Brian Douglas Wilson was born on June 20th 1942 and has gone on to become one of, if not the greatest, musical geniuses in the world. It was while growing up, while being physically and psychologically abused by his father, that he discovered music as a way of shutting out all hurt and pain that he was feeling at home. As he listened to Four Freshmen records and records of that day, he noticed that he had a flair for writing and arranging music in his own particular style: using his two younger brothers, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson along with first cousin Mike Love, Brian recreated songs for them to sing along to. Eventually after they had started singing for many years at family parties and in their room, Mike told Brian that they needed to form a group. Along with college friend Al Jardine, they formed The Beach Boys, releasing their first song “Surfin'” to popular reviews. When Brian’s father Murry decided that he should be their manager, he set up The Beach Boys with a contract at Capitol Records and helped them embark on a seven year contract with the company. Within the first two years, Brian made himself the leader of the group and was, uniquely, writer/producer/arranger/musician and lead vocalist of the band. It was clear from the very early years that Brian was the one destined to take The Beach Boys into the spotlight. Along the way, mainly with Mike Love, he wrote a handful of top forty singles, including “California Girls”, “Surfin’ USA”, “Surfer Girl”, “Little Deuce Coupe”, “Don’t Worry Baby”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and the three number one hits in America, “I Get Around”, “Help Me, Rhonda” and “Good Vibrations”, which was also a hit in Britain, and a second UK #1 single, “Do It Again”.
In two years of recording at Capitol, Brian fell prone to a nervous breakdown which came from the stress of all his duties. He decided at the end of 1964 that he would exclude himself from touring and would stay at home and write, produce and arrange the songs so the group could go out on the road and return to some wonderful material. Brian was satisfied for the moment, but with the increase of his use of marijuana and LSD, became prone to spend his time with his drug-filled friends and his sanity was now becoming a problem as he was starting to hear voices. However, that did not stop him creating two of his greatest albums in 1965, “Beach Boys Today!” and “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). It was in 1966 that he finally showed the world that he was the leader of the pack. After being inspired by The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul”, Brian went on to create one of the greatest albums of all time, “Pet Sounds.” This album became a milestone in music and went on to influence many of the greatest artists of the next four decades. Brian’s next ambition was to top “Pet Sounds”. The album was to be called “Dumb Angel”, but he later changed it to “Smile”, an album made with the same amount of genius and ambition as that of The Beach Boys’ greatest single, “Good Vibrations”. “Smile” was never completed and it has since been called the greatest album never released.
Wilson’s work as a composer in creating albums — Side B of the Beach Boys’ “Today” album, the “Pet Sounds” and “SMiLE” albums being highlights — was considered all but lost until his most recent work. In 2008 he released the spectacular song cycle/concept album “That Lucky Old Sun”, a love letter to his native southern California; in 2010 he released the remarkable “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin”, in which he puts the classic Brian Wilson touch to the only other American rival composer from the 20th century covering many classic George Gershwin pop hits; in 2012 he wrote, produced, and sang lead on much of the Beach Boys’ reunion album “That’s Why God Made The Radio”, featuring another remarkable Side B of beautiful melodies and harmonies. These three recent albums have all been critically acclaimed and have sold well, confirming once and for all the mid-70s cliché that Brian Is Back.
Brian Wilson’s pop songwriting has, quite arguably, been featured in more movies than any other 20th century songwriter, from the mid-60s beach movies (if he didn’t write the music himself, at least he influenced his disciples Roger Christian & Gary Usher) to recent baby boomer flicks (i.e., Forrest Gump, Love Actually) and Gen Y comedies (i.e., 50 First Dates, Orange County, Happy Feet).
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