His assholishness extends back into the band’s history, well before they became a staple at county fairs and minor league baseball games. He’s known for his public trashing of the band’s – well, Brian Wilson’s – masterwork (and one of the most influential albums ever recorded) Pet Sounds, is widely thought to have been responsible for derailing Wilson’s legendary follow-up Smile, dissed Wilson in his acceptance speech when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and in that same year managed to get legal rights to the name “The Beach Boys” AND added John Stamos (yes, that one) to the band during one of Wilson’s long, health-induced absences.
Most Beach Boys fans and experts will tell you that this stems from sheer jealousy on Love’s part – he co-wrote and sang many of the band’s early hits, but was clearly in the shadow of Brian Wilson’s genius. And that Love took advantage of Wilson’s long struggle with mental illness to gain control of the Beach Boys’ empire. (John Stamos. Jesus.)
Despite all of this, the remaining original band members – Love, Wilson and Al Jardine – released an album of new material earlier this year, gave a memorable performance at this year’s Grammys, and have been touring around the country, playing venues where they don’t have to shout to be heard over the roar of the Tilt-A-Whirl. It’s not uncommon for bickering rock bands to get back together in their twilight years, driven to reunite by a common love of
money the music that brought them together in the first place. As a long time fan of the band (FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve been working on a book about surfing and the Beach Boys, and one time I sat next to Brian Wilson at a deli in Los Angeles; he was eating a bowl of split pea soup, rather shakily, I might add), I was happy to see the original lineup performing again, if for no other reason than it seemed like Love and Wilson had finally buried the hatchet. But as the title of this post indicates, that is probably never going to happen.
Yesterday, Love announced that the fall leg of the band’s tour would not include Wilson or Jardine. Citing some weird excuses – interest would drop, tickets price would fall – Love indicated that the full lineup tour was only supposed to go through September, after which he’ll continue with his skeleton crew of backup musicians and longtime keyboardist Bruce Johnston (who joined the band in 1965). Wilson seemed to be surprised and upset, telling CNN that he was “disappointed…we are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.” If this is the end of the OG Beach Boys, it’s a bittersweet one – Wilson has had a bit of a career revival, releasing his own version of Smile a few years back, his health and sanity seemingly restored. Love, meanwhile, remains an asshole.