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A legendary writer, producer, arranger, and performer of some of the most cherished music in rock history, BRIAN WILSON is one of the most influential pop composers of the last 50 years. Wilson’s legendary career began to take shape on Labor Day weekend, 1961, in Hawthorne, California, when he and his younger brothers Dennis and Carl assembled in their family’s living room with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine to rehearse a little tune that Brian and Mike had written for a try-out recording session. The resulting single, “Surfin’,” hit big locally and made ripples on the national charts, and the Beach Boys were signed to Capitol Records. Releasing hit after hit, the Beach Boys were like an irresistibly refreshing wave that flooded America.
Having assumed the role of the Beach Boys’ producer with the band’s third album, Wilson became a maverick force in the music industry by taking the group to independent recording studios. In 1964, he decided he could no longer tour with the Beach Boys, dedicating his energies instead to writing and producing the band’s records. In early 1966, while the other Beach Boys were on a tour of Asia, Brian Wilson teamed up with lyricist Tony Asher and hired the best studio musicians in Los Angeles to create what many today consider to be “The Great American Pop Album,” Pet Sounds. The Beach Boys’ next album, SMiLE, was intended to be a concept album that would top Pet Sounds. As it turned out, SMiLE became the most legendary album that never was – abandoned after several intense months of work with lyricist Van Dyke Parks.
Using a number of SMiLE tracks and remnants from the Pet Sounds sessions, the Beach Boys released Smiley Smile (1967), featuring the mega-euphoric, three-minute-and-35-second slab of unsurpassed pop ecstasy called “Good Vibrations.” In the years that followed, as the Beach Boys became one of the most popular touring acts in the world, Brian Wilson remained a key contributor to their albums, writing some of his most affecting work.
Fans watched, however, as an increasingly troubled Brian Wilson withdrew from the world, his creative output dwindling to precious but few minutes of musical brilliance. With his 1995 marriage to Melinda Ledbetter, however, Brian Wilson began to make dramatic, positive changes in his life. He contributed to a number of projects: Van Dyke Parks’ album, Orange Crate Art; the Brian Wilson documentary profile film and soundtrack, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times; and The Wilsons, an album on which Brian joined daughters Carnie and Wendy for a few tracks and reunited with Tony Asher for “Everything I Need.” In 1998, Brian Wilson, working with producer Joe Thomas, recorded the album Imagination, including songs co-written with the likes of Carole Bayer Sager, J.D. Souther, and Jimmy Buffett. Thirty-seven years after its anticipated release, an all-new studio recording of SMiLE was released worldwide by Nonesuch Records in September 2004. Brian Wilson performed SMiLE at Walt Disney Concert Hall in November as part of a U.S. tour coinciding with the release. Earlier the same year, Wilson was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.