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The Beach Boys Enduring Music

Updated on July 3, 2014

The Beach Boys began their music career in 1961. Zoom in to today and you won’t get through a summer without hearing tunes like “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “California Girls”, and “Surfin USA” to name just a few of their many hits. What is it about The Beach Boys that made them just as popular today as they were when they first begun?

The Genius of Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson was the mastermind of The Beach Boys. When Brian was very young he had a love of music. His father pushed him toward music because he was a frustrated musician. Brian learned to play the toy accordion and sang solos in church when he was young. According to an article in NME Brian’s influences was The Four Freshman. His first album was a Four Freshman album called Four Freshman and 5 Trombones. The first song he fell in love with was “Rock Around The Clock “by Bill Haley and The Comets. Brian’s Yamaha Synthesizer was another influence on him. He wrote eighteen songs in four months on it.

Brian Wilson wrote two dozen hits for the Beach Boys which is very impressive. Brian had the genius, but it took a toll on him. After the Pet Sounds album he had a few nervous breakdowns which caused some tensions in the band. After Brian’s father died in 1973 Brian began a path of self-destruction and became almost like a recluse. In 1995 Brian finally felt well enough to create music again and the world enjoyed his solo albums and his return to The Beach Boys.

Beach Boys Songs That Made #1 on Billboard

Song
Year
Lead Vocalist
I Get Around
1964
Mike Love
Help Me Rhonda
1965
Al Jardine
Good Vibrations
1966
Carl Wilson
Kokomo
1988
Mike Love and Terry Melcher
Brian Wilson 1976
Brian Wilson 1976

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys began as the Pendletones in 1961. The members of the group were brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis. Their cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine a friend of Brian Wilson the group started when Brian Wilson decided to take his parent’s emergency money and spend it on some musical instruments and equipment. They didn’t have enough money so Al Jardine asked his mom for some money. When she heard how they sounded she chipped in $300. When Brian’s parents returned, Brian’s dad was upset at what they had done, but once he heard how they sounded he had to admit they had a good sound. He promptly became their manager. The Pendletones had a hit called Surfin, but the record company Candix changed their name to The Beach Boys without their knowledge.

Here are a few facts about each Beach Boy

Brian Wilson

Flavor wire has a few interesting facts about Brian:

It took Brian five times to get his driver’s license he kept getting distracted by the radio

Brian was a great athlete in school he was cross country runner and a football player

The group was at first called the Pendletones after the Pendleton wool shirts worn by surfers

Phil Spector invited Brian into one of his recording sessions to play, but kicked him out for his poor piano skills

“Good Vibrations” came about in a conversation Brian had with his mother. He said dogs can feel vibrations from humans that let them know if they are friendly or not.

Brian opened up a health food store that didn’t last long called The Radiant Radish.

In the early 1970’s Brian gained 100 pounds in two years because his daily breakfast consisted of a dozen eggs and a whole loaf of bread.

Carl Wilson 1966
Carl Wilson 1966

Carl Wilson was the little brother of Brian and Dennis. Here are some facts about him:

Born December 21, 1946

He was drafted into the army in 1976 but became a conscientious objector. To keep that title he had to perform music at prisons and hospitals.

He had two children from his first wife Annie Hinsche (they married in 1966), they were boys Jonah and Justyn.

Carl married Gina Martin (Dean Martin’s daughter) in 1987 he remained married to her till his death in 1987.

Carl took over leadership of the band when Brian stepped down due to psychological problems.

He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Carl sang back- up vocals on Elton John’s song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

What is the Best Beach Boys Song?

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Dennis Wilson 1971
Dennis Wilson 1971

Dennis Wilson- He was the middle brother of Brian and Carl. He was the only true surfer in the group. He convinced the band to record a song about surfing and it was called “Surfin” and that got the band going.

Dennis wasn’t as musically talented as Brian, but he drummed for the group and occasionally took the lead vocals. It was Dennis that sang the lead on the song, “Do You Wanna Dance?”.

He was spanked more than his brothers because he was anxiety filled and aggressive, but he could also be sensitive and generous.

It was the Beach Boy’s mom Audree that insisted that Dennis be part of the group. Dennis was given the drummer’s role and he learned lessons on drumming at school and learned more being in the group. Brian would sometimes hire session drummers like Hal Blaine to do the drumming for his songs. Dennis understood, but he in time, had his own unique drumming style a rim type playing.

In 1971 he injured his hand and didn’t play drums until 1974.

In 1968 he became involved with Charles Manson and his group and even had them living at his house at his expense for a while. Later Dennis noticed how violent Charles could be and eventually moved out of the house. Dennis’s housekeeper was given a bullet and a cryptic message by Charles to give to Dennis. Charles was mad because he wanted a recording contract and more money. Dennis looked upon this as a threat.

In 1983 he drowned in Marina Del Rey at the age of thirty-nine.

Mike Love 2004
Mike Love 2004

Mike Love-cousin of the Beach Boys he was born March 15, 1941. He collaborated with Brian Wilson to produce lyrics to hits such as “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “California Girls”, and “Good Vibrations”.

He started playing the saxophone in the Pendletones, but then he became co –singer with Brian Wilson when they became the Beach Boys.

Mike is a vegetarian; he also practices and preaches transcendental meditation.

Al Jardine 2012
Al Jardine 2012

Al Jardine- He is a friend of Brian Wilson. He saw Brian and Carl singing in the school assembly and suggested that they form a band. Al wanted it to be a folk band and he learned banjo and guitar to be in that genre, but he was over ruled the Wilson brothers wanted to be in a rock and roll band.

He was the lead singer of the song “Help Me Rhonda”. In 1962 he left the group, but Brian convinced him to return In 1963. He left the group again after Carl Wilson died in 1968. Later the Carl Wilson’s family and Mike Love sued him for using the name of The Beach Boys in his band that he had named The Beach Boys Family and Friends. The band included his sons Matt and Adam, Carnie and Wendy Wilson and others. He changed the name to Al Jardine’s Family and Friends.

In 2013 he and Brian, Love, Bruce Johnson, and David Marks got together to make a new album entitled “That’s Why God Made the Radio”. They also went on a 50th anniversary tour.

What influences created that Beach Boys sound?

The city of Hawthorne had to be a great influence on the Beach Boy sound. Hawthorne was a working class suburb that had a mid-west mind set of Christian values and neat trimmed lawns. The weather was mild all year round. It also had a beach very close by. Brian didn’t really surf, but his brother Dennis did and he is the one who pushed the band to play surfing songs. The city was a great place to grow up and it had that Wonder Years vibe to it.

Musical influences for The Beach Boys were:

Johnny Otis who was a bandleader, disc jockey, talent scout, and was titled Godfather of Rhythm and Blues. He discovered Little Ester, Big Mama Thorton, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John and Hank Ballard.

Chuck Berry was a big influence you need only to hear Chuck’s song “Sweet Little Sixteen” next to The Beach Boys “Surfin USA” to see how close in sound they are to each other.

The Four Freshman a vocal quartet that had the sounds of jazz and big band in their sound. Brian loved the way they sounded and said, "'It brings a feeling of love inside me.... That feeling of harmony.'"

The Ventures were another band that influenced the Beach Boys. They were an American rock and roll instrumental band. They inspired so many groups with their guitar sounds not only the Beach Boys, but George Harrison, Joe Walsh, John Fogerty, Stephen Stills and Gene Simmons.

The Beatles were also an influence on The Beach Boys these groups inspired each other. The Beatles album Rubber Soul influenced Brian Wilson to make the album Pet Sounds. The Pet Sounds album got the creative juices flowing in the Beatles and they then came up with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Revolver album.

Harmony and that perfect sound also had Brian influenced by singers you wouldn’t expect to be on the list Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney. When he was interviewed about the line in his song “Will I still dig the things that I dug as a kid” , he stated he still liked Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney.

The Beach Boys will remain popular now and forever because of their beautifully crafted songs and their brilliant harmonies. Their songs appeal to the young and old. Their music creates a feeling of youthfulness, forgetting your troubles and having fun in the summer sun. You will never go through a summer without hearing The Beach Boys on the radio, and knowing their music carries the message of endless summer is a beautiful thing to hear.

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      pgorner 3 years ago from Tijuana, Mexico

      It occurs at the tail end of the scene where the FBI agents come on DiCaprio's boat to harrass him. He's throwing a year's salary at them as they leave, and then we hear it. Then we hear it again as DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are on a plane to Switzerland. For a few seconds. It's the background music that's played while DiCaprio is wasted and humping a stewardess's leg without her consent.

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      cfjots 3 years ago from Conway, SC

      Hi pgorner thank you for listing The Beach Boy songs that you like. I think you picked some good ones. I haven't heard the Wolf of Wall Street version I will have to listen to it.

    • profile image

      pgorner 3 years ago from Tijuana, Mexico

      I like "Don't Worry Baby", "Wendy", "Warmth of the Sun", "You're So Good To Me", and that movie the Wolf of Wall Street did a version of "Sloop John B" with an electric guitar.