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. Initially managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, the Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records in 1962. The band's early music gained popularity across the United States for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of surfing, cars and romance. During the early to mid-1960s, Brian Wilson's growing creative ambition and songwriting ability would dominate the group's musical direction. The primarily Wilson-composed Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single (both released in 1966) featured a complex, intricate and multi-layered sound that represented a departure from the simple surf rock of the Beach Boys' early years.

Starting in 1967, Wilson 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, despite the period when they were the primary competitors to the Beatles. 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 different live configurations of the band fronted by Love and Johnston continued to tour into the 2000s while other members pursued solo projects. For the band's 50th anniversary, they briefly reunited as the Beach Boys for a new studio album, world tour, and career-spanning retrospective box set.

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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.