You can capsulize most pop music acts by reciting how many hits they’ve had and how many millions of albums they’ve sold. But these conventional measurements fall short when you’re assessing the impact of The Beach Boys. To be sure, this band has birthed a torrent of hit singles and sold albums by the tens of millions. But its greater significance lies in the fact that it changed the musical landscape so profoundly that every pop act since has been in its debt.
Happily for us all, The Beach Boys continue to create and perform with the same bold imagination and style that marked their explosive debut 40 years ago. And now in 2006, their latest Capitol Records release, Sounds of Summer (RIAA certified double platinum with over two million in sales and climbing), marks a resurgence in Beach Boys interest that has again rocked the world.
Even more than the Beatles, The Beach Boys found through their music the key to unfading youth—and they made copies for everyone. To these guys, the beach isn’t just a place where the surf comes to play—it’s where life is renewed and made whole again.
Captained by Mike Love, The Beach Boys play an astoundingly busy schedule of concerts, averaging 150 shows a year, ranging from their triumphal February appearance at the Winter Olympics to gala New Year’s celebrations and special events worldwide. In 1974 Mike Love’s concept album Endless Summer ignited a second generation of Beach Boys fans and stirred a tempest that rocked the music world.
Grammy-winning songwriter Bruce Johnston, [Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs”], joined The Beach Boys in 1965, replacing Glenn Campbell, who filled-in for Brian Wilson, on vocals/bass, when he retired from touring. Highly regarded as a singersinger, Johnston’s vocal work with such legendary artists as Elton John and Pink Floyd firmly established him among rock’s elite artists.
Had this remarkable band been less committed to its art and its fans, it could have retired from the field with honor at dozens of points along the way, confident that it had made a lasting contribution to world culture. It could have rested on the success of the epoch-shifting Pet Sounds masterpiece in 1966 . . . or after recording Love’s co-written Golden Globe nominated “Kokomo” in 1988 and seeing it become its best selling single ever . . . or after being inducted that same year into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame . . . or after watching its worldwide album sales blow past l00 million . . . or after winning the NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 [along with The Who, Bob Marley, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr. and Les Paul]. And still, The Beach Boys continue to have fun, fun, fun, with no end in sight.
Few, if any, acts can match The Beach Boys’ concert presence, spirit and performance. They were center-stage at Live Aid, multiple Farm Aids, the Statue of Liberty’s 100th Anniversary Salute, the Super Bowl and the White House. On one day alone—July 4, 1985—they played to nearly 2 million fans at shows in Philadelphia and Washington, D. C.
Love’s role as the band’s front man sometimes overshadows his stature as one of rock’s foremost songwriters. “Surfin’,” The Beach Boys’ first hit came from his pen. With his cousin, Brian Wilson, Love wrote the classics “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “California Girls” and the Grammy nominated “Good Vibrations.” Years later, he showed he still had the lyrical chops by co-writing the irresistible and chart-topping “Kokomo.”
On The Beach Boys’ near horizon is another national/world tour and continued charity activities through Mike Love’s Love Foundation, which supports national environmental and educational initiatives. Love and The Beach Boys’ recent efforts raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the Red Cross to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The band appeared on countless worldwide TV shows throughout the years including: The Ed Sullivan Show, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and The Tonight Show. Recent television appearances include regular performances on Don Imus’ MSNBC show Imus In The Morning, TNT’s NBA All-Star Game, NBC’s Macy’s Day Parade, VH-1 Classic, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Today Show, PBS’ A Capitol Fourth, Good Morning America, Weekend Today, The O’Reilly Factor.
In addition to founding Beach Boy Mike Love (lead vocals) and Beach Boy-vet Bruce Johnston (vocals/keyboards)–Christian Love (guitar/vocals), Randell Kirsch (bass/vocals), Tim Bonhomme (keyboards/vocals), John Cowsill of The Cowsills (percussion /vocals) and Scott Totten (guitar/vocals) round out the band.