The Beach Boys are an iconic pop and rock music group formed in Hawthorne, California, United States in 1961, who are widely considered to be one of the most influential bands in rock and pop music history. They have recorded dozens of Top 40 hits (including four US #1 singles), many best-selling albums, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
The original group comprised singer-musician-composer Brian Wilson, his brothers Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, friend Al Jardine, and David Marks. Many changes in both musical style and personnel have occurred in their sometimes-stormy career: Brian Wilson’s mental illness, drug addiction and eventual withdrawal from the group; the deaths of Dennis Wilson in 1983 and Carl Wilson in 1998; and continuing legal battles among surviving members of the group.
The Beach Boys officially broke up in 1998 shortly after Carl Wilson’s death, however Mike Love and Bruce Johnston maintain the rights to the name and continue to tour with their own band as The Beach Boys.
The group was formed under the leadership of Brian Wilson, and included his brothers Carl and Dennis, their cousin Mike Love and school friend Al Jardine.
The early inspirations of the group were the Wilsons’ musician father, Murry, and the close vocal harmonies of groups such as The Four Freshmen. The group performed initially as The Pendletones, after the Pendleton woolen shirts popular then. Although surfing motifs were very prominent in their early songs, Dennis was the sole actual surfer in the group. He suggested to his brothers that they do some songs celebrating his hobby and the lifestyle which had developed around it in Southern California.
At first Murry Wilson, by many accounts a hard-driving man, steered The Beach Boys’ career, engineering their signing with Capitol Records in 1962. In 1964 Brian Wilson fired his father after a violent confrontation in the studio. Over the next few years they became increasingly estranged; when Murry died some years later, Brian and Dennis did not attend the funeral.
The Beach Boys’ early material focused on the California youth lifestyle (e.g., “All Summer Long”, “Fun, Fun, Fun”), cars (“Little Deuce Coupe”) and of course surfing (“Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “Surfin’ Safari” and many others). Although their music was bright and accessible, these early works contained remarkably sophisticated musical ideas. During this period, Brian Wilson rapidly progressed to become a melodist, arranger, and producer of world-renowned stature. Their early hits made them major pop stars in America and other countries, although their status as America’s top pop group was challenged in 1964 by the emergence of The Beatles, who became The Beach Boys’ major creative rival.