To me, one of the really fun things about writing is the research part of it. Recently, for my next book, I’ve had to do research on some aspects of life in America in the 1960’s, specifically about the Beach Boys in their early singing years, and I’ve come across some fun trivia I’d like to share with you.
We’re all familiar with their timeless “California Sound,” but let’s find out how well you really know this popular boys’ band, shall we? For instance, did you know that:
- When the band was formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961, co-founder Al Jardine tried to push the band toward folk music but was overruled in favor of rock ‘n’ roll.
- The band was initially managed by the Wilsons’ father, Murry, who was relieved of his managerial duties in 1964 due to creative conflict with his son Brian. Reflecting later on this, Brian Wilson said, “We love the family thing, y’know: three brothers, a cousin, and a friend is a beautiful way to have a group — but the extra generation can become a hang-up.”
- They landed their first paying gig (for which they earned $300) on New Year’s Eve 1962, at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance in Long Beach headlined by Ike & Tina Turner.
- As a song writer, Brian Wilson scored his first number-one hit with Surf City, which he had written for the duo Jan and Dean. It was the first surf song to top the charts (Jul 1963), but it was not sung by the Beach Boys.
- The band chose to promote its album Surfin’ U.S.A. (Mar 1963) with a series of concerts in dance halls, at state fairs and amusement parks throughout the landlocked Midwest. These concerts were met with such enthusiasm from fans that the band would return to the heartland time and again.
- For all the band’s success, Brian Wilson wasn’t too keen on touring, withdrawing completely from it in 1965 to devote himself to songwriting and music production. Glenn Campbell stepped in as his replacement for a short while, until his own career took off.
- God Only Knows (1966) is Paul McCartney’s all-time favorite, and according to him, “the greatest song ever written.”
- And so on, and so forth.
You get the idea. In my research I stumbled across countless trivia nuggets like the ones above that allowed me not only a more intimate look at “America’s Band,” but also a better understanding of the popular culture, and life, from a half-century ago. This discovery journey is half of the fun of writing. The other half is to attempt my very best to capture and project some of that onto paper.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice if I succeed?