They may have gotten their start as a garage band in the early 1960s, but it wasn't long before brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, grew much bigger than that as The Beach Boys. Together, they ruled the charts with songs of cars, girls, and surfing, resulting in a music phenomenon that has, in one form or another, lasted more than 50 years and is still going strong.
It was never an easy journey, particularly for the Wilsons who were initially held firmly under the thumb of their physically abusive father and, then, eventually having to deal with their own emotional issues, including depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Yet through it all, they managed to push on, with, it should be emphasized, Mike Love — love him or hate him — being the guy who worked to keep the name of The Beach Boys alive, refusing to let them and what they'd accomplished fade away. Which, again, was no easy feat given all of the internal battles (and there were many), the changes in musical styles they had to contend with, and so much more.
"The Beach Boys have survived every musical trend," Mike writes in his biography, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, "from punk and disco to hip-hop and rave. We've lived through vinyl LPs and 45s, 8-tracks followed by cassettes and then CDs, and now downloads and streaming. I know that each generation of fans has very different tastes and sensibilities, and I can't even imagine how consumers will buy and listen to music in the future. But after all these decades, I'm convinced that The Beach Boys' appeal has no demographic boundaries, no technological limits, no expiration date. The world has never been without heartbreak or despair; never without war, terror, hunger or loneliness. That being the case, I believe there will always be a need for a sonic oasis, or music that offers, however briefly, harmony in word, harmony in spirit."
Where The Beach Boys are concerned, things were oftentimes anything but harmonious, as you'll discover in this look back at the journeys of the brothers Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine.