The Beach Boys

Formed 1961.
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Why Brian Wilson faced opposition for his vision for Pet Sounds

Johnnie and David Hepworth discuss the making of Pet Sounds.

Featured in BBC Music Clips


The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Emerging at the vanguard of the "California Sound", the band's early music gained international popularity for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of surfing, cars and romance. Initially managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, Brian's creative ambitions and sophisticated songwriting abilities dominated the group's musical direction. Rooted in doo-wop, rhythm and blues, and 1950s rock and roll, Brian lead the band in experimenting with several genres ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic and baroque while devising novel approaches to studio arranging, record production, and vocal jazz harmony.

From 1966, the primarily Brian-composed Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single featured a complex, intricate and multi-layered sound that represented a departure from the simple surf rock of the Beach Boys' early years. Soon after, Brian gradually ceded control to the rest of the band, reducing his input due to mental health and substance abuse issues. Though the more democratic incarnation of the Beach Boys recorded a string of albums in various musical styles that garnered international critical success, the group struggled to reclaim their commercial momentum in America. Since the 1980s, much-publicized legal wrangling over royalties, songwriting credits and use of the band's name transpired. Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 and Carl died of lung cancer in 1998. After Carl's death, many live configurations of the band fronted by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston continued to tour into the 2000s while other members pursued solo projects. For the band's 50th anniversary, the surviving co-founders briefly reunited for a new studio album and world tour.

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of That’s Why God Made the Radio

    That’s Why God Made the Radio 2012

    Reviewed by Ian Winwood
    For the first time in 16 years, Brian Wilson records with the band that made his name.
  2. Review of The SMiLE Sessions

    The SMiLE Sessions 2011

    Reviewed by Matthew Horton
    The real(ish) deal arrives, almost 45 years late but sounding as perfect as can be.
  3. Review of Pet Sounds (40th Anniversary Edition)

    Pet Sounds (40th Anniversary Edition) 2006

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    Every home should have one. You've got no excuse...
  4. Review of Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)

    Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) 1965

    Reviewed by Chris Roberts
    If Pet Sounds is the critics’ fave, Summer Days is perhaps the people’s day at the beach.
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