Brian Wilson: Wikis


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Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson performing in 2007
Background information
Birth name Brian Douglas Wilson
Born June 20, 1942 (1942-06-20) (age 67)
Inglewood, California, United States
Genres Rock, pop, outsider music
Occupations Songwriter, Bassist, Pianist, Vocalist, Producer, Composer, Arranger
Instruments Bass, Vocals, Piano, Synthesizers
Years active 1961–present
Labels Capitol, Brother, Reprise, Caribou
Associated acts The Beach Boys

Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942 in Inglewood, California) is a Grammy award-winning American musician, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the rock group The Beach Boys. Within the band, Wilson played bass and keyboards, also providing part-time lead vocals and, more often, backing vocals, harmonizing in falsetto with the group.

Wilson was the primary songwriter in The Beach Boys, also functioning as the band's main producer, composer, and arranger. In 1988, Wilson and his band-mates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which refers to Wilson on its website as "One of the few undisputed geniuses in popular music".[1] In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and ranked Wilson number 52.[2]

He is also an occasional actor and voice actor, having appeared in television shows, films, and other music artist music videos.


Life and career


Early years

Wilson was born June 20, 1942 at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California.[3] When Brian was two,[4] the Wilson family moved from Inglewood to 3701 West 119th Street in nearby Hawthorne, California, a town in the greater Los Angeles urban area about five miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. He spent his entire subsequent childhood years in this middle-class family home.[5]

Brian Wilson's father Murry Wilson told of Brian's unusual musical abilities prior to his first birthday, observing that the baby could repeat the melody from "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" after only a few verses had been sung by the father. Murry stated, "He was very clever and quick. I just fell in love with him."[6]

At about age two, Brian heard George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", which had an enormous emotional impact on him.[7] A few years later Brian was discovered to have extremely diminished hearing in his right ear. The exact cause of this hearing loss is unclear, though theories range from Brian's simply being born partially deaf, to a blow to the head from Brian's father, or a neighborhood bully, being to blame.[8]

While father Murry was ostensibly a reasonable provider, he was abusive and hard to please, liable to dispense harsh punishments for minor or perceived misdeeds. But Murry, a minor musician and songwriter, also encouraged his children in this field in numerous ways. At a young age, Brian was given six weeks of lessons on a "toy accordion", and at seven and eight sang solos in church with a choir behind him.[9]

By most accounts a natural leader by the time he began attending Hawthorne High School, Brian was on the football team as a quarterback, played baseball and was a cross-country runner his senior year.[10] However, most of his energy was directed toward music. He sang with various students at school functions and with his family and friends at home. Brian taught his two brothers harmony parts that all three would then practice when they were supposed to be asleep. He also played piano obsessively after school, deconstructing the harmonies of The Four Freshmen by listening to short segments of their songs on a phonograph, then working to recreate the blended sounds note by note on the keyboard.[11] Brian received a Wollensak tape recorder on his sixteenth birthday, allowing him to experiment with audio overdubs and early group vocals.[12]

First steps: Carl and the Passions

Wilson's surviving home tapes document his initial musical efforts singing with various buddies and family, including a song that would later be recorded in the studio by The Beach Boys, "Sloop John B", as well as "Bermuda Shorts" and a hymn titled "Good News". In his senior year at Hawthorne High, in addition to his classroom music studies, he would gather at lunchtime to sing with friends like Keith Lent, Bruce Griffin, and Robin Hood. Brian and Lent worked on a revised version of the tune "Hully Gully" to support the campaign of a female classmate named Carol Hess who was running for senior class president. When performed for a full high school gathering, Brian's revised arrangement received a warm round of applause from the student audience.[13]

Enlisting his cousin and often-time singing partner Mike Love, and Wilson's reluctant youngest brother Carl Wilson, Brian's next public performance featured more ambitious arrangements at a fall arts program at his high school. To entice Carl into the group, Wilson named the newly-formed membership "Carl and the Passions". The performance featured tunes by Dion and the Belmonts and The Four Freshmen ("It's a Blue World"), the latter of which proved difficult for the ensemble to carry off. However, the event was notable for the impression it made on another musician and classmate of Brian's who was in the audience that night, Al Jardine, later to join the three Wilson brothers and Mike Love in The Beach Boys.[14]

Initial compositions and the Pendletones

Brian enrolled at El Camino Community College in Los Angeles, majoring in psychology, in September 1960. However, he continued his music studies at the college as well.[15] At some point in the year 1961 Brian wrote his first all-original melody, loosely based on a Dion and the Belmonts version of "When You Wish Upon a Star". Brian's tune would eventually be known as "Surfer Girl". Brian has commented that he wrote the melody in his car, then later at home finished the bridge and harmonies. Although an early demo of the song was recorded in Feb. 1962 at World-Pacific Studios, it was not re-recorded and released until 1963, when it became a top ten hit.[16]

Brian and his brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson along with Mike Love and Al Jardine first jelled as a music group in the summer of 1961, initially named the Pendeltones. After being prodded by Dennis to write a song about the local water sports craze, Brian and Mike Love together created what would become the first single for the band, "Surfin'". Recorded by Hite and Dorinda Morgan and released on the small Candix label, the song became a top local hit in Los Angeles and reached number seventy-five on the national Billboard sales charts.[17]

Dennis later described the first time Brian heard their song on the radio as the three Wilson brothers (and soon-to-be-band member David Marks) drove in Brian's 1957 Ford in the rain: "Nothing will ever top the expression on Brian's face, ever ... THAT was the all-time moment."

However, the Pendletones were no more. Without the band's knowledge or permission, Candix Records had changed their name to The Beach Boys.[18]

First performances and the quest for a major label

Brian Wilson and his bandmates, following a set by Ike and Tina Turner, performed their first major live show at The Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance on New Year's Eve, 1961. Three days previously, Brian's father had bought him an electric bass and amplifier; Brian had learned to play the instrument in that short period of time, with Al Jardine moving to rhythm guitar.

Looking for a followup single for their radio hit, Brian and Mike wrote "Surfin' Safari," and attempts were made to record a usable take at World Pacific, including overdubs, on February 8, 1962, along with several other tunes including an early version of "Surfer Girl". Only a few days later, discouraged about the band's financial prospects, and objecting to adding some Chubby Checker songs to The Beach Boys live setlist, Al Jardine abruptly left the group.[19]

Murry Wilson had become The Beach Boys manager, and when Candix Records ran into money problems and sold the group's master recordings to another label, Murry terminated the contract. Brian, worried about The Beach Boys' future, asked his father to help his group make more recordings. But Murry and Hite Morgan (who at this point was their music publisher) were turned down by a number of Los Angeles record companies.

As "Surfin'" faded from the charts, Brian, who had forged a songwriting partnership with Gary Usher, created several new tunes, including a car song, "409", that Usher had helped write. Recruiting Carl and Dennis' friend, thirteen-year-old neighbor David Marks, who had been playing electric guitar (and practicing with Carl) for years, Brian and the revamped Beach Boys cut new tracks on April 19 at Western Recorders including an updated "Surfin' Safari" and "409". These tunes convinced Capitol Records to release the demos as a single; they became a double-sided national hit.[20]

The Beach Boys and first success with Capitol Records

After signing with Capitol Records in mid-1962, Brian Wilson wrote or co-wrote (most often with Mike Love) a series of hit singles including the aforementioned "Surfin' Safari", "Surfin' USA", "Shut Down", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Be True to Your School", "In My Room", "Fun, Fun, Fun", "I Get Around", "Dance, Dance, Dance", "Help Me Rhonda", "California Girls" and "Good Vibrations". These songs and their accompanying albums were internationally popular, making The Beach Boys one of the biggest acts of their time.[21]

Recording sessions for the band's first album took place in Capitol's basement studios (in the famous tower building) in August 1962, but early on Brian lobbied for a different place to cut Beach Boy tracks. The large rooms were built to record the big orchestras and ensembles of the 50s, not small rock groups. At Brian's insistence, Capitol agreed to let The Beach Boys pay for their own outside recording sessions, which Capitol would own all the rights to, and in return the band would receive a higher royalty rate on their record sales. Additionally, although it was very rare at the time for rock and roll band members to have a say in the process of making their records, during the taping of their first LP Brian fought for, and won, the right to be totally in charge of the production- though his first acknowledged liner notes production credit did not come until the band's third album Surfer Girl, in 1963.[22]

January 1963 saw the recording of the first top-ten (cresting at #3 in the United States) Beach Boys single, "Surfin' USA", which began their long run of highly successful recording efforts at Hollywood's Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard. It was during the sessions for this single that Brian made the production decision from that point on to use doubletracking on the group's vocals, resulting in a deeper and more resonant sound.[23]

The tune, adapted from (and eventually partially credited to) Chuck Berry, is widely seen as emblematic of the early 60s American rock cultural experience.[24] The Surfin' USA album was also a big hit in the United States, reaching number two on the national sales charts by early July, 1963. Brian and his group had become a top-rank recording and touring music band.[3]

Early era as writer/producer

As previously mentioned, Brian was first credited as The Beach Boys' producer on the Surfer Girl album, recorded in June and July 1963 and released in September 1963. This LP reached #7 on the national charts on the strength of songs like the ballad "In My Room", later released as a single; "Catch a Wave"; and "Little Deuce Coupe", which was released as a double-sided single with the album's title track, both top-15 hits.

He also began working with other artists in this period. On July 20, 1963, "Surf City", which he had co-written with Jan and Dean, was the first surfing song to reach the pinnacle of the sales charts. While Brian was excited and happy, his father (and still-manager) Murry and Capitol Records were less than thrilled. Indeed, openly enraged by Brian's chart-topping effort for what he saw as a rival band, Murry went so far as to order his oldest son to sever any further efforts with Jan and Dean.

Brian's other non-Beach Boy work in this period included tracks by The Honeys, Sharon Marie, The Timers, and The Survivors. Feeling that surfing songs had become limiting, Brian decided to produce a set of largely car-oriented tunes for The Beach Boys' fourth album Little Deuce Coupe, which was released in October 1963, only three weeks after the Surfer Girl LP. The departure of guitarist David Marks from the band that month meant that Brian was forced to resume touring with The Beach Boys, for a time reducing his availability in the recording studio.[25]

Artistic growth

Brian became known for his unique use of vocal harmonies, his trademark style of lyrics and incessant studio perfectionism. Early influences on his music included not only the previously mentioned Four Freshmen and Chuck Berry, but also the work of record producer Phil Spector, the latter of whom obsessed Wilson for years.[26] He later considered The Beatles to be his chief rivals, and they in turn would cite his work as a major influence. Wilson also produced records for other artists, but to much lesser success, with the exception of Jan and Dean, for whom Wilson co-wrote several hit songs. Following a nervous breakdown onboard a flight from L.A. to Houston in 1964,[27] Wilson stopped performing live with the Beach Boys in an effort to concentrate solely on songwriting[28] and studio production.[27] Glen Campbell was called in as his temporary stand-in for live performances,[26] before Wilson chose Bruce Johnston as a long-term replacement—a band member who remains with the Beach Boys today. In late 1965, Wilson began working on material for a new album after hearing The Beatles' 1965 album, Rubber Soul.[29]

"With the 1966 Pet Sounds album, and then songs like Good Vibrations and Heroes and Villains, Wilson had become America's equivalent of The Beatles with his ability to expand the limits of popular taste."

Robin Denselow writing for The Guardian, September 1976[28]

As he began work on the new project, Pet Sounds, Wilson formed a temporary songwriting partnership with lyricist Tony Asher. Wilson, who had recorded the album's instrumentation with The Wrecking Crew, then gathered with The Beach Boys to record vocal overdubs, following their return from a tour of Japan. Upon hearing what Wilson had created for the first time in 1965,[27] the group, particularly Mike Love, was somewhat critical of their leader's music,[26] and expressed their dislike.[27] At this time, Wilson still had considerable control within the group and, according to Wilson, they eventually overcame their initial negative reaction, as his newly created music began to near completion; "They thought it was too far-out to do, you know?... But then when it was all done, they liked it. They started liking it."[27] The album was released in July 1966 and, despite modest sales figures at the time, has since become widely critically acclaimed, often being cited among the all-time greatest albums. Although the record was issued under the group's name, Pet Sounds is arguably seen as a Brian Wilson solo album—Wilson even toyed with the idea by releasing "Caroline, No" as a solo single in March 1966, reaching no. 32 on the Billboard charts.[30]

During the Pet Sounds sessions, Wilson had been working on another song, which was held back from inclusion on the record as he felt that it was not sufficiently complete. The song, "Good Vibrations", set a new standard for musicians, and what could be achieved in the recording studio. Recorded in multiple sessions and in numerous studios, the song eventually cost $50,000 to record within a six month period.[29] In October 1966, the song was released as a single, giving The Beach Boys their third U.S. number-one hit—alongside "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda"—and it sold over a million copies.

Smile, group tension, and Brother Records

The original cover of Smile.

With the surprising success of "Good Vibrations", Capitol Records had no choice but to back Wilson up for his next project, originally called Dumb Angel[26] but soon re-titled Smile, which he described as a "teenage symphony to God".[26] The album's approach was similar to "Good Vibrations" in the style of recording, which, at the time, was called modular music. This was vastly different compared to the standard live performances that were typically done in a studio at the time. After having been introduced to each other at a party, Wilson sought the lyrical assistance of L.A.-based folk singer, Van Dyke Parks, who had made a profound impression on Wilson with the "visionary eloquence" of his lyrics.[31] During the album's songwriting sessions, they collaborated on "Heroes and Villains", "Surf's Up", "Wonderful", "Vegetables" and "Mrs. O Leary's Cow". However, between December 1966 and May 1967, the Smile sessions fell apart due to conflict within the group and Wilson's own growing personal problems. As a result, Wilson was having problems completing the album towards the end of the recording sessions. Originally slated to be released in January 1967, the date was continually pushed back until its eventual cancellation—even "Heroes and Villains" and "Vegetables" were planned as singles within that time, but nothing appeared.

Another source of problems came from The Beach Boys deciding to file a lawsuit against Capitol Records to start their own label, Brother Records. This came at a terrible time when Wilson was trying to finish the album and, right along the way, The Beatles were working on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In April 1967, Wilson—who was suffering growing mental problems—was "deeply affected by hearing a tape of the Pepper song "A Day in the Life", which Paul McCartney played to him in Los Angeles.[32] Soon after, Smile was abandoned, and Wilson would not return to complete it until 2003. Van Dyke Parks later noted, "...Brian had a nervous collapse. What broke his heart was Sgt. Pepper."[31] Writing for The Guardian in December 1999, Will Hodgkinson summarized the main reasons for the eventual demise of Wilson's ambitious project;[31]

[A] combination of factors, including litigations against the record company and increasing animosity between Wilson and the rest of the band, meant that in May 1967 Wilson pulled the plug on the record... [Mike] Love had already dismissed Good Vibrations as "avant-garde shit" and objected to the way Wilson, Parks and a group of highly skilled session musicians were creating music way beyond his understanding... By March 1967, the bad feeling got too much for Parks and, having no desire to break up The Beach Boys, he walked out.

Following the cancellation of Smile, The Beach Boys relocated to a recording studio within the confines of Brian Wilson's mansion, where the hastily compiled Smiley Smile album was assembled, along with a number of future Beach Boys records. This marked the end of Wilson's leadership within the band, and has been seen to be "the moment when the Beach Boys first started slipping from the vanguard to nostalgia."[27]

Mental illness

Psychologically overwhelmed by the cancellation of Smile, the release of The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the birth of his first child Carnie in 1968, Wilson began having a diminished creative role with The Beach Boys. Until about 1970 he remained the group's principal songwriter, but increasingly production reins were handed to younger brother Carl. Carl Wilson mostly oversaw the albums Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and Friends, which only performed modestly on the charts. After that, Brian Wilson all but stopped writing songs and was frequently seen partying in the company of songwriter Tandyn Almer and Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton. It was during this period that he was introduced to cocaine. The 1969 album 20/20 was made mostly without Wilson's participation, although the Wilson/Love-authored "Do It Again" was a major hit, topping the charts in the UK.

Wilson spent the majority of the following three years in his bedroom sleeping, taking drugs, and overeating. During this time, his voice deteriorated significantly as a result of chain smoking, drug ingestion and neglect. Many of his "new" contributions to Beach Boys albums were remnants of Smile (e.g., "Cabinessence", "Surf's Up"), and those that were genuinely new reflected his depression and growing detachment from the world ("'Til I Die", the EP "Mount Vernon and Fairway"). Reportedly, Warner Bros. Records was so desperate for material from Wilson that the single "We Got Love" (co-written by Ricky Fataar, Blondie Chaplin, and Love) was scrapped from the Holland album in favor of "Sail On, Sailor", a song mostly written by committee (including Chaplin, Almer and Parks) that happened to draw its initial germ from a Wilson chord sequence.

In 1975, Brian's wife and family enlisted the services of controversial therapist Eugene Landy in a bid to help Brian, and hopefully help revive the group's ailing profile. Brian did not stay under Landy's care for long, but during this short period, the doctor managed to help him into a more productive, social frame of mind. The new album 15 Big Ones, consisting of oldies and some new songs was released in 1976 and Brian began to regularly appear live on stage with the band. A Love-orchestrated publicity campaign announced that "Brian is Back". Brian was also deemed to be well enough to do a solo performance on Saturday Night Live in November 1976. In 1977, the cult favorite Love You was released, consisting entirely of new material written and performed by Wilson. He continues to say it is his favorite Beach Boys album.

By 1982 Eugene Landy was once more called into action, and a more radical program was undertaken to try to restore Brian to health. This involved firing him from The Beach Boys, isolating him from his family on Hawaii, and putting him onto a rigorous diet and health regimen. This, coupled with long, extreme counseling sessions, and bringing Brian back to reality. He lost a tremendous amount of weight, was certainly healthier and more conversant than previously, but he was also under a strict level of control by Landy. Brian's recovery continued as he joined the band on stage in Live Aid in 1985, and recorded the album The Beach Boys with the group.

Dr. Landy provided a Svengali-like environment for Wilson, controlling his every movement in his life, including his musical direction. Landy's misconduct would eventually lead to the loss of his psychologist license, [33] as well as a court-ordered removal and restraining order from Wilson.[34]

Some years later, during his second marriage, Wilson was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type which supposedly caused him to hear voices in his head. By 1989 the rumor was that Brian either had a stroke or had abused too many drugs and was permanently "fried".[6] One biographer reported that the actual problem was that Wilson, who had been prescribed antipsychotic medicine by Landy since 1983, had developed tardive dyskinesia,[35] a neurological condition marked by involuntary, repetitive movements, that develops in about 20% of patients treated with antipsychotic drugs for a long period of time.[36] Wilson's drug regimen has now been reduced to a mild combination of antidepressants, and he has resumed recording and performing.

The effects of Brian Wilson's mental illness on his parenting skills were discussed by Wilson's daughter Wendy during her appearance in an episode of the British reality television program, Supernanny.[37] Wilson's daughter Carnie and granddaughter Lola also made an appearance on the episode.

Solo career

Wilson launched a career as a solo artist in 1988 with limited success. It is possible that his efforts in this regard were both encouraged and hampered by Landy's influence. Partly due to the control that Landy exercised on his life, Wilson stopped working with The Beach Boys on a regular basis after the release of The Beach Boys in 1985. He had been signed to a solo record deal with Sire Records by label boss Seymour Stein.

Wilson released a solo album, Brian Wilson, in 1988 and a memoir, Wouldn't It Be Nice - My Own Story, in which he spoke for the first time about his troubled relationship with his abusive father Murry and his "lost years" of mental illness. Although it was written following interviews with Brian and others, Landy was largely responsible for the book, in conjunction with People magazine writer Todd Gold. The book describes Landy in terms that could be called messianic. In a later lawsuit over the book, Wilson testified in court that he hadn't even read the final manuscript. As a result, the book was taken out of press some years later.

A second solo album made for Sire, entitled Sweet Insanity, was never released. Landy's illegal use of psychotropic drugs on Wilson and his influence over Wilson's financial affairs was legally ended by Carl Wilson. In 1995, Wilson married Melinda Ledbetter. The couple adopted two girls, Daria Rose and Delanie Rae, in 1998; a boy, Dylan, in 2004; and a boy, Dash Tristan[38], in 2009. Wilson has two daughters from his first marriage to Marilyn Rovell: Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson, who would go on to musical success of their own in the early 1990s as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips.

Also in 1995, he released two albums, albeit neither containing any new original Wilson material, almost simultaneously. The first, the soundtrack to Don Was's documentary I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, consists of re-recorded versions of songs from his Beach Boys and solo catalogue produced by Was, along with a 1976-vintage demo recording. The second, Orange Crate Art, saw Wilson as lead vocalist, multitracked many times over, on an album of songs produced, arranged and (mostly) written by Van Dyke Parks, and was released as a duo album under both men's names.

His final release as part of the group was on the 1996 album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1, a group collaboration with select country music artists singing the lead vocals. After considerable mental recovery, he mended his relationship with his daughters Carnie and Wendy and the three of them released an album in 1997 titled The Wilsons.

Wilson released a second solo album of mostly new material, Imagination, in 1998. Following this, he received extensive vocal coaching to improve his voice, and learned to cope with his stage fright and started to play live for the first time in decades, going on to play the whole Pet Sounds album live on his tours of the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

A new studio album, Gettin' in Over My Head, was released on June 22, 2004. It featured collaborations with Elton John, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, and Wilson's deceased brother Carl. Clapton played on the track "City Blues." The album was almost entirely composed of re-recordings of unreleased material, and received mixed reviews.

Smile resurrected

With the improvements in his mental health, Wilson found himself able to contemplate returning to the Smile project. Aided by musician and long time fan Darian Sahanaja of The Wondermints, and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Brian painstakingly worked throughout 2003 to realize the album. In February 2004, 37 years after it was conceived, Wilson debuted the newly completed Smile at the Royal Festival Hall in London and throughout a subsequent UK tour.

The debut performance at the RFH was a defining moment for Brian. The documentary DVD of the event shows Brian preparing for the big day and, right up to show time, expressing doubts over the concept of putting this legendary work before the public. After an opening set of Beach Boys classics, he climbed back on stage for a rousing performance of the album. A 10-minute standing ovation followed the concert; the DVD shows a sprinkling of rock luminaries in the crowd, such as Roger Daltrey, Paul Weller, Sir George Martin and Sir Paul McCartney.

Smile was then recorded through April to June and released in September, to wide critical acclaim. The release hit #13 on the Billboard chart. The 2004 recording featured his backup/touring band, including Beach Boys guitarist Jeff Foskett, members of the Wondermints and backup singer Taylor Mills. In this version, "Good Vibrations" features Tony Asher's original lyrics in the verses, instead of Mike Love's lyrics from the released 1966 version.

Wilson won his only Grammy Award in 2005 for the track "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire)" as Best Rock Instrumental. In 2004 Smile was taken on the road for a thorough tour of Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In December 2005, he also released What I Really Want for Christmas for Arista Records. The release hit #200 on the Billboard chart, though sales were modest. Wilson's remake of the classic "Deck The Halls" became a surprise Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit.

Though no longer a part of The Beach Boys touring band, Brian Wilson remains a member of the Beach Boys corporation, Brother Records Incorporated.

Recent events/That Lucky Old Sun

In February 2005, Wilson had a cameo in the TV series Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century as Daffy Duck's spiritual surfing advisor.[39] He also appeared in the 2005 holiday episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, performing "Deck the Halls" for a group of children with xeroderma pigmentosum (hypersensitivity to sunlight) at Walt Disney World Resort. On July 2, 2005, Wilson performed for the Live 8 concert in Berlin, Germany.

In September 2005, Wilson arranged a charity drive to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, wherein people who donated $100 or more would receive a personal phone call from Wilson. According to the website, over $250K was raised.[40] In November 2005, former bandmate Mike Love sued Wilson over "shamelessly misappropriating... Love's songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the 'Smile' album itself" in the promotion of Smile.[41] The lawsuit was ultimately thrown out of court on grounds that it was meritless.[42]

On November 1, 2006, Wilson kicked off a small but highly anticipated tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of Pet Sounds.[43] He was joined by Al Jardine.

Wilson released a new album That Lucky Old Sun on September 2, 2008. The piece originally debuted in a series of September 2007 concerts at London's Royal Festival Hall, and in January 2008 at Sydney's State Theatre while headlining the Sydney Festival.[44] Wilson describes the piece as "consisting of five 'rounds', with interspersed spoken word".[45] A series of US and UK concerts led up to its release.

On September 30, 2008, Seattle's Light in the Attic Records released A World of Peace Must Come, a collaboration between Wilson and Stephen Kalinich, originally recorded in 1969, but later lost in Kalinich's closet.[46]

It was reported by Rolling Stone that Wilson is completing at least two unfinished compositions by George Gershwin for possible release in 2010.[47]

Awards and recognitions

  • Brian and the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in January 1988, alongside The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
  • In 2000, Brian was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney introduced Brian, referring to him as "one of the great American geniuses."[48]
  • On May 20, 2005, Wilson and the five other original-era Beach Boys were honored with the unveiling of the Beach Boys Historic Landmark on the former site of the Wilson family home in Hawthorne, California.
  • On December 2, 2007, the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors committee recognized Brian for a lifetime of contributions to American culture through the performing arts in music.


See also


  1. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - The Beach Boys". Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  2. ^ "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time". 1060. Jann Wenner. November, 2008. pp. 52. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b Gaines, Steven (1986). Heroes and Villains: the true story of the Beach Boys. New York: New American Library. p. 40. ISBN 0 306 80647 9. 
  4. ^ Leaf, p. 14
  5. ^ Stebbins, p. 14
  6. ^ a b Carlin, p. 11
  7. ^ Carlin, p. 10
  8. ^ Carlin, p. 12
  9. ^ Leaf, pp. 15–17
  10. ^ Carlin, p. 15
  11. ^ Stebbins, p. 18
  12. ^ Badman, p. 14
  13. ^ Carlin, p. 23
  14. ^ Carlin, p. 24
  15. ^ Badman, p. 15
  16. ^ Lambert, pp. 27–31
  17. ^ Carlin, pp. 30–31
  18. ^ Badman, pp. 16–17
  19. ^ Badman, p. 20
  20. ^ Badman, pp. 22–23
  21. ^ Badman, pp. 34–150
  22. ^ Badman, p. 26
  23. ^ Badman, p. 32
  24. ^ Lambert, pp. 64–65
  25. ^ Badman, pp. 39–42
  26. ^ a b c d e O'Hagan, Sean. "Feature: A Boy's own story". Review, The Observer (Guardian Media Group) (January 6, 2002): 1–3. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f Beets, Greg (July 21, 2000). "Review: Pet Sounds: Fifteen Minutes With Brian Wilson". Nick Barbaro. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  28. ^ a b Denselow, Robin. "Feature: Riding a wave". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group) (September 1, 1976): 8. 
  29. ^ a b O'Hagan, Sean. "Feature: The nutty producers". G2 (Guardian Media Group) (December 16, 1999): 10. 
  30. ^ "Review: Pet Sounds, Charts & Awards, Billboard Singles". Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  31. ^ a b c Hodgkinson, Will. "Feature: The unknown surfer". Friday Review (Guardian Media Group) (December 10, 1999): 16–17. 
  32. ^ "Feature: Reactions to Sgt. Pepper". Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  33. ^,,20120051,00.html People Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 15, April 17, 1989
  34. ^ Newsweek, September 4, 1995
  35. ^ Catch a Wave
  36. ^ Sweet, R.A., Mulsant, B. H. Gupta, B., Rifai, A.H., Pasternak, R.E., et al. (1995). Duration of neuroleptic treatment and prevalence of tardive dyskinesia in late life. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 478-486.
  37. ^ "I Like to Watch" by Heather Havrilesky, March 2, 2008,
  38. ^ "Brian Wilson Official Website: News". 11 October 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  39. ^ Duck Dodgers: Surf the Stars / Samurai Quack -
  40. ^ "Donate to hurricane relief and Brian Wilson will say hi"
  41. ^ ABC News: ABC News
  42. ^ However, a documentary on the Biography Channel reported that Love actually WON this lawsuit.Beach Boys lawsuit dismissed - Los Angeles Times
  43. ^ Two Beach Boys to reunite - Listen Up -
  44. ^ Brian Wilson to headline Sydney Festival - Arts - Entertainment -
  45. ^ - News
  46. ^ Seattle Weekly: The Lost Brian Wilson Album,, retrieved 2008-10-13 
  47. ^ "Brian Wilson Will Complete Unfinished Gershwin Compositions". Rolling Stone.
  48. ^ Kennedy Center: Biographical information for Brian Wilson


  • Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys: The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band on Stage and in the Studio (Backstreet Books, 2004). ISBN 0-87930-818-4.
  • Carlin, Peter Ames. Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson (Rodale Inc., 2006). ISBN 13 978-1-59486-749-1.
  • Leaf, David. The Beach Boys and the California Myth (Kingsport Press, 1978). ISBN 0 89471 412 0.
  • Lambert, Philip. Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: the songs, sounds and influences of the Beach Boys' founding genius (Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2007). ISBN 13 978 0 8264 1877 7.
  • Stebbins, Jon. The Lost Beach Boy (Virgin Books Ltd, 2007). ISBN 978 1 8522 7391 0.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I have an instinct for music, or a feeling about it, and I'll have my feelings guide my hands.
We wanted to bring some love to the world. I thought we were good at doing that. Bringin' love to the world.

Brian Douglas Wilson (born 20 June 1942) is an American pop musician, best known as a founding member of and the main producer, composer, and arranger for The Beach Boys.



Humor — it helps to make the vibe better — it loosens up the vibrations.
  • Take all the time you need
    It's a lovely night
    If you decide to come
    You're gonna do it right.
    • "Busy Doin' Nothin'" on Friends (1968)
  • Drive for a couple miles
    You'll see a sign and turn left
    For a couple blocks
    Next is mine, you'll turn left on a little road
    It's a bumpy one.
    • "Busy Doin' Nothin'" on Friends (1968)
  • I believe that music is God's voice.
    • Wilson at the induction ceremony of The Beach Boys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (January 1988)
  • It's funny how people are pickin' up on our music now, you know? I think it's wonderful that people like our music.
    • Caroline Now! interview (20 April 2000)
  • We wanted to bring some love to the world. I thought we were good at doing that. Bringin' love to the world.
    • "A Pop Genius Speaks of Love, Mercy, and Melody " (6 November 2001)

Bassics interview (1999)

Interview with Dale Turner (9 December 1999); published in Bassics (June/July 2000)
  • I went through a lot of changes in the years from when I first started out.
  • I would have the musicians keep playing over and over again till the sound made sense. I worked overtime on that; I worked hours to get it right. If the sound didn't make any sense, then I wouldn't know what to do — I'd be lost! It's instinct that tells me. I have an instinct for music, or a feeling about it, and I'll have my feelings guide my hands.
  • It was very competitive in the '60s. And everybody caught the bug, y'know? It was like a “competitive bug.” And, as far as I could see, everybody was turning everybody on. ... The Beatles were a part of that whole “competition” thing. Rubber Soul blew my mind. It really made me wanna record; it made me wanna cut. It sounds like a collection of songs that belong together, and it was an uplifting feeling. So I thought I'd make a collection of songs — called Pet Sounds — together. That's how I got that idea. ... I'm proud of it. I think it's a very everlasting album. I'm very proud of the love that went into it. A lot of love went into that album. And people pick up on that too, and they really like it 'cause they feel the love.
Dennis surfed. I couldn't surf. I never learned how.

CNN interview (2004)

Larry King Live (20 August 2004)
  • I'm doing good. I've had a slight nervous breakdown in the '60s. I got through that. And I got through the '70s. And I was in a doctor's program during the '80s and then I met Melinda and we've been together ever since. I've got a happy life.
  • Did I suffer from depression? Yes, a little, from time to time. Yes. ... I'm not as depressed as I was. I get depressed now and then but not very much anymore. ... At the height of it it was just God-awful. It was really bad.
  • It started out — my mom and dad took a little vacation to Mexico and they left $250 for food. But instead of food we went and bought some instruments. We got a bass, guitar and a set of drums. ... I was 19. Dennis was 15. Carl was 17. Mike was 18. Al was 19. And so we wrote a song called "Surfin'" in my living room. We were all playing and singing and Mike and I wrote a song called "Surfin'" and that's how it all started.
  • Dennis surfed. I couldn't surf. I never learned how.
  • The sound was essentially background sound, myself, and Carl, Dennis and Al Jardine, Mike was our lead singer. The four of us put our voices together. We had done it really beautifully. We had a beautiful blend. We really did.
  • My cousin came over to my house one day just to fool around and we said — he said, some day we should start a rock n' roll group. We could all get together. And I said, I know I guy named Al Jardine who plays bass and could probably sing good. You know. So we went from there.
  • I was very, very surprised. I never thought I would be that loved or respected.
  • Now and then I'll be a little brief with some of my band members. I won't talk or I'll refrain from talking to my band while we're rehearsing. But basically I am friendly with people. ... I'll go on cold streaks. I'll work with a collaborator then I'll stop calling the collaborator for a couple weeks. I'll say I need a break from you for a couple weeks. But they're "OK, fine, fine, I'll see you in two weeks."
  • I talked to Paul McCartney over the years ranging from 1967 to 2004. ... At the landmine show he did "God Only Knows" with me and I did "Let It Be" with him. And then I called him about four months ago asking him if he could come out and do — sing a song called "A Friend Like You," which I wrote for him, me and my collaborator wrote for him. And he said he'd love to come out. And he came to the studio and that was one of the bigger thrills of my life to tell you the truth, to produce Paul McCartney. And that was a thrill for me. That was a thrill.
  • If there's not love present, it's much, much harder to function. When there's love present, it's easier to deal with life.

OffBeat interview (2005)

"Backtalk with Brian Wilson" by H. Andrew Schwartz
  • Humor — it helps to make the vibe better — it loosens up the vibrations.
  • Spirituality amounts to love with me. I consider it the same as love. And my band members are full of love.
  • When people hear music that is spiritual it gets through. Music that is Godlike and loving gets through. I don’t have any power in this world, but I have spiritual power. I think God gave me my music and my talent. I’m trying to get across a feeling of spirituality; I think I have a spiritual influence on people.
  • I think about God, yes, and I wonder if there is a God. And if there is a God, will God please help me through my hard trips.

Quotes about Wilson

'Surf's Up' is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young musicians see in our future. ~ Leonard Bernstein
  • Brian didn't really write lyrics to the songs; he edited them. That means he might have simply said that he didn't like a particular line. I would then have tried to convince him of its merit, if I felt strongly about it, or I would have written an alternate in an attempt to get closer to what he seemed to be after. None of this is to say that he didn't supply words to some of the songs. He did. But his role was more to react to what I did after I did it, rather than to direct it before it occurred or even as it was occurring. It's fair to say that the general tenor of the lyrics was always his and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just the interpreter.
    • Tony Asher, lyricist on many of Wilson's songs; quoted in the liner notes for Pet Sounds by Brad Elliott (May 1999)]
  • Unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing 'God Bless America', no one thought you could say 'God' in a song. No one had done it, and Brian didn't want to be the first person to try it. He said, "We'll just never get any air play." Isn't it amazing that we thought that? But it worked, and "God Only Knows" is, to me, one of the great songs of our time. I mean the great songs. Not because I wrote the lyrics, but because it is an amazing piece of music that we were able to write a very compelling lyric to. It's the simplicity — the inference that "I am who I am because of you" — that makes it very personal and tender.
  • There is a new song, too complex to get all of first time around. It could come only out of the ferment that characterizes today's pop music scene. Brian Wilson, leader of the famous Beach Boys, and one of today's most important musicians, sings his own 'Surf's Up.'
    Poetic, beautiful even in its obscurity, 'Surf's Up' is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young musicians see in our future.
  • The first time I heard Pet Sounds, I have to admit that I did a little bit of knee-jerk in the same way probably the record company and some other people did because it wasn't as accessible as Brian's songwriting approach had been up to that time. I'm not sure I fully appreciated that until years later, I started making records myself.
  • I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everthing that's ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one. Brian Wilson is, without a doubt, a pop genius.
  • Brian Wilson the astronaut, peering down from the Heavens, cooly dreaming of California girls. An idealized pop utopia that widens the senses and soothes the ears. Lands the spaceship, finds nothing but disco and platform shoes and decided to take another trip around the moon for good measure and to search for the elusive lonely harmony. Landing back down for the millennium, our astronaut decided it's time. Time to stop and hear what he's brought back.
  • Pet Sounds is an unbelievable record. It's like classical music. Wonderful compositions, beautiful singing. I think the compositions stand up to any kind of interpretation. I've heard "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" played on the cello and it sounds like a piece music that's been with us for hundreds and hundreds of years. It sounds like it's always been there. And I think maybe in a hundred years' time people will be playing their songs on the piano trying to work out where they came from.
  • He was the most highly regarded pop musician in America, hands down. Everybody by that time had figured out who was writing and arranging it all. "In My Room" was the defining point for me. When I heard it, I thought "I give up — I can't do that — I'll never be able to do that."
  • Jesus, that ear. He should donate it to The Smithsonian.
  • Pet Sounds became an instant classic when it first appeared. Listening to it today, it is, perhaps, easier to see why it was one of the defining moments of its time, along with the music of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead ... its willingness to abandon formula in favor of structural innovation, the introduction of classical elements in the arrangements, production concepts in terms of overall 'sound' which were novel at the time, all these elements give Pet Sounds a freshness that, thirty years later, is immediately there for the listener.
  • Pet Sounds is a landmark album. For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.
  • It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. ... I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... it may be going overboard to say it's the classic of the century ... but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways ... I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. ... "God Only Knows" is a big favorite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe In Me", I love that melody — that kills me ... that's my favorite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-colored harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.
  • If there is one person that I have to select as a living genius of pop music, I would choose Brian Wilson. Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.
  • He was way advanced of what anybody was doing at that point. And I think the Beatles recognized that and I think every harmony group in the world recognized that there was some different thing going on — something very sophisticated.
  • Music is Brian Wilson's best friend, lover, everything. On a one-to-one basis, it's the only thing that has never wronged him. It's when people, and gossip, and record companies came into play that things went askew. The music never betrayed him. And given Brian's vulnerable, exclusive nature, it's only natural that it's the central fact and concern in his life. He may forget a name or a contract, but he never forgets the music. It's a consequence of devotional thinking, and geniuses are prone to it.
  • I think I would put him up there with any composer — especially Pet Sounds. I don't think there is anything better that that, necessarily. I don't think you'd be out of line comparing him to Beethovan — to any composer. The word genius is used a lot with Brian. I don't know if he's a genius or not, but I know that music is probably as good as any music you can make.
  • I don't think there's anyone his equal in popular music for this fifty years. They were really deep, profound emotions that came out of a lot of pain.
  • I love Brian. There's not many people I would say that about. I think he's a truly, truly, truly great genius.
  • In the fall of 1989, I was working with a band who turned me on to the bootlegged recordings of Brian Wilson's legendary, aborted Smile sessions. Like a musical burning bush, these tapes awakened me to a higher consciousness in record making. I was amazed that one, single human could dream up this unprecedented and radically advanced approach to rock 'n roll.
    I was really stunned when I met him several months later. Far from the catatonic drug burn-out the tabloids loved to depict, the guy I got to know was lucid and happening. When we started to mess around in the studio, it became clear that he was capable of making a record every bit as complex and beautiful as Pet Sounds whenever he felt like it. How could a talent so great be so misunderstood and under appreciated?
    My personal favorite is "Caroline No," his paean to lost innocence. I hear the weary voice of a man who's been hurled through the emotional wringer and yet, one can plainly discern the youthful sweetness, optimism and goodness that characterizes Brian's soul. It's that dichotomy that makes him one of the most enigmatic and endearing characters of these times.
  • I don't think that the California Myth, the dream that a few of us touched, would have happened without Brian, and I don't think Brian would have happened without the dream. They're inseparable.
  • I've always been into harmonies, so I was inspired by that part of what they (the Beach Boys) were doing. It definitely influenced a generation of kids.
  • His music definitely affected mine — the harmonies. Of course I never played in a band that could sing like that.

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