Legendary rock band the Beach Boys have many accomplishments. They were the first American rock band to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and have seven top ten songs within one year.
This iconic band has seen massive success over the decades, but they have also dealt with tragedy and turmoil, including the death of band members, conflicts, and members leaving the band.
Amid all the adversity, the Beach Boys triumphed and became one of the most influential American bands.
Where Are The Beach Boys From?
The original members of the Beach Boys are from Hawthorn, California.
Hawthorn is part of a region in Southwestern Los Angeles called South Bay.
The Wilson brother’s childhood home was a landmark. The house was demolished in the 80s, but a monument marks the location. You can find the Wilson’s monument at 3701 W and 119th Street in Hawthorn, California.
Who Were the Original Beach Boys?
The Beach Boy’s original members were brothers Carl, Dennis, and Brian Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine.
When Did the Beach Boys Start?
The young Wilson brothers, Brian, Carl, and Dennis, grew up watching their dad playing the piano. The brothers liked to listen to groups like the Freshman Four.
Brian could break down melodies he heard in his favorite songs and taught his brothers how to harmonize at a young age. He started writing songs around the age of 16 in 1958. Eventually, Brian, his cousin Mike Love, and a couple of school friends began performing at Hawthorn High School.
Shortly after, Brian teamed up with school friend Al Jardine, his brothers, and cousin Mike to form a band called The Pendletones.
Dennis suggested that they write and perform songs that celebrate Southern California and the lifestyle of living in the area. Brain took this advice and wrote “Surfin,” and Mike and Brian wrote “Surfin’ Safari.”
The Wilson brother’s father, Murry Wilson, became their manager and introduced the group to his publisher Hite Morgan. The publisher was so impressed with their talent and fresh sound that he immediately insisted on recording their songs.
“Surfin'” was recorded on September 15, 1961, and then again on December 3 to add a little polish to the track. Murry Wilson took it to Herb Newman at Candix Records and Era Records, and the group had a record contract by December 8.
The single “Surfin'” was released a few weeks later, and the band members found out they had been renamed the Beach Boys.
The single became very successful on the West Coast and landed in spot 75 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Beach Boys Members
Over the years, the members of the Beach Boys have changed. Some members have left and returned, and some members have passed away.
The current members of the Beachboys are:
- Mike Love Joined the band in 1961. He plays Electro-theremin, saxophone, percussion, and vocals.
- Brian Wilson Joined the band in 1961. Brian did not tour with the band from 1964–1976, 1990–2011, and hasn’t been on tour since 2012. He plays bass, keyboards, and vocals.
- Bruce Johnston Joined the band in 1965–1978, then rejoined the group in 1978–present. He plays keyboard, bass, and vocals.
- Al Jardine He joined the band in 1961–1962 and rejoined the group in 1963–present. He did not tour with the band from 1999–2011 and hasn’t been on tour since 2012. He plays bass, guitar, and vocals.
Former members of the Beach Boys are:
- David Marks 1962 – 1963, 1997- 1999, 2011- 2012. He played guitars and vocals.
- Ricky Fataar 1972 – 1974. He played pedal steel guitar, flute, percussion, drums, guitar, and vocals.
- Blondie Chaplin 1972 – 1973. He played bass, guitar, and vocals.
- Carl Wilson 1961- 1998 (deceased) He played keyboard, guitar, and vocals.
- Dennis Wilson 1961- 1983 (deceased) He played keyboard, percussion, drums, and vocals.
Are the Beach Boys still Alive?
The Beachh Boys are still alive, with the exception of a couple of members that have passed away.
Dennis Wilson passed away at the age of 39. Dennis was the only Beach Boy who actually surfed, and it was his idea to base the band on the surfing lifestyle found in the band’s hometown of Hawthorn.
The musician drowned in Marina Del Ray after a day of drinking. Dennis struggled over the years with drug use and alcoholism.
Carl Wilson was the youngest of the Wilson brothers. He died on February 6, 1998 of lung cancer. He began smoking in his late teens.
Despite starting chemotherapy after his diagnosis, Carl still passed away from cancer. The diagnosis did not slow Carl down, and he continued to play and sing throughout the summer of 1997 and into the fall.
He frequently had to sit and use an oxygen tank, but his love for performing never wavered.
The Beach Boys Albums
The Beach Boys’ impressive career has spanned decades. Long before Spotify was available to stream music, you could find the Beach Boy’s music on reel-to-reel, 8-Tracks, cassettes, and vinyl.
The group has released 29 studio albums.
- Surfin’ Safari – 1962
- Surfin’ U.S.A. – 1963
- Surfer Girl- 1963
- Little Deuce Coupe – 1963
- Shut Down Volume 2 – 1964
- All Summer Long – 1964
- The Beachboy’s Christmas Album – 1964
- The Beachboys Today – 1965
- Summer Days (And Summer Nights) – 1965
- Beachboy’s Party – 1965
- Pet Sounds – 1966
- Smiley Smile – 1967
- Wild Honey – 1967
- Friends – 1968
- 20/20 – 1969
- Sunflower – 1970
- Surf’s up – 1971
- Carl and the Passions- 1972
- 15 Big Ones – 1976
- The Beachboys Love You – 1977
- M.I.U. Album – 1978
- L.A.(Light Album) – 1979
- Keepin’ the Summer Alive – 1980
- The Beach Boys – 1985
- Still Cruisin’- 1989
- Summer Paradise – 1992
- Stars and Stripes Vol 1 – 1996
- That’s Why God Made the Radio – 2012
On top of the extensive collection of studio albums, the Beach Boys have also released 61 compilation albums, 11 live albums, and a remix album.
Pet Sounds Album
The group’s eleventh studio album has become one of the most influential albums from an American band.
Brian Wilson and songwriter Tony Asher wrote Pet Sounds. The songs found on this ground-breaking album were more reflective and showed a vulnerability that Beach Boys fans had not seen before.
Brian set a new standard by creating a new structure for albums where the songs told a story, and it was considered a work of art.
Pet Sounds was the first album of its time that an artist, Brian Wilson, composed, produced, and arranged most of the album (with the help of Tony Asher).
Music enthusiasts didn’t pick up on Pet Sounds initially, but it has become one of the most influential albums of all time, changing the music landscape and inspiring other artists to do the same.
The Beach Boys Songs
Over their extensive careers, the Beach Boys have released 75 singles. They had many of their songs land on the Billboard charts, as well as many other charts around the world. Some of their biggest hits are:
- “Surfin'” – The first single released by the group. It became a hit in the Southern California region and reached spot 75 on the Billboard charts.
- “Surfin’ Safari” – This was the breakthrough single for the Beach Boys, and it landed in the 14th spot on the Billboard charts.
- “Surfer Girl” – Brian Wilson wrote this song for his first girlfriend, Judy Bowles. The couple dated for three years.
- “I Get Around” – The first Beach Boys single to hit the number one spot, it was inducted into the Grammys Hall of Fame.
- “Don’t Worry Baby” – This single peaked at #24 on the Billboard charts.
- “Fun, Fun, Fun” – a song inspired by a real-life experience of member Dennis Wilson, the single landed at #5 on the Billboard charts.
- “Barbara Ann” – A cover of the doo-wop group The Regents, the Beach Boy’s version landed in the #2 spot on the Billboard charts.
- “Sloop John B” – Originating from traditional folk songs found in the Bahamas, this song was a single released from the Pet Sounds album. It reached #3 in the U.S.
- “Wouldn’t it be Nice” – Another single from the Pet Sounds album, peaking at the number eight spot on American music charts.
- “Good Vibrations” – This legendary Beach Boys track reached #1 on the Billboard charts, earned four Grammy nominations, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- “Rock and Roll Music” – A cover for Chuck Berry’s 1957 release. The Beach Boy’s version landed at #5 on the U.S. music charts.
The Beach Boy’s Achievements
The Beach Boys have exceeded 100 million record sales worldwide and are one of the most critically acclaimed bands.
The Beach Boys have had over 80 songs on music charts globally, and 36 of them were on the U.S. Top 40 charts, which is the most by a U.S. rock band.
There have been countless artists that have said Pet Sounds was the inspiration behind their music.
The album Pet Sounds was ranked #2 on Rolling Stone’s famous list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and also received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
Interesting Beach Boy facts
- The Beach Boy’s first big gig was in 1961 at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance.
- The Beach Boys manager would fine them for behavior he viewed as unacceptable. They would have to pay $100 every time.
- The band loved to sing and perform songs that were about surfing and the Southwestern California lifestyle, but in real life, only Dennis knew how to surf.
- Mike wrote the lyrics to many of the Beach Boy’s hits, including “Surfin'”, “I Get Around,” “California Girls,” “Barbara Ann,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
- Brian is deaf in one ear but is still a phenomenal artist.
- The album Surfer Girl was released in September of 1963 and was the first-ever all-original album from a band, even before the Beatles did.
- It is not all sunshine in the world of Beach Boy members. Dennis Wilson and Mike Love once had a mutual restraining order against each other.
- Pet Sounds has been touted as the most influential album of all time, and Paul McCartney has even said the Beach Boys influenced him.
- Dennis Wilson was roommates with Charles Manson during the spring and summer of 1968. At the time, Dennis was recently divorced and opened his large home to Charles Manson and around 20 members of the infamous Manson family. Mike Love said they were invited to join the Manson family but wisely turned down the invite.
- The Beach Boys have over 50 unreleased songs in their vault from 1968 to 1974. The vault is found near Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California.
- Smiley Smile is commonly used in drug rehabilitation centers. The album helps people get over L.S.D. Trips and is found to be soothing while the person recovers from the trip.
- A record producer, David Anderle, painted a portrait of Brian Wilson. When he showed the painting to Brian, he claimed that the painting captured his soul—leading to a very restrained relationship between Brian and David.
- Brian Wilson had a “side” band called Kenny and the Cadets. They were a short-lived group, but they did release a couple of songs like “Barbie” and “What is a Young Girl Made of.”
- After a series of nervous breakdowns after his divorce in 1965, Brian Wilson told his bandmates that he would no longer be joining them onstage. Brian continues to write, produce, and record with the band but did not join them on tours, except briefly in 2012.