By Jeff Marcus
Featuring a classic image from an iconic American rock group, “Surfin’ Safari” (No. 14) was the breakout record for The Beach Boys in 1962. Prior to this single, the group had a regional hit in 1961 on Candix Records with “Surfin’.” This one started the wave of hits for the California boys.
The Beach Boys started out in high school as Kenny & The Cadets, then as Carl and The Passions, and, finally, The Pendletones. In addition to Brian Wilson, the band consisted of his brothers, Dennis and Carl; cousin Mike Love; and Al Jardine, who left the band for a short time and was replaced by David Marks. Al Jardine returned in 1963. Incidentally, drummer Dennis Wilson was the only member of The Beach Boys who actually could surf.
In all, The Beach Boys would hit the Top 10 a total of 15 times from 1963 to 1988. The Beach Boys earned their first No. 1 with “I Get Around” in 1964. “Help Me, Rhonda” (1965) and “Good Vibrations” (1966) would also hit the top spot.
Twenty-two years later, The Beach Boys surprised everyone in the music industry when they took “Kokomo” to No. 1 in 1988. Never reaching the Top 40 again, the song would be the group’s final hit single.
Brian Wilson has created some of the most gorgeous pop melodies, including “God Only Knows,” “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Warmth of The Sun,” to name but a few. While he wrote and produced the group’s material, he stopped touring in late 1964, with Bruce Johnston taking over his duties on the road. Brian Wilson went through a very difficult time and experienced a nervous breakdown, in addition to drug addiction; he went through years of psychological analysis and has made great strides in his recover process.
In 1988, Brian Wilson launched his solo career, which he continues to this day.
Dennis Wilson drowned on Dec. 28, 1983. Carl Wilson died from cancer on Feb. 6, 1998.
The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988, while Brian Wilson was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
Marcus is author of the two-book series “American Record Sleeves.” Visit his Web site at www.recordsleevebooks.com.