The Beach Boys began as three brothers, their cousin, and a school friend from Hawthorne, California, who liked to sing and enjoyed harmonizing together. Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, made up the original members of the group. When they were all teenagers, the group recorded “Surfin’.” The novelty song was released under the band name “The Pendletones.” Its popularity led to a contract with Capitol Records, and the group was renamed The Beach Boys.
The Beach Boys started out in the classic surf rock genre, but under Brian’s leadership as manager and producer branched out into other song styles. The best example would be the Pet Sounds album released in May 1966. Though critically acclaimed, the album was not especially popular with American listeners and failed to earn gold certification. International audiences were more receptive, however, and the album climbed to #2 in England. By the end of 1966, The Beach Boys were voted “best group” in polls by NME (New Musical Express, a British publication), scoring even higher than The Beatles.
During the early to mid-60s, The Beach Boys were The Beatles strongest chart competition. According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Pet Sounds had a profound impact on the Beatles as they were creating 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Along with their success, the group has suffered some loss over the years. In 1983, Dennis Wilson drowned, and in 1998 Carl Wilson died after a battle with lung cancer. The group continued with original members leaving, being replaced, and then coming back. During one of Brian Wilson’s breaks with the band (1964), Glen Campbell briefly toured with The Beach Boys as a musician. In 2012, the original surviving members reunited for 50th anniversary celebrations and their 29th studio album That’s Why God Made The Radio. Brian Wilson continues to tour as a solo artist. Other members of the group also continue to tour. The Beach Boys recently performed on PBS’s A Capitol Fourth (July 2018), along with John Stamos and Jimmy Buffett.
The Beach Boys have won several awards, including the Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Song (“Kokomo” in 1989) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2001). In 1974, Rolling Stone Magazine named The Beach Boys the Band of the Year. The group was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Their official band website states that the group is “America’s first pop band to reach the 50-year milestone.”
We’re pleased to include in our “Timeless Favorites” playlist a number of The Beach Boys’ most popular hits, songs that are indeed timeless in their appeal.
[billboard.com, thebeachboys.com, allmusic.com, rockhall.com]