The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, the Beach Boys signed to 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. By the mid-1960s, Brian Wilson's growing creative ambition and songwriting ability would dominate the group's musical direction. The primarily Wilson-composed Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single (both released in 1966) featured a complex, intricate and multi-layered sound that represented a departure from the simple surf rock of the Beach Boys' early years.
Starting in 1967, Wilson gradually abdicated control to the rest of the band, assuming a reduced level of 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 and commercial success, the group struggled to reclaim their commercial momentum in America despite once being seen as the primary competitors to the Beatles. Since the 1980s, there has been much legal-wrangling among the group members over royalties, songwriting credits, and use of the band's name. Following Carl Wilson's death in 1998, a number of versions of the band, each fronted by a surviving member of the original quintet (Dennis having died in 1983), continued to tour into the 2000s. In 2012, the surviving Beach Boys put aside their differences, recorded a new album, and embarked on a full-scale reunion tour.
The Beach Boys have often been called "America's Band", and Allmusic has stated that their "unerring ability ... made them America's first, best rock band." The group have had over eighty songs chart worldwide, thirty-six of them United States Top 40 hits (the most by an American rock band), four of those reaching number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Beach Boys have sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide and are listed at number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The core quintet of the three Wilsons, Love and Jardine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
1958-1966: The Beach Boys under Brian Wilson edit:
Formation and first years (1958-61) edit:
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 like the Four Freshmen. One night he taught his brothers a song called "Ivory Tower" and how to sing the background harmonies. "We practiced night after night, singing softly hoping we wouldn't wake our Dad." 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 the 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. He failed to complete a twelfth-grade piano sonata, but did submit an original composition, called "Surfin'".
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, drawing tremendous applause for their version of doo-wop group the Olympics' "Hully Gully". Brian also knew Al Jardine, a high school classmate who had already played guitar in a folk group called the Islanders. One day, on the spur of the moment, they asked a couple of football players in the school training room to learn harmony parts, but it wasn't a success--the bass singer was flat.
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, derived from the Pendleton woolen shirts popular at the time. In their earliest performances, the band wore the 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 band-member who surfed. 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. In September 1961, Murry arranged for the Pendletones to meet publishers Hite and Dorinda Morgan at Stereo Masters in Hollywood. 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'". Brian was taken aback--he had not finished writing the song--but Hite Morgan was interested and asked them to call back when the song was complete.
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. When they auditioned again a few days later, Hite Morgan declared: "That's a smash!" 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. The limited budget meant the labels could not be reprinted.
Released in December 1961, "Surfin'" was soon aired on KFWB and KRLA, two of Los Angeles' most influential teen radio stations. It was a hit on the West Coast, and peaked at number 75 on the national pop charts. Murry Wilson told the boys he did not like "Surfin'". However, according to Brian, "he smelled money to be made and jumped on the promotional bandwagon, calling every radio station..." By now the de facto manager of the Beach Boys, Murry got 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". The boys went home with $50 apiece.
Early successes with surf and hot rod-themed rock (1962-64) edit:
Although Murry effectively seized managerial control of the band without consultation, Brian acknowledges that he "deserves credit for getting us off the ground... he hounded us mercilessly... but also worked hard himself". He was the first to stress the importance of having a follow-up hit. In the first half of February 1962, Jardine left the band (but not, as long assumed, to continue his college studies) and was replaced by David Marks who officially became a Beach Boy for the first time. Around this time, the Beach Boys began wearing blue/gray-striped button-down shirts tucked into white pants as their touring "uniforms", the band's signature look through to 1966. The band duly 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 the band's first 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.
On July 16, on the strength of the June demo session, the Beach Boys were signed to Capitol Records. By November, their first album was ready--Surfin' Safari which charted at number 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., an album which placed a greater emphasis on surf rock instrumentals and tighter production values. 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 of the era. After the moderate success of Surfin' Safari, Surfin' U.S.A., released on March 25, 1963 met a more emphatic 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, which eventually hit number one on the US 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. During this early association with Jan and Dean, Brian, on the recommendation of the duo began experimenting with session musicians in the studio.
At the beginning of a tour of the Mid-West in April 1963, Jardine rejoined the Beach Boys at Brian's request. As Jardine 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 one of his favorite producers, Phil Spector. The session musicians were never an outright replacement for members of the band, rather used to augment arrangements or perfect takes in a shorter amount of time to adhere to the fast-paced recording environment that the early-sixties forced onto the group. 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 however as Marks officially left the band in early October due to conflict with manager Murry Wilson, resulting in Brian having to tour once more.
Following a successful Australasian tour in January and February 1964, the band returned home to be greeted by the Beatles leading the charge of the British invasion through their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Reportedly, Brian Wilson wished to have more time to complete the album they had been working on earlier in the year, 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, certain tracks, largely those quickly recorded to satisfy Capitol's demands, are often received with less enthusiasm.
It has been reported that during the recording of the single "I Get Around" in April, 1964, Murry Wilson was relieved of his duties as manager. When the single was released in May, 1964, it would climb to the number one position on the Billboard charts, the first such feat the Beach Boys had accomplished. The album that it later appeared on in July, 1964, All Summer Long (album) reached number four on the Billboard 200 charts and has been cited by some as the best early-Beach Boys album. The album was also a swan-song to the surf and car music the Beach Boys built their commercial standing upon, with the albums that followed All Summer Long taking a stylistic and/or lyrical path that greatly deviated from the established 1962-1964 style of the band.
The early Beach Boys' hits helped raise the profile of both the state of California and surfing. The group also celebrated the Golden State's obsession with hot-rod racing ("Shut Down", "409" and "Little Deuce Coupe") and the pursuit of happiness by carefree teens ("Be True to Your School", "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "I Get Around").
Apart from Murry Wilson and the close vocal harmonies of Brian's favorite groups, early inspiration came from the driving rock-and-roll sound of Chuck Berry, and Phil Spector's Wall of Sound production.
Musically, two of their early songs were influenced by others: "Surfer Girl" shares a similar melody to "When You Wish Upon a Star", while "Surfin' U.S.A." is a variation of Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen". A lawsuit eventually granted Berry writing credit as well as royalties from the record.
The group's early hits made them major pop stars in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and several other countries as well, with sixteen hit singles between 1962 and 1965. The Beach Boys were one of the few American bands formed prior to the British Invasion in 1964 to hold onto the success they had garnered in 1962-63.
Today!, Summer Days and production advances (1965) edit:
By the end of 1964, the stress of road travel, composing, producing and maintaining a high level of creativity became too much to bear for Brian Wilson. On December 23 that year, while on a flight to Houston, 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 required him to leave 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 his own talents in the studio beginning with the vocal sessions for "California Girls" recorded on the 4th of June, 1965.
1965 led to greater experimentation behind the soundboard with Wilson. The album The Beach Boys Today! featured guitar-oriented songs such as "Dance, Dance, Dance", "Do You Wanna Dance?", "Don't Hurt My Little Sister" and "Good to My Baby", as well as volume experiments and increased lyrical maturity with "Please Let Me Wonder" and "She Knows Me Too Well". Side A of the album was devoted to upbeat tunes, with darker and melancholic ballads on the reverse side. The shift in style was embraced by other members of the band. During the album's recording sessions, Mike Love told Melody Maker that he and the band wanted to look beyond surf rock, wanting to avoid living in the past or resting on the band's laurels.
In June, 1965, the band released Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). The album included a reworked arrangement of "Help Me, Rhonda" which became the band's second number one single in the spring of 1965, displacing the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride". Songs that featured on these albums such as "Kiss Me, Baby" and "Let Him Run Wild" tapped into the same youthful angst that would later pervade his upcoming efforts.
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 modest number 20 peak, it was only 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 without any input from the band. A cover of a 1961 song by the Regents, it became one of the Beach Boys' most recognized hits over the years.
Pet Sounds, "Good Vibrations" and the genesis of Smile (1966) edit:
During the mid-sixties, the Beach Boys left surfing behind and began to write surreal, melodramatic and revolutionary songs. The group was exploring similar musical tastes to other contemporaneous acts, such as the Byrds and the Yardbirds. During their psychedelic period, the Beach Boys started to use unconventional instruments and elaborate layers of vocal harmonies on their groundbreaking record Pet Sounds. A heralding 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. However, as with Brian Jones and Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson's use of psychedelic drugs--especially LSD--led to a nervous breakdown. This resulted in the abandoning of the intended follow-up to Pet Sounds, Smile (a presentation of the bulk of the recorded sessions was released in 2011 as The Smile Sessions).
In December 1965, the Beatles released Rubber Soul, an album which enthralled Brian Wilson. Until then, most albums lacked a cohesive artistic goal and were largely pushed by record labels as a way to sell singles to the record buying public. Wilson found Rubber Soul broke the mold with a consistent thread of greatness. Inspired, he rushed to his wife and proclaimed, "Marilyn, I'm gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!"
The result was Pet Sounds (1966), where Wilson's growing mastery of studio recording and his increasingly sophisticated songs and complex arrangements would reach a creative peak. Influenced by psychedelic drugs, Brian Wilson turned his attention inward and probed his deep-seated self-doubts and emotional longings. The Beach Boys did not look at the problems in the world around them, unlike other psychedelic rock groups. The album's meticulously layered harmonies and inventive instrumentation (performed by the cream of 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 strains of lushness, melancholy, and nostalgia for youth. 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 sophisticated instrumental tracks, the quiet and wistful "Let's Go Away for Awhile" and the brittle brassy surf of the instrumental title track. 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 but reached a stronger number two in the UK, an accomplishment which helped the Beach Boys become the strongest selling albums act in the UK for the final quarter of 1966; dethroning the three year reign of UK native bands such as the Beatles.
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 in Japan. They returned to find a substantially complete album, requiring only their vocals to finish it. Some people believe that there was some resistance from within the band to this new direction, yet Dennis Wilson in 1976, in response to these rumors, assured that all members of the band were fond of the album. In particular, lead singer Mike Love has been reported to have been opposed to it, calling it "Brian's ego music", a claim he has refuted in numerous interviews, voicing that the claims of his opposition to Pet Sounds are "untrue, so unkind, so petty and so malicious". It has been hypothesized that the stories of Love's antipathy to Pet Sounds stemmed from how Wilson worked extensively on it with outside lyricist Tony Asher rather than with Love himself, who had co-written many of their early hits (Love was touring in Japan at the time).
"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."
--Robin Denselow writing for The Guardian, September 1976
Seeking to expand on the advances made on Pet Sounds, Wilson began an even more ambitious project, originally dubbed Dumb 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 $16,000, more than most albums, sessions for the song stretched over several months in at least three 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 song's innovative instrumentation included drums, Hammond organ, piano, tack piano, two basses, guitars, electro-theremin, harmonica, and cello. The group members recall the "Good Vibrations" vocal sessions as among the most demanding of their 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.
1967-1973: The Beach Boys as a democratic unit edit:
Abandonment of Smile and the release of Smiley Smile and Wild Honey (1967) edit:
By 1967, the Smile project had run into trouble. It has been suggested that several band members found the new music too far removed from their established style. Another serious concern was that the new music was not feasible for live performance by the current Beach Boys lineup. Love was opposed to most of Parks' lyrics; he has also since stated that he was deeply concerned about Wilson's escalating drug intake. The problems came to a head during the recording of "Cabin Essence", when Love asked that Parks explain the meaning of the closing refrain of the song, "Over and over the crow cries uncover the cornfield." Parks walked out after a heated debate, and his partnership with Wilson ended shortly thereafter.
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.
However, 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. Compounding these setbacks, the group's public image took another hit following their withdrawal from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
Despite the cancellation of Smile, several tracks--including "Our Prayer", "Cabin Essence" and "Surf's Up"--continued to trickle out. Many were assembled by Carl Wilson over the next few years and included on later albums. The band was still expecting to complete and release Smile as late as 1972, before it became clear that only Brian could comprehend the endless fragments that had been recorded. The original Smile project did not surface until the 2000s, when Wilson reunited with Parks to complete its writing. Wilson then released the re-recorded Smile in 2004 as a solo album, and this was followed by the band's version in 2011.
The 1967 album Wild Honey features 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 in the charts, reaching number 24 in the US.
Friends, 20/20 and initial interactions with the Maharishi (1968-69) edit:
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 certain songs influenced by the Transcendental Meditation taught by the Maharishi. 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 dates and was cancelled on May 5, 1968 when the Maharishi had to withdraw to fulfill film contracts. Twenty-four tour dates were subsequently cancelled at a cost estimated at $250,000 for the band. The band's waning US popularity continued with the album's title song "Friends" becoming their least successful single since 1962, charting at number 47. The album of the same name reached number 13 in the UK and 126 in the US. This single was followed by the hard-rocking single "Do It Again", modeled off their surf-rock past but with a style more typical of the late-60's. The single went to the top of the Australian and UK single charts in 1968, but was only moderately successful in the US, peaking at number 20.
As Brian's mental health deteriorated, his song output diminished; he eventually became withdrawn and detached from the band. To fill this creative void, other members began writing and producing songs. Carl Wilson gradually assumed leadership of the band, developing into an accomplished producer. To complete their contract with Capitol, they produced one more album. 20/20 (1969) was one of the group's most diverse albums ranging from waltz-based songs like "Time to Get Alone" to its remake of the Ronettes' "I Can Hear Music" to hard rock songs such as "Do It Again", "Bluebirds Over the Mountain", and "All I Want to Do". The diversity of several songs were a sign that the group were trying to establish their identity. The album performed strongly in the UK, reaching number three on the charts. In the US, the album reached a modest 68 on the Billboard charts.
The Beach Boys reactivated their Brother label and signed with Reprise in 1969 and commenced recording two separate albums Add Some Music and Reverbration, one was to be a release for Capitol and the other for Reprise, however these projects were eventually combined to strengthen the quality of the album they submitted to Reprise. By the time the Beach Boys ended their tenure with Capitol in 1969, they had sold 65 million records worldwide, closing the decade as the most commercially successful American group in popular music.
Sunflower, Surf's Up and change in sound, label and management (1970-71) edit:
In 1970, armed with the new Reprise contract, the band appeared rejuvenated, releasing the album Sunflower to critical acclaim. Sunflower is recognized as a complete group effort, with all band members contributing significant material, such as "Add Some Music to Your Day", Brian's "This Whole World", Dennis's "Forever" and Bruce Johnston's "Tears in the Morning". However, the band experienced their worst American chart performance ever, peaking at number 151, although the single "Cottonfields"--which appeared on European releases of Sunflower--hit the top five in the UK. Brian, who had shown signs of mental and physical recovery during this period, was devastated by the lack of success and once again slowly began to withdraw.
After Sunflower, the band hired Jack Rieley as their manager. Rieley chose a different direction for the group, emphasizing political and social awareness. The result was Surf's Up, featuring Brian's Smile centerpiece, "Surf's Up". The song was the same arrangement as Brian's 1966 version, with Carl adding vocals and overdubs. Carl's "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows" with lyrics by Rieley are also standouts on the record. The track "A Day in the Life of a Tree" was sung by Rieley himself. Johnston produced the classic "Disney Girls (1957)", a throwback to the easier, simpler time Johnston remembered.
Johnston ended his first stint with the band shortly after the record's release, reportedly because of friction with Rieley. 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.
Line-up shuffle, Carl and the Passions, Holland and acclaimed live performances (1972-73) edit:
The addition of Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin in February 1972 led to a dramatic restructuring in sound for the band. The album Carl and the Passions - "So Tough" was an uncharacteristic mix that included several songs written by Fataar and Chaplin. The live shows during this era included reworked arrangements of many of the band's previous songs. In April 1972, Bruce Johnston, due to reported conflict with band manager Jack Rieley, left the group (Johnston would later rejoin the band; however, he still performed as a guest musician on subsequent Beach Boy releases).
For their next project the band, their families, assorted associates and technicians moved to the Netherlands for the summer of 1972. Once there, 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 before release. 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 on the Billboard album chart. Brian's musical children story, "Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale)", narrated by Rieley, which was directly influenced by Randy Newman's Sail Away album, was included as a "bonus" extended play (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 charting album and became the band's first gold record under Reprise. It was during this period that the band established themselves as one of America's most popular live acts. Chaplin and Fataar helped orchestrate the concerts in order to obtain a high quality live performance, playing their current material off Surf's Up, Carl and the Passions and Holland and supplementing songs from their older catalog. It was this concert arrangement which would soon send them back into American public recognition.
1974-1977: Brian Wilson's second tenure as leader of the Beach Boys edit:
Endless Summer and its implication on band dynamics (1974-75) edit:
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 another 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 being the opening act for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to headliners selling out basketball arenas in a matter of weeks. Rolling Stone magazine 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.
Manager Jack Rieley, who remained in the Netherlands after Holland's release, was relieved of his managerial duties in late 1973. Blondie Chaplin also left the band in late 1973 after an argument with Steve Love, the band's business manager (and Mike's brother). Ricky 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 albums of 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.
15 Big Ones and the "Brian's Back" campaign (1976) edit:
15 Big Ones (1976) marked the return of Brian Wilson as a major force in the group. The album included several 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 SNL cast members John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
Love You, Adult/Child and the short-lived disbanding of the group (1977) edit:
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, 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 has since 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."
--Lester Bangs in a review of Love You for Circus, June 9, 1977
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 some sourced from recording sessions for Sunflower. The effort is noted for featuring a "big band" sound on a number of the tracks. These tracks were written by Wilson and arranged by Dick Reynolds.
Though publicized as the Beach Boys' next release, Adult/Child reportedly caused tension within the group and was ultimately shelved. Rumors surfaced alleging that the album's demise directly resulted in Brian's relapsed withdrawal from band activity. Following this period, his concert appearances with the band gradually diminished and his performances when attended were deemed erratic.
Despite the much-hyped "Brian's Back" campaign in the mid to late 1970s, most critics at this point would comment on how Brian Wilson could become the latest celebrity drug casualty.
The internal wrangling came to a head after a show at Central Park, New York City on September 1, 1977, when the band effectively split up into two camps; Dennis and Carl Wilson on one side, Mike Love and Al Jardine on the other with Brian remaining a neutral party. Following a confrontation on an airport's tarmac, the band broke up for a period of two and a half weeks. This was followed by a band meeting taken place on September 17, 1977 at Brian's house. In light of a new Caribou Records (CBS) contract in the balance all parties negotiated a settlement resulting in Mike Love gaining corporate control of Brian's vote in the group, meaning he along with Al could vote against Carl and Dennis Wilson on any matter.
1978-present: The Beach Boys under fluctuating control and influence edit:
Infighting and the retreat of the Wilsons (1978-1983) edit:
After the Brian Wilson produced album Adult/Child was deemed too uncommercial to be released, Brian relented creative control to Mike Love and Al Jardine who dictated the future direction of the band. The Beach Boys' last album for Reprise, M.I.U. Album (1978), was recorded at Maharishi International University in Iowa at the insistence of Love. Dennis and Carl made limited contributions to the project; 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 album. The record also acted as a catalyst in dividing the group between two camps. Mike Love and Al Jardine desired to focus on rock and roll orientated material while Carl and Dennis wished to resume the progressive focus they had established with the albums Carl and the Passions and Holland. This division resulted in Dennis withdrawing 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 resulting in Dennis' Bambu being shelved, Carl appearing intoxicated during concerts (notably at appearances on their disastrous 1978 Australia tour) and Brian gradually sliding back into addiction and an unhealthy lifestyle.
After departing Reprise, the Beach Boys signed with CBS Records. They in turn 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 Brian was in no condition to write or produce the required material, the band recruited former band member Bruce Johnston as producer. The result paid off, as "Good Timin'" became a US top 40 single. The album also featured outstanding performances by both Dennis (cuts intended for his second solo effort Bambu) and Carl ("Full Sail"). The group also enjoyed moderate success with a disco reworking of the Wild Honey song "Here Comes the Night".
1980 saw the release of Keepin' the Summer Alive, with Johnston once again producing. Carl Wilson would be the only Wilson brother who made any sort of imprint on 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 Wilson's ongoing personal problems resulted in him not being featured in either the special or 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 people and families attending any similar events in the future. During the ensuing uproar, 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 of the band. White House staff presented Watt with a plaster foot with a hole in it, symbolizing his having shot himself in the foot with his decision. The band returned to D.C. for Independence Day in 1984 and performed to a crowd of 750,000 people.
Dennis Wilson's personal problems, however, had continued to escalate. On December 28, 1983, he drowned in the 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 reliance on nostalgia (1984-1998) edit:
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 video for it.
During this period, the band had employed controversial therapist Eugene Landy in an attempt to help Wilson. At first, Landy's therapy resulted in improvements in Wilson's overall condition; from Wilson's own admissions concerning his massive drug intake, it was likely he would have died soon had Landy had not intervened. It was later noted Landy's therapy likely caused a lot of damage to Wilson. Landy's staff at the behest of the psychologist had prescribed significant amounts of psychotropic drugs to Wilson, which potentially resulted in him developing 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. Landy successfully treated Wilson's drug dependence, and by 1988 Wilson had recovered sufficiently to record his first solo album, Brian Wilson. However Landy became increasingly possessive of his patient. After accusations that Landy was using his control over Wilson for his own benefit, the band and his family successfully entreated the courts to separate Landy from Wilson in 1991.
By 1988, Brian Wilson had officially left the Beach Boys and released his first solo album. It was during this period, that 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 managed to become 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 the bongos. Having been 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. Riding high on the runaway success of "Kokomo", the Beach Boys released the album Still Cruisin', which went gold in the US and gave them their best chart showing since 1976.
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 "Sea of Tunes" case, Love discovered Murry Wilson did not properly credit 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 to gain credit for his co-authorship of a number of important Beach Boys songs, 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 1990, the band gathered several studio musicians and recorded the Melcher-produced title track of the comedy Problem Child. Stamos again appeared in video, and later appeared singing lead vocals on "Forever" (written by Dennis Wilson for the Sunflower album) on their 1992 album Summer in Paradise. Having no new contributions from Brian Wilson whatsoever due to interference from caretaker Eugene Landy, Summer in Paradise was poorly ragarded by both critics and fans, and would become their last album of original material for two decades until the 2012 release of That's Why God Made the Radio.
Members of the band appeared on television shows such as Full House, Home Improvement, and Baywatch in the late 1980s and 1990s. 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 Wilson. Carl Wilson confided to Callan that Brian would record again with the band at some point in the near future, though sessions from this era involving Brian and The Beach Boys were never released. In 1995, Brian Wilson appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, which saw him performing for the first time with his now-adult daughters, Wendy and Carnie of the group Wilson Phillips. The documentary also included glowing tributes from many of his peers and renewed interest in Brian Wilson as a pop genius and producer extraordaire.
In February 1996, the Beach Boys guested with Status Quo on a re-recording of "Fun, Fun, Fun", which was a British Top-30 hit. In June, the group worked with comedian Jeff Foxworthy on the recording "Howdy From Maui", and ultimately 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, rejoined the group and acted as co-producer.
In early 1997, Carl Wilson was diagnosed with lung cancer after years of heavy smoking. Despite his terminal condition, Carl soldiered on throughout the band's 1997 summer tour while undergoing chemotherapy. During performances, he sat on a stool and reportedly needed oxygen after every song. Carl managed to stand, however, when featuring his signature vocal on "God Only Knows". By 1998 the cancer had spread to his brain. Carl Wilson died on February 6, 1998, just two months after the death of the Wilson's mother, Audree.
Splintering of the Beach Boys' name and the relationships of the members (1999-2010) edit:
Following Carl Wilson's death, the remaining members splintered. Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and David 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 were successful in securing the license. In turn Jardine began to tour regularly with his band dubbed "Beach Boys: Family & Friends" until he ran into legal issues for using the Beach Boys name without holding a BRI-approved license. Relieved from Landy's hold, Brian Wilson sought different treatments for his illnesses which aided him in continuing his solo career that saw him tour regularly with his backing band consisting of members of Wondermints and other LA/Chicago musicians. David Marks also maintained a quiet but steady solo career. Each of their tours remained reliable draws, with Wilson and Jardine both remaining legal members of the Beach Boys organization.
In November 2005 following the release of Brian Wilson presents Smile, Love filed a lawsuit against Wilson and his management. Love alleged that Wilson's representatives and the UK publication The Mail on Sunday gave the false impression to readers that their joint promotional giveaway of nearly three million copies of the Good Vibrations CD was authorized by Love and the Beach Boys. This free CD, Love alleged, includes five of Love and Wilson's co-authored hit Beach Boys songs, and was done to promote Wilson's solo CD, Smile. Love also claimed that Smile and Good Vibrations were marketed using the Beach Boys' names and images without permission. The complaint sought several million dollars in damages, and also a million dollars to cover costs of advertising to correct the perceived "damage to the band's reputation". Love stated at the time: "Once again the people around Brian... have used him for their own financial gain without regard to his rights, or my rights, or even the rights of the estates of his deceased brothers, Carl and Dennis, and their children... Unfortunately, history repeats itself. Because of Brian's mental issues he has always been vulnerable to manipulation. I simply want to stop the infringers and stop the deception!"
Rumored speculation insinuates Love's lawsuit was an attempt to pressure Wilson into agreeing to let him continue to use the profitable Beach Boys name for his and Johnston's touring efforts. Wilson's lawyers suggested in legal filings that Love was seeking to assert, as personal claims, the rights of the corporate holder of the Beach Boys trademark, Brother Records International, in which Love and Wilson are both shareholders. Wilson's website listed the following statement in response: "The lawsuit against Brian is meritless. While he will vigorously defend himself he is deeply saddened that his cousin Mike Love has sunk to these depths for his own financial gain."
Love's 2005 lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in May 2007 as to all the defendants, including Wilson. In a series of rulings, the court rejected all of Love's claims, including the claim that Smile was a Beach Boys project as to which Love deserved compensation from Wilson directly. The court subsequently ruled that Love had to pay the legal fees of all the defendants as well.
Nonetheless on June 13, 2006, the five surviving Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David 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 Wilson accepting on behalf of Dennis and Carl. On August 21, 2010, the Beach Boys opened for Bryan Adams at Empire Field in Vancouver for the 100th year of the PNE.
The Smile Sessions, 50th anniversary reunion tour and That's Why God Made the Radio (2011-present) edit:
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, Johnston, and prerecorded vocals by Carl Wilson.
Toward the end of 2011, the Beach Boys with the participation of Brian Wilson finally released the unfinished Smile album in the form of The Smile Sessions. The album - even in its incomplete form - garnered universal critical acclaim and experienced almost immediate popular success, charting in both the Billboard US & 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 original 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 to Rolling Stone's Top 500 album list at number 381. 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".
During this time, as with every month in calendar year 2011, rumors circulated regarding the surviving members of the Beach Boys and a reunion for the band's 50th anniversary; a studio album and a world-wide tour. Despite some uncertainty and limited public comment, on December 16, 2011, it was announced that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks would reunite for a new album and 50th anniversary tour in 2012 that would 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 band 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. On February 16, 2012, dates for their tour were announced, which includes shows in the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe.
Wilson and Love discussed the upcoming album and tour in an interview on February 16, 2012. The duo said the album is halfway done with Wilson doing the writing and stating that all of the songs will flow into each other. The album will end with a Pet Sounds- and Smile-inspired suite. One track titled "That's Why God Made the Radio" is filled with classic Beach Boys harmonies and one of their best songs ever, according to Wilson. Love stated the band has yet to rehearse for the upcoming tour saying they have a lot of songs to choose from and both Bruce Johnston and Al Jardine will perform the songs they sang lead on. With so many songs fans want to hear, Wilson and Love remain unsure how many new songs will make the setlists. When asked if the two were friends now after the lawsuits, Wilson responded "just a lawsuit", and Love stated it was all in the distant past.
Al Jardine stated in an interview on February 25, 2012, that Carl Wilson's voice will be featured on the new album. Jardine said he found a song Carl had sung on and recorded and it will be used on the new song, "Waves of Love". Jardine said he only wished there was a way to include Dennis Wilson as well. However, while pre-recorded segments from both Carl and Dennis Wilson are featured during concerts on the band's 50th Anniversary Tour, neither "Waves of Love" nor any vocals from Carl or Dennis are featured in the final version of the new album. As for the upcoming tour, Jardine said that he hopes the group goes deep into its back catalog and performs songs that haven't been performed live in a long time, such as "Lonely Sea" and "Farmer's Daughter". Bruce Johnston said of the upcoming tour that the group will have to live up to their own legend. Johnston was responding to claims by some in the media that the group lip-synched their performance at the Grammy Awards, which the group strongly denies. 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 Dodgers and performed "Surfer Girl" along with "The Star-Spangled Banner".
The group performed together and was interviewed in a special SiriusXM concert which was recorded on April 19, 2012, in Los Angeles and aired on May 26, 2012.
On May 1, 2012, Walmart scheduled an exclusive limited edition 50th anniversary collection 'ZinePak, to include a 72-page magazine with rare photos and new interviews with the group, as well as an 11-song CD including the group's recent re-recording of "Do It Again". The reunion album, That's Why God Made the Radio, was set for release on June 5, 2012. 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. Other album tracks will include "Shelter" and "The Private Life of Bill and Sue", midtempo songs written by Wilson. According to Bruce Johnston, all the songs are originals, no cover songs, no guest musicians on the album. Each band member sings lead on at least one of the songs while Johnston contributed one song titled, "She Believes in Love Again", a song he wrote in 1985 (and that was recorded by the band on that year's The Beach Boys); however, the song was not included on the final version of the new album. Johnston compares the album to one of the band's least-successful albums but fan favorite Sunflower, while Al Jardine said the album is "very lush, very PetSound-ing".
The new album, titled That's Why God Made The Radio, was released on June 5, 2012, to generally good reviews, and debuted in the number one position on Amazon.com's "Music", "Rock" and "Pop" sales charts. The band also enjoyed their highest charting Billboard debut ever at number three -- their highest charting since 1974's Endless Summer compilation. PBS's Front Row Center aired a 90-minute special on June 7, 2012, entitled The Beach Boys: Summer's Gone.
While there are no definite plans to do so, Brian Wilson has 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" Wilson further stated.
That's Why God Made the Radio made its debut at number three on the US charts giving the group highest charting album in 37 years--since 1974's compilation Endless Summer and highest charting studio album since 1965's Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). It also became the band's first top ten studio album since 1976's 15 Big Ones. The album made its debut in the UK charts at number 15 giving the group their highest studio album debut since 1971's Surf's Up. The album also made US chart history by breaking a record by expanding the group's span of Billboard 200 top ten albums to 49 years and one week passing the Beatles with 47 years of top ten albums. Frank Sinatra holds the record with 52 years while the Rolling Stones are fourth with 45 years.
The Beach Boys performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee with the line up of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks. They performed on the What Stage on June 14, 2012.
In late June 2012, Mike Love confirmed the Beach Boys would be playing some dates in South America in October 2012 although the lineup would feature only himself and Bruce Johnston and include a different backing band than the current one. Love said that these shows will not be part of the concert series of the reunion tour. According to Brian Wilson he had no idea Love planned these tour dates. Wilson stated that he is having a lot of fun on the reunion tour, that it is blowing his mind and he would love to do more touring with the band when these dates are finished and record more music.
A month later in July 2012, Love further spoke about the group's future by saying "There's talk of us going and doing a return to the Grammys next year, and there's talk about doing another album together. There's nothing in stone, but there's a lot of ideas being floated around. So after this year, after completing the 50th anniversary reunion, we'll entertain doing some more studio work and see what we can come up with and can do in the future." Love said that Wilson and producer Joe Thomas had over 80 hours of music recorded much of it culled from material they were working on around the time of Wilson's 1998 "Imagination" album that "were always songs he had earmarked for the Beach Boys." He further added that the label is stoked about what is happening and are pushing for more music and more tour dates. Later in 2012, the group released the Fifty Big Ones and Greatest Hits compilations along with reissues of 12 of their albums.
On October 5, 2012, Love announced 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. Despite claiming that he did not fire Wilson or Jardine from the band, Love did say that "the Beach Boys' 50th-anniversary tour was always envisioned as a limited run" and that none of the band wanted to do a 50th anniversary tour that lasted 10 years." Despite positive reviews and demand from fans and promoters and Wilson and Jardine's keen attitude to keep going after the tour. Love said that an ongoing reunion tour was "impossible" because of other Beach Boys shows he had already booked as him and Johnston that started to bump up against the reunion dates. Love said "To avoid public confusion, and at the request of Brian's representative, we had a press release sent out detailing the differences between the two Beach Boys tours and its varying lineups," Love wrote "I was surprised that Brian and Al said they were surprised by this announcement. Some media outlets interpreted all of this as me firing the band." Despite the split of the reunited Beach Boys, Brian Wilson remains optimistic about recording new material with the band. "I wouldn't mind getting together with Mike Love and the guys and making an exciting rock & roll album. . . I'm sure by early next year we'll be ready to rock,"