Date of Birth: June 20, 1942
Brian Wilson is the lead singer, bass player and creative genius who drove the Beach Boys to success and is a long serving and well respected producer working to innovate music around the world. He wrote 24 hits for the band. Wilson is also ranked #52 on Rolling Stones Top 100 singers of all time (2008). Despite a string of serious personal struggles, Wilson continues to win over audiences around the world with his songs and story of perseverance and inspiration.
As a child Brian always showed a talent for music. His father claimed that as a baby, Brian could hum back songs he had only just heard. As he grew up he started realizing his true love for music. He would often defy his parents and stay up late with his brothers, teaching them to harmonize and sing. He would obsess over playing the piano, learning songs and playing them at school and home.
One point during his teenage years his parents went away to Cancun on a vacation. They left Brian money for food and emergency expenses that might arise. He took the money to rent amps and instruments in an attempt to record music. The money fell short and he ended up convincing a friend’s mother to give him an extra $300 dollars to make the recording. Upon his parents' return, they were angered to see what had happened, but Brian convinced his parents to listen to what he had created. His father was so impressed that he made himself the band manager and started the group on proper rehearsals and recording sessions.
The Beach Boys were originally called The Pendeltones. Their debut song, "Surfin," was released on a small record label called Candix Records and it reached number 75 on the Billboard hit charts. Candix Records changed their name to The Beach Boys without the band's knowledge. The first major performance for the band came not too long after that, following a live performance by Ike and Tina Turner on New Year's Eve in 1961 at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance. The band was on the rise, eager and hungry to get their next record out. To get the band up to a high standard the Beach Boys would learn and preform a variety of Chubby Checker songs.
Candix Records folded, but on the basis of several new demo recordings by the Beach Boys, Capitol Records took them on, releasing "Surfin' Safari" and "409" as a double-sided 45 RPM. Both songs became national hits. In 1963, their single "Surfin' U.S.A." hit number 3 on the Billboard charts.
In 1965, after enjoying much success with the albums Surfin' Safari, Surfin' U.S.A., Surfer Girl, Little Deuce Coupe, Shut Down Volume 2, All Summer Long, The Beach Boys' Christmas Album, The Beach Boys Today!, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) and Beach Boys' Party, the band started recording the album Pet Sounds, which is today regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time by music experts worldwide. The album was delayed as Brian was unhappy with the recording and felt was unfinished. He ended up taking six months at a cost of over $50,000 to mix and record the track “Good Vibrations,” which is regarded by many as the defining song of the Beach Boys legacy.
As the band achieved success, fame and fortune, Brian began to feel incredibly stressed. He had taken on roles as the band leader, singer, songwriter, producer, creative director and teacher. The pressures became too much and his typical stress reliever of writing music became insufficient in relaxing his mind. Brian turned to drugs. He started with marijuana and alcohol. Over time those too became too mundane for him.
Brian eventually turned to LSD. One week after his first time using the drug he started having auditory hallucinations, which continued to plague him throughout his life. Shortly after his father passed away Brian fell deep into the drug world and became a recluse. Not a total recluse however. He became dependant on drugs, alcohol and over eating as means for comfort and relaxation. Wearing nothing more than a bathrobe, he would often party with some of the music industry’s biggest players, including John Lennon, Keith Moon, Ringo Star and many other influential names in the music industry.
Brian’s personal torment led to his psychologist taking advantage of him and had him assume control of his business and music. It wasn’t until his brother stepped in eventually that Brian would start to pick up the pieces of his life. The abuse of power by his doctor led to his medical licence being revoked.
Since then Brian has gone into recovery. He started to turn his life around and return to producing music and performing. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and even today have a profound effect and influence on modern musicians.