Beach Boys songs are some of the most recognizable pop songs in history. Although the Beach Boys reached the peak of their career in the 1960s, every new generation has discovered their music and can sing along with their greatest hits. Their album Pet Sounds, which was recorded in response to The Beatles album Rubber Soul, is considered to be one of the most influential records ever made and has been the subject of countless tribute albums.
About The Beach Boys
The story of the The Beach Boys - who some refer to as "America's Band" - is one that is familiar to most music fans. The group was formed in California in the early 1960s, by brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. David Marks later joined, then quit the band and Bruce Johnson also joined in the mid-60s and remains a part of the modern incarnation of The Beach Boys.
When the Beach Boys were actually in their heyday in the 1960s, the success they had was up and down. It was a highly competitive time in the music charts and they were competing with the British Invasion bands for a piece of the public eye. In retrospect, however, The Beach Boys - particularly main songwriter Brian Wilson - have been recognized for their complex harmonies and arrangements. Far from being a "surfer" band, it would be difficult to overstate the impact that The Beach Boys have had on modern music with landmark albums like Pet Sounds and songs like Good Vibrations and God Only Knows, that are complex enough to be symphonies yet play like gorgeous pop tunes.
From the outset, however, The Beach Boys were plagued by fighting, drugs, mental illness and other problems. It would be impossible to tell the story of the band in a few paragraphs, and many volumes of pages have been penned about them. These are some of the most important moments and people in the history of The Beach Boys:
Murray Wilson was the father of Brian, Dennis and Carl. He abused his sons physically and emotionally on a regular basis, but when he saw the promise in the band, he insinuated himself into the position of manager. Murray Wilson had been involved in the music industry previously and forced the boys to record many of his own songs. After Brian gave a Beach Boys song to Jan and Dean, who recorded it and scored a number one hit, Murray was furious. It sparked a fight and violent altercation that led to Murray being dismissed as manager and becoming estranged from his family. None of his sons attended his funeral.
Brian Wilson's Mental Illness
Brian Wilson has continually struggled with mental illness in his career, and he was often coming in and out of the band because of it. He quit touring on numerous occasions, and he made poor business decisions, including signing away his copyrights, because of it. His drug use only compounded the problem. In the early 1980s, the band brought in therapist Eugene Landy to treat Brian. Landy worked himself into Wilson's life and eventually took over all of his affairs and began to exploit Brian financially. The band had to go to court to bar Landy from seeing Wilson.
The Deaths of Dennis and Carl
Dennis and Carl Wilson also struggled with drug and alcohol addictions throughout their careers. Dennis drowned in 1983. He threw some of his belongings into the water in a rage and then dove in to collect them, never returning to the surface.
Carl passed away in 1998 from lung cancer.
Modern Incarnation and Legal Battles
To the outrage of many, Mike Love owns The Beach Boys name, and he tours with a band that bears little resemblance to the original Beach Boys - including actor John Stamos on drums. Because of his frequent legal battles with Brian Wilson, who many believe to be the real genius behind the Beach Boys sound, Love is a lightning rod for the ire of many "purist" Beach Boys fans. When the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he further annoyed fans by making a long, rambling, drunken speech in which he insulted Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Diana Ross and publicly discussed legal battles of other musicians.
Brian Wilson cannot tour under the Beach Boys name, but he tours as a solo artist and performs Beach Boys Songs.
Beach Boys Songs
The Beach Boys song catalogue contains literally hundreds of songs, among them some of the world's best known tunes. Some of their biggest hits were:
- Surfer Girl
- Surfin' USA
- I Get Around
- Good Vibrations
- God Only Knows
- Be True To Your School
- Sloop John B
- Don't Worry Baby