Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brian Wilson!

Brian Wilson Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys
Top: Left, Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Right, Mature Brian Wilson. Bottom: The Beach Boys left to right: Brian Wilson; Mike Love; Al Jardine; Carl Wilson; and Dennis Wilson.

Seventy years ago today, music icon Brian Wilson was born. In 1961, Brian got together with his brothers, Dennis and Carl, cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine to form a band that still can be heard on the radio, The Beach Boys. I remember the music quite well, for it was at the height of it's popularity during my childhood, and my brother loved listening to the surf music of the 1960s. However, to a younger audience, Wilson might be better known as the father of Wendy and Carny, two-thirds of the Pop group Wilson Phillips. When I checked out the music of The Beach Boys, I was surprised to see they only had four #1 hits on the Billboard Pop chart, although they had another 13 songs to make it to the Top 10. The first to top the charts was "I Get Around", released May of 1964, off the All Summer Long album. The B-Side was "Don't Worry, Baby" which made it to #24 on the Billboard chart.

In just about 11 months, The Beach Boys made another journey to the top of the charts. They released "Help Me, Ronda" on April of 1965. While the single was off the album Today!, the single was a rerecorded and renamed version, "Help Me, Rhonda". It was a departure for the band, as Al Jardine was on lead vocal, not Brian or Mike Love. But by December, it was the #1 song in the country.

The next song was first played in the studio during the sessions for the Pet Sounds album, one of the more influential albums of the 1960s. While it wasn't picked for the album, it did make it as a single, a great decision to be sure. "Good Vibrations" was released in October of 1966, and was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 before Christmas.

It took a little longer than this to score their fourth chart-topper. A lot longer. In fact, The Beach Boys released "Kokomo" in July of 1988, almost 22 years since the release of "Good Vibrations". It also went to #1 on the charts in Japan and Australia. The song was part of the soundtrack to Cocktail, featuring a young Tom Cruise at the start of his popularity. In fact, it was his first film (of many to come) to bring in over $100 million, reaching over $170 million. The song was written by John Phillips, of the legendary group The Mamas & The Papas, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Scott McKenzie, who had the 1967 hit "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", and Terry Melcher, noted Rock music producer and only son of Doris Day.

However, I have to say my favorite song by The Beach Boys was not one of the four listed above. "God Only Knows" was composed and produced by Brian Wilson, and had lyrics by Tony Asher. It was not Brian on the lead vocals, instead his brother Carl Wilson. Released in July of 1966, here is my favorite, even if it only made it to #39 on the Billboard Hot 100.

For many years, Wilson fought his demon, for the most part in private. First he stopped touring with the band, but played in the studio. In the 1970s, he left the band, becoming the recluse as the drug use seem to trip some mental illness. Since then, his involvement with the band has come and gone. For more about The Beach Boys, you can visit their official website. You can also find Brian Wilson's official website, where he announced that he will rejoin The Beach Boys for a 50th Anniversary Tour. You can purchase all the songs featured in the post on The Beach Boys: 20 Good Vibrations, Their Greatest Hits Vol. 1 on both iTunes and Amazon, both at the great price of $7.99. Starting in 1990, the family was again represented on the charts by Wilson Phillips, made up of Brian's daughters Carny and Wendy Wilson, as well as Chynna Phillips, daughter of John & Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas.

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