The Beach Boys is an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962.
Their debut album “Surfin Safari” was released in 1962. It peaked at #32 in its 37-week run on the U.S. charts. “Surfin' Safari” “Ten Little Indians” and “409” were singles from the album. Their 1963 album “Surfin’ U.S.A” reached #2 in the U.S., lasting 78 weeks on the albums chart. The title track and “Shut down,” became hit singles. “Surfer Girl,” released in 1963, hit #7 in the U.S. during a chart stay of 56 weeks. The title track was a #7 U.S. hit and its flip-side, “Little Deuce Coupe,” proved to be The Beach Boys' most successful B-side, reaching #15. Their third LP of 1963 “Little Deuce Coupe” hit #4 in the U.S. during a 46-week chart stay and eventually going platinum. Hit singles included the title track and “Be True to Your School.”
1964 saw the band again release three albums in one year, with “Shut Down Volume 2” leading the way. It hit #13 on the U.S. charts during a chart stay of 38 weeks. “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Don't Worry Baby” and “The Warmth of the Sun” were popular singles. “All Summer Long” followed hitting #4 in the U.S. during a 49 week chart stay. “I Get Around” preceded the album's release by some two months and quickly raced to become their first #1 single in the U.S., they also had a U.K. Top 10 debut with a #7 peak. “The Beach Boys' Christmas Album” featured several original holiday songs including the hit single “Little Saint Nick.”
In 1965 they once again released three albums, with “Today!” hitting #4 in the U.S. during a chart stay of 50 weeks. The album included the original version of the classic hit, “Help Me, Rhonda.” “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)” was released next, hitting hit #2 in the U.S. during a chart stay of 33 weeks. The album’s single “California Girls” was a #3 hit. An album of cover songs, “Beach Boys' Party!” rounded out the year. The album included versions of The Beatles' “Tell Me Why,” “You've Got To Hide Your Love Away” and “I Should Have Known Better,” The Everly Brothers' “Devoted To You,” Phil Spector's “There's No Other (Like My Baby)” and a send-up of their own “I Get Around” and “Little Deuce Coupe.” “Beach Boys' Party!” reached #6 in the U.S. The album and the surprise hit single “Barbara Ann” became The Beach Boys' biggest successes yet in the U.K., both reaching #3 and making them stars in The Beatles' homeland.
In December 1965, The Beatles released “Rubber Soul,” an album which enthralled Brian Wilson. In response the band recorded their platinum certified masterpiece “Pet Sounds.” Released in 1966, the album wove elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, coupled with sound effects and unconventional instruments such as bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, dog whistles, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans and barking dogs, along with the more usual keyboards and guitars. “Sloop John B” was extremely successful, scoring a #3 hit in the U.S. and #2 in the U.K. “Wouldn't It Be Nice” reached #8 in the U.S. Its flip side, “God Only Knows,” was another #2 single in Britain, but reached only #39 in the States. The LP broke into the Top 10 in the U.S.
Brian Wilson then set out to record the bands next album, tentatively titled “Smile.” Due to conflicts with other bandmates, namely Mike Love, over the exploratory and experimental nature of the project diverting from the group’s original sound, the album was shelved.
The 1967 album “Wild Honey,” regarded by some as another classic, features songs written by Wilson and Love, including the hit “Darlin'” and a rendition of Stevie Wonder's “I Was Made to Love Her.” The album fared better than its predecessor in the charts, reaching #24 in the U.S. The following album “Friends,” released in 1968, was partly influenced by the group's (especially Love's) adoption of the practice of Transcendental Meditation. The title song “Friends” was their least successful single since 1962, charting at #47. This was followed by the single “Do It Again,” a return to the formula of their early years. Moderately successful in the U.S. at #20, the single went to top the U.K. single charts in 1968 for one week. The album, however, bombed peaking at #126 in the U.S.
As Brian's mental and physical health deteriorated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, his song output diminished and he eventually became withdrawn and detached from the band. To fill his creative void, the other members began writing and producing songs. Carl Wilson gradually took over leadership of the band, developing into an accomplished producer. To complete their contract with Capitol, they produced one more album. 1969’s “20/20” was primarily a collection of leftovers (including remnants from “Smile”), old songs by outside writers, and several new songs by Dennis Wilson. Another flop, it still fared better than “Friends,” reaching #68 on the Billboard charts.
The band released a few albums that failed to achieve the same success as their predecessors. The 1976 album “Big Ones” marked the return of Brian Wilson as a major force in the group in that it was the first album he produced since “Pet Sounds.” This album included several new songs composed by Brian, and several of his arrangements of favorite old songs by other artists, including “Rock and Roll Music” (which made #5), “Blueberry Hill” and “In the Still of the Night.” For the remainder of 1976 to early 1977, Brian Wilson spent his time making sporadic public appearances and producing the band's next LP “The Beach Boys Love You,” a quirky collection of 14 songs mostly written by Brian alone, including more “fun” songs like “Honkin' Down the Highway,” and a mature love song in “The Night Was So Young.”
The other band members continued into the 1980s with Brian as an inconsistent participant. In 1983 Dennis Wilson drowned. In 1985 they released the eponymous album “The Beach Boys” and enjoyed a resurgence of interest later in the 1980s, assisted by tributes such as David Lee Roth's hit version of “California Girls.” In 1988, they scored their first #1 hit single in 22 years with “Kokomo,” which was written for the movie “Cocktail,” becoming their biggest-selling hit ever. The Beach Boys quickly put out the album “Still Cruisin',” which went gold in the U.S. and gave them their best chart showing since 1976.
While The Beach Boys released their last studio album “Stars and Stripes Vol. 1” in 1996, a number of versions of the band, each fronted by a surviving member of the original quintet (Dennis and Carl Wilson died in 1983 and 1998, respectively), continue to tour. The group has had 36 Top 40 hits (the most by an American rock band) and 56 Hot 100 hits, including four #1 singles. The core quintet of the three Wilsons, Love and Jardine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.