Profile: The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys. From left: Brian, Carl, Mike, Dennis, Al.


1961, Hawthorne, CA

Main Members:

  • Brian Wilson (b. June 20, 1942 Inglewood, CA): Vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar
  • Mike Love (b. March 15, 1941 Baldwin Hills, CA): Lead vocals
  • Carl Wilson (b. December 21, 1946 Hawthorne, CA; d. February 2, 1998 Los Angeles, CA): Vocals, lead guitar, keyboards
  • Al Jardine (b. September 3, 1942 Lima, OH): Vocals, bass guitar
  • Dennis Wilson (b. December 4, 1944 Inglewood, CA; d. December 28, 1983 Marina Del Rey, CA): Drums, percussion, keyboards, guitar


    Surf music, Sixties pop, Baroque pop, Psychedelic pop, Sunshine pop

    Contributions to music:

    • Brought the surf craze into the national consciousness
    • Introduced harmonies which were a major influence on pop and rock
    • Leader Brian Wilson's production techniques proved revolutionary and brilliant
    • Created a rock soundtrack for summer fun
    • Helped advance and personalize rock and roll songwriting
    • Created Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations," two of the biggest creative landmarks in pop history
    • Helped influence their peers in the Sixties pop scene tremendously

    Early years:

    The brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, along with their cousin Mike Love and Brian's classmate Al Jardine, vocalized together often as teenagers (usually in the mold of pop vocal groups like the Four Freshmen). California natives except for Jardine, the five rented instruments and learned them well enough to record the Chuck Berry-influenced "Surfin'," a novelty tune meant to capitalize on the burgeoning craze.

    It did well enough regionally to prompt Capitol to sign the boys in 1961.


    In 1962, the group took off nationally with "Surfin' Safari," and soon parlayed that success into a number of songs about sun, surf, and girls. Brian, who had been studying Phil Spector's productions, soon began writing and producing much of the group's material.

    The result was one of the few American acts who could hold their own, creatively and commercially, with the rising British Invasion. In 1966, the group peaked with two masterworks: the Pet Sounds album and the single "Good Vibrations."

    Later years:

    Driven by that desire to compete with acts like The Beatles, Brian worked for months on the Pet Sounds followup, called SMiLE. The pressure of the work, combined with drugs and Wilson's trouble family history, led to one of rock's most famous flameouts -- Wilson gained weight, became a recluse, and spent hours in a sandbox he'd installed in his living room. The group continues to perform, and has had some hits since, but Brian's dissolution essentially marked the end of the group's reign.

    Other Facts:

    • Other members of the band include:
    • Bruce Johnston (b. June 27, 1942 Peoria, IL): Vocals, piano; David Marks (b. 1948, Newcastle, PA): Vocals, guitar; Blondie Chaplin (b. July 7, 1952 Durban, South Africa): Vocals, guitar; Ricky Fataar (b. May 9, 1952 Durban, South Africa): Drums
    • Earlier names of the band were Carl and the Passions, The Pendletones, and Kenny and the Cadets
    • Drummer Dennis Wilson was friendly with Charles Manson before his notorious crimes
    • Only Dennis actually surfed


    • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1988)
    • Grammy Hall of Fame (1994, 1998, 1999)
    • Grammy Lifetime Achievment Award (2001)

    Songs, Albums, and Charts:

    #1 hits:

    • "I Get Around" (1964)
    • "Help Me Rhonda" (1965)
    • "Good Vibrations" (1966)
    • "Kokomo" (1988)
    Top 10 hits:
    • "Be True To Your School" (1963)
    • "Little Saint Nick" (1963)
    • "Surfer Girl" (1963)
    • "Surfin' U.S.A." (1963)
    • "Dance, Dance, Dance" (1964)
    • "Fun, Fun, Fun" (1964)
    • "When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" (1964)
    • "California Girls" (1965)
    • "Barbara Ann" (1966)
    • "Sloop John B" (1966)
    • "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (1966)
    • "Rock And Roll Music" (1976)
    #1 Albums:
    • Beach Boys Concert (1964)
    • Endless Summer (1974)
    Top 10 Albums:
    • Shut Down (1963)
    • Surfer Girl (1963)
    • Surfin' U.S.A. (1963)
    • All Summer Long (1964)
    • Little Deuce Coupe (1964)
    • The Beach Boys' Christmas Album (1964)
    • Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (1965)
    • The Beach Boys Today! (1965)
    • Beach Boys' Party! (1966)
    • Best Of The Beach Boys (1966)
    • Pet Sounds (1966)
    • Spirit Of America (1975)
    • 15 Big Ones (1976)
    Other important recordings: "Surfin'," "409," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfin' Safari," "Shut Down," "Don't Worry Baby," "Little Honda," "Wendy," "Caroline, No," "God Only Knows," "Hang On To Your Ego," "Heroes And Villains," "Wild Honey," "Darlin'," "Let The Wind Blow," "All I Wanna Do," "Do It Again," "Sail On, Sailor"
    Covered by: David Lee Roth, They Might Be Giants, David Cassidy, Art Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers, Neil Diamond, David Bowie, Andy Williams, The Cowsills, The Troggs, Todd Rundgren, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Apples In Stereo, Grant Lee Buffalo, The Ventures, The Ramones, Leif Garrett, Pennywise, The Queers, Pere Ubu, Sixpence None The Richer, Johnny Rivers, Joan Jett, Status Quo, Fleetwood Mac, Wall of Voodoo
    Appears in the movies: "The Monkey's Uncle" (1965), "The Girls on the Beach" (1965), "The T.A.M.I. Show" (1965)