With the machinations of Mike Love’s Morlock mind in the news again, it might seem that, for Beach Boys Corp, it’s back to business as usual.
(The Real Beach Boys! No, actually, it’s a pic from The Onion)
The Onion AV Club reports that Mike Love gives Brian Wilson and two other Beach Boys the boot:
Sources indicate that Love—who cited his fear of overexposure as the reasoning behind his decision—was not particularly forthcoming about his plans with the rest of the Group Formerly Known As The Beach Boys. The A.V. Club reported in June that Love planned to perform as the Beach Boys at several shows in October, at least one of which was cancelled when venue managers at Nutty Jerry’s in Winnie, Texas found out that by “Beach Boys,” Love really meant, “Me and Bruce Johnston and some random backup guys.” Love subsequently expressed his frustration with the cost of the band’s reunion tour.
and the ‘335 Reasonable Discussions’ that follow it open with the premise that
Mike Love always has and always will be Rock’s biggest asshole. Move over, Lars.
Bigger assholes in rock are volunteered, but eventually the debate gets back on track, and Mike Love get the usual treatment.
Messageboard discussions about Mike Love, outside the adulatory Beach Boys fan world, have always been consistent in the belief that he is ‘Rock’s biggest asshole’. None of this is exactly news. It shouldn’t be news to Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks either – they must know the guy quite well, 50 big ones down the line.
Amongst the Onion AV ‘Reasonable Discussions’ there is this:
If Al and whoever is making Brian’s decisions for him expected anything different they clearly don’t know Mike as well as anyone who has posted a “Mike’s a dick” comment here. I thought that it was understood that this tour was a one off to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band and then it was back to county fair land for Mike (and increasingly smaller theaters for Brian). Mike just decided to get a little publicity before he got back to business as usual. And maybe at this point the guy just relishes being the villain.
The way this story is being reported may be ‘incorrect’ – that it was known in advance, by all parties, that The Beach Boys were always going to disappear ‘back to county fair land’ once the 50 Big Ones Tour was done.
Beach Boys fan community insiders are correcting this ‘unbelievably shoddy’ reporting; but, days later, Friday’s Guardian has Alexis Petridis offering a raised eyebrow, and The Mike Love masterclass in how to sack the Beach Boys, with a little more background:
There were the endless, interminable lawsuits directed at his various fellow Beach Boys. The $5,000 seed money he donated to Tipper Gore’s Parent’s Music Resource Center campaign to censor and label albums in the mid-80s (he was the solitary major rock musician to support them). His remarkable tirade at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Performing with his version of the Beach Boys at a 2008 Mitt Romney “campaign reunion” event in Houston that doubled as a fundraiser for John McCain, who had previously demonstrated his love of the Beach Boys’ oeuvre by singing “bomb Iran” to the tune of Barbara Ann at an appearance in South Carolina. Lost in Showbiz looks at this remarkable legacy, notes also that Love planned to make an as-yet-unreleased solo album called either Unleash the Love or Mike Love, Not War and finds the words “what a guy” automatically rising to its lips.
What a guy indeed.
This ‘shoddy reporting’ cannot but be affected by the general perception of Mike Love’s role in The Beach Boys, past and present – is it that every report, every reporter has deliberately miscontrued ‘the facts’ just to make Mike look bad…?
And maybe ‘the guy’ does just relish this role. Mike is unassailable. Legally, Mike Love (with Bruce Johnston) is The Beach Boys, regardless of who is onstage with him. See pic above.
However, despite this split, in the LA Times story Will Beach Boys reunion end on a sour note?,
Love said that he sees recording and touring as separate matters, and that his decision to return to touring without Wilson, who is his cousin, or Jardine and Marks, who started the Beach Boys when they were teenagers growing up in Hawthorne, wouldn’t preclude more recording together. “I’d be interested [in making another album] if I could write some songs with Brian,” Love said.
Co-writing songs with Brian Wilson, released as recordings by The Beach Boys, would mean that Mike would still be Brian’s co-creator – as is often repeated, it was Mike himself who made Good Vibrations the classic it became, by tempering its weirdness:
Mike Love: Everything else up to the time was like I Get Around, Fun Fun Fun, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin’ USA – and then all of sudden (makes car skidding sound) – here’s Good Vibrations, with that weird mystical-sounding track – and I thought ‘oh my GOODNESS, our fans, the public, is gonna freak out when they hear this, they’re not gonna get this’ – so what I said was ‘well the one thing that people understand is boy/girl, attraction: ‘I’m picking up good vibrations, she’s giving me excitations’. So I wrote it from a boy/girl perspective.
(from Endless Harmony, 1998, here)
But do ‘Al and whoever is making Brian’s decisions for him’ know Mike better than ‘anyone who has posted a “Mike’s a dick” comment’? Are they as genuinely surprised as they act? Brian Wilson has said recently that
After all, we are the real Beach Boys.
And if this became a lawsuit of some description, The Beach Boys recent successes (the tour, the album) might come under as close scrutiny as this contentious Mail On Sunday 2005 freebie:
Briefly, for those who didn’t know: in 2005, Mike Love launched a lawsuit against Brian Wilson (amongst others), which contended that this covermount CD
shamelessly misappropriated Mike Love’s songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the Smile album itself,
and that Mike Love
was concerned that Wilson’s return to touring and recording would negatively affect the ticket sales for his own group’s live performances.
Sensibly, these claims were dismissed – when the proceedings began,
Melinda Wilson, Brian’s wife, says, “After Mike’s [initial] deposition, he turned to his cousin Brian and said, ‘you better start writing a real big hit because you’re going to have to write me a real big check.” she says.
But, in conclusion,
in fact, it was Love’s own deposition testimony that played a role in bringing down his case. The decision repeatedly quotes Love’s own statements from deposition…
And so Brian Wilson wasn’t guilty after all of ‘shamelessly’ misappropriating Mike Love’s songs, or the Smile album itself.
There’s some more stuff about this in an earlier post, 50 Years of The Beach Boys: Don’t Do It Again (alongside some intimations that a Beach Boys reunion might ultimately end in acrimony…). Hypothetically, had Mike’s ‘Brian stole Smile‘ lawsuit been successful in a parallel universe 2005, this might have prompted a record company recall of the Brian Wilson Presents Smile album…would there have even been a Smile Sessions release in that universe?
This is the Introduction to The Beach Boys – In Their Own Words, from 1994 (this is from the bit that isn’t their words, obviously):
Few groups in the history of rock have washed their dirty laundry in public as enthusiastically as The Beach Boys. If Mike wasn’t criticising Brian and Dennis for their errant ways, then Dennis was telling Mike to go take a hike, and while Brian was up to his neck in sand and dope, Carl was simply wishing everyone would stop bickering and get on with it, while poor little Al just shrugged his shoulders and shut up like he was told. And along came Bruce who took his cue and waded in like the best of them.
If The Beach Boys return to the courtrooms, to wash their dirty laundry again, might it not become apparent, to even the most dispassionate 2012 observer, and on the basis of his previous form, that Mike Love’s behaviour might, maybe, be at fault here…? That it might be the way he announced how this tour would end, not the announcement itself that is the issue? Who knows.
Although Mike lost the ‘Brian stole my likeness’ case in 2005, he did win earlier claims (for unpaid royalties in 1992, and for the band brand, 2000-2004); he also delayed the release of The Pet Sounds Sessions box set for over a year because he wasn’t in the accompanying book enough.
So how on earth did The Smile Sessions get released at all? Nearly a year since Smile – was it all a dream? Did it really happen? If Mike Love is going to risk this new breach with The Real Beach Boys in 2012, what Good Fairy possessed him to sanction, approve The Smile Sessions in 2011?
The Beach Boys recently appeared on BBC TV’s Later; PiL were on the same show.
Someone got this backstage snap:
Brian looks happy, and amused.
I didn’t see the performance myself, but heard that Jools Holland’s Later regular ‘sitting around the piano’ slot
was meant to very obviously be a chat with Brian, but Mike put paid to that.
I didn’t want to see it after reading that.
Ian Penman’s twitter has some unhappy comments, prompted by the TV appearance and Mike’s new tour bombshell:
And so, for the Mike Love ‘haters’, it’s also back to business as usual.
Mike’s past litigation is obviously no automatic guarantee that this split with Brian, Al and David will prompt some new litigation. But while the Mail On Sunday case was ludicrous, it was nonetheless pursued; no one can predict what new legal shenanigans may be looming.
With Mike’s failure to get the law on his side in 2005, and thus a failure (where he succeeded in the past) in getting Brian Wilson to do his bidding, The Love Man may still feel emboldened by early victories.
And even if equilibrium is returned, and Mike’s Beach Boys™ disappears back to whatever hell it came from, one thing is for sure after this 50th Anniversary tour/album/rerelease campaign: The Smile Sessions got forgotten about – real quick.