be on the stage, he’d be off the stage, he’d be jumping and yelling, screaming, whipping the audience on …”.
- ^ Jump up to:a b Myers, Marc (October 10, 2010). “Little Richard, The First”. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
- Jump up^ White 2003, p. 103: “He sang gospel the way it should be sung. He had that primitive beat and sound that came so naturally … the soul in his singing was not faked. It was real”.
- Jump up^ White 2003, p. 102: “Richard had such a unique voice and style that no one has ever matched it – even to this day”.
- Jump up^ McDermott 2009, p. 12: Hendrix recording with Penniman; Shadwick 2003, pp. 56–57: “I Don’t Know What You Got (But It’s Got Me)” recorded in New York City.
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f “Little Richard”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1986. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Religion and Rock and Roll”, Joel Martin Show, WBAB 102.3 FM, NY. Guests: Harry Hepcat and Little Richard, August 16, 1981.
- ^ Jump up to:a b “Songwriters Hall of Fame – Little Richard Biography”. Songwriters Hall of Fame. RetrievedDecember 15, 2012.
- Jump up^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 457.ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- Jump up^ “Michael Jackson’s mom played role in business – Entertainment – Celebrities”. August 5, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Jump up^ Little Richard at the Internet Movie Database
- Jump up^ “The Unlikely Titan Of Advertising”. CBS News. February 14, 2007.
- Jump up^ “Singers Aid a Charity and The Man Who Runs It”. September 10, 2008.
- ^ Jump up to:a b By Patrick Doyle (June 17, 2012). “Little Richard Tears Through Raucous Set in Washington, D.C. | Music News”. Rolling Stone. RetrievedMarch 2, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Little Richard in concert”. GoPensacola.com. October 28, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Photos: Little Richard headlines at Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend at The Orleans”. Las Vegas Sun. April 1, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
- Jump up^ David Blaustein, “Will ‘Get On Up’ Make You Stand Up and Cheer?”, ABC News, August 1, 2014.
- Jump up^ Mark McCarver, “James Brown’s biopic ‘Get On Up’ takes huge risks with mixed results”, Baltimore Post-Examiner, August 1, 2014.
- Jump up^ “These Are The Best Parts Of ‘Get On Up'”, The Huffington Post, August 1, 2014.
- Jump up^ “Get on Up (2014)”, IMDb, August 1, 2014.
- Jump up^ Annette Witheridge, “My mate the sex machine: Mick Jagger on his movie about his ‘inspiration’ James Brown”, Mirror, August 2, 2014.
- Jump up^ Christopher Merchant, “Little Richard’s Cadillac struck in Murfreesboro crash”, The Tennesseean, August 28, 2014.
- Jump up^ Jet 1984, p. 60: “I used to have standards in my life and I lost all of that”.
- Jump up^ Jet 1984, p. 60: “I was one of the biggest cocaine addicts, smoking it, snorting it and whatever cocaine could do, I did”.
- Jump up^ Gilliland 1969, show 14, track 4.
- Jump up^ “Little Richard Weds 20 Couples”.Contactmusic.com. December 19, 2006. RetrievedFebruary 1, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Fats Domino Makes Rare Concert Appearance”. abclocal.go.com. 2009. RetrievedAugust 12, 2013.
- ^ Jump up to:a b “Little Richard Tells Cee Lo About Recent Heart Attack”. Rolling Stone. September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Weekend of Legends | 06.06-06.08 | NYC on JamBase”. Jambase.com. Retrieved 2014-05-23.
- Jump up^ 100 Greatest Singers: 12 – Little Richard,Rolling Stone.
- Jump up^http://www.macon.com/2014/07/26/3218915/midstate-residents-who-knew-godfather.html
- Jump up^ “Bob Seger: Influences”. RetrievedDecember 20, 2012.
- Jump up^ “John Fogerty: The Extended Interview”. Americansongwriter.com. May 28, 2013. RetrievedAugust 12, 2013.
- Jump up^ Herron, Martin (June 26, 2009). “‘Michael Jackson saved my life'”. Scarborough Evening News. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Jump up^ Gina Vivinetto (April 29, 2004). “Floridian: Prince and the evolution”. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Beatles accept award Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions 1988”. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Jump up^ White 2003, p. 228: “After hearing Little Richard on record, I bought a saxophone and came into the music business. Little Richard was my inspiration”.
- Jump up^ Blackwell 2004, p. 65: “when I saw Little Richard standing on top of the piano, all the stage lights, sequins and energy, I decided then and there that I wanted to be a rock and roll piano player”.
- Jump up^ Male, Andrew (November 26, 2013). “Little Richard: Lou Reed’s Rock’n’roll Hero”. Mojo. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Jump up^ “The New Inquiry”. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- ^ Jump up to:a b “Motorhead’s Lemmy Says Little Richard Should Be Golden God”. YouTube. RetrievedMarch 26, 2012.
- Jump up^ “AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young Remembers Bon Scott – “When I Think Back In Hindsight, He Was A Guy That I Always Knew Was Full Of Life””. Bravewords.com. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Angus Young”. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
- Jump up^ Sanneh, Kelefa (December 3, 2000). “MUSIC; Rappers Who Definitely Know How to Rock”. The New York Times.
- Jump up^ Caramanica, Jon (September 24, 2003).“Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Critic’s Notebook: Bruno Mars in Ascension”.New York Times. October 6, 2010. RetrievedJanuary 4, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Little Richard: Awards”. March 4, 2013.
- Jump up^ “RAB Hall of Fame: Little Richard”. RetrievedDecember 31, 2012.
- Jump up^ Orlando Sentinel 1994.
- Jump up^ “Lifetime Awards”. GRAMMY.com. August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Music Awards Show To Fete Little Richard – Chicago Tribune”. Chicago Tribune. January 3, 1997.
- Jump up^ “BMI ICON Awards Honor Three of Rock & Roll’s Founding Fathers”. bmi.com. June 30, 2002. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Hall of Fame Inductee: Little Richard”.Variety.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Apollo’s new legends inducted”.Caribbeanlifenews.com. Caribbean Life. June 13, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Quincy Jones, Patty LaBelle, Gladys Knight and More Honored as New York’s Apollo Theater Unveils Walk of Fame”. May 11, 2010. RetrievedJanuary 4, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Inductee Information to the Music City Walk of Fame”. Visitmusiccity.com. RetrievedSeptember 18, 2010.
- Jump up^ “LITTLE RICHARD 2009”. Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
- Jump up^ “Experience The Music: One Hit Wonders and The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2007. RetrievedDecember 17, 2012.
- Jump up^ “GRAMMY Hall of Fame”. Grammy.org. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Jump up^ “Rocklist.net…Mojo Lists”. Retrieved March 4,2012.
- Jump up^ “Little Richard Bestowed Honorary Degree at Mercer University”. WMAZ.com. May 11, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Little Richard’s boyhood home to be moved”.Associated Press. May 11, 2013. Retrieved May 13,2013.
- Jump up^ “State to buy Little Richard’s house”. The Telegraph. May 10, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Jump up^ “Good golly: DOT will relocate Little Richard’s boyhood home”. 11alive.com. May 13, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
- “Grady Gaines”. Allmusic. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
- “Little Richard”. Allmusic. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
- Bayles, Martha (May 15, 1996). Hole In Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-03959-6.
- Berry, Jason (September 30, 2009). Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music since World War II. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. ISBN 978-1-887366-87-8.
- Blackwell, Roger (2004). Brands That Rock: What Business Leaders Can Learn from the World of Rock and Roll (Google eBook). John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-45517-2.
- Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. Schirmer Trade.ISBN 978-0-8256-7284-2. OCLC 36824884.
- Brown, Geoff (2002). Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness. Canongate U.S.ISBN 978-1-84195-316-8.
- Campbell, Michael (2008). Popular Music in America: The Beat Goes On (First Edition). Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-50530-7.
- Campbell, Michael (2011). Popular Music in America: The Beat Goes On. Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-8400-2976-4.
- Chalmers, Robert (November 1, 2010). “GQ Legend: Little Richard”. RetrievedMarch 6, 2013.
- Chalmers, Robert (November 1, 2010). “GQ Legend: Little Richard”. RetrievedMarch 6, 2013.
- Chalmers, Robert (November 1, 2010). “GQ Legend: Little Richard”. RetrievedMarch 6, 2013.
- Chalmers, Robert (November 1, 2010). “GQ Legend: Little Richard”. RetrievedMarch 6, 2013.
- Chalmers, Robert (November 1, 2010). “GQ Legend: Little Richard”. RetrievedMarch 6, 2013.
- Collier, Aldore (November 26, 1984). “Little Richard Tells Us How He Got What He Wanted But Lost What He Had”. Jet.
- Collis, John (2003). Ike Turner: King of Rhythm. Do-Not. ISBN 978-1-904316-24-4.
- Doggett, Peter (January 2007). “Teenage Wildlife”. Mojo Classic.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Ewbank, Tim (April 13, 2010). Cliff: An Intimate Portrait. London: Random House.ISBN 0-7535-3610-2.
- Ewbank, Tim (2005). Rod Stewart: The New Biography. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2644-0.
- Gilliland, John (1969). “Big Rock Candy Mountain: Rock ‘n’ roll in the late fifties”(audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- Guralnick, Peter (1999). Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom. Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-33273-6. OCLC 41950519.
- Gulla, Bob (2008). Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists Who Revolutionized Rhythm. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-34044-4.
- Havers, Richard (April 1, 2010). The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Book Sales Inc.ISBN 0-7858-2625-4.
- Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated. London: Virgin.ISBN 978-0-7535-0481-9.
- Harry, Bill (2002). The Paul McCartney Encyclopedia. Virgin. ISBN 978-0-7535-0716-2.
- Henderson, David (July 1, 2008). ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4165-3434-2.
- Hodkinson, Mark (2004). Queen: The Early Years. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-012-2.
- Hinckley, David (1995). The Rolling Stones: Black & White Blues. Turner Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-57036-150-9.
- “Inside Track”. Billboard.
- Jake, Brown (July 1, 2013). Ac/Dc in the Studio. John Blake Publishing Ltd.ISBN 978-1-78219-677-8.
- Kirby, David (2009). Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-2965-0.
- Lauterbach, Preston (July 18, 2011). The Chitlin’ Circuit: And the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-08225-3.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties (3rd (2007) ed.). Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-55652-733-3.
- Mahon, Maurice (2004). Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3317-1.
- McDermott, John (2009). Ultimate Hendrix: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Live Concerts and Sessions. BackBeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-938-1.
- Merlis, Bob (2002). Heart and Soul – A Celebration of Black Music Style in America: 1930–1975. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-8314-4.
- Miller, Zell (1996). They Heard Georgia Singing – Little Richard (Richard Penniman). Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-86554-504-9.
- Moser, Margaret (April 1, 2007). Rock Stars Do The Dumbest Things. Macmillan.ISBN 1-4299-7838-4.
- Murray, Charles (1989). Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution (First US ed.). St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 978-0-312-06324-5.
- “The Full National Recording Registry: National Recording Preservation Board (Library of Congress)”. National Recording Preservation Board. Retrieved December 29,2012.
- “New York Beat”. Jul 5, 1973.
- Nite, Norm N. (1984). Rock on:The solid gold years – Volume 1 of Rock on: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock N’ Roll, Rock on: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock N’ Roll. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-181642-0.
- “Little Richard Files Suit To Claim Lost Royalties”. Ocala Star-Banner. August 17, 1984. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- “R&B Foundation Honors Little Richard, Others”. Orlando Sentinel. March 4, 1994. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
- Otfinoski, Steven (2010). African Americans in the Performing Arts. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-7838-7.
- Palmer, Robert (2011). Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-9974-6.
- Pegg, Bruce (October 1, 2002). Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry: An Unauthorized Biography. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-93748-1.
- Rodman, Gilbert (1996). Elvis after Elvis: the posthumous career of a living legend.ISBN 978-0-415-11002-0.
- “500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Here’s Little Richard”. Rolling Stone. RetrievedDecember 17, 2012.
- “The Greatest Artists of All Time: Little Richard”. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- “500 Greatest Songs of All Time – Rolling Stone”. December 17, 2012.
- “Little Richard Biography”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
- Ryan, Marc (February 1, 2004). Trumpet Records: Diamonds on Farish Street. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-61703-525-4.
- “Little Richard Forsakes Rock ‘n’ Roll For Religion”. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 17, 1979. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. BackBeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-764-6.
- Shelton, Robert (2003). No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81287-8.
- “Little Richard – Great Gosh A’mighty”. YouTube. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Waldron, Clarence (February 2000). “Life Story of Rock ‘n’ Roll Legend Little Richard Told in NBC Movie”. Jet.
- Weidman, Rich (October 1, 2011). The Doors FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about the Kings of Acid Rock. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1-61713-110-3.
- White, Charles (2003). The Life and Times Of Little Richard: The Authorized Press. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-306-80552-9.
- Winn, John (December 9, 2008). Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy, Volume One, 1957–1965. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 978-0-307-45157-6.
Read Full Post
| Make a Comment ( None so far )
We’re somehow confined to our name, the Beach Boys; it confines you to a certain image, but there’s so much there that’s so rich.
~The Beach Boys
“I approach my music-making as an art-form–something pure from the spirit to which I can add dynamics and marketable reality.
Music is genuine and healthy and the stimulation I get from molding it and adding dynamics is like nothing else on earth.”
~Brian Wilson, 1966
“Every once in a while, an individual is born into the world whose whole being is music. I think Brian is one of those rare people.”
~Carl Wilson, 1969
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA [Live]
Beach Boys – Surfin Usa HD
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari (1962)
The Beach Boys – surfer girl – live concert 1964.
The Beach Boys – Wendy (1964)
The Beach Boys – In My Room (’64)
Beach Boys – 409
The Beach Boys ~ Barbara Ann ~ 1965
The Beach Boys – Help Me Rhonda
The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t it be nice
Behind The Sounds: Wouldn’t It Be Nice
The Beach Boys – God only knows (1966) fully restored video
THE BEACH BOYS- “FUN, FUN, FUN” (FROM THE LOST CONCERT)
The Beach Boys – Little Deuce Coupe
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA/Things We Did Last Summer
The Beach Boys – Sloop John B (Original Video)
Beach Boys – I Get Around
The Beach Boys – Don’t Worry Baby
Beach Boys – I can hear music 1969
Beach Boys When I Grow Up to be a Man
the beach boys barbara ann live
The beach boys -good vibrations
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations – Rare Studio Recording Film Footage
Beach Boys California Girls
The Beach Boys – Kokomo (Soundtrack Cocktail)
Kokomo – The Beach Boys HD
The Beach Boys – California Dreamin’
Beach Boys Medley 1980 – Good Vibrations – Goin´ on.
BEACH BOYS JULY 4th 1980 washington D.C.
“The Beach Boys – Endless Summer” 1976
The Beach Boys and Lorrie Morgan – Don’t Worry Baby (1996)
I can hear music Kathy Troccoli and Beach Boys
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA live 2012
The Beach Boys – Little Deuce Coupe / 409 / Shut Down / I Get Around (Live 2012)
The Beach Boys 2012 Live In Japan [FULL SHOW]
The Beach Boys 50th Anniverary
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan Love tribute by the beach boys…
The Beach Boys with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy
The Beach Boys: The Very Best Of (Full Album)
01. Surfin’ Safari
02. Surfin’ USA
03. Surfer Girl
04. Catch A Wave
05. In My Room
06. Fun, Fun, Fun
07. Don’t Worry Baby
08. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
09. I Get Around
10. All Summer Long
11. Help Me, Rhonda
12. The Warmth of the Sun
13. California Girls
14. Please Let Me Wonder
15. Kiss Me, Baby
16. She Knows Me Too Well
17. In The Back Of My Mind
18. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
19. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
20. God Only Knows
21. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
22. Caroline, No
23. Good Vibrations
24. Heroes and Villains
27. Surf’s Up
28. Can’t Wait Too Long
31. Busy Doin’ Nothin’
32. Do It Again
33. I Can Hear Music
34. I Went To Sleep
35. Time To Get Alone
36. Break Away
37. Soulful Old Man Sunshine
38. Slip On Through
39. This Whole World
41. Cool, Cool Water
42. Feel Flows
43. ‘Til I Die
44. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (To Live Again)
46. The Trader
47. I’ll Bet He’s Nice
48. Let’s Put Our Hearts Together
49. It’s Over Now
50. Still I Dream Of It
51. Think About The Days
52. From There To Back Again
53. Pacific Coast Highway
54. Summer’s Gone
Background Articles and Videos
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group’s original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Initially managed by the Wilsons’ father Murry, the Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records in 1962. The band’s early music gained popularity across the United States for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of surfing, cars and romance. During the early to mid-1960s, Brian Wilson’s creative ambition and songwriting ability would dominate the group’s musical direction. The primarily Wilson-composed Pet Soundsalbum and “Good Vibrations” single (both released in 1966) featured a complex, intricate and multi-layered sound that represented a departure from the simple surf rockof the Beach Boys’ early years.
Starting in 1967, Wilson gradually ceded control to the rest of the band, reducing his input due to mental health and substance abuse issues. Though the more democratic incarnation of the Beach Boys recorded a string of albums in various musical styles that garnered international critical success, the group struggled to reclaim their commercial momentum in America, despite the period when they were the primary competitors to the Beatles. Since the 1980s, much-publicized legal wrangling over royalties, songwriting credits and use of the band’s name transpired. Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 and Carl died of lung cancer in 1998. After Carl’s death, many different live configurations of the band fronted by Love and Bruce Johnston continued to tour into the 2000s while other members pursued solo projects. For the band’s 50th anniversary, they briefly reunited as the Beach Boys for a new studio album, world tour, and career-spanning retrospective box set.
The Beach Boys have often been called “America’s Band”, and AllMusic stated that their “unerring ability…made them America’s first, best rock band.” The group had over eighty songs chart worldwide, thirty-six of them United States Top 40 hits (the most by an American rock band), four reaching number-one on the Billboard Hot 100chart. The Beach Boys have sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time and are listed at number 12 onRolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The core quintet of the three Wilsons, Love and Jardine were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
1958–66: Brian Wilson era
A historical landmark at 3701 W. 119th St., Hawthorne, California marking where the Wilson family home once stood
At age 16, Brian Wilson shared a bedroom with his brothers, Dennis and Carl, in their family home in Hawthorne. He watched his father, Murry Wilson, play piano and listened intently to the harmonies of vocal groups such as the Four Freshmen. One night he taught his brothers a song called “Ivory Tower” and how to sing the background harmonies. For his 16th birthday, Brian was given a reel-to-reel tape recorder. He learned how to overdub, using his vocals and those of Carl and their mother. Brian would play piano with Carl and David Marks (an eleven-year-old longtime neighbor) playing guitars they got as Christmas presents.
Soon Brian was avidly listening to Johnny Otis on his KFOX radio show, a favorite station of Carl’s. Inspired by the simple structure and vocals of the rhythm and blues songs he heard, he changed his piano-playing style and started writing songs. His enthusiasm interfered with his music studies at school. Family gatherings brought the Wilsons in contact with cousin Mike Love. Brian taught Love’s sister Maureen and a friend harmonies. Later, Brian, Mike Love and two friends performed at Hawthorne High School. Brian also knew Al Jardine, a high school classmate who had already played guitar in a folk group called the Islanders. Brian suggested to Jardine that they team up with his cousin and brother Carl. It was at these sessions, held in Brian’s bedroom, that “the Beach Boys sound” began to form. Brian says: “Everyone contributed something. Carl kept us hip to the latest tunes, Al taught us his repertoire of folk songs, and Dennis, though he didn’t [then] play anything, added a combustible spark just by his presence.” Love encouraged Brian to write songs and gave the fledgling band its name: “The Pendletones”, a portmanteau of “Pendleton“, a style of woolen shirt popular at the time and “tone“, the musical term. In their earliest performances, the band wore heavy wool jacket-like shirts which were favored by surfers in the South Bay. Although surfing motifs were very prominent in their early songs, Dennis was the only avid surfer in the group. He suggested that his brothers compose some songs celebrating his hobby and the lifestyle which had developed around it in Southern California.
Jardine and a singer friend, Gary Winfrey, went to Brian’s to see if he could help out with a version of a folk song they wanted to record—”Sloop John B“. In Brian’s absence, the two spoke with Murry, a music industry veteran of modest success. Murry arranged for the Pendletones to meet publisher Hite Morgan. The group performed a slower ballad, “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring“, but failed to impress the Morgans. After an awkward pause, Dennis mentioned they had an original song, “Surfin'”. With help from Love, Brian finished the song and the group rented guitars, drums, amplifiers and microphones. They practiced for three days while the Wilsons’ parents were on a short vacation.
In October, the Pendletones recorded twelve takes of “Surfin'” in the Morgans’ cramped offices, David Marks was not present at the session as he was at school. A small number of singles were pressed. When the boys eagerly unpacked the first box of singles, on the Candix Records label, they were shocked to see their band name changed to “Beach Boys”. Murry Wilson, now intimately involved with the band’s fortunes, called the Morgans. Apparently a young promotion worker, Russ Regan, made the change to more obviously tie the group in with other surf bands of the time. Released in December 1961, “Surfin’” was soon aired on KFWBand KRLA, two of Los Angeles’ most influential teen radio stations. It was a hit on the West Coast, going to number three in Southern California, and peaked at number 75 on the national pop charts. By the final weeks of 1961 “Surfin'” had sold more than 40,000 copies. Murry Wilson told the boys he did not like “Surfin'”. By now the de facto manager of the Beach Boys, he landed the group’s first paying gig on New Year’s Eve, 1961, at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance in Long Beach, headlined by Ike & Tina Turner. Brian recalls how he wondered what they were doing there: “five clean-cut, unworldly white boys from a conservative white suburb, in an auditorium full of black kids”. Brian describes the night as an “education”—he knew afterwards that success was all about “R&B, rock and roll, and money”.
Early successes with surf and hot rod-themed rock
An excerpt from Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s “I Get Around” demonstrating Love’s iconic nasal delivery and a surf-rock-styled guitar solo played by Carl Wilson. “I Get Around” would be the first US number one charting song for the band.
|Problems playing this file? See media help.
Although Murry effectively seized managerial control of the band, Brian acknowledged that he “deserves credit for getting us off the ground… he hounded us mercilessly… [but] also worked hard himself”. In the first half of February 1962, Jardine left the band and was replaced by Marks. The band recorded two more originals on April 19 at Western Studios, Los Angeles; “Lonely Sea” and “409“, also re-recording “Surfin’ Safari“. On June 4, the band released their second single “Surfin’ Safari” backed with “409”. The release prompted national coverage in the June 9 issue of Billboard where the magazine praised Love’s lead vocal and deemed the song to have strong hit potential. After being turned down by Dot and Liberty, the Beach Boys eventually signed a seven-year contract with Capitol Records on July 16 based on the strength of the June demo session. By November, their first album was ready—Surfin’ Safari which reached 32 on the US Billboard charts.Their song output continued along the same commercial line, focusing on California youth lifestyle.
In January 1963, three months after the release of their debut album, the band began recording their sophomore effort, Surfin’ U.S.A., placing a greater emphasis on surf rock instrumentals and tighter production. It has been hypothesized that the shift to a sound more typical of the surf rock genre was in response to the Californian surfer locals who were dismissive of the band’s debut as it strayed from the sound of other surf acts. After the moderate success of Surfin’ Safari, Surfin’ U.S.A., released on March 25, 1963 met a more enthusiastic reception, reaching number two on the Billboard charts and propelling the band into a nationwide spotlight. Five days prior to the release of Surfin’ U.S.A. Brian produced “Surf City“, a song he had written for Jan and Dean. “Surf City” hit number one on the Billboard charts in July 1963, a development that pleased Brian but angered Murry, who felt his son had “given away” what should have been the Beach Boys’ first chart-topper.
Sometime around late 1963, Brian Wilson heard the song “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes for the first time, which “revamped” Wilson’s creative interests and songwriting. “Be My Baby” was later claimed by critics to be the epitome of Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound production technique, a recording method that would fascinate Wilson for the next several decades. Wilson later in life stated: “I was unable to really think as a producer until I really got familiar with Phil Spector’s work.” Apart from Murry, Spector and the close vocal harmonies of Brian’s favorite groups, early inspiration came from Chuck Berry. “Surfin’ U.S.A.” is a variation of Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen“. Under pressure from Berry’s publisher, Wilson’s father and manager, Murry Wilson, had given the copyright, including Brian Wilson’s lyrics, to Arc Music.
The 1932 Ford that appeared on the cover to the platinum certified Little Deuce Coupe album
At the beginning of a tour of the Mid-West in April 1963, Jardine rejoined the Beach Boys at Brian’s request. As he began playing live gigs again, Brian left the road to focus on writing and recording. Around this time, Brian began utilizing members of the Wrecking Crew, session musicians also used by Spector. The session musicians were never an outright replacement for members of the band, but were used to augment arrangements or save recording time. The result of this arrangement produced the albums Surfer Girl, released on September 16, 1963 and Little Deuce Coupe, released less than a month later on October 7, 1963. This sextet incarnation of the Beach Boys didn’t extend beyond these two albums, as Marks officially left the band in early October due to conflict with manager Murry, pulling Brian back into touring.
Following a successful Australasian tour in January and February 1964, the band returned home to face the “British invasion” through the Beatles appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Reportedly, Brian wanted more time to complete their next album, yet their record label insisted they finish recording swiftly to avoid being forgotten in the throes of the impending “invasion”. Satisfying these demands, the band hastily finished the sessions on February 20, 1964 and titled the album Shut Down Volume 2. Critics have found evaluating the album’s worth difficult through the years. Though songs like “The Warmth of the Sun” and “Don’t Worry Baby” are widely acclaimed and seen as impressive milestones in the artistic growth of the band, others have not lasted.
In April 1964, during recording of the single “I Get Around“, Murry was relieved of his duties as manager. Brian reflected, “We love the family thing – y’know: three brothers, a cousin and a friend is a really beautiful way to have a group – but the extra generation can become a hang-up”. When the single was released in May of that month, it would climb to number one, their first single to do so. Two months later, the album that the song later appeared on, All Summer Long, reached number four on the Billboard 200 charts. The album was a swan-song to the surf and car music the Beach Boys built their commercial standing upon. Later albums took a different stylistic and lyrical path.
The group’s early songs made them major pop stars in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries. They had sixteen hit singles between 1962 and 1965. The Beach Boys were one of the few American bands formed prior to the 1964 British Invasion to continue their success. Their early hits also helped raise the profile of the state of California and associated the band with surfing, hot-rod racing, and the pursuit of happiness by carefree teens.
Today! and Summer Days
A Rickenbacker 360/12identical to the 12-string guitar used by Carl Wilson in the early to mid-1960s
By the end of 1964, the stress of road travel, composing, producing and maintaining a high level of creativity became too much for Brian Wilson. On December 23, while on a flight, he suffered an anxiety attack and left the tour. In January, 1965, he announced his withdrawal from touring to concentrate entirely on songwriting and record production. For the rest of 1964 and into 1965, Glen Campbell served as Wilson’s temporary replacement in concert, until his own career success pulled him from the group in April 1965. Bruce Johnston was asked to locate a replacement for Campbell; having failed to find one, Johnston himself subsequently became a full-time member of the band on May 19, 1965, first replacing Wilson on the road and later contributing in the studio, beginning with the vocal sessions for “California Girls” on June 4, 1965.
During the recording sessions for The Beach Boys Today!, Love told Melody Maker that he and the band wanted to look beyond surf rock, to avoid living in the past or resting on their laurels. The resulting LP had largely guitar-oriented pop songs such as “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Good to My Baby” on side A with B-side ballads such as “Please Let Me Wonder” and “She Knows Me Too Well“.
In June, 1965, the band released Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). The album included a reworked arrangement of “Help Me, Rhonda” which had become the band’s second number one single in the spring of 1965, displacing the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride“. “Let Him Run Wild” tapped into the youthful angst that would later pervade their music. In November 1965, the group followed up their US number three charting “California Girls” from Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) with another top-twenty single, “The Little Girl I Once Knew“. It was considered the band’s most experimental statement thus far, using silence as a pre-chorus, clashing keyboards, moody brass and vocal tics. Perhaps too extreme an arrangement to go much higher than its number 20 peak, it was the band’s second single not to reach the top ten since their 1962 breakthrough. In December they scored an unexpected number two hit (number three in the UK) with “Barbara Ann“, which Capitol released as a single with no band input. A cover of a 1961 song by the Regents, it became one of the Beach Boys’ most recognized hits.
Pet Sounds, “Good Vibrations”, and Smile]
Brian Wilson at a Pet Sounds session
Pet Sounds is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time and is one of the most universally acclaimed in rock history
In 1966, the Beach Boys formally established their use of unconventional instruments and elaborate layers of vocal harmonies on their groundbreaking record Pet Sounds. An early album in the emerging psychedelic rock style, Pet Sounds has been championed and emulated for its experimental and revolutionary baroque instrumentation. In the same year, they released “Good Vibrations“, one of their best known and most celebrated songs. The song made use of a Tannerin (an easier-to-manipulate version of a Theremin) which helped them claim a new hippie audience.
Pet Sounds displayed Wilson’s growing mastery of studio recording. His increasingly sophisticated songs and complex arrangements peaked with this work. Influenced by psychedelic drugs, Brian turned inward and probed his deep-seated self-doubts and emotional longings. The piece did not address the problems in the world around them, unlike other psychedelic rock groups. The album’s meticulously layered harmonies and inventive instrumentation (performed by Los Angeles session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew) set a new standard for pop and rock music. It remains one of the most evocative releases of the decade, with distinctive lushness, melancholy and nostalgia. The tracks “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” showcased Wilson’s growing mastery as a composer, arranger, and producer as did “Caroline, No“, which was issued as a Brian Wilson solo single, the only time he was credited as a solo artist during the early Capitol years. The album also included two instrumental tracks, “Let’s Go Away for Awhile” and the title track. Because of his withdrawal from touring, Wilson was able to complete almost all the backing tracks for the album while the Beach Boys were on tour. They returned to find a substantially complete album, requiring only their vocals and a small amount of instrumental work to finish it.
Despite the critical praise it received, Pet Sounds was indifferently promoted by Capitol and failed to become the major hit Wilson had hoped it would be. Its failure to gain wider recognition in the US hurt him deeply. Pet Sounds reached number ten in the US and number two in the UK, an accomplishment which helped the Beach Boys become the strongest selling album act in the UK for the final quarter of 1966; dethroning the three-year reign of native bands such as the Beatles.
One of the Beach Boys’ defining songs and their most well known psychedelic track. It was the Beach Boys’ third song to top the Billboard Hot 100.
|Problems playing this file? See media help.
With the 1966 Pet Sounds album, and then songs like “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains“, Wilson had become America’s equivalent of the Beatles with his ability to expand the limits of popular taste.
Seeking to expand on Pet Sounds’ advances, Wilson began an even more ambitious project, originally dubbedDumb Angel; in due course, the project became Smile. Its first fruit was “Good Vibrations”, which Brian described as a “pocket symphony”. The song became the Beach Boys’ biggest hit to date and a US and UK number one single in 1966; many critics consider it to be one of the best rock singles of all time. It was one of the most complex pop productions ever undertaken, and was reputed to have been the most expensive American single ever recorded at that time. Costing a reported $50,000, more than most albums, sessions for the song stretched over several months in at least four major studios. According to Wilson, the electro-theremin work itself cost $15,000. In contrast to his work on Pet Sounds, Wilson adopted a modular approach to “Good Vibrations”: he broke the song into sections and taped multiple versions of each at different studios to take advantage of the different sound and ambience of each facility. He then assembled his favorite sections into a master backing track and added vocals, the sessions being the most demanding of the group’s career.
While putting the finishing touches to Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson met musician and songwriter Van Dyke Parks. In mid-1966, Brian and Parks began an intense collaboration that resulted in a suite of challenging new songs for Smile. Using the same techniques as on “Good Vibrations”, recording began in August 1966 and carried on into early 1967. Although the structure of the album and the exact running order of the songs have been subjects of speculation, it is known that Wilson and Parks intended Smile to be a continuous suite of songs that were linked both thematically and musically, with the main songs being linked together by small vocal pieces and instrumental segments that elaborated upon the musical themes of the major songs.
I’m doing the spiritual sound, a white spiritual sound. Religious music…That’s the whole movement…That’s where I’m going and it’s going to scare a lot of people when I get there.
Many factors combined to put intense pressure on Brian Wilson as Smile neared completion: his own mental instability, the pressure to create against fierce internal opposition to his new music, the relatively unenthusiastic response to Pet Sounds in the United States, Carl Wilson’s draft resistance, and a major dispute with Capitol Records. Further, Wilson’s reliance on both prescription drugs and amphetamines exacerbated his underlying mental health problems.Smile was shelved in May 1967, and would go on to become the most famous unreleased album in the history of popular music. Comparable to Brian Jones and Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson’s use of psychedelic drugs—especially LSD—led to a nervous breakdown in the late-1960s. As his legend grew, theSmile period came to be seen as the pivotal episode in his decline and he became tagged as one of the most notorious celebrity drug casualties of the rock era.
1967–75: The Beach Boys as a democratic unit
Smiley Smile and Wild Honey
Some of the Smile tracks were salvaged and re-recorded in scaled-down versions at Brian’s new home studio. Along with the single version of “Good Vibrations”, these tracks were released on Smiley Smile, an album which elicited positive critical and commercial response abroad, but was the first real commercial failure for the group in the United States. By this time the Beach Boys’ management (Nick Grillo and David Anderle) had created the band’s own record label, Brother. One of the first labels to be owned by a rock group, Brother Records was intended for releases of Beach Boys side projects, and as an invitation to new talent. The initial output of the label, however, was limited to Smiley Smile and two resulting singles from the album; the failure of “Gettin’ Hungry” caused the band to shelve Brother until 1970. Despite the cancellation of Smile, several tracks—including “Our Prayer“, “Cabin Essence” and “Surf’s Up“—continued to trickle out in later albums often as filler songs to offset Brian’s unwillingness to contribute. The band was still expecting to complete and release Smile as late as 1973 before it became clear that only Brian could comprehend the endless fragments that had been recorded.Smiley Smile was followed up three months later with Wild Honey, featuring songs written by Wilson and Love, including the hit “Darlin’” and a rendition of Stevie Wonder‘s “I Was Made to Love Her“. The album fared better than its predecessor, reaching number 24 in the US.
[By] 1967, the Beach Boys had become cultural dinosaurs. And it happened almost overnight.…Monterey was a gathering place for the “far out” sounds of the “new” rock, and the Beach Boys in concert really had no exotic sounds to display. The net result of all [their] internal and external turmoil was that the Beach Boys didn’t go…and it is thought that this non-appearance was what really turned the “underground” tide against them.
Compounding the group’s recent setbacks, their public image took a cataclysmic hit following their withdrawal from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival for the reason that they had no new material to play while their forthcoming single and album lay in limbo. Their cancellation was seen as “a damning admission that they were washed up [and] unable to compete with the ‘new music'”. This notion was exacerbated by Rolling Stone writer Jann Wenner, whom within contemporary publications criticized Brian Wilson for his oft-repeated “genius” label which he called a “promotional shuck” and an attempt to compare with the Beatles. However, Wenner later responded to their Wild Honey album with more optimism, remarking two months later that “[i]n any case it’s good to see that the Beach Boys are getting their heads straight once again”.
Friends, 20/20, and Sunflower
After meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a UNICEF Variety Gala in Paris, France on December 15, 1967, Love, along with other high-profile celebrities such as Donovan and the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh in India during February and March 1968. The following Beach Boys album Friends (1968) had songs influenced by theTranscendental Meditation taught by the Maharishi. The album reached number 13 in the UK and 126 in the US, the title track placing at number 25 in the UK and number 47 in the US, the band’s lowest singles peak since 1962. In support of the Friends album, Love had arranged for the Beach Boys to tour with the Maharishi in the US, which has been called “one of the more bizarre entertainments of the era”. Starting on May 3, 1968, the tour lasted five shows and was cancelled when the Maharishi had to withdraw to fulfill film contracts. Due to disappointing audience numbers and the Maharishi’s withdrawal, twenty-four tour dates were subsequently cancelled at a cost estimated at US$250,000 (approximately US$1,610,000 today) for the band. This tour was followed by the release of “Do It Again“, a single critics described as an update of the Beach Boys’ surf rock past in a late-1960’s style. The single went to the top of the Australian and UK single charts in 1968 and was moderately successful in the US, peaking at number 20.
For a short time in mid-1968, Brian Wilson sought psychological treatment in hospital. During his absence, other members began writing and producing material themselves. To complete their contract with Capitol, they produced one more album. 20/20 (1969) was one of the group’s most stylistically diverse albums, including hard rock songs such as “All I Want to Do“, thewaltz-based “Time to Get Alone” and a remake of the Ronettes‘ “I Can Hear Music“. The diversity of genres have been described as an indicator that the group was trying to establish an updated identity. The album performed strongly in the UK, reaching number three on the charts. In the US, the album reached a modest 68. In spring 1968, Dennis began a tenuousrelationship with musician Charles Manson which persisted for several months afterward. Dennis bought him studio time at Brian’s home studio and recorded one song: “Cease to Exist” rewritten as “Never Learn Not To Love“. It was released as a Beach Boys single. Growing fearful, Dennis gradually distanced himself from Manson, whose family had taken over his home. Manson was eventually convicted for murder conspiracy; Dennis was too afraid of the Manson family to ever speak publicly on his relationship.
On April 12, 1969, the band revisited their 1967 lawsuit against Capitol Records after they alleged an audit undertaken revealed the band were owed over US$2,000,000 (US$12,860,000 today) for unpaid royalties and production duties. The band’s contract with Capitol Records expired on June 30, 1969, after which Capitol Records deleted the Beach Boys’ catalog from print, effectively cutting off their royalty flow. In November 1969, Murry Wilson sold Sea of Tunes, the Beach Boys’ catalogue, to Irving Almo Music, a decision which according to Marilyn Wilson “devastated Brian”. In late 1969, the Beach Boys reactivated their Brother label and signed with Reprise. Around this time, the band commenced recording for a new album. At the time the Beach Boys tenure ended with Capitol in 1969, they had sold 65 million records worldwide, closing the decade as the most commercially successful American group in popular music.
In 1970, armed with the new Reprise contract, the band appeared rejuvenated, releasing the album Sunflower to critical acclaim. The album features a strong group presence with significant writing contributions from all band members. Brian was active during this period, writing or co-writing seven of the twelve songs on Sunflower and performing at half of the band’s domestic concerts in 1970. Sunflowerreached number 29 in the UK and number 151 in the US, the band’s lowest domestic chart showing to that point. A version of “Cottonfields” arranged by Al Jardine appeared on European releases of Sunflowerand as a single, reached number one in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Sweden and the top-five in six other countries, including the UK.
Surf’s Up, Carl and the Passions, and Holland
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014)
After Sunflower, the band hired Jack Rieley as their manager. Under Rieley’s management, the group’s music began emphasizing political and social awareness. During this time, Carl Wilson gradually assumed leadership of the band and Rieley contributed lyrics. On August 30, 1971 the band released Surf’s Up, named after the Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks composition “Surf’s Up“. The album was moderately successful, reaching the US top 30, a marked improvement over their recent releases. While the record charted, the Beach Boys added to their renewed fame by performing a near-sellout set at Carnegie Hall, followed by an appearance with the Grateful Dead at Fillmore East on April 27, 1971. The live shows during this era included reworked arrangements of many of the band’s previous songs. A large portion of their set lists culled from Pet Sounds and Smile, as author Domenic Priore observes, “They basically played what they could have played at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967.”
Johnston ended his first stint with the band shortly after Surf’s Up’s release, reportedly because of friction with Rieley. At Carl’s suggestion, the addition of Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin in February 1972 led to a dramatic restructuring in the band’s sound. The album Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” was an uncharacteristic mix that included two songs written by Fataar and Chaplin. For their next project the band, their families, assorted associates and technicians moved to the Netherlands for the summer of 1972. They rented a farmhouse to convert into a makeshift studio where recording sessions for the new project would take place. By the end of their sessions, the band felt they had produced one of their strongest efforts yet. Reprise, however, felt that the album required a strong single. This resulted in the song “Sail On, Sailor“, a collaboration between Brian Wilson, Tandyn Almer, Ray Kennedy, Jack Rieley and Van Dyke Parks featuring a soulful lead vocal by Chaplin. Reprise subsequently approved and the resulting album, Holland, was released early in 1973, peaking at number 37. Brian’s musical children story, “Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale)”, narrated by Rieley and strongly directly influenced by Randy Newman‘s Sail Away album, was included as a bonus EP. Despite indifference from Reprise, the band’s concert audience started to grow.
The Beach Boys in Concert, a double album documenting the 1972 and 1973 US tours, was another top-30 album and became the band’s first gold record under Reprise. During this period the band established itself as one of America’s most popular live acts. Chaplin and Fataar helped organize the concerts to obtain a high quality live performance, playing material off Surf’s Up, Carl and the Passions and Holland and adding songs from their older catalog. This concert arrangement lifted them back into American public prominence. In late 1973, the soundtrack to American Graffiti, 41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti, was released to mass commercial and critical success. The soundtrack included early Beach Boy songs “Surfin’ Safari” and “All Summer Long” and was a catalyst in creating a wave of nostalgia that reintroduced the Beach Boys into contemporary American consciousness. In 1974, Capitol Records issued Endless Summer, the band’s first major pre-Pet Sounds greatest hits package. The record sleeve’s sunny, colorful graphics caught the mood of the nation and surged to the top of the Billboard album charts. It was the group’s first multi-million selling record since “Good Vibrations”, and remained on the album chart for three years. The following year, Capitol released a second compilation, Spirit of America, which also sold well. With these compilations, the Beach Boys became one of the most popular acts in rock, propelling themselves from opening for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to headliners selling out basketball arenas in a matter of weeks. Rolling Stone named the Beach Boys the “Band of the Year” for 1974, solely on the basis of their juggernaut touring schedule and material written over a decade earlier.
Rieley, who remained in the Netherlands after Holland‘s release, was relieved of his managerial duties in late 1973. Chaplin also left in late 1973 after an argument with Steve Love, the band’s business manager (and Mike’s brother). Fataar remained until 1974, when he was offered a chance to join a new group led by future Eagles member Joe Walsh. Chaplin’s replacement, James William Guercio, started offering the group career advice that resulted in his becoming their new manager. Under Guercio, the Beach Boys staged a highly successful 1975 joint concert tour with Chicago, with each group performing some of the other’s songs, including their previous year’s collaboration on Chicago’s hit “Wishing You Were Here“. Beach Boys vocals were also heard on Elton John‘s 1974 hit “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me“. Nostalgia had settled into the Beach Boys’ hype; the group had not officially released any new material since 1973’s Holland. While their concerts continuously sold out, the stage act slowly changed from a contemporary presentation followed by oldies encores to an entire show made up of mostly pre-1967 music.
1976–77: Second Brian Wilson era
15 Big Ones included a stylized version of the Beach Boys’ name by Dean Torrence which would later become their official logo
15 Big Ones (1976) marked Brian’s return as a major force in the group. The album included new songs by Brian, as well as cover versions of oldies such as “Rock and Roll Music” (#5), “Blueberry Hill“, and “In the Still of the Night“. Brian and Love’s “It’s O.K.” was in the vein of their early sixties style and was a moderate hit. The album was publicized by an August 1976 NBC-TV special, simply titled “The Beach Boys”. The special, produced by Saturday Night Live (SNL) creator Lorne Michaels, featured appearances by SNLcast members John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
For the remainder of 1976 to early 1977, Brian Wilson spent his time making sporadic public appearances and producing the band’s next album Love You (1977), a quirky collection of 14 songs mostly written, arranged and produced by Brian. Brian revealed to biographer Peter Ames Carlin that Love You is one of his favorite Beach Boys releases, telling him “That’s when it all happened for me. That’s where my heart lies.” Love You peaked at number 28 in the UK and number 53 in the US and developed a cult following; regarded as one of the band’s best albums by fans and critics alike.
“A diseased bunch of motherfuckers if ever there was one…But the miracle is that the Beach Boys have made that disease sound like the literal babyflesh pink of health…Maybe it’s just that unprickable and ingenuous wholesomeness that accounts not only for their charm, but for their beauty—a beauty so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.”
After Love You was released, Brian began to record and assemble Adult/Child an effort largely consisting of songs written by Wilson from 1976 and 1977 with select big band arrangements by Dick Reynolds. Though publicized as the Beach Boys’ next release, Adult/Child reportedly caused tension within the group and was ultimately shelved.Following this period, his concert appearances with the band gradually diminished and their performances were occasionally erratic.
The internal wrangling came to a head after a show at Central Park on September 1, 1977, when the band effectively split into two camps; Dennis and Carl Wilson on one side, Mike Love and Al Jardine on the other with Brian remaining neutral. Following a confrontation on an airport tarmac, the band broke up for two and a half weeks, until a band meeting on September 17, at Brian’s house. In light of a potential new Caribou Records the parties negotiated a settlement resulting in Love gaining control of Brian’s vote in the group, allowing Love and Jardine to outvote Carl and Dennis Wilson on any matter.
1978–present: fluctuating control
Infighting and the Wilsons’ retreat
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014)
The Beach Boys’ last album for Reprise, M.I.U. Album (1978), was recorded at Maharishi International University in Iowa at the suggestion of Love. Dennis and Carl made limited contributions; the album was mostly produced by Jardine and Ron Altbach, with Brian appearing as “Executive Producer”. M.I.U. was largely a contractual obligation to finish out their association with Reprise, who likewise did not promote the result. The record cemented the divisions in the group. Love and Jardine focused on rock and roll-oriented material while Carl and Dennis chose the progressive focus they had established with the albums Carl and the Passions and Holland. Dennis withdrew from the group to focus on his second solo album and follow-up to Pacific Ocean Blue entitled Bambu. However alcoholism and marital problems overcame all three Wilson brothers and Bambu was shelved. Carl appeared intoxicated during concerts (notably at appearances on their disastrous 1978 Australia tour) and Brian gradually slid back into addiction and an unhealthy lifestyle.
After departing Reprise, the Beach Boys signed with CBS Records. They received a substantial advance and were paid $1 million per album even as CBS deemed their preliminary review of the band’s first product, L.A. (Light Album) as unsatisfactory. Faced with the realization that Brian was unable to contribute, the band recruited Johnston as producer. The result paid off, as “Good Timin’” became a top 40 single. The album featured outstanding performances by both Dennis (cuts intended Bambu) and Carl (“Full Sail”). The group enjoyed moderate success with a disco reworking of the Wild Honey song “Here Comes the Night” which was followed by their highest charting UK single in nine years: Jardine’s “Lady Lynda” peaked at #6 in the UK Singles Chart. 1980 saw the release of Keepin’ the Summer Alive, with Johnston once again producing. Carl Wilson was the only Wilson to influence the finished product. Brian managed to contribute several ideas, as seen in the Going Platinum television special documenting the album’s release, but was otherwise persona non grata. Dennis’ ongoing personal problems kept him out of the special and album, though his drumming is heard on the cover version of Chuck Berry’s “School Days“.
From 1980 through 1982, the Beach Boys and The Grass Roots performed Independence Day concerts at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., attracting large crowds. However, in April 1983, James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan‘s Secretary of the Interior, banned Independence Day concerts on the Mall by such groups. Watt said that “rock bands” that had performed on the Mall on Independence Day in 1981 and 1982 had encouraged drug use and alcoholism and had attracted “the wrong element”, who would mug attendees. During the ensuing uproar, which included over 40,000 complaints to the Department of the Interior, the Beach Boys stated that the Soviet Union, which had invited them to perform in Leningrad in 1978, “obviously …. did not feel that the group attracted the wrong element”. Vice President George H. W. Bush said of the Beach Boys, “They’re my friends and I like their music”. Watt later apologized to the band after learning that President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan were fans. White House staff presented Watt with a plaster foot with a hole in it, showing that he had “shot himself in the foot”. The band returned to D.C. for Independence Day in 1984 and performed to a crowd of 750,000 people.
In 1981, Carl quit the group due to unhappiness with the band’s nostalgia format and lackluster live performances, subsequently pursuing a solo career. He returned in May 1982 — after approximately 14 months of being away — on the condition that the group reconsider their rehearsal and touring policies, along with refraining from “Las Vegas-type engagements”.
Dennis Wilson’s personal problems continued to escalate, and on December 28, 1983, he drowned in Marina del Rey while diving from a friend’s boat trying to recover items he had previously thrown overboard in fits of rage. Despite his death, the Beach Boys continued as a successful touring act.
Soundtrack appearances, “Kokomo” and nostalgia
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014)
On July 4, 1985, the Beach Boys played to an afternoon crowd of one million in Philadelphia and the same evening they performed for over 750,000 people on the Mall in Washington (the day’s historic achievement was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records). They also appeared nine days later at the Live Aid concert. That year, they released the eponymous album The Beach Boys and enjoyed a resurgence of interest later in the 1980s, assisted by tributes such as David Lee Roth‘s hit version of “California Girls”. In 1987, they played with the rap group The Fat Boys, performing the song “Wipe Out” and filming a music video.
By 1988, Brian Wilson had officially left the Beach Boys and released his first solo album, which received critical acclaim. During this period the band unexpectedly claimed their first US number one hit single in 22 years with “Kokomo“, which had appeared in the movie Cocktail. Written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love and Terry Melcher, the song became the band’s largest selling single of all time. The video for the song received heavy airplay on the music video channel VH1, and prominently featured actor John Stamos on conga drums. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier in the year, the group became the second artist after Aretha Franklin to hit number one in the US after their induction. They released the album Still Cruisin’, which went gold in the US and gave them their best chart showing since 1976. In 1990, the band gathered several studio musicians and recorded the Melcher-produced title track of the comedy Problem Child. Stamos again appeared on the video, and later appeared singing lead vocals on “Forever” (written by Dennis Wilson for the Sunflower album) and on their 1992 album Summer in Paradise. Having no new contributions from Brian Wilson due to interference from caretaker Eugene Landy, Summer in Paradise was poorly regarded by both critics and fans, was a commercial disaster and would become their last album of original material for two decades. Members of the band appeared on several television shows such as Full House, Home Improvement, and Baywatch in the late 1980s and 1990s.
In 1989, Wilson filed a lawsuit to reclaim the rights to his songs and the group’s publishing company, Sea of Tunes, which he had supposedly signed away to his father Murry in 1969. He successfully argued that he had not been mentally fit to make an informed decision and that his father had potentially forged his signature. While Wilson failed to regain his copyrights, he was awarded $25 million for unpaid royalties. Soon after Wilson won his case, Love discovered that Murry Wilson had not properly credited him as co-writer on dozens of Beach Boys songs. With Love and Brian Wilson unable to determine exactly what Love was properly owed, Love sued Wilson in 1992, winning $13 million in 1994 for lost royalties. In interviews, Love revealed that on some songs he wrote most of the lyrics, on others only a line or two. Even though Love sued Wilson, both parties said in interviews that there was no malice between them; they simply couldn’t come up with an agreeable settlement by themselves.
In 1993, the band appeared in Michael Feeney Callan‘s film The Beach Boys Today, which included in-depth interviews with all members except Brian. Carl confided to Callan that Brian would record again with the band at some point in the near future. A few Beach Boys sessions devoted to new Brian Wilson compositions occurred during the mid-1990s, but they remain largely unreleased, and the album was quickly aborted due to tenuous relations. In February 1996, the Beach Boys guested with Status Quo on a re-recording of “Fun, Fun, Fun“, which became a British Top-30 hit. In June, the group worked with comedian Jeff Foxworthy on the recording “Howdy From Maui”, and eventually released Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 in August 1996. The album consisted of country renditions of several Beach Boys hits, performed by popular country artists such as Toby Keith and Willie Nelson. Brian Wilson, who was in a better mental state at the time, acted as co-producer.
In early 1997, Carl Wilson was diagnosed with lung cancer after years of heavy smoking. Despite his terminal condition, Carl continued to perform with the band on its 1997 summer tour while undergoing chemotherapy. During performances, he sat on a stool and reportedly needed oxygen after every song. Carl was able to stand, however, when he played on “God Only Knows“. By 1998 the cancer had spread to his brain. Carl died on February 6, 1998, two months after the death of the Wilsons’ mother, Audree.
Splintering of the Beach Boys’ name
The touring line-up of Mike Love and Bruce Johnston’s “The Beach Boys Band”, plus guest member David Marks, in 2008
Following Carl’s death, the remaining members splintered. Love, Johnston and former guitarist Marks continued to tour without Jardine, initially as “America’s Band”, but following several cancelled bookings under that name, they sought authorization through Brother Records Inc. (BRI) to tour as “The Beach Boys” and secured the necessary license.Wondermints and other LA/Chicago musicians. Marks also maintained a solo career. Their tours remained reliable draws, with Wilson and Jardine both remaining legal members of the Beach Boys organization.
In turn Jardine began to tour regularly with his band dubbed “Beach Boys: Family & Friends” until he ran into legal issues for using the name without license. BRI, through its longtime attorney, Ed McPherson, sued Jardine in Federal Court. Jardine, in turn, counter-claimed against BRI for wrongful termination. BRI ultimately prevailed after several years. Love was allowed to continue to tour as The Beach Boys, while Jardine was prohibited from touring using any form of the name. Released from Landy’s control, Brian Wilson sought different treatments for his illnesses that aided him in his solo career. He toured regularly with his backing band consisting of members of
In September 2004, Brian Wilson issued a free CD through the Mail On Sunday that included Beach Boys songs he’d rerecorded, five of which he’d co-authored with Love. The 10 track compilation had 2.6 million copies distributed and prompted Love to file a lawsuit claiming the promotion hurt the sales of the original recordings. Love’s suit was dismissed in 2007 when a judge determined that there were no triable issues.
On June 13, 2006, the five surviving Beach Boys (Wilson, Love, Jardine, Johnston and Marks) appeared together for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Pet Sounds and the double-platinum certification of their greatest hits compilation, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys, in a ceremony atop the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Plaques were awarded for their efforts, with Brian accepting on behalf of Dennis and Carl.
The Smile Sessions, 50th anniversary tour and That’s Why God Made the Radio
The cover for The Smile Sessionsuses the artwork Frank Holmes prepared in December 1966 for Smile
On October 31, 2011, the Beach Boys released surviving 1960s recordings from Smile in the form of The Smile Sessions. The album—even in its incomplete form—garnered universal critical acclaim and experienced popular success, charting in both the Billboard US and UK Top 30. The artwork and packaging featured the original Frank Holmes illustrations and included the photo/illustration booklet insert that was intended for the 1967 release. The format of the recordings utilized Wilson’s 2004 Brian Wilson Presents Smile solo effort as a template. The band was rewarded with glowing reviews, including inclusion in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 album list at number 381. In a 500 set limited edition, the The Smile Sessions came in a box set with a lit-up shop front window. Each of these box sets came with Brian Wilson’s signature on the box. The Smile Sessions deluxe album package went on to win Best Historical Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Brian Wilson personally accepted the award stating “I guess Van Dyke and I were on to something after all.”
In February 2011, the Beach Boys released “Don’t Fight the Sea“, a charity single to aid the victims of the 2011 Japan earthquake. The single, released on Jardine’s 2011 album A Postcard From California featured Jardine, Wilson, Love and Johnston, with prerecorded vocals by Carl Wilson. Rumors then circulated regarding a potential 50th anniversary band reunion.
On December 16, 2011, it was announced that Wilson, Love, Jardine, Johnston and Marks would reunite for a new album and 50th anniversary tour in 2012 to include a performance at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in April 2012. On February 12, 2012, the Beach Boys performed at the 2012 Grammy Awards, in what was billed as a “special performance” by organizers. It marked the group’s first live performance to include Brian since 1996. This anniversary lineup performed “Good Vibrations” with Adam Levine and Mark Foster, after Maroon 5 opened the set with “Surfer Girl” and Foster the People played “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” during the ceremony. Johnston said, “I never hoped for [a reunion], because I never thought any of us wanted to do it. We have probably, you know, the presidential honeymoon of six months but then we have to show something to keep it going. We have to make sure we have a great flowing song list but also make sure we don’t sound like a greatest-hits band. We have a lot to balance.” The Beach Boys appeared at the April 10, 2012, season opener for the Los Angeles Dodgersand performed “Surfer Girl” along with “The Star-Spangled Banner”. They also performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee on June 14, 2012.
Johnston compared the sound of the new album to one of the band’s least-successful albums but fan favorite Sunflower, while Jardine said the album is “very lush, very PetSound-ing”. The first single from the album, the title track, made its national radio debut April 25, 2012, on ESPN‘s Mike and Mike in the Morning and was released on iTunes and other digital platforms on April 26. That’s Why God Made the Radio debuted at number three on US charts, the group’s highest charting album since 1974’s compilation Endless Summer and its highest charting studio album since 1965’s Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). It became the band’s first top ten studio album since 1976’s 15 Big Ones. The album made its debut in the UK at number 15, its highest studio album debut since 1971’s Surf’s Up. The album also made US chart history by expanding the group’s span of Billboard 200 top ten albums across 49 years and one week, passing the Beatles with 47 years of top ten albums.
Later in 2012, the group released the Fifty Big Ones and Greatest Hits compilations along with reissues of 12 of their albums. The next year, the group released Live – The 50th Anniversary Tour a 41 song, 2-CD set documenting their 50th Anniversary Tour. While there were no definite plans, Brian stated that he would like to make another Beach Boys album following the world tour. “This time I would like to do some rock n’ roll,” Wilson says. “I would like it to be a bit harder and faster.” Love and Johnston continued to tour, while Wilson expressed in more touring and recording with the band.
Resuming solo careers
On October 5, 2012, Love announced in a self-written press release to the LA Times that the band would return to its pre-50th Reunion Tour lineup with him and Johnston touring as The Beach Boys without Wilson, Jardine and Marks:
Mike Love and Bruce Johnston performing as the Beach Boys in 2014
I did not fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. I cannot fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys…I do not have such authority. And even if I did, I would never fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.…This tour was always envisioned as a limited run…As the year went on, Brian and Al wanted to keep the 50th anniversary tour going beyond the 75 dates…However…we had already set up shows in smaller cities with…the configuration that had been touring together every year for the last 13 years. Brian and Al would not be joining for these small market dates, as was long agreed upon.
Brian remained optimistic: “I wouldn’t mind getting together with Mike and the guys and making an exciting rock & roll album…I’m sure by early next year we’ll be ready to rock.” On October 9, 2012, Wilson and Jardine submitted a written response to the rumors stating: “As After Mike booked a couple of shows with Bruce, Al and I were, of course, disappointed. Then there was confusion in some markets when photos of me, Al and David and the 50th reunion band appeared on websites advertising his shows…I was completely blindsided by his press release…We hadn’t even discussed as a band what we were going to do with all the offers that were coming in for more 50th shows.”On December 13, 2012, Wilson and Jardine played a Christmas show at which they performed the Beach Boys Christmas songs, “Little Saint Nick” and “Christmas Day”. Following this appearance, on January 23, 2013, Wilson announced a concert date featuring himself, Jardine and Marks. Wilson then said that these dates would be followed up by 2013 summer shows with Jardine and Marks. Love and Johnston continued to perform under the Beach Boys name, while Wilson, Jardine, and Marks continued to tour as a trio, and a subsequent tour with guitarist Jeff Beck also included former Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin at select dates.
Reflecting upon the band’s recent reunion in 2013, Love stated: “I had a wonderful experience being in the studio together. Brian has lost none of his ability to structure those melodies and chord progressions, and when we heard us singing together coming back over the speakers it sounded like 1965 again. Touring was more for the fans.…It was a great experience, it had a term to it, and now everyone’s going on with their ways of doing things.” In a July 8, 2013 interview, he continued by discussing the potential of another reunion, saying “I don’t know how that sacking controversy started.…The anniversary tour was originally 50 dates, and got extended to 73. At that point, Brian said: ‘No more dates for us, please.’ So once we finished those 73 shows we went back to the line-up of the band before he rejoined.…I’d very much like to get in a room, just him and I, to write more songs.…We didn’t write together on last year’s album, and I’d like to do that more than anything.” On August 27, 2013 the group released Made in California, a six disc collection featuring more than seven and a half hours of music, including more than 60 previously unreleased tracks. Made in California also concluded the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary campaign. That same year, former members of the Beach Boys touring band, Bobby Figueroa, Billy Hinsche, Ed Carter, Matt Jardine (son of Al Jardine), and Philip Bardowell (sometimes with Randell Kirsch and others) united to form California Surf, Incorporated, performing Beach Boy songs.
Jardine, Marks, Johnston and Love appeared together at the 2014 Ella Awards Ceremony, where Love was honored for his work as a singer. Marks sang “409” in honor of Love while Jardine performed “Help Me Rhonda”. They closed the show by performing “Fun, Fun, Fun”. Wilson’s long time band associate Jeff Foskett also appeared, but not Wilson. On May 15, 2014 the touring Beach Boys (Love and Johnston) announced a tour celebrating “50 Years of ‘Fun Fun Fun'”, named for their 1964 single. The tour will also feature the addition of Foskett replacing Mike’s son Christian.
Regarded by some critics as one of the greatest American rock groups and an important catalyst in the evolution of popular music, the Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time. Influenced by barbershop music and rhythm and blues, they began playing 1950s style rock and roll married to a five part harmony. The band later went on to incorporate many differentgenres, from baroque pop to psychedelia and synthpop.
The Beach Boys’ sales estimates range from 100 to 350 million records worldwide, and have influenced artists spanning many genres and decades. Artists influenced by the Beach Boys include: the Beatles,George Martin, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Cream, the Who, Elton John, ABBA, Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones, The Stone Roses, Sonic Youth, Beck, R.E.M., Weezer, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Of Montreal, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Flaming Lips, My Bloody Valentine, Daft Punk, Air, Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Belle and Sebastian, The Beta Band, Alex Chilton, Yo La Tengo, Saint Etienne, Pixies,Mr. Bungle, MGMT, Marvin B. Naylor, and Animal Collective.
The Beach Boys Today! (1965), Wild Honey (1967), Sunflower (1970), Surf’s Up (1971), Holland (1973), and The Smile Sessions (2011) are featured in several “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists. The group’s 1966 releases, Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, frequently rank among the top of critics’ lists of the greatest albums and singles of all time. Pet Sounds is on the greatest-albums lists for Time, Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Mojo, and The Times. The record had a profound influence on many of the Beach Boys’ contemporaries; McCartney named it one of his favorite albums of all time (with “God Only Knows” as his all-time favorite song). McCartney said that it was the inspiration behind the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Echoing this sentiment, Beatles producer George Martin said, “Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.”
In 1966 and 1967, reader polls conducted by the UK magazine NME crowned the Beach Boys as the world’s number one vocal group, ahead of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In 1974, the Beach Boys were awarded “Band of the Year” by Rolling Stone. On December 30, 1980, the Beach Boys were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 1500 Vine Street. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Ten years later they were selected for the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2001, the group received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Beach Boys number 12 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Brian Wilson was inducted into the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November 2006.
The Wilsons’ California house, where the Wilson brothers grew up and the group began, was demolished in 1986 to make way for Interstate 105, the Century Freeway. A Beach Boys Historic Landmark (California Landmark No. 1041 at 3701 West 119th Street), dedicated on May 20, 2005, marks the location.
The Beach Boys also appear in the beach party films The Girls on the Beach in which they perform three songs “The Girls on the Beach”, “Lonely Sea”, and “Little Honda” and The Monkey’s Uncle in which they perform “The Monkey’s Uncle” with Annette Funicello.
The life of the Beach Boys is the subject of two TV movies: Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys and The Beach Boys: An American Family.
The Beach Boys appeared in an episode of Full House entitled “Beach Boy Bingo”, which aired on November 18, 1988.
The Beach Boys also appeared in Season 6, Episode 4 of Baywatch (1995).
The Beach Boys
Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and producer best known for being the principal songwriter, co-lead vocalist,bassist, producer, arranger, and co-founder of The Beach Boys. After signing with Capitol Records in mid-1962, Wilson wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits for the group. Due to his unorthodox approaches to song composition and arrangement, and mastery of recording techniques, he is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and influential creative forces in popular music by critics and musicians alike.
In the mid-1960s, Wilson composed and produced Pet Sounds, considered one of the greatest albums of all time. The intended follow-up to Pet Sounds, Smile, was cancelled for various reasons, which included Wilson’s deteriorating mental health. As he suffered through multiple nervous breakdowns, Wilson’s contributions to the Beach Boys diminished and his erratic behavior led to tensions with the band. After years of treatment and recuperation, he began performing and recording consistently as a solo artist, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and winning Grammy Awards for Brian Wilson Presents Smile and The Smile Sessions. On the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary, Wilson briefly returned to record and perform with the group. He remains a member of the Beach Boys corporation, Brother Records Incorporated.
In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” that ranked Wilson number 52. In 2012, music publication NME ranked Wilson number 8 in its “50 Greatest Producers Ever” list, elaborating “few consider quite how groundbreaking Brian Wilson’s studio techniques were in the mid-60s.” He is an occasional actor and voice actor, having appeared in television shows, films, and other artists’ music videos. His life will be portrayed in the upcoming biographical filmLove and Mercy.
Wilson was born on June 20, 1942 at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California, the son of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Gage Wilson. He was the eldest of three boys; his younger brothers were Dennis and Carl. He has English, Swedish, Dutch, German, and Irish ancestry. When Wilson was two, the Wilson family moved from Inglewood to 3701 West 119th Street in nearby Hawthorne, California. Speaking of Wilson’s unusual musical abilities prior to his first birthday, his father said that as a baby he could repeat the melody from “When the Caissons Go Rolling Along” after only a few verses had been sung by the father. Murry Wilson said, “He was very clever and quick. I just fell in love with him.” At about age two, Wilson heard George Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue, which had an enormous emotional impact on him.A few years later he was discovered to have extremely diminished hearing in his right ear. The exact cause of this hearing loss is unclear, though theories range from him simply being born partially deaf, to a blow to the head from his father, or a neighborhood bully, being to blame.
While Wilson’s father was ostensibly a reasonable provider, he was often abusive. A minor musician and songwriter, he also encouraged his children in this field in numerous ways. At an early age, Wilson was given six weeks of lessons on a “toy accordion”, and at seven and eight sang solos in church with a choir behind him. Wilson was on the football team as a quarterback, played baseball and was a cross-country runner in his senior year. He sang with various students at school functions and with his family and friends at home. He taught his two brothers harmony parts that all three would then practice when they were supposed to be asleep. He also played piano obsessively after school, deconstructing the harmonies of The Four Freshmen by listening to short segments of their songs on a phonograph, then working to recreate the blended sounds note by note on the keyboard. He received a Wollensak tape recorder on his 16th birthday, allowing him to experiment with recording songs and early group vocals.
Wilson’s understanding of music theory was self-taught. His surviving home tapes document his initial efforts singing with various friends and family, including a song the Beach Boys later recorded in the studio, “Sloop John B“—and “Bermuda Shorts” and a hymn titled “Good News”. In his senior year at Hawthorne High, in addition to classroom music studies, he sang at lunch time with friends like Keith Lent and Bruce Griffin. Wilson and Lent worked on a revised version of the tune “Hully Gully” to support the campaign of a classmate named Carol Hess when she ran for senior class president. Enlisting his cousin and frequent singing partner Mike Love and Wilson’s youngest brother Carl Wilson, his next public performance featured more ambitious arrangements at a fall arts program at his high school. To entice Carl into the group, Wilson named the newly formed membership Carl and the Passions. The performance featured tunes by Dion and the Belmonts and The Four Freshmen (“It’s a Blue World”), the latter of which proved difficult for the ensemble. However, the event was notable for the impression it made on another musician and classmate of Wilson in the audience that night, Al Jardine, who would join the three Wilson brothers and Mike Love in the Beach Boys.
Wilson enrolled at El Camino College in Los Angeles, majoring in psychology, in September 1960. He continued his music studies at the college as well.At some point in 1961 he wrote his first all-original melody, loosely based on a Dion and the Belmonts version of “When You Wish Upon a Star“. The song was eventually known as “Surfer Girl“. Though an early demo of the song was recorded in February 1962 at World-Pacific Studios, it was not re-recorded and released until 1963, when it became a top ten hit.
With his brothers Carl and Dennis as well as Mike Love and Al Jardine, Wilson first appeared as a music group in the summer of 1961, initially under the name The Pendletones. After being prodded by Dennis to write a song about the local water sports craze, Wilson and Mike Love together created what became the first single for the band, “Surfin’“. Over Labor Day weekend 1961, Brian took advantage of the fact that his parents were in Mexico City for a couple of days, and intended to use the emergency money they had left to rent an amp, a microphone, and a stand-up bass. As it turned out, the money was not enough to cover musical expenses, so Al Jardine appealed to his mother, Virginia for help. When she heard the group perform, she was suitably impressed and handed over $300. Al promptly took Wilson to the music store where he rented a stand-up bass. After rehearsing for two days in the Wilsons’ music room, his parents returned home from their trip. His father was irate, until Brian convinced him to listen to what they had been up to. His father was convinced that the boys did indeed have something worth pursuing. He quickly proclaimed himself the group’s manager and the band embarked on serious rehearsals for a proper studio session. Recorded by Hite and Dorinda Morgan and released on the small Candix Records label, “Surfin'” became a top local hit in Los Angeles and reached number seventy-five on the national Billboard sales charts. Dennis later described the first time that Wilson heard their song on the radio as the three Wilson brothers and David Marks drove in Wilson’s 1957 Ford in the rain: “Nothing will ever top the expression on Brian’s face, ever … THAT was the all-time moment.” However, the Pendletones were no more. Without the band’s knowledge or permission, Candix Records had changed their name to the Beach Boys.
Wilson and his bandmates, following a set by Ike and Tina Turner, performed their first major live show at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance on New Year’s Eve, 1961. Three days previously, Wilson’s father had bought him an electric bass and amplifier. Wilson had learned to play the instrument in that short period of time, with Al Jardine moving to rhythm guitar. On stage, Wilson provided many of the lead vocals, and often harmonized with the group in falsetto.
In early 1962, producer Hite Morgan asked some of the members to add vocals to a couple of instrumental tracks that he had recorded with other musicians. This derived the short-lived group Kenny & the Cadets, which Wilson lead under the pseudonym “Kenny”. The other members were Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and the Wilsons’ mother Audree. The only songs the group recorded were two Morgan compositions, “Barbie” and “What Is a Young Girl Made Of?”
Looking for a follow-up single for their radio hit, Wilson and Mike Love wrote “Surfin’ Safari“, and attempts were made to record a usable take at World Pacific, including overdubs, on February 8, 1962, along with several other tunes including an early version of “Surfer Girl”. Only a few days later, discouraged about the band’s financial prospects, and objecting to adding some Chubby Checker songs to the Beach Boys live setlist, Al Jardine abruptly left the group, but rejoined shortly thereafter. When Candix Records ran into money problems and sold the Beach Boys’ master recordings to another label, Murry Wilson terminated the contract. Brian, worried about the group’s future, asked his father to help them make more recordings. But Murry and Hite Morgan (who at this point was their music publisher) were turned down by a number of Los Angeles record companies. As “Surfin'” faded from the charts, Brian, who had forged a songwriting partnership with Gary Usher, created several new songs, including a car song, “409“, that Usher helped them write. Brian and the Beach Boys cut new tracks at Western Recorders including an updated “Surfin’ Safari” and “409”. These songs convinced Capitol Records to release the demos as a single; they became a double-sided national hit.
Early record producer and songwriter era
Brian Wilson (center) performing with the Beach Boys circa 1964.
Recording sessions for the band’s first album took place in Capitol’s basement studios (in the famous tower building) in August 1962, but early on Brian lobbied for a different place to cut Beach Boy tracks. The large rooms were built to record the big orchestras and ensembles of the 1950s, not small rock groups. At Brian’s insistence, Capitol agreed to let the Beach Boys pay for their own outside recording sessions, to which Capitol would own all the rights, and in return the band would receive a higher royalty rate on their record sales. Additionally, during the taping of their first LP Brian fought for, and won, the right to be in charge of the production — though his first acknowledged liner notes production credit did not come until later.
In January 1963, the Beach Boys recorded their first top-ten (cresting at number three in the United States) single, “Surfin’ U.S.A.“, which began their long run of highly successful recording efforts at Hollywood’s United Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard. It was during the sessions for this single that Brian made the production decision from that point on to use doubletracking on the group’s vocals, resulting in a deeper and more resonant sound. The Surfin’ U.S.A. album was also a big hit in the United States, reaching number two on the national sales charts by early July 1963. The Beach Boys had become a top-rank recording and touring band. Brian was then officially credited as the Beach Boys’ producer on the Surfer Girl album, recorded in June and July 1963 and released in September 1963. This LP reached number seven on the national charts, containing singles that were top 15 hits. Feeling that surfing songs had become limiting, Brian decided to produce a set of largely car-oriented tunes for the Beach Boys’ fourth album, Little Deuce Coupe, which was released in October 1963, only three weeks after the Surfer Girl LP. The departure of guitarist David Marks from the band that month meant that Brian was forced to resume touring with the Beach Boys, for a time reducing his availability in the recording studio.
For much of the decade, Brian attempted to establish himself as a record producer by working with various artists. On July 20, 1963, “Surf City“, which he co-wrote with Jan Berry of Jan and Dean, was his first composition to reach the top of the US charts. The resulting success pleased Brian, but angered both Murry and Capitol Records. Murry went so far as to order his oldest son to sever any future collaborations with Jan and Dean. Brian’s other non-Beach Boy work in this period included tracks by The Castells, Donna Loren, Sharon Marie, the Timers, the Survivors. The most notable group Wilson would attach himself in this era would be The Honeys, which Wilson intended as the female counterpart to the Beach Boys, and as an attempt to compete with Phil Spector-lead girl groups such as The Crystals and The Ronettes.
[I go to] the piano and sit playing “feels”. “Feels” are brief note sequences, fragments of ideas. Once they’re out of my head and into the open air, I can see them and touch them firmly. They’re not “feels” anymore.…My greatest interest musically is expanding modern vocal harmony.
He continued juggling between recording with the Beach Boys and producing records for other artists, but with less success at the latter—except for Jan and Dean. As his productions advanced further with examples ranging from the false fade-outs of “Help Me, Rhonda” to the quasi-avant-garde “The Little Girl I Once Knew“, Wilson became recognized for his pop artistry, vocal harmonization, and incessant studio perfectionism. Session musicians that participated on Wilson’s productions were said to have been awestruck by his musical abilities, as drummer Hal Blaine explained, “We all studied in conservatories; we were trained musicians. We thought it was a fluke at first, but then we realized Brian was writing these incredible songs. This was not just a young kid writing about high school and surfing.” Contemporary John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful noted: “Brian had control of this vocal palette of which we had no idea. We had never paid attention to the Four Freshmen or doo-wop combos like the Crew Cuts. Look what gold he mined out of that.”
Early influences on his music included not only the previously mentioned Four Freshmen and Chuck Berry, but also the work of record producer Phil Spector, who popularized the Wall of Sound production techniques that Wilson would develop a fervent obsession with for most of his life. In the 1960s, Wilson thought of Spector as “…the single most influential producer. He’s timeless. He makes a milestone whenever he goes into the studio.” Wilson is said to have later stated “I was unable to really think as a producer until I really got familiar with Phil Spector’s work.” Wilson attempted to submit two of his compositions to Spector: “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister“; both written with The Ronettes in mind. Spector declined “Don’t Worry Baby”, but accepted “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister” on the condition that he rewrite the song as “Things Are Changing (for the Better)”. Wilson was invited to perform piano on the song’s recording, but was thrown out of the session by Spector due to “substandard playing”. It was reported that Wilson attended the session for Spector’s cacophonous “River Deep – Mountain High“, where he sat “transfixed” and “did not say a word”. Wilson later considered both Spector and the Beatles as his chief rivals, and the latter in turn admitted that many portions of Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and The White Album were conscious attempts at emulating Wilson’s ambience.
The Beach Boys’ rigorous performing schedule increasingly burdened Wilson, and following a nervous breakdown on board a flight from L.A. to Houston on December 23, 1964, he stopped performing live with the group in an effort to concentrate solely on songwriting and studio production. Wilson explained in 1971: “I felt I had no choice. I was run down mentally and emotionally because I was running around, jumping on jets from one city to another on one-night stands, also producing, writing, arranging, singing, planning, teaching—to the point where I had no peace of mind and no chance to actually sit down and think or even rest.” Glen Campbell was called in as his temporary stand-in for live performances, before Bruce Johnston replaced him. As thanks, Wilson “rewarded” Campbell by producing him with the single “Guess I’m Dumb“.
It was during that December that Wilson was introduced to cannabis hesitantly by his friend Loren Schwartz, an assistant at William Morris Endeavor. Attracted by the drug’s ability to alleviate stress and inspire creativity, Wilson completed the Beach Boys’ forthcoming Today! album by late January 1965 and quickly began work on their next, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). Sometime in April, Wilson experienced his first acid trip, which unequivocally changed his musical and spiritual perceptions, as he would recall a year later, “I had what I consider to be a very religious experience. I took LSD, a full dose of LSD, and later, another time, I took a smaller dose. And I learned a lot of things, like patience, understanding. I can’t teach you, or tell you what I learned from taking it. But I consider it a very religious experience.” Again, Schwartz was hesitant to provide drugs to Wilson, which he did not feel he was ready for, but has recounted that his dosage was “one hundred and twenty-five mics of pure Owsley,” and that “he had the full-on ego death. It was a beautiful thing.” The music for “California Girls” came from this first LSD experience, a composition which would later be released as a #3 charting single. Wilson continued experimenting withpsychotropics for the next few years, sometimes even during recording sessions. He became fixated on psychedelia, claiming to have coined a slang, “psychedelicate,” and foreseeing that “psychedelic musicwill cover the face of the world and color the whole popular music scene.” A week after his first LSD trip, Wilson began suffering from auditory hallucinations, which have persisted throughout his life.
Pet Sounds and Smile
In late 1965, Wilson began working on material for a new album after releasing a single which was an orchestral reworking of the folk song “Sloop John B“, made famous by The Kingston Trio in 1958. As he began work on the new project, Pet Sounds, Wilson formed a temporary songwriting partnership with lyricist Tony Asher, who was suggested to Wilson by mutual friend Schwartz. Wilson, who had recorded the album’s instrumentation with The Wrecking Crew, then assembled the Beach Boys to record vocal overdubs, following their return from a tour of Japan. Upon hearing what Wilson had created for the first time in 1965, the group, particularly Mike Love, was somewhat critical of their leader’s music, and expressed their dissatisfaction. At this time, Wilson still had considerable control within the group and, according to Wilson, they eventually overcame their initial negative reaction, as his newly created music began to near completion. The album was released May 16, 1966 and, despite modest sales figures at the time, has since become widely critically acclaimed, often being cited among the all-time greatest albums. Although the record was issued under the group’s name, Pet Sounds is arguably seen as a Brian Wilson solo album—Wilson even toyed with the idea by releasing “Caroline, No” as a solo single in March 1966—reaching number 32 on the Billboard charts.
During the Pet Sounds sessions, Wilson had been working on another song, which was held back from inclusion on the record as he felt that it was not sufficiently complete. The song “Good Vibrations” set a new standard for musicians and for what could be achieved in the recording studio. Recorded in multiple sessions and in numerous studios, the song eventually cost $50,000 to record within a six-month period. In October 1966, the song was released as a single, giving the Beach Boys their third U.S. number-one hit after “I Get Around” and “Help Me, Rhonda“. It sold over a million copies.
With the universal success of “Good Vibrations”, Capitol Records decided to back Wilson up for his next project, originally called Dumb Angel but soon re-titled Smile, which Wilson described as a “teenage symphony to God.” “Good Vibrations” had been recorded in modular style, with separately written sections individually tracked and spliced together, and Wilson’s concept for the new album was more of the same, representing a departure from the standard live-taped performances typical of studio recordings at that time. Having been introduced to Van Dyke Parks at a garden party at Terry Melcher‘s home, Wilson liked Parks’ “visionary eloquence” and began work with him in the fall of 1966. After Wilson famously installed a sandbox in his living room, the pair collaborated closely on several Smile tracks. Wilson recorded backing tracks, largely with session musicians, through the winter. Over Christmas of 1966, however, conflict within the group and Wilson’s own growing personal problems threw the project into terminal disarray. Originally scheduled for release in January 1967, the release date was continually pushed back until press officer Derek Taylor announced its cancellation in May 1967.
Reduced involvement with the Beach Boys
We pulled out of that production pace, really because I was about ready to die. I was trying so hard. So, all of a sudden I decided not to try any more, and not try and do such great things, such big musical things. And we had so much fun. TheSmiley Smile era was so great, it was unbelievable. Personally, spiritually, everything, it was great. I didn’t have any paranoia feelings.
—Brian Wilson, January 1968
Following the cancellation of Smile, The Beach Boys relocated to a studio situated in the living room of Brian Wilson’s new mansion in Bel Air (once the home of Edgar Rice Burroughs), where the band would primarily record until 1972. This has been perceived by some commentators as “the moment when the Beach Boys first started slipping from the vanguard to nostalgia.” Throughout mid-to-late 1967, Wilson oversaw the production of only a few heavily orchestrated songs holding continuity with his Pet Sounds and Smile work, such as “Can’t Wait Too Long” and “Time to Get Alone“. After the diminished reception accorded to the lo-fi Smiley Smile and the R&B-inflected Wild Honey culminated in the muted orchestrations and collaborative ethos of Friends—the band’s first unequivocal commercial failure—Wilson’s interest in the Beach Boys began to wane.
Still psychologically overwhelmed by the cancellation of Smile and the imminent birth of his first child Carnie Wilson in 1968 amid the looming financial insolvency of the Beach Boys, Wilson’s creative directorship within the band became increasingly tenuous; additionally, cocaine had begun to supplement Wilson’s regular use of amphetamines, marijuana, and psychedelics. Shortly after abandoning an intricate version of Kern and Hammerstein’s “Ol’ Man River” at the instigation of Mike Love, Wilson entered a psychiatric hospital for a brief period of time. Biographer Peter Ames Carlin has speculated that Wilson had self-admitted and may have been administered a number of treatments ranging from talking therapies to stiff doses of Lithium and the more extreme electroconvulsive therapy during this stay.
In his absence, 1969’s 20/20 consisted substantially of key Smile outtakes (“Cabinessence” and “Our Prayer“), significant contributions from Dennis Wilson & Bruce Johnston, and the long-germinating “Time to Get Alone.” The album’s singles—the Bruce Johnston-produced original “Bluebirds Over the Mountains” (Billboard #64) and the Carl Wilson-produced cover of The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music“—won lukewarm attention, with the latter reaching #24 on the Billboard single chart in April 1969; the lead track, the Wilson/Love-authored “Do It Again“, an unabashed throwback to the band’s earlier surf hits, had been an international hit in the summer of 1968, reaching number 20 in the US charts and number one in the UK and Australia while also scoring well in other countries. During this phase, Wilson also collaborated with his father (credited under the pseudonym of Reggie Dunbar) on “Break Away“, the band’s final single for Capitol Records under their original contract; although relatively unsuccessful in the United States (peaking at #63 in Billboard), the song reached #6 on the British singles chart.
At a press conference ostensibly convened to promote “Break Away” to the European media shortly thereafter, Wilson intimated that “We owe everyone money. And if we don’t pick ourselves off our backsides and have a hit record soon, we will be in worse trouble… I’ve always said, ‘Be honest with your fans.’ I don’t see why I should lie and say that everything is rosy when it’s not.” These incendiary remarks ultimately thwarted long-simmering contract negotiations with Deutsche Grammophon. Although Murry Wilson’s sale of the Sea of Tunes publishing company (including the majority of Wilson’s oeuvre) to A&M Records‘ publishing division for $700,000 at the band’s commercial nadir in 1969 renewed the longstanding animus between father and son, he stood in for Mike Love during a 1970 Northwest tour when Love was convalescing from illness. He also resumed writing & recording with the Beach Boys at a brisk pace; seven of the twelve new songs on the 1970 album Sunflower were either written or co-written by Wilson. Nevertheless, the album was a commercial failure in the United States, peaking at #151 during a four-week Billboard chart stay in October 1970. Following the termination of the Capitol contract in 1969, the band’s new contract with then-au courantReprise Records (brokered by Van Dyke Parks, employed as a multimedia executive at the company at the time) stipulated Brian Wilson’s proactive involvement with the band in all albums—a factor that would become hugely problematic for the band in the years to come.
Throughout the early 1970s, Wilson amassed a myriad of home demo recordings which later became informally known as the “Bedroom Tapes.” Most of these recordings remain unreleased and unheard to the public, with vague titles such as “Spark in the Dark,” “Rooftop Harry,” “Symphony of Frogs,” “Patty Cake” and “Song to God”. Some of the material has been described as “schizophrenia on tape,” and “intensely personal songs of gentle humanism and strange experimentation, which reflected on his then-fragile emotional state.” Beach Boys archivist Alan Boyd observed: “A lot of the music that Brian was creating during this period was full of syncopated exercises and counterpoints piled on top of jittery eighth-note clusters and loping shuffle grooves. You get hints of it earlier in things like the tags to ‘California Girls,’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice‘ and all throughout Smile, but it takes on an almost manic edge in the ’70s.” Wilson’s daughters have reflected on this period, as Wendy Wilson remembers, “Where other people might take a run to release some stress, he would go to the piano and write a 5 minute song.” Carnie Wilson has recounted:
My memories of him are him wandering from room to room…thinking about something. I always wanted to know what he was thinking, you know? Who knows what he was thinking in his head? I remember one day he wrote a song about a cigarette. He said “I’m gonna go write a song about a cigarette!” and I said ‘OK…,” and literally, three minutes later I walked into the room, the song was done, he was playing on the piano, something about how he was going to flush the butt in the toilet. We got used to what the whole environment was. It was very musical; there was always a piano going. Either “Rhapsody In Blue” was playing, or…”Be My Baby“–I mean—I woke up every morning to boom boom-boom pow! Boom boom-boom pow! Every day.
Even in those years when he was supposedly in seclusion, Brian came downstairs all the time, this great big guy in a bathrobe. And we went places. Brian and I used to get into hisMercedes and drive over to the Radiant Radish, or we’d go toRedondo Beach and hang out with his high school pals, or go look for Carol Mountain. Brian was as normal to me as anyone else.
Sometime in 1969, Wilson opened a short-lived health food store called The Radiant Radish. The store closed in 1971 due to unprofitable produce expenditures and Wilson’s general lack of business acumen. While working there, he met journalist and radio presenter Jack Rieley, who would manage the Beach Boys and act as Wilson’s principal lyricist for the next few years. Reports from this era detailed Wilson as “increasingly withdrawn, brooding, hermitic . . . and occasionally, he is to be seen in the back of some limousine, cruising around Hollywood, bleary and unshaven, huddled way tight into himself.” This notion was contested by lyricist Stanley Shapiro. Nevertheless, Wilson’s reputation suffered as a result of his eccentricities of lore, and he quickly became known as a commercial has-been which record labels feared. When Shapiro persuaded Wilson to rewrite and rerecord a number of Beach Boys song in order to reclaim his legacy, he contacted fellow songwriter Tandyn Almer for support. The trio then spent a month reworking cuts from the Beach Boys’ Friends album. As Shapiro handed demo tapes to A&M Records executives, they found the product favorable before they learned of Wilson and Almer’s involvement, and proceeded to veto the idea. Wilson’s close friendship with Almer reportedly deteriorated soon after due to a variety of factors, including an alleged liaison between Almer and Marilyn Wilson and the purported theft of recording equipment from Wilson’s home studio.
Wilson played and sang on much of the 1971 Surf’s Up album—the band’s highest American album chart placement (#29) since 1967—and wrote or co-wrote four of the album’s ten songs, including the title track. However, only one fully formed original song from Wilson emerged during the album’s nominal recording sessions, the dirge-like “A Day in the Life of a Tree“. According to engineer Stephen Desper, the cumulatively deleterious effects of Wilson’s cocaine and tobacco use began to affect his vocal register in earnest during the Surf’s Up sessions.
In late 1971 and early 1972, he worked on an album for the American Spring entitled Spring, a new collaboration between erstwhile Honeys Marilyn Wilson and Diane Rovell. He was closely involved in the home-based recordings with co-producer David Sandler and engineer Stephen Desper, and did significant work on more than half of the tracks. As with much of his work in the era, his contributions “ebbed and flowed.” According to Dan Peek of America, Wilson “held court like a Mad King as [longtime friend] Danny Hutton scurried about like his court jester” during the ascendant band’s engagement at the Whisky a Go Go in February 1972 Concurrently, he contributed to three out of eight songs on Beach Boys’ Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” (1972).
Later that year, he reluctantly agreed to accompany the band to the Netherlands, where they based themselves to record Holland . Though physically present, he often yielded to his bibulous tendencies (primarily hashish and hard cider) and rarely participated, confining himself to work on “Funky Pretty” (a collaboration with Mike Love and Jack Rieley), a one-line sung intro to Al Jardine’s “California Saga: California“, andMount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale), a narrative suite musically inspired by Randy Newman‘s Sail Away that was promptly rejected by the band; eventually, Carl Wilson capitulated and ensured that the suite would be released as a bonus EP with the album. When the album itself was rejected by Reprise, the song “Sail On, Sailor“—a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks dating from 1971 that had grown to encompass additional lyrical contributions solicited by Wilson at parties hosted by Hutton—was inserted at the instigation of Parks and released as the lead single. It promptly garnered a considerable amount of FM radio play, became a minor chart hit, and entered the band’s live sets as a concert staple.
I was snorting cocaine, which I shouldn’t have gotten into. It messed up my mind, and it unplugged me from music. I just remember reading magazines. I would say, “Get me aPlayboy! Get me a Penthouse!
Wilson spent a great deal of the two years following his father’s June 1973 death secluded in the chauffeur’s quarters of his home; sleeping, abusing alcohol, taking drugs (including flirtations with heroin), overeating, and exhibiting self-destructive behavior. He attempted to drive his vehicle off a cliff, and at another time, demanded that he be pushed and buried into a grave he had dug in his backyard. During this period, his voice deteriorated significantly as a result of his mass consumption of cocaine and incessant chain smoking. Previously, Wilson claimed that he was preoccupied with “[doing] drugs and hanging out with Danny Hutton” during the mid-1970s. John Sebastian often showed up at Wilson’s Bel-Air home “to jam”, and recollected: “It wasn’t all grimness.” Although increasingly reclusive during the day, Wilson spent many nights fraternizing with Hollywood Vampire colleagues including Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, who were mutually bemused by an extended, contumacious Wilson-led singalong of the folk song “Shortnin’ Bread” at Hutton’s house and related environs; other visitors of Hutton’s residence included Vampires Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon. Micky Dolenz recalls consuming LSD with Wilson, Lennon, and Nilsson, where Wilson “played just one note on a piano over and over again”. On several occasions, Marilyn Wilson dispatched her friends to climb Hutton’s fence and forcibly retrieve her husband. Jimmy Webb reported Wilson’s presence at an August 2, 1974 session for Nilsson’s “Salmon Falls“; he kept in the back of the studio playing “Da Doo Ron Ron” haphazardly on a B3 organ. Later that month, he was photographed at Moon’s 28th birthday party (held on August 28 at theBeverly Wilshire Hotel) wearing only his bathrobe. Sometime in 1974, Wilson interrupted a set by jazz musician Larry Coryell at The Troubadour by leaping onto stage and singing “Be-Bop-A-Lula“, again wearing slippers and a bathrobe.
During the summer of 1974, the Capitol Records-era greatest hits compilation Endless Summer reached number one on the Billboard charts, reaffirming the relevance of the Beach Boys in the popular imagination. However, recording sessions for a new album under the supervision of Wilson and James William Guercio at Caribou Ranch and the band’s studio in Santa Monica that autumn yielded only a smattering of basic tracks, including a banjo-driven arrangement of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic“; “It’s O.K.“, an uptempo collaboration with Mike Love; the ballad “Good Timin’“; and Dennis Wilson’s “River Song“. Eventually, Wilson diverted his attentions to “Child of Winter (Christmas Song)“, a Christmas single co-written with Stephen Kalinich; released belatedly for the holiday market on December 23, it failed to chart. Though still under contract to Warner Brothers, Wilson signed a sideline production deal with Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher‘s Equinox Records in early 1975. Together, they founded the loose-knit supergroup known as California Music, which involved them along with LA musicians Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher, and a few others. This contract was nullified by the Beach Boys’ management, who perceived it as an attempt by Wilson to relieve the burden of his growing drug expenses, and it was demanded that Wilson focus his efforts on the Beach Boys, even though he strongly desired to escape from the group. The idea of California Music immediately disintegrated.
First Eugene Landy intervention
Dismayed by his continued deterioration and reluctant to payroll Wilson as an active partner in the touring Beach Boys (an arrangement that had persisted for a decade), Marilyn and the Wilson family enlisted the services of radical therapist Eugene Landy in October 1975. Wilson was initially under Landy’s care for fourteen months until December 1976, when the therapist was dismissed for a dispute on his monthly fee. Though Landy diagnosed Wilson as paranoid schizophrenic (a diagnosis later retracted) and prescribed medication in accordance, the treatment prompted a more stable, socially engaged Wilson whose productivity increased again. The tagline “Brian’s Back!” became a major promotional tool for the new Beach Boys album, 15 Big Ones, released to coincide with their fifteenth anniversary as a band. As a mixture of traditional pop covers with newly-written original material, the record was released in the summer of 1976 to commercial acclaim and, despite lukewarm reviews, peaked at number 8 on the Billboard album chart, the band’s highest entry (apart from Endless Summer and the follow-up 1975 compilation Spirit of America) since 1965. Wilson returned to regular stage appearances with the band, alternating between piano and bass and, under Landy’s advice, made a solo appearance on Saturday Night Live in November 1976; producer Lorne Michaels stipulated Wilson’s exclusive performance, much to the chagrin of the other Beach Boys.
[Landy] was such a performer…You couldn’t stop him. To him, he was the star of the story…He was full of himself.…He did so many other things that you thought the whole thing might have been a scam. However, one way to keep a person from taking drugs is having a guard there to keep him from taking drugs. It’s called prison, but it was in his home.
Wilson’s behavior during this time was reported by many to be strange and off-putting, and Landy’s role as “unethical” and ostentatious. Oftentimes, Wilson would ask for drugs in mid-interview. During this period, Wilson was under constant surveillance by bodyguards, which he resented. Writer David Felton published an editorial piece for Rolling Stone entitledThe Healing of Brother Brian, which included eccentric accounts between Wilson and Landy to Felton. This included a report of Landy’s medical staff promising Wilson a cheeseburger in exchange for writing a new song. Felton would later talk about the absurdity of his interactions, and noted that he wasn’t sure if Wilson really behaved that way or if he was under extreme pressure to appease Landy and his staff. Felton recounts numerous times where Landy scolded Wilson in public for not adhering to his strict behavioral guidelines, and that he believed Wilson felt he had a big pressure to cooperate because of it. He later explained, “[Eugene Landy] said ‘Brian doesn’t have that much sense of humor,’ and I never knew the answer to that. Does he or doesn’t he? Sometimes I thought he would have a very wry sense of humor, and others I felt he talked almost like a robot…Just stiff and without emotion or affectation…He does what he’s told but he doesn’t do much else…And that way he kept out of trouble.” Stanley Shapiro, a frequent collaborator of Wilson during the 1970s, would later say “The one-dimensional side of Brian looks like a zombie. But out of the blue, he’d astonish you with the things he’d say.”
Wilson expressed a fervent desire to leave the group and record a solo album in this period, but could not due to conflicts it would create between him and the group, leading Wilson to remark, “Sometimes I feel like a commodity in a stock market.” He was also firm in that he wanted to record another work on par with the achievement of Pet Sounds. In April 1977, the all-original Wilson album Love You was released bearing the Beach Boys moniker, although the group’s contributions were minimal. Described by Wilson as an attempt to relieve himself from mental instability brought on by a period of inactivity, Love You has since been cited as an early work of synthpop. The album’s playful lyrics (alternately invoking Johnny Carson, Phil Spector and adolescent interests) and stark instrumentation (featuring Moog bass lines and gated reverb-drenched drum patterns reflective of contemporaneous work by David Bowie and Tony Visconti) failed to impact an audience sated on the ubiquitous Endless Summer sound. Nonetheless, Love You reached number 53 on the Billboard chart and was lauded as an artistic watershed by many critics, including Robert Christgau of The Village Voice. Musicians Patti Smith, Lester Bangs, and Peter Buck have since written heartfelt praise for the album.
Landy was fired during the Love You sessions. Throughout the next five years, Wilson vacillated between periods of relative stability and resurgences of his food and drug addictions. The Wilsons’ divorce in January 1979 cited allegations of infidelity on Marilyn’s part and inappropriate behavior on Brian’s (allegedly offering drugs to his children) but was considered more a mutual surrender to the pressures of Wilson’s continued emotional health problems. Brian’s role in the band—as well as the Beach Boys’ commercial prospects—began to diminish once more. During this difficult period, the single “Good Timin'” (a collaboration between Brian and Carl Wilson dating from the 1974 Caribou sessions) peaked at number 40 in June 1979.
By 1982, Wilson weighed over 325 pounds (147 kg) and was again immersed in his addictions.Live Aid in 1985 and participated in the recording of the Steve Levine-produced album,The Beach Boys. Largely due to the control that Landy exercised, Wilson stopped working with the Beach Boys on a regular basis after the release of the album. Eventually, Landy’s therapy technique created aSvengali-like environment for Wilson, controlling every movement in his life, including his musical direction.
Landy was once more employed, and a more radical program was undertaken to try to restore Wilson to health. This involved “firing” him from the Beach Boys in November 1982 at the behest of Carl Wilson, isolating him from his family and friends (most notably longtime girlfriend/nurse Carolyn Williams) in Hawaii, and putting him on a rigorous diet and health regimen. Coupled with long, extreme counseling sessions, this therapy was successful in bringing Wilson back to physical health. He lost more than 100 pounds (45 kg) and temporarily became a gym fanatic. As Wilson’s recovery consolidated, he rejoined the Beach Boys for
Wilson thereafter signed to a solo record deal with Sire Records label boss Seymour Stein and variously worked with Andy Paley, Russ Titelman and Landy’s girlfriend as co-authors on the new material. Old friend and collaborator Gary Usher was a key participant in the early demo work for the album, though Landy later removed him from the project. After several years of genesis, Wilson released his debut solo album Brian Wilson. It is arguable that this “breakout” work was hampered by Landy’s influence, since Landy insisted on controlling involvement in every aspect of Wilson’s writing and recording and his lyrical influence is significant.
Despite the critical success of his debut solo album, rumors abounded that Wilson had either suffered a stroke or had been permanently disabled due to excessive drug use. One biographer reported that the actual problem was that Wilson, who had been prescribed massive amounts of psychotropic drugs by Landy’s staff since 1983, had developed tardive dyskinesia, a neurological condition marked by involuntary, repetitive movements, that develops in about 20% of patients treated with anti-psychotic drugs for a long period of time. During recording of the Brian Wilson album, engineering staff had observed what seemed to be “every pharmaceutical on the face of the earth,” referring to the medicine bag Landy was using to store Wilson’s prescription drugs. In order to dispel these claims, Landy separated from Wilson in 1989 to prove that Wilson could function independently. However, they remained “business partners”. Wilson’s proposed second solo album under the direction of Landy, entitled Sweet Insanity, was rejected by Sire in 1990. It is believed that the disturbingly self-revelatory lyrics of “therapy songs” like “Brian” and ersatz rap like the seemingly sexist “Smart Girls”, hurt the album. Sweet Insanity also contained delicate and impressive compositions that reemerged on later solo albums (viz., “Let’s Stick Together”, which became “The Waltz” on Wilson’s 2004 solo album Gettin’ In Over My Head).
In 1990 came a faux memoir, Wouldn’t It Be Nice – My Own Story, published in 1990. In the book, whose authorship is still debated, Wilson spoke about his troubled relationship with his abusive father Murry, his private disputes with the Beach Boys and his “lost years” of mental illness. Though the book drew on interviews with Wilson and others (by Todd Gold) it is widely believed to be Landy’s account of Brian’s life (in an unrelated court case Wilson testified that he had never even read the final draft of the manuscript, much less written any of it.) Landy’s illegal use of psychotropic drugs on Wilson, and his influence over Wilson’s financial affairs was legally ended by Carl Wilson and other members of the Wilson family after a two-year-long conservatorship battle in Los Angeles. Landy’s misconduct led to the loss of his California psychology license, as well as a court-ordered removal and restraining order from Wilson.
Wilson released two albums simultaneously in 1995. The first was the soundtrack to Don Was‘s documentary I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, which consisted of new versions of several Beach Boys and solo songs. The second, Orange Crate Art, saw Wilson as lead vocalist on an album produced, arranged and written by Van Dyke Parks. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times includes Wilson performing for the first time with his now-adult daughters, Wendy and Carnie of the group Wilson Phillips and Van Dyke Parks. The documentary also included glowing tributes from many of his peers, and renewed interest in Wilson as a pop genius and producer extraordinaire. During the early 1990s, he also worked on some tracks with power pop band Jellyfish, which remain unreleased. Roger Manning has recounted an anecdote during these sessions involving Wilson falling asleep at the piano yet continuing to play. Later in the decade, Wilson and his daughters Carnie and Wendy would release an album together entitled The Wilsons(1997). Also, around this time, Wilson sang backup on Belinda Carlisle‘s “California“.
Having missed out on the Beach Boys’ 27th studio album Summer in Paradise, Wilson returned to the Beach Boys for sporadic recording sessions and live performances during the early to mid-1990s. Working with collaborators Andy Paley and Don Was, the sessions were reported to have been tenuous. It had also been discussed that Wilson and the Beach Boys would work with Sean O’Hagan of The High Llamas on a comeback album for Wilson and the Beach Boys. All projects collapsed, and instead, Wilson was involved with the 1996 Beach Boys album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1: a group collaboration, backing country music artists singing lead vocals of Beach Boys’ standards.
The Brian Wilson Band performing in 2005.
In 1998, he teamed with Chicago-based producer Joe Thomas for the album Imagination. Following this, he received extensive vocal coaching to improve his voice, learned to cope with his stage fright, and started to consistently perform live for the first time in decades. This resulted in Wilson successfully performing the entire Pet Sounds album live throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. Wilson’s third solo album Gettin’ In Over My Head (2004) featured collaborations with Elton John, Paul McCartney,Eric Clapton and brother Carl, who died in February 1998. Clapton played on the track “City Blues,” and McCartney’s collaboration on “A Friend Like You” fulfilled for many a fantasy union of the legendary Beatles with the legendary Beach Boys. The return to prolific writing and touring gave birth to a new artistic emergence by Wilson.
Brian Wilson Presents Smile
With his mental health finally on the mend, Wilson decided to revisit the aborted Smile project from 1967. Aided by musician and longtime fan Darian Sahanaja of Wondermints, and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Wilson reimagined the session material into something that would work in a live context. His work was finally revealed in concert on February 20, 2004, 37 years after it was conceived, though he later stated that the finished product was substantially different from what was originally envisioned. Wilson debuted his 2004 interpretation of Smile at the Royal Festival Hall in London and subsequently toured the UK. Following the tour, Brian Wilson Presents Smile was recorded, and released in September 2004.
The debut performance at the Royal Festival Hall was a defining moment for Wilson. The documentary DVD of the event shows Wilson preparing for the performance and expressing doubts over the concept of putting this work before the public, moments before taking the stage. After an opening set of Beach Boys classics, Wilson returned to the stage to perform Smile in its entirety. A 10-minute standing ovation followed the concert; the DVD shows several rock luminaries in the crowd, such as Roger Daltrey, Paul Weller, Sir George Martin and Sir Paul McCartney (although neither Martin nor McCartney attended the opening night, contrary to what the DVD implies). Brian Wilson Presents Smile was then recorded from April through June, and released in September, to wide critical acclaim. The release hit number 13 on the Billboard chart. The 2004 recording featured his backup/touring band, including Beach Boys guitarist Jeff Foskett, members of Wondermints and backup singer Taylor Mills. At the 47th Grammy Awards in 2005, Wilson won his first Grammy for the track “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” as Best Rock Instrumental. In 2004, Wilson promoted Brian Wilson Presents Smile with a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In December 2005, he also releasedWhat I Really Want for Christmas for Arista Records. The release hit number 200 on the Billboard chart, though sales were modest. Wilson’s remake of the classic “Deck the Halls” became a surprise Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit.
Post-Smile to That Lucky Old Sun
In February 2005, Wilson had a cameo in the TV series Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century as Daffy Duck‘s spiritual surfing adviser. He also appeared in the 2005 holiday episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, performing “Deck the Halls” for children with xeroderma pigmentosum (hypersensitivity to sunlight) at Walt Disney World Resort. On July 2, 2005, Wilson performed for the Live 8 concert in Berlin, Germany.
In September 2005, Wilson arranged a charity drive to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, wherein people who donated $100 or more would receive a personal phone call from Wilson. According to the website, over $250K was raised. In November 2005, former bandmate Mike Love sued Wilson over “shamelessly misappropriating… Love’s songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the ‘Smile’ album itself” in the promotion of Smile. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on grounds that it was meritless.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pet Sounds, Wilson embarked on a brief tour in November 2006. Beach Boy Al Jardine accompanied Wilson for the tour.
Wilson released That Lucky Old Sun in September 2008. The piece originally debuted in a series of September 2007 concerts at London’s Royal Festival Hall, and in January 2008 at Sydney’s State Theatre while headlining the Sydney Festival. Wilson described the piece as “…consisting of five ’rounds’, with interspersed spoken word.” A series of US and UK concerts preceded its release. On September 30, 2008, Seattle’s Light in the Attic Records released A World of Peace Must Come, a collaboration between Wilson and Stephen Kalinich, originally recorded in 1969, but later lost in Kalinich’s closet.
Around this time, Wilson announced that he was developing another concept album entitled Pleasure Island: A Rock Fantasy. Accordingly: “It’s about some guys who took a hike, and they found a place called Pleasure Island. And they met all kinds of chicks, and they went on rides and — it’s just a concept. I haven’t developed it yet. I think people are going to love it — it could be the best thing I’ve ever done.” The album has yet to surface, and for several years, Wilson has consistently maintained in interviews that he wishes his “next album” to be more rock-oriented.
In 2009, Wilson’s workload increased when he signed a two-record deal with Disney. In Summer 2009, Wilson was approached to record an album of his interpretations of classic Gershwin songs, and to assess unfinished piano pieces by Gershwin for possible expansion into finished songs. After extensive evaluation of a vast body of Gershwin fragments, Wilson chose two to complete. The resulting album, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, was released in August 2010 on Disney’s Pearl label. Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin achieved Number 1 position on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and had sold 53,000 copies by August 2011. Wilson’s second album for Disney was In The Key Of Disney, a collection of classic Disney movie songs, which was released on October 25, 2011. This album was especially memorable for its inclusion of Wilson’s take on When You Wish Upon a Star, the song that had inspired his own first composition, “Surfer Girl“.
Wilson contributed his revival of Buddy Holly‘s “Listen To Me” to the tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, released on September 6, 2011, on Verve Forecast. Rolling Stone praised Wilson’s version as “gorgeous,” featuring “…angelic harmonies and delicate instrumentation.”
Reuniting with the Beach Boys
Wilson oversaw the official Beach Boys release of the original, partially completed Smile recordings as a compilation titled The Smile Sessions. Released on October 31, 2011, the album was made available as single CD, a 2-CD boxed set, a vinyl double album, and a deluxe 5 CD/2 LP box set.
On July 27, 2011, Love announced that, “Where we’re at right now is Brian’s written some songs, I’ve written some songs. We’re talking very seriously about getting together and co-writing and doing some new music together [as a band]. . . He’s been doing his own touring, we’ve been doing ours and so we haven’t really been able to lock into that, but it looks like this fall we will.” That day, Brian Wilson said the band is going to get back together to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Although a few months later, he claimed he did not really like working with his former band mates, and that a reunion would depend on how they feel and how much money is involved. He concluded by saying that money is not the only reason he made records, but it does hold a place in their lives.
In October 2011, Jardine reported that the Beach Boys would reunite in 2012 for 50 U.S. dates and 50–60 overseas dates. Love stated that during the middle of 2011, the band reunited to re-record their song “Do it Again” and make it into a music video to promote the world tour. Love had nothing but praise for Wilson saying “he sounds great, always coming up with chords, and his singing ability is still there. He hasn’t lost the ability to do what he does best.” The Beach Boys released their new album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, on June 5, 2012. The album’s title track was released as its first single in April 2012. The new album debuted at Number 3 on the Billboard charts which was their highest album debut to date. Following the reunion a year later, it was announced that Wilson would no longer tour with the band as Mike Love returned the lineup to its pre-Anniversary Tour configuration with him and Bruce Johnston as its only members.
Return to solo career
On June 6, 2013, Wilson’s website announced that he is recording and self-producing new material with guitarist Jeff Beck, session musician/producer Don Was, as well as fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. On June 20, the website announced that the material might be split into three albums: one of new pop songs, another of mostly instrumental tracks with Beck, and another of interwoven tracks dubbed “the suite” which initially began form as the closing four tracks of That’s Why God Made The Radio. Confirmed song titles include “Right Time” and “Run James Run”, which both feature lead vocals by Al Jardine. A version of the traditional “Danny Boy” has also been recorded. Wilson’s That’s Why God Made The Radio and Imagination collaborator Joe Thomas will also be involved to some extent. Accordingly, “When we started working on this thing, he was calling it his life’s suite. He looked at life as three different movements. One was Pet Sounds, the other was Smile and then, he wanted to go out with a bang and have a look back at life from an adult. Pet Sounds was when he was just a kid. Smile was when he was a little more savvy and in the business awhile. And now, this is a guy looking back at life and where he is now, which is in a much happier and less chaotic state.” He’s also described the recording sessions between Wilson and Beck as “fusion jazz rock with Brian singing, ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.'” Beck described his contributions: “They let me take the melody wherever I wanted the flavor of them to go, but the fact is when you’ve got the backing of Brian’s chords you automatically play West Coast-style guitar. It’s just inbuilt into the essence of what he writes. You can’t do anything far from it, so it’s hard to wedge my style in there, but I’ve tried to do it as best I can.”
Wilson embarked on a short summer tour which included Jardine and Marks. It was then announced on August 5, 2013 that Wilson would embark on a fall 2013 tour with Beck. According to Beck, “Brian will kick things off, but I’ll also be given enough time to establish what I’m about. In the end, we’ll mix and match. It’s a complete honor to be on stage with him.” Jardine and Marks also joined Wilson on the eighteen dates which began on September 27 and ended on October 30 in Milwaukee at the Riverside Theater. Chaplin guested on some dates and performed “Sail On, Sailor” and “Wild Honey” with the group. That October, Wilson informed: “[We’re] about two-thirds of the way through. We have eight or nine songs done, and we need three or four more songs. Most of it is very mellow kind of stuff, mellow harmony, not very much rock ‘n’ roll yet. It’s a pretty unique album. It’s very different than anything I’ve ever done.”” On Beck, Wilson said: “He really blew my mind, so we thought we’d have him join us on our album. He plays the most goddamn greatest guitar you’ve ever heard. He really brings quality notes, more notes per bar than you can imagine.” Jardine intimated: “The combination of the two forces of music give it a certain breadth and depth that I think neither of us have experienced before. Jeff has a very melodic sense and is keenly aware of where the chord progressions are going, and it helps us to marry our voices to his progressions. We’re doing some really innovative things.” He also spoke of a track entitled “Run, James, Run”, which is a “suped-up ‘Little Deuce Coupe‘ kind of thing. It’s just cute as hell.” Thomas, comparing the record to That’s Why God Made the Radio, stated: “Musically, it has a rougher edge to it. The harmonies are cool, but it’s more akin to the music on Wild Honey and the Carl & The Passions records. . .This new material is not a reprise to that album at all; it’s taking it further.”
In January 2014, Wilson clarified that he did not write any material with Beck, and that Beck would only be a guest performer. He also confirmed the titles of two tracks: “Sail Away” and “Last Song”. The next month, Beck intimated on the project’s status: “I’m not sure. As far as I know, they made a mistake by grabbing me for a tour and opening up the floodgates for a tour prematurely instead of finishing the tracks. And so we left the studio with half-finished tracks–three, four tracks I was supposed to be on and they’re still unfinished. And to me it was a bit stupid because they should have done the album, had a killer album, and then gone out on the road. But I think they wanted to grab me while I was still available. That’s about it.” Later in June, Wilson announced potential guest appearances by Lana Del Rey (“Last Song”), Zooey Deschanel(“On the Island”), Frank Ocean (“Special Love”), and Kacey Musgraves (“Sharing a New Day”, “Guess You Had to Be There”). The news brought mixed feedback from fans; Wilson is purported to have expressed through his Facebook page: “It kind of bums me out to see some of the negativity here about the album I’ve been working so hard on. In my life in music, I’ve been told too many times not to fuck with the formula, but as an artist it’s my job to do that – and I think I’ve earned that right … So let’s just wait until the album comes out because I think you just might dig it as much as I do.” Thomas has asserted: “Brian isn’t trying to write to a younger or older audience, he’s telling the story from his perspective.”
The next month, a guest appearance by Nate Ruess of Fun was confirmed, and that Ocean’s collaboration would be excluded. A remake of the Beach Boys’ 1965 instrumental “Summer Means New Love” will be included instead, along with Beck and Wilson’s cover version of the traditional “Danny Boy”, now evidently part of what is now called “aborted Wilson–Beck sessions”. The album’s centerpiece, “Last Song”, is described: “A heartbreaking ballad that was recorded in two versions — one with a haunting vocal by Del Rey and one with Wilson’s lead vocals. The song recounts his sadness about the Beach Boys’ dissolution.” Don Was commented, “Brian’s really on it. I was knocked out by a couple of songs on that last Beach Boys record – ‘Summer’s Gone’ ranks with his greatest work. I didn’t expect that he’s got a whole other album of stuff on that level … I got really choked up playing bass on that track. There’s something about Brian signing off with it, saying, ‘This is it, this is my last song.’ It’s really intense. If ‘Last Song’ turned out to be his last song, can you imagine? Wow. That’d be some coda.”
Wilson is set to release an autobiography to be published in fall 2015. It will be written with help from journalist Jason Fine. The project was met with skepticism by Van Dyke Parks, who was approached for questioning by Fine’s assistant via Twitter, responding, “Doesn’t sound ‘auto’ to me!”
From late 1964 to 1979, Wilson was married to Marilyn Rovell, although they later divorced. Wilson has two daughters from this marriage: Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson, who would go on to musical success of their own in the early 1990s as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips. In 1995, Wilson married Melinda Ledbetter, a car saleswoman and former model he met in the 1980s. The couple adopted five children: two girls, Daria Rose and Delanie Rae, in 1998; a boy, Dylan, in 2004; a boy, Dash Tristan in 2009; and a girl, Dakota Rose, in 2010.
Wilson suffers from auditory hallucinations, and has been formally diagnosed as mildly manic-depressive with schizoaffective disorder that presents itself in the form of disembodied voices. According to him, he only began having hallucinations in 1965 shortly after experimenting with psychedelic drugs. During the 1980s, Wilson came under the care of Eugene Landy, a corrupt psychologist who administered excessive dosages of psychotropics which further damaged Wilson’s mental state. Landy eventually manipulated Wilson into handing over control of his business affairs, and exerted nearly absolute power in all realms of Wilson’s life, even preventing him from seeing his then-future wife Melinda Ledbetter. Carl Wilson eventually stepped in to remove his brother from Landy’s influence. Later, as a result of his mistreatment of Wilson, Landy was stripped of his license.
In recent years, Wilson’s mental condition has improved. Although he still experiences auditory hallucinations from time to time, his relationship with his wife and his new regimen of psychiatric care have allowed him to resume his career as a musician. 
Love and Mercy
A biopic on Wilson’s life titled, Love and Mercy will be released in 2014. It will be directed by Bill Pohlad and will star Paul Dano as a younger Brian, John Cusack as an older Brian along with Paul Giamatti as Dr.Eugene Landy and actress Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s wife Melinda. Shooting wrapped on the film on August 27, 2013 although a release date for the film has yet to be announced.The film will be included in the2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Brian posted a photo of himself along with Cusack and Melinda on his Twitter page.
Awards and accolades
- Wilson and The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in January 1988.
- In 2000, Wilson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney introduced Brian, referring to him as “one of the great American geniuses.”
- On March 29, 2001, TNT and Radio City Music Hall hosted “A Tribute to Brian Wilson.” This event featured performances and appearances by Elton John, Billy Joel, Chazz Palminteri host, David Crosby, Dennis Hopper, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, The Go-Go’s, Cameron Crowe, Sir George Martin, Vince Gill, Brian’s daughters Carnie & Wendy Wilson along with Chynna Phillips (Wilson Phillips), Jimmy Webb, Darius Rucker,Matthew Sweet, Ann and Nancy Wilson of (Heart), The Boys Choir of Harlem, and others.
- Pet Sounds has been ranked as one of the most influential records in popular music, and has been ranked number one on several music magazines’ lists of the greatest albums of all time. It is ranked number two on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- In May 2003, Wilson was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music from Northeastern University, Boston, Ma.
- On May 10, 2004, Wilson was honored as a BMI Icon at the 52nd annual BMI Pop Awards. He was saluted for his “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”
- A 2005 concert, “Musicares: A Tribute to Brian Wilson,” was held in Wilson’s honor, during which he was named MusiCares Person of the Year. Performers included Jeff Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Earth Wind & Fire, Barenaked Ladies, and Backstreet Boys, among others.
- On May 20, 2005, Wilson and two of the other original-era Beach Boys (Al Jardine and David Marks) were honored with the unveiling of the Beach Boys Historic Landmark on the former site of the Wilson family home in Hawthorne, California.
- In 2005, Wilson won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.
- In November 2006, Wilson was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. Wilson performed “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations” at the ceremony.
- On December 2, 2007, the Kennedy Center Honors committee recognized Wilson for a lifetime of contributions to American culture through the performing arts in music.
- May 20, 2011, Wilson received the UCLA George and Ira Gershwin Award at UCLA Spring Sing.
- On February 10, 2013, Wilson won the Best Historical Album Grammy Award for The Smile Sessions.
Songs written about Wilson
- Brian Wilson (July 12, 1988)
- I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times (August 15, 1995)
- Orange Crate Art (with Van Dyke Parks) (October 24, 1995)
- Imagination (June 16, 1998)
- Gettin’ in Over My Head (June 22, 2004)
- Brian Wilson Presents Smile (September 28, 2004)
- What I Really Want for Christmas (October 18, 2005)
- That Lucky Old Sun (September 2, 2008)
- Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (August 17, 2010)
- In the Key of Disney (October 25, 2011)
Ida “B” Blackburn Beach Boys Interview 1964
Dick Clark Interviews The Beach Boys – American Bandstand 1964
Brian Wilson on Larry King Live (8-20-2004)
Brian Wilson interview on Mike Douglas 1976
Brian Wilson on Mike Douglas 1976 part 2 – Back Home
Brian Wilson relations with Landy Part 1
Brian Wilson relations with Landy Part 2
itw w/ Carl & Brian Wilson @ Live Aid 85
mike love beach boys interview transcendental meditation
Brian Wilson on “Charlie Rose” (6-24-2005)
Brian Wilson – A Classic Interview Part 1
Brian Wilson – A Classic Interview Part 2
Brian Wilson – A Classic Interview Part 3
Brian Wilson – A Classic Interview Part 4
Brian Wilson – A Classic Interview Part 5
Google Play: The Beach Boys Interview
Brian Wilson – Kennedy Center Honors – Complete
Related Posts On Pronk Palisades
Read Full Post
| Make a Comment ( 64 so far )