The Beach Boys

More than 55 years ago, in 1961, Mike Love and his cousins Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, along with family friend Al Jardine, formed a “garage band” with a difference. They practiced covers of the day and classic songs, much like any other such band of boys, but thanks to the weirdly wired Brian Wilson and creative juices of Mike Love, they came up with their own songs and a sound unlike anything anyone had ever heard—upbeat, yet intricately arranged songs— about the simple life of girls, cars and fun, wrapped in their Southern California penchant for the beach and surfing. They became The Beach Boys and tapped into a way to make summers last forever by creating music that’s outlasted other groups, other genres, even the original band itself.
The story of the Beach Boys has been one of lasting success—but not without its well-documented trials, tribulations, turmoil and tragedy.
But in spite of all of the rocky waves and changes in tides, the music has survived—songs like “Surfin’ USA,” “Surfer Girl,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” “California Girls,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Barbara Ann,” “Good Vibrations” are part of the American landscape, as well as the worldwide music scene.
That music continues to be delivered, live and in concert, by Love and the “6th Beach Boy,” Bruce Johnston (he joined the group way back in 1965 when Brian Wilson split). They have carried on with the musical legacy by never wavering from their objective of surrounding themselves with musicians who can help them fully capture the anthems of the Beach Boys.
In addition to Love and Johnston, the current lineup includes Tim Bonhomme (keyboards/vocals); John Cowsill (percussion, drums/vocals); Jeff Foskett (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Brian Eichenberger (bass, backing vocals) Randy Leago (saxophones, flutes, harmonicas and percussion), and Scott Totten (lead guitar/ vocals/musical director). Al Jardine (guitar, vocals) continues to tour with the group for select shows, as does actor, musician, and friend John Stamos (electric guitar, drums, percussion and vocals). Stamos is expected to be on hand for the Edgewater show.
Stamos and Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, joined Love on a new incarnation of the single “Do It Again,” released June 30, this year. They also released a video of the song, which can be viewed on the Beach Boys’ website and YouTube.
This year also saw the release of Sunshine Tomorrow, a collection of songs that hasn’t seen the light of day since it was recorded in 1967.
The Beach Boys marked their 50th anniversary when the founding members reunited in 2012 for a major international tour, which included a performance at the 2012 Grammys—the first time Wilson had performed with the group since 1996. They also released a studio album that represented this whole new harmonic convergence. The album, That’s Why God Made The Radio from Capitol/EMI records, was a dream come true, recorded at LA’s famed Ocean Way Studios—and it was the first album in years to feature all of the band’s surviving original members—making for events none of them ever thought they would live to see.
Produced by Wilson and executive produced by Love, all five band members collaborated on writing the harmonies, lyrics and arrangements and recording the 11 new songs that still hold on to that timeless signature sound, tapping into a variety of emotions including the spiritual power of music. Songs include “Think About The Days,” “Isn’t It Time,” “Spring Vacation,” “Daybreak Over The Ocean,” “Beaches In Mind,” and “Summer’s Gone.”
To commemorate the tour, Live—The 50th Anniversary Tour album was also recorded and released. Capping off the 50th anniversary celebration, the Beach Boys released a six-CD boxed collection called Made in California, that spans their entire career, featuring all the classics and more than 60 previously unreleased songs, home demos, alternate mixes and live recordings.
But all “good vibrations” come to an end, and unfortunately yet not entirely unexpected, the honeymoon didn’t last. However, the lineup that has been to Laughlin many times returns to do what it does best—make music that Beach Boys fans around the planet can’t seem to get enough of.
And like the sand and the surf, the next show always beckons and the Beach Boys move on.
If nothing else over all the miles and years, The Beach Boys proved that summer can last forever with the right attitude.
The Laughlin entertainer caught up with Love again to talk about the music, the career and more during our most recent interview. Here’s how it went…

We understand John Stamos will be with you for this trip to Laughlin.
Love: Stamos is our buddy and it looks like he’s going to come and play the show with us. A lot of younger people probably first saw us on “Full House.” John Stamos brings a lot of charisma, and of course, he likes to play drums and sometimes he’ll play guitar and we’ll back him up on a song. We all backed him up on the episode of “Full House” where Uncle Jesse got married. The song is called “Forever,” and it was written by my cousin Dennis Wilson. So we’re quite used to John Stamos coming out and playing with us. First time he showed up, it was 1985, and he was “Blackie” on “General Hospital.” He told me he used to drive his bicycle by my parents’ house and look in the windows in Cypress California, where he grew up, in Southern California. He would look in the windows and see the gold albums on the wall and he was very impressed by that—and he remembers that from his childhood. Before he became an actor, he was a drummer in a little three-piece band that he had in Southern California. So he’s a long time music fan, and drummer and, of course, incredibly famous because of “Full House,” and now they’re doing “Fuller House.”

The vocal excellence of the Beach Boys has remained unchanged in all these years. What is your secret?
Love: One of the things we do—we don’t do stuff to harm our voices. In other words, we don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, don’t do drugs and if you live a healthy lifestyle it shows. We found out the hard way early on in the early ’60s— you can’t be a good vocal group and go out and exhaust yourself and stay up all night for days in a row. You can only do that for so long, and maybe some people try to do that and they have some enhancements they resort to, and we don’t do that.
We have one guy who plays bass and sings the high part, and one of the guys who sings really high, Brian, was 18 years with the Four Freshmen, who were a big inspiration to us when we started out because we all loved harmony. Harmonizing together has been a family tradition going back to childhood. It started in my parents’ generation, and so it’s just been a natural thing that a family hobby morphed into a profession. I remember back when my cousin Brian and I wrote some really neat songs together that people still love to hear. But we have this fellow who was a recent member of the Four Freshmen and he sings really high. We do an a capella number originally done by them called “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring.” It’s beautiful, four-part harmony, just voices. No instrumentation.

The importance of keeping the vocals and instrumentation in tact. Do you ever regret making the music so difficult back in the day—in particular, the vocal ability it took and still takes to hit those high notes? It’s not music you can fudge on. You guys probably thought you were bullet-proof at the time, not taking into consideration how people and voices age?
Love: The whole idea is to replicate those songs, or reincarnate them, as close to the record as possible. Maybe there’s an intro or maybe there’s a bit heavier instrumental aspect to it, as it is live at a concert, but in terms of the vocals, we’re really obsessed and focused on recreating those vocal harmonies and those notes and those chord progressions just as good as they ever were.

Talk about your time with Glen Campbell. Will you do any kind of tribute to him in your show?
Love: Bruce Johnston joined our group in 1965 to take the place of Glen Campbell, who had taken the place of Brian when Brian Wilson quit the touring group.
We were invited to Nashville for his memorial and a few of us performed “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” and we dedicated it to his wife, Kim. We also did, “I Get Around,” which Glen Campbell played on the original hit recording of that song. We did all the vocals, but he played on the track along with some of the better musicians in L.A. that Brian was using. That’s pretty neat and people like the fact that we showed up to his memorial in Nashville. We don’t do any of his songs on stage, but we have the fondest memories of him on stage. He was so funny and so gifted musically. He was an insanely great guitar player, and totally hilarious in terms of his sense of humor. I never laughed so hard as when he was with us for a few months. A lot of his Arkansas humor kept us in stitches. But then Bruce Johnston took over for Glen as Glen went on to be a superstar, with a TV show and so much going for him. It’s just a tragedy he’d contract Alzheimer’s ’cause that takes everything away from you.

Is there one accomplishment you are most proud of?
Love: I think Good Vibrations going to No. 1 in Great Britain and being voted the No. 1 group in Great Britain, with The Beatles at No. 2, was a pretty darn nice achievement. But also doing July 4 in Washington, D.C. a few times on the Monument grounds, and playing for over a half a million people. In fact one year, we did Philadelphia in the afternoon and D.C. in the evening, so we played to a million and a half people in one day. That’s a lot of folks.

Any new elements for the live show?
Love: What’s fun these days is the video that accompanies our songs, many of them with retro footage that’s kind of embarrassing, but kind of fun—like the outfits and doing the monkey with Annette Funicello. Sometimes I’d take my shirt off and try to be a rock star in the ’60s. There are moments that are somewhat embarrassing, but it’s fun to look at. It’s cool that the people who grew up with us look back because it’s nostalgic and they get a kick out of it, and the people who weren’t with us then because they weren’t born yet, can get a little taste of how it looked and how it felt back in the day. So it’s kind of cool. Entire families can show up at a Beach Boys show and everybody can relate to something to do with music.

The Beach Boys

The E Center at the Edgewater

Saturday, September 16 8 p.m. (See “Showtimes” for tickets)