Pitchfork have been keeping their readers up to date with The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Celebration & Tour – and its aftermath.
October 9th 2012:
A couple weeks back, news broke that Beach Boy Mike Love had essentially kicked out three of the band’s original and longtime members: Brian Wilson (who is also Love’s cousin), Al Jardine, and David Marks. Love did not invite them to continue touring this fall, following their celebrated, just-finished 50th anniversary reunion tour. The news came via a press release from Love’s camp.
Read more here.
What prompted this?
A search on Pitchfork for beach boys offers up an interesting and revealing reverse-timeline:
Mike Love says he didn’t fire anybody (although Brian Wilson obviously feels otherwise):
and Mike expounds upon his love for Brian Wilson in a letter to the LA Times on October 5th:
The great thing about getting older is that you get a chance to tell the people in your life who matter what they mean to you. Throughout the course of the tour, Brian said some really kind things to me about how my early songs gave him the freedom to go deeper musically. His words meant so much to me and I returned the praise every chance I could.
No, Mike didn’t “kick Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks out of the Band” – read what Mike says above…
It all seemed to be going so well.
The Beach Boys, having escaped the fairgrounds, recently played to far groovier audiences, alongside far younger artists:
Wilson, behind the piano through most of the set, isn’t singing much, and when he does, it’s a little shaky; he’s got both a teleprompter and a guy to help finish his lines when he can’t hit the notes. But when he takes the baton— on “Heroes and Villains”, a mini Pet Sounds-suite, and a knockout performance of “Sail On, Sailor”– that cheaply nostalgic “‘member when” feeling all but melts away.
December 16 2011:
The Beach Boys announce their reunion:
The Beach Boys will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a reunion, a new album, a world tour, and a reissue campaign. And yes, Brian Wilson is part of it, joining Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks.
November 1 2011:
The Smile Sessions is released.
Conceived, recorded, and ultimately abandoned in 1966 and 1967, SMiLE was to be something like Brian’s Sgt. Pepper’s, his attempt to make the great art-pop album of the era. He followed his muse to the ends of the earth, putting a grand piano in a massive living room sandbox, outfitting another room with an Arabian tent, making session musicians wear fireman’s hats for the recording of a song about the elements, freaking out when an actual fire broke out down the street from the studio around the time of recording of said track, and, no surprise, taking enough drugs to amplify the whole scene and turn it into something terrifying. But the record was not to be. The music recorded for SMiLE was too far-out for the rest of the band (lead singer Mike Love hated the lyrics penned by Wilson’s collaborator, Van Dyke Parks, an opinion he still holds) and Wilson had trouble finishing tracks. Eventually, he shelved the record for good and the band issued the low-key, weird, and supremely stoned Smiley Smile. By setting the record aside, Wilson became afraid to indulge his talent, and his contributions to the Beach Boys would never again be central to the band.
On the sessions you also get to hear Wilson running the show in the studio, and apart from a few asides where he talks about hash and LSD, he sounds excited, patient, and kind, offering encouragement about mood, timing, and tempo. He surely wasn’t an easy guy to work for, but hearing his voice on these tapes, it’s remarkable how together he seems and how willing he is to work with these musicians to make something great. Most of all, his studio patter provides a nice counterbalance to SMiLE‘s prevailing narrative, of a crazed genius unraveling in the face of trying to create his masterpiece.
October 31 2011:
August 30 2011:
The Beach Boys’ lost 1966-67 SMiLE sessions are finally seeing the light of day. And how. On October 31 internationally and November 1 in the US, Capitol/EMI will release The SMiLE Sessions in several formats: 2xCD and 2xLP, digital album, iTunes LP, and a giant box set. Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Mike Love all participated in the release.The SMiLE Sessions contain “an approximation of what was intended to be the completed SMiLE album, compiled from the Beach Boys’ original session masters,” according to a press release, plus bonus tracks, demos, and stereo mixes. The box set consists of five CDs, two LPs, two 7″s, a 60-page book, and “three-dimensional shadowbox lid.” The SMiLE Sessions‘ artwork is based on the sleeve and booklet art Frank Holmes made for the original, shelved album.
August 19 2011:
June 24 2011:
The life story of the Beach Boys leader and pop genius Brian Wilson will hit the big screen soon, as The New York Times reports. According to The Times, the currently untitled movie is being written by Oren Moverman, who co-wrote and directed the excellent military-themed film The Messenger. River Road Entertainment, who recently brought Terence Malick’s cosmic head trip The Tree of Life to theaters, are handling production duties. A statement from River Road detailed that the film will “take an unconventional look at Wilson’s unique musical process as well as his struggles with mental illness, and how he managed to persevere as an artist with the love and support of his wife Melinda.”
As an aside, the John Stamos-produced TV mini-series from 2000, The Beach Boys – An American Family, also took “an unconventional look at Wilson’s unique musical process as well as his struggles with mental illness”:
It’s 1968. Mike, Dennis & Carl are in Brian’s home studio
Brian: I got some new ‘feels’ for you guys.
Brian plays something not dissimilar to Been Way Too Long/Can’t Wait Too Long, repeating the theme again and again.
The guys are unimpressed.
It will be interesting to see how the two films compare.
March 11 2011:
The Beach Boys’ Smile is quite possibly the most storied lost album in rock history. The album was stalled in 1967 by sonic mastermind Brian Wilson’s nervous breakdown, and its songs were heavily bootlegged in the ensuing decades. Wilson released a much-loved, reworked solo version in 2004, but all sorts of issues with record labels and band members prevented the official release of the original Smile. But now, Billboard reports that Capitol is finally planning to release The Smile Sessions later this year.
Who could have have guessed, with The Beach Boys own ignominious history preceding all of this, that the band’s 50th Big One could start with the long-awaited, Beach Boys-approved release of Smile, and end with Brian Wilson estranged from The Beach Boys?
From Mike Love’s recent LA Times letter:
I have an epiphany: The Beach Boys are bigger than those who created it. When all of us remaining founders have turned to dust, the band will live on in the hearts of those who relish the sounds of summer. So you see, summer’s never really gone. And neither are the Beach Boys.
Mike Love is a founding member of the Beach Boys.