The Beach Boys Continue Pleasing Fans

By Audrey T. Hingley | June 13th, 2024

Concerts in the past and into the future

the beach boys album covers, image by ralf liebhold

Okay, I am dating myself but here goes: as a young teen I saw The Beach Boys for the first time on a Sunday night, November 19, 1967 at The Richmond Arena, six years after the three Wilson brothers (Brian, Carl and Dennis), their first cousin Mike Love and school friend Al Jardine started a little band in Hawthorne, California called The Beach Boys.

When Al Jardine left the band for a short period, the Wilsons’ neighbor and friend David Marks joined the group, only to leave later when Jardine returned. When Brian Wilson decided to stay home to write and produce, singer/songwriter Bruce Johnston joined in 1965 and, except for a brief hiatus in the 1970s, has been with the band ever since. (As an aside, many people do not know that Johnston won a Grammy for writing Barry Manilow’s hit “I Write The Songs.”).

In 2012 the original surviving members – including David Marks – joined together for a 50th anniversary tour. Later Love, who has the legal right to use The Beach Boys name, and Johnston resumed touring as The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson toured separately with Jardine and others through 2018, the same year Jardine started playing solo gigs and today tours with his Endless Summer band. In January 2024 Brian’s second wife passed and it was announced that the famed musician has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, so sadly Brian will not be touring again.

The now-iconic group signed with Capitol Records in 1962 and their first album, “Surfin’ Safari,” came out that same year. By the time my friend Stephanie and I saw the band, there were a string of hits, including songs like “Surfin’ USA” (their first Top Ten hit), “Surfer Girl,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around,” “Barbara Ann,” and “Good Vibrations.” To date, The Beach Boys have sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Since their inception, The Beach Boys band members have endured ups and downs, changing group lineups, the ongoing Brian vs. Mike controversies (Brian Wilson, now 82, wrote/produced music, while Mike Love, now 83, served as lyricist) and tragedy (Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 at age 39 and Carl Wilson passed after a cancer battle at age 51 in 1998). But back in 1967 all of this was a far-away concept, both for my friend Stephanie and me – and also, I am sure, for The Beach Boys.

The show was held at The Richmond Arena, a now-defunct multipurpose indoor sports facility south of Parker Field, which itself was later demolished and replaced by The Diamond baseball stadium. According to Wikipedia, the Arena had 4,252 permanent seats and 900 temporary bleacher seats. Stephanie and I both recall the opening acts as Buffalo Springfield (whose members included Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay), who’d had a hit with “For What It’s Worth,” and Strawberry Alarm Clock, who rocketed to success with “Incense and Peppermints.” Some Internet researchers claim the group Soul Survivors were there (“Expressway To Your Heart”) – I’m sticking with our memories for this article. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the opening acts: we were there for The Beach Boys.

One guy who said he was there posted an Internet memory that recalled, “It was a pretty lousy venue … it probably would have sounded better in a high school gym.” One of his memories was a drummer’s cymbal fell off his riser and hit the head of a band member below. Stephanie remembers incident this vividly; for some reason I don’t. But our in-the-back bleacher seats were not great anyway.

All I really remember is when The Beach Boys appeared in person on that stage, young and handsome and incredibly talented, the screams of the audience were the loudest thing I’d ever heard. The concert was fabulous – I went home with a sore throat from screaming so much.

More musical nostalgia: The Beatles, Boomers, and The Ed Sullivan Show

The Beach Boys live in concertIn April 2024, my husband Brian and I saw Al Jardine’s Endless Summer Band in Florida – Al looked just the same as when I saw him in 1967 except for some lines in his face. The sold-out show was wonderful from our eighth-row seat, and Al’s adult son Matt’s voice was eerily reminiscent of Carl Wilson. After the show we talked to drummer Bobby Figueroa, the long-time drummer for Brian’s incarnation of The Beach Boys.

In recent years, I have seen the Love/Johnston Beach Boys numerous times, most recently in September 2023 from a third-row seat. Unfortunately, when I found out about the Williamsburg concert, the front seats were gone so we’ll enjoy this show from the lawn.

You can read numerous books about The Beach Boys, about the complexities of Brian’s music and his composing genius, his use of overlaying tracks and all kinds of production breakthroughs, as well as tributes to Mike Love’s contributions, lyrics and prowess as a front man for the group. I highly recommend both Mike Love’s autobiography, “Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy” (2016), and Brian Wilson’s memoir, “I Am Brian Wilson” (2016), to get their own stories from their own perspectives.

I’ve never stopped loving The Beach Boys’ music, which remains fresh, exciting and distinctive. Their meticulously amazing vocal harmonies remain. The fun remains. I call it “happy music,” and in my humble opinion, this world desperately needs some happy music.

So in the words of the great Beach Boys tune “Do It Again,” don’t miss any opportunity to catch The Beach Boys in concert and see why have earned their nickname as “America’s Band.”

Updated June 25, 2024

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