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Beach Boys

Founded in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne in 1961, the Beach Boys caught the wave of the surf-music craze that engulfed first the Southland and then the nation. Consisting of brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, plus cousin Mike Love and school pal Al Jardine, the group had hit after hit with Brian's surf-pop compositions and their distinctive, sophisticated harmonies. They became the only U.S. group whose popularity could consistently stand up to that of The Beatles. Brian Wilson's growing skill in the studio soon took the group to more adventurous frontiers, culminating in the critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing Pet Sounds ; meanwhile, his increasing drug dependency and mental instability threw the group into chaos. By the late '60s, with Brian Wilson increasingly reclusive, the group became perceived as an oldies act as psychedelic rock became the new craze, although they continued to record successful albums well into the '70s. Nonetheless, despite the deaths of Dennis and Carl Wilson, periodic estrangements and lawsuits, and many personnel changes, the Beach Boys (a touring lineup fronted by Love) continue to be a huge draw both in the U.S. and abroad. Brian Wilson has periodically recorded and toured as a solo artist, and recently released an updated version of the long-lost follow-up to Pet Sounds, Smile.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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