I - II - III - IV

NOTE:  Many, many books have been penned about the lives and career of the Beach Boys, but it is safe to say that not one completely captures the unique, dynamic way in which the band members interact, both in and out of the group.  However, certain authors are more worthy than others.  I hope this guide helps the curious fan discover more about the undeniably fascinating lives of the Beach Boys. These reviews are solely my own opinion.

The Beach Boys: A Biography in Words & Pictures
Ken Barnes; Sire Books-Chappell Music Company, 56 p., Released 1976
(out of five)
Ken Barnes:
                                                        The Beach Boys

"Southern California in the early sixties produced the pinnacle of hedonistic teenage existence in the planet's history.  All the elements - affluence, leisure, permissive parental attitudes, weather, variety and number of outlets - combined to create Teenage Nirvana, where summer really meant fun and the beach was the place to go . . . Brian Wilson, just into his twenties in 1962, had more perspective on it all.  Though not at all the overweight introvert legend has painted . . . Brian was a reflective sort, with a keen obvserver's eye." [pg. 11]

REVIEW:  Distinguished by being perhaps the first biography written about the Beach Boys, Ken Barnes had some history to look back on by 1976, with the band's golden era seemingly past, and by that time a hugely popular touring act.  Less a biography than a review of their musical accomplishments, Mr. Barnes sets forth the tried and true "facts" about the band's history (apparently gleaned from magazine and newspaper articles) and combines this with his own opinions about the albums and singles thus far.  He doesn't shy away from the band's commerical failings in the late sixties and early seventies, and he relates candidly Brian's deteriorating condition through short interview snippets (taken from other sources.)  As such, the writing is full of common errors, which later, more concientious biographers have attempted to correct (such as claiming that the original Candix recordings the Beach Boys made were re-recorded for Capitol, when in fact, Capitol Records simply speeded up the original tapes to make them sound younger).  The author can be credited with gleaning information from several sources, but this book will only have marginal interest for collectors, since much here can be found in deeper, more accurate biographies.  Originally sold in music stores, this is very hard to find item.

The Beach Boys
John Tobler; Phoebus Publishing Company, 96 p., Released 1978

The Beach

"The result of Brian taking over production duties had wider significance than simply providing his group with a lot of hit records.  According to Nik Venet, Brian was a pioneer:  "He was one of hte first acts on a major label to bust out of the major label syndrome of coming into their studios at their appointed hours and using their facilities, good, bad or indifferent, ...He was the first one to be allowed to go elsewhere, which was a pretty heavy trip for a kid his age.

"Brian Wilson liberated California for producers and musicians.  New York was the center for recording, and he brought a lot of action into California for young producers and musicians.  . . . He also was the first guy to do it [make a record] until it was right.  He damned everybody till it was right, and then he gave them the record -- he took his chances.  A lot of us would get chicken after four hours, and say 'We'd better get off that tune.'  Brian would hang in there for nine hours no matter what the cost.  I used to think he was crazy, but he was right." [pg. 15]

REVIEW:  A better introduction to the Beach Boys than the similarly brief "authorized" biography (see below), John Tobler takes a  balanced view of the first decade-and-a-half of the band, using many first hand accounts, and not glossing over the band's problems.  Drawing on personal interviews, magazine and newspaper reports, and his own inimitable writing style, this book was the best biography of the Beach Boys written to date.  Despite this, the author also manages to perpetuate several fallacies which have endured over the years, and the slang he uses in his prose is often very much of the times.  That makes this book something of a time capsule for readers as they come across phrases like "what would be Dennis Wilson's major hassle of 1968" (referring to Charles Manson), or broad generalizations such as noting that "it's very difficult to judge just how important [Sunflower] really is." [p. 57]  The book's biggest fault is the overuse of second-or third-hand information to stitch together his narrative, which shows that this book was not diligently researched for accuracy.   Mr. Tobler divides the book into five chronological periods; includes many photographs from all periods of the group's career, many not available elsewhere; and includes an out-of-date  U.S. discography.  Again, this book is probably too brief and out-of-date for most fans' tastes, but it's a good, short introduction to the Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys: The Authorized Biography of America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band
Byron Preiss, 1979; St. Martin's Press, 96 p.

The Beach
                                                          Boys: The

"America went to the beach, whether it was there or not.  In Colorado, the Astronauts sang of woodies; in industrial Michigan, the Rivieras did odes to the summer; and in frigid Minnesota, the lyrically distinctive Trashmen professed a love swimming, surfing, and ninety-nine days of vacation.

...The Beach Boys had exploded not one trend but two, and in doing so, sent shock waves thorugh the recording industry. "409" was the biggest car song since "Maybelline," with none of the lyrical ambiguity of the Chuck Berry classic.  The distinctive voice of Mike Love, blaring from hundreds of thousands of transistor radios that summer, sung forcefully. . . about displacement figures in cubic inches.  Mike's "Surfin' Safari," fast, funky and authoritative, with percolating background vocals and infectious pacing, gave the news on America's biggest craze--"Surfin's getting bigger from Hawaii to the shores of Peru." [pg. 12] 

REVIEW:  No surprise here - the "authorized" biography (a skimpy ninety-six pages) is a worthless, whitewashed waste of woodpulp.  Disjointed, with random quotes interrupting the fawning narrative, and super-bleached of any whiff of scandal or group in-fighting, this piece of propoganda serves no useful purpose other than to distort the truth.  Instead of being a competent biography, this sad excuse for a book reads like it was written by one-time Beach Boys publicist Derek Taylor, full of gee-whiz exclamation points, and treating the reader as if we're all still in the seventh grade.  Stale superlatives abound: "American rock music and production in 1964 was a silver mine" ; ""Drive-In" was a mini-spectacular, a funny salute to suburbia's teenage passion pits" ; and most damning: " 1966, Pet Sounds did not suit the traditional rock marketplace.  Who could dance to "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"?"  [p. 39]  Such calculating, coldly-cynical epithets fill this book like refuse in a garbage heap, leaving the distinct odor of crass commercialism.  What's left for the reader is bleak facts; i.e., album sales, concert venues, lots of stock publicity photos, and an Ozzie and Harriet-like distillation of 'America's Band'.  It's easy to see: in the paragraph above, who is the author of "Surfin' Safari?"  Mike Love's fingerprints are all over this book, and he's not about to show any dirty laundry and jepordize his paycheck.

The Beach Boys and the California Myth
David Leaf; Courage Books, 208p., Released 1978, 1985 [revised]

"When Brian's music turned from the happy California sound to a more serious examination of his emotions, htere was a rebellion within the group and resistance from the record company.   Brian's defense was to retreat into an eccentric character called Brian Wilson.  The Brian Wilson mystique was at the core of the Bech Boys' machine; unfortunately, the game consumed Brian. 

"...There was a time when it was much simpler.  Brian's personal life has always been difficult, but the music was once easy and perfect.  Artistically, Brian Wilson was an instinctual genius.  He took his feelings and put them on wax.  The catharsis of his personal life, by a pleasant coincidence, happened to be the perfect medicine for those schooltime and summertime blues... [Brian created] this magical place where life revolved around the beach, and that short step from your woodie to the sand would attract amazonian blondes.  Sexist?  Yes.  But eternally seductive." [pg. 7]


REVIEW:  A very personal look at the life and career of Brian Wilson, not The Beach Boys, contrary to what the title claims, The Beach Boys and the California Myth was the first book to really place Brian Wilson as the head of The Beach Boys, with the other members being cast as sidemen.  Much like Dennis Wilson used to refer to brother Brian as THE Beach Boys, and the rest of the group as his missionaries, the author here casts his focus solely on Brian: his talents, his troubles, and his fragile psyche.  Fans who trumpet the ascension of Brian Wilson over other band members often point to this book as the definitive statement, but to be completely fair, it's a one-sided argument.  Mr. Leaf has been a longtime fan of Brian's music, and has scrutinized the relationship between the band members and Brian for many years.  His book, detailing his observations, is perhaps the most lucid, honest writing that has every been done on Brian Wilson, and that is the books' greatest achievement.  However, if you're looking for more information on the band itself . . . look elsewhere.  This tome addresses the Beach Boys only in relationship to how they affected Brian and his artistic growth.  Mr. Leaf writes passionately and convincingly, but still manages to leave me feeling as if he's left something out.  If he'd embraced the band as well as it's leader, this would've been the definitive work on The Beach Boys. as it stands, it's the first compassionate examination of the notoriously complex leader of The Beach Boys, and that's saying a lot.

The Beach Boys Silver Anniversary
John Milward, 1985; Dolphin/Doubleday, 240p. 

"Framed by Brian's music, the Beach Boys meticulously recorded the minutiae of the American Sun Belt and it was both boring and beautiful. The Beach Boys have never been far from superficial. On the early records, where Brian was busy learning the techniques that would make him a seminal producer of sophisticated rock and roll, they worked their obvious words in obvious ways.  It's no accident that the earliest songs we remember are the fad-oriented hit singles: "Surfin' Safari" and "409" from the first album, and "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Shut Down" from the second.  From the outset, the Beach Boys have celebrated the inconsequential, the trivial pursuits, the things only a kid could understand.  Brian sold fun, and it was the key that allowed him to take his music out of his room and into the world. 

...With the sand that passed through their toes, and our toes too, the Beach Boys built the kind of sandcastles that are washed out to sea but never really go away.[pg. 56] 

REVIEW:  Published in 1985, this book jumped the gun a bit in celebrating The Beach Boys twenty-fifth anniversary as a functioning group, but it's still a landmark achievement for any group, and this book is a fitting tribute to what had by then become known as "America's Band."  Thick and glossy, with numerous photographs unique to The Beach Boys published canon, this is an impressively weighty tome, and fun to browse through.  But the author, John Milward, is a man who obviously wishes to immortalize the Beach Boys in prose. Whether trying to inject as many song references in a sentence as possible, or alliterating to his heart's content, I get the feeling he's not so much concerned with what he says, but how he says it. It makes for interesting reading, although some of the phrases make me groan. The book also makes several small errors in his facts (Chuck Berry recieved SOLE credit for "Surfin' USA" . . . actually, Brian and Mr. Berry shared writing credit) but then, this isn't a book about facts, it's about the experience of the Beach Boys, and Mr. Milward visibly struggles to find adequate expression for his feelings. Not a bad book, and the collection of photos (many unavailable elsewhere) are very good, but overall, I felt like the book contained a lot of padding, and lacked substance.  Still worth checking out, as it's one of the most richly laid-out books on the Beach Boys ever produced.

Heroes & Villains: The True Story of the Beach Boys
Steven Gaines, 1986 [Dutton/Signet], 1995; Da Capo Press, 374 p.

"...Brian arrived home one day and said, "Guess what?  Loren's got some of this LSD and he wants me to take it with him."
"Don't you dare!" Marilyn screamed, though she hardly knew what LSD was - except that it was bad.
"He said that I have a very bright mind and this LSD will really expand my mind and make me write better."
"Don't you dare!"  Marilyn insisted, near tears.
"I really have to do it," Brian said.  "I have to do it, I have to try it."

...When Marilyn saw Brian the day after his first trip, he looked drained and exhausted.  "I'll never do it again," he swore.
"But what happened?" she asked him.  "What was it like?"
Tears welled in his eyes, and suddenly he was crying and hugging her.  "I saw God."  Brian told her.  "I saw God and it just blew my mind."

...Within a fortnight after his first LSD trip, Brian seemed to be stoned on marijuana all the time."  [pg. 133-134]

REVIEW:  Every successful rock band apparently needs to have a trashy biography penned about them, and this one is The Beach Boys.  The first book to take an in-depth look at the seamy side of a group often viewed as the "nice" rock 'n' roll band, Heroes and Villians takes a morbid delight in uncovering as much dirty laundry about The Beach Boys as possible, and at the same time, ripping away much of the manufactured veneer the band had created for itself following the runaway success of 1974's Endless Summer, and the band's subsequent repositioning of itself as Republican Party poster boys.  Author Steven Gaines plays fast and loose with the band's history,  making up dialogue, using 'yellow journalism' tactics (i.e.; interviewing "reliable sources" such as disaffected employees and former lovers), all in his effort to create a juicy, sensational pulp novel.  He succeeds on all counts.  Easily the most readable book about the band, Mr. Gaines fluidly recounts sordid episodes while at the same time easily side-stepping the musical accomplishments of the group in his quest to titilate.  Dennis' painfully tragic last days are minutely chronicled in the first chapter.  Then flashback:  Drugs?  Affairs?  Charles Manson?  Dysfunctional sibling squabbles that make your troubles look like an episode of "Family Feud?"  Yes, please.  How accurate is it?  Not very, but who cares?  Mr. Gaines knows the audience he's writing for, and he delivers in spades.   Not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who likes to view their favorite band through rose-colored glasses. [Note: this book was later the source material for the awful TV movie: Summer Dreams

Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story
Brian Wilson with Todd Gold; Harper Collins, 398p., Released 1991

"...Each song dredged up memories and experiences, most of them unpleasant, and Dr. Landy wanted me to deal with them.  I'd spent years ignoring these emotions, drowning them in booze, drugs, and food.  There was none of that anymore.  Instead, we talked.

Why do you think Mike Love's going to beat you up?" Dr. Landy asked.
"Because he hates that his name isn't on "California Girls.'"
"Why isn't it?"
"I don't know."

"...So what's the problem?"
"He's mad at me," I said.
"That's Mike's problem," Landy said.  "Not yours.  If he's convinced himself he wrote it, that's his problem.  Not yours.  He'll have to get his own shrink and work his own problems out, as you are.  Do you understand?"
I was starting to.  I really was. [pg. 299]

REVIEW:  Reading this book is like watching a car wreck.  You want to look away, but you can't.  Wouldn't It Be Nice was a nuclear bomb in the life of Brian Wilson.  It sparked numerous lawsuits from his bandmates and family, and eventually helped in the severing of the abusive long-term relationship of himself and his psychiatrist/personal manager, Dr. Eugene Landy.  With material supplied almost entirely by Dr. Landy, this stiffly-written book attempts to portray Brian's family and the Beach Boys as bullying leeches and Dr. Landy as a benevolent savior, while spouting off feel-good psycho-babble in place of artistic or personal insights.  There are several unsavory stories of familial in-fighting and abundant drug-use, unflattering portrayals of band members and acquaintances, and a self-righteous 'us-against-them' attitude throughout.  Most damning is the first-person narrative that the book uses, clearly speaking in a voice that is not Brian's, or even ghost-author Todd Gold, but that of Dr. Landy.  What this book unwittingly accomplishes is revealing the depth and breadth of Brian's and Landy's unhealthy relationship.  There are also fascinating accounts of the extent of Dr. Landy's treatment on Brian, from the prison camp-like internment in Hawaii; to how Dr. Landy intertwined himself completely in Brian's artistic and financial affairs.  A sad, revealing chronicle of a tragic time in Brian's life.

The Wilson Project
Stephen J. McParland, 1991; PTB Productions, 142 p.

    The Wilson Project[In my dream] I was with my wife and a friend.  We were with Brian.  ...I saw Brian on ... inner levels and I saw the damage that had been done and I saw the sadness.  I saw the pain, but most of all I saw the damage ... I saw irreparable damage that had been done ... Brian is a captive in his body.  Part of Brian is literally departed; probably through drugs; probably through psychosomatic withdrawal.  He is trapped and has no choice but to live it out in his body... It was all so sad ... that I went over in the corner, leaned up against the wall and started crying.  ... I cried so hard that my knees buckled and I fell down on my knees with my head in my hands, crying and sobbing.
    .... Having to live with that pain (that no one in this world will ever understand ... even himself) must provide Brian with a viewpoint on reality that is truly unique. .... There are truly sparks of genius left in Brian and that is what I wanted to pull out. [pg. 11]

    This 'limited-focus' biography of an abortive collaboration between Brian Wilson and old friend Gary Usher that occurred between May, 1986 to August of 1987 while Brian was still deeply entrenched in the 'care' of Dr. Eugene Landy, is unmatched in it's horrific detail and narrative sweep.  Taken directly from careful audio journals that Gary Usher kept during the period of these meetings, Gary Usher passionately and convincingly relates the vise-like grip that Landy held over all aspects of Brian's creative, social, and business life, painting a portrait of over-arching greed and domination that no one at the time seemed willing or able to break.  Gary also relates in vivid detail Brian's own mental and emotional state with surprising insight, sometimes interpolating his own metaphysically-interpreted dreams which he experienced regarding Brian.  On another level, Mr. Usher also unveils the machinations of the recording industry and its corporate workings that is interesting reading in their own right.  The annotated journal entries are expertly woven together by Mr. McParland, and reproductions of private letters are also included.  An essential, if disheartening companion to Brian's own twisted biography (see above).

The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys and the Southern California Experience
Timothy White, 1994; Henry Holt and Company, 416 p.

    The Nearest Faraway
                                              Place"Well, that's it.  That's the song."  Brian shut off the organ and sat back, relieved but expectant.  As he dabbed his forehead with his damp shirt sleeve, he kept sneaking looks at his visitor.  "Do you like . . . I dunno--do you like the song?" he finally wondered aloud, his voice loud and squeaky.  The total exhaustion is his featues was chilling.  If a man could wash his face in fear, as if it were some milky, implacable liquid, surely this was the way it would emerge.  He overwhelmed those who came close to him with the sensation they were meeting a man with a broken heart." [pg. 295] 

    I enjoy a good, scholarly read now and then, but this book was overwhelming.  Not merely a biography of the Beach Boys, but a historic placement of them in Americana.  He begins by relating the history of California, blends in the family lineage and western exodus of the Wilson family, relates topical information such as the origins of surfing, and post-war nuclear families.  In brief, Mr. White  tries to understand and define the magic and success of the Beach Boys by placing them in a historical context.  Well and good, but it's TOO MUCH!  I found myself skipping entire chapters in my search for the Beach Boys.  Perhaps in my heart of hearts I don't believe the Beach Boys to be worthy of such an in-depth panorama as Timothy White serves up, and there is no denying that Mr. White is a supremely talented and knowledgable writer, but only the most ardent fan with a burning love of history and trivia will be able to wade through this behemoth.   Not for the casual reader.  Another review of this book may be read by clicking here.

The Real Beach Boy: Dennis Wilson
Jon Stebbins,  2000; ECW Press, 185 p.

Dennis Wilson: The
                                              Real Beach Boy"Another theory about [Brian's] trouble centers on his charismatic brother, and this theory would help to explain Brian's attitude towards Dennis.  There are some who believe it was Dennis who inadvertently nudged Brian over the precipice.  "I think Dennis was very much responsible for Brian's breakdown," says filmaker/photographer Ed Roach, . . . "Brian couldn't stand that Dennis got all the attention.  Dennis got the adulation, and that's what drove Brian away from the stage.  Brian was so much less appreciated on stage, and he really resented Dennis for it." [page 55]

Dennis Wilson undoubtedly deserves a well-researched, objective biography that strips away the myth surrounding his life and personality and illuminates his undeniable gifts and talents, while dispassionately chronicling his serious weaknesses.  This is not that book.  In the introduction, Jon Stebbins favorably compares himself with Dennis during a brief meeting they had in 1978, and that explains much of the bias that you read in this unevenly researched book.  Not merely content to heap adulations upon Dennis, the author feels a need to downplay, or even denegrate the other Beach Boys in the process.  He flip-flops between praising and damning Brian for overshadowing, even putting down his younger brother's talents, and credits Dennis for much of the Beach Boys appeal, narrowly sidestepping an outright statement of his belief that without Dennis, the Beach Boys would have been a flash-in-the-pan.  Such apparent bias makes this book tedious reading indeed.  In fact, from reading the opening thank-you's, I'd have imagined that Mr. Stebbins would have much more first-hand accounts to draw from in painting an accurate portrait of Dennis, but most of the book is his own stale recounting of well-known facts, with the occasional "startling revelation" thrown in for sheer effect (see the quote above), which leads me to believe that most of the people he spoke to either didn't cooperate with him, or he merely disregarded their opinions in favor of his own.  In its way, this book is as damaging as Brian's Wouldn't It Be Nice, and its statements should be taken with a grain of salt. Included throughout the book are a good selection of photographs that should be very welcome to fans indeed. 

Dumb Angel: the life and music of Dennis Wilson
Adam Webb,  2001; Creation Books, 189 p.

Dennis Wilson: The
                                              Real Beach Boy"Though it might have made the great momentarily greater, the psychedelic revolution also propelled the bandwagon jumpers and the hangers-on to the front of the queue.  Expanding the minds of the mindless, bad ideas became worse and pop started to resemble a vacuum of ideas with long hair.  Major labels assimilated the language of the Haight to score hits.  Pills down the throats of the talentless only increased the volume of voices until everyone was lost in [the] Tower of Babel.  For the rest of the decade it was pretty much downhill without anyone suficiently advanced muscially to pick up the baton.  Somehow from the eggs of expectation emerged ugly hatchlings . . . [page 44].

"Dumb Angel" is the second book about Dennis Wilson to be released within a year, and it plows much of the same turf as its predecessor, but with its focus on Dennis' composing and producing talents.  I often felt while reading that Mr. Webb was padding his writing, with diatribes against the music business, long, sometimes awkward metaphors (eggs of expectation?) and enough glaring typos to permanently discredit Creation Books editorial staff.  The author manages to keep a balanced perspective, which is a plus, and his writing, while disjointed and occasionally preachy, is always passionate.  This does not always make for good writing.  Little is documented, much is generalized, numerous paragraphs are simply rehashing familiar ground, and wide swaths of Dennis' life are unexamined.  The high points include documenting Dennis's flowering as a composer in the post "Pet Sounds" era, giving a few detailed accounts of recording sessions, and an appendix of valuable interviews with Dennis' intimate associates, including Steve Kalinich, John Hanlon, and Carli Munoz.   Black and white photographs are inserted throughout the text.  Overall, a flabby, partially illuminating portrait of Dennis Wilson. 

The Beach Boys (Rock and Roll Hall of Famers)
Mark Holcomb, 2003; Rosen Publishing, 112 p.

Mark Holcomb"When you think of the Beach Boys, chances are you picture surfboards, hot rods, and the warm beaches of sunny southern California.  What you may not know is that behind the group's fun-loving image and carefree songs are years of hard work, career ups and down, and personal tragedy.  The Beach Boys are, in both their lives and music, more complicated than they first appear." [pg. 5]

Here's a unique entry in the Beach Boys literary canon: a children's book!  Written for libraries and aimed at youngsters age 10-15, this book aims to tell the life story of the Beach Boys, triumphs, failures and all, in just over one hundred pages, and it succeeds remarkably well, although the writing is a little 'dry' -- a result of having to cram so much information into such a short book.  Usually you see these kind of biographies for new "hot" artists of the moment, (Britney who?) but Rosen Publishing has decided to dig a little further back and explore bands and artists who have been entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Not a bad idea, and a fine book too, if you have a child who would like to know more about The Beach Boys but is perhaps a little young to be exposed to all of the drug use, lawsuits and other "colorful" events that have marked the band members lives.  The author has carefully chosen the most pertinent events in the Beach Boys' career, from their youth clear up until 2001, which makes this the most complete biography of the band in print.  Each chapter is accompanied by appropriate photographs, both black & white and color, and includes short sidebars which dig a little deeper into certain people and events.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 107-108), a brief discography, and index.  So go ahead -- start indoctrinating the next generation of Beach Boys fans! 

Maximum Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys
Chrome Dreams ABCD196 [AudioBook]; Released November 15, 2005

1. Introduction: The Perfect Wave
2. Everybody's Learning How
3. Sound of California
4. Today!
5. Greatest Album Ever Made
6. Greates Album Never Made
7. Nothing Doing
8. Band of Brothers
9. Stranded on the Beach
10. Doctor Will See You Now
11. Return of the Dumb Angel
12. Made for These Times

REVIEW: Touting itself as "the first audiobook on the Beach Boys" Chrome Dreams publishers specialize in releasing scores of "unauthorized" biographies, all of which seem to be labelled "maximum", although by listening to the finished product, I'm tempted to test international waters for truth-in-advertizing laws, since it seems the bare minimum of research went into this threadbare production.  Read by the dry-as-dust Sian Jones, whose broad British accent lends an air, not of sophistication, but rather Monty Python irony to the performance.  Highlighting the narration are brief musical snippets which attempt to mimic the Beach Boys sound, without actually treading on any actual songs of the band.  Also peppered throughout the narration are low-fidelity snippets of an interview with Brian Wilson which seems to have been recorded off of a poor telephone connection, and which unfortunately totals perhaps two minutes.  The audiobook itself veers between dull recitation of facts, such as the name of the Beach Boys first label, first song, names of relatives, and a snobbish, highbrow disregard for the Beach Boys sound and accomplishments.  The running time is just over fifty-five minutes, although it feels much, much longer, with loads of cliche phrases, well-worn facts, and the interminable narration, which tends to drone on in the worst documentary style.  The text (written by Tim Footman) tries hard to be even-handed, but its clear that the producers wished to include nods to the darkest moments of Brian's psyche, and often stoop to tabloid-like phrases to create a sensationalistic portrait.  In short, this audiobook contains several recitations of dry facts, somewhat lurching narration, a scant few late-period quotations from Brian Wilson, and the overarching whiff of exploitation.

Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson
Peter Ames Carlin; Rodale Books, 336 p., Released July 25, 2006

"... [Mark Linnett] can walk to a filing cabinet and pull out something he knows is going to blow your mind.  It is a dark metal container about the size of a small pizza box, only thicker, and he lays it gently in my hands.  "You're gonna want to hold that," he says.  "Those are master tapes from the original Smile sessions."   ...I feel the weight of it in my palms while the wheels in my brain spin, trying to factor this moment into the years Smile has lived in my mind.  It's wonderful to hold something so historical and mysterious.  But at the same time, I also realize that something important is changing for me.  In all these years of thinking about, mourning the loss of, returning obsessively to the fragments from, and pondering the overarching meaning of the legacy of Smile, I'd never thought of it as something that could exist in the physical sphere I inhabit.  But now I'm holding a part of it in my hands, standing on the very spot where Brian is breathing life into the finished recording.  And how am I supposed to feel about that?"  [pg. 308-309]

REVIEW: Overviews of the Beach Boys lives and accomplishments are nothing new - there have been a plethora of biographies, and even Brian's mostly ghost-written 'autobiography', which have attempted to throw a dim light on the staggeringly complex intertwinings of the band members troubled relationships.  But few biographies have really done it well.  But now comes along Peter Carlin's fine Catch A Wave, and even including David Leaf's seminal book above, this one strikes me as the best biography of Brian and the Beach Boys to see the light of day.  Its success lies mostly in the author's clear, intuitive grasp of what makes Brian Wilson tick - the subtle nuances he's able to discern by observation and intuition; the spot-on questions he asks, and is able to provide astute answers for; and his finely-honed writing style, which is thoughtful, brief, and easy.  I had assumed from previous reports that Catch A Wave was going to be mostly concerned with the emergence of Brian's new production of the long-dead Smile project; but happily, Mr. Carlin has decided to give a full account of the Beach Boys lives and works, and although not exhaustive, he provides much-needed clarity on the forces that have shaped both Brian, and the rest of the Beach Boys.  Much of the material here will be familiar to long-time fans, but much is also new - from one-on-one access to Brian and most of the surviving members of the band (Bruce Johnston being the only one who declined a personal sit-down interview, instead providing details through e-mail exchanges); to access to rare taped rehearsals of the fledgling band; and hitherto unpublished accounts of personal details which should have curious fans salivating for more.  The author also delves into The Beach Boys albums, giving personal reviews and history which, although subjective, are fun to read.  Of course, the real hook of this book is the final chapters, which delve into the struggle Brian had in bringing Smile to life again, and although not many of the details are new, I got tingles when reading Carlin's account of the dark demons which Brian had to overcome in order to make Smile a reality.  This is a great book, possibly the most illuminating biography on the Beach Boys yet, and highly recommended reading for all Beach Boys fans.

The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks one of the founding members of the Beach Boys
John Stebbins with David Marks; 
Virgin Books, 288 p.,
Released May 29, 2007

"Between gigs, David was having a terrible time adhering to the rigours of school.  He was contantly courting trouble by experimenting with cutting class, petty theft, vandalism, smoking, drinking, and generally screwing up.  He was a rock star, after all.  In a way, he was just keeping his chops up.  And much of the time, trouble found him whether he was looking for it or not.  'I was getting into a lot of fights,' says David.  Throngs of jealous teen guys would sarcastically tease David with the exaggeratedly punctuated gibe 'Beeeech Boy'.  For a skinny fourteen-year-old boy, being a famous Beach Boy could be like having a flashing target pasted on your head.  No longer able to cope with life as major celebrities in a public school environment, Carl and David made plans to attend Hollywood Professional School.  Among their classmates were Marilyn and Diane Rovell, musician Eddy Medora and actresses Peggy Lipton, Ann Marshall and Sue Lyon." [pg. 65]

REVIEW:  I had big problems with Jon Stebbins' earlier book about Dennis Wilson, due to the author's penchant for inserting himself into the narrative; and that same problem crops up in this, his second foray into Beach Boy-dom in this starry-eyed biography, which the author has co-written with his subject, the perpetually sidelined David Marks.  But whereas the previous biography was almost unreadable due to the transparent biases of the author, this one is stronger, due in great part to having  David Marks on hand to provide personal anecdotes and stories which have not shown up in any other published works about the Beach Boys.  The best biographies are thorough - but this one gives only glimpses of David's fractured, oddly spiritualistic family life, and glosses over any deep formative influences in David's youth.  Instead, Mr. Stebbins takes the same skewed approach he took with Dennis Wilson - that without David Marks, the Beach Boys wouldn't have been the genre-shaking success that they were - giving Olympian weight to the occasional rhythm guitar licks which David played on record, and even crassly hinting that "Good Vibrations" was the direct result of David loaning Brian some marijuana one day.  The author takes great delight in taking pot-shots at all the Beach Boys, and gleefully repeating the several distasteful, sordid tales which David Marks is happy to relate.  But despite the author's best efforts, it's pretty clear that David has led a self-destructive life, with drugs, failed bands, failed relationships, and a life-long disdain for authority which eventually left David wandering the streets, barefoot, half clothed, and without a car.  And despite David's own professed penchant for leaving the Beach Boys and their fame behind him, it's clear that the association with his former band-mates is the lingering echo in his life; the author recounts numerous run-ins with the Beach Boys which David has had, and each event seems to be a benchmark in David's fade from the public eye. In fact, for a book that's meant to be about David's life, the author spends over half of the book detailing Marks's time with The Beach Boys, and recounts in detail every subsequent encounter.  That doesn't leave a lot of space for his other endeavors, and the final third of the book bounces back and forth between recounting David's alcoholism, failed relationships, the occasional recording session, and then has the temerity to tack on a blatantly forced "feel-good" ending which again plays on the subject's Beach Boys connection.  The writing itself is heavy with clichés, and the strengths of the book rest solely on having Marks's first-hand accounts. The title of the book is apropos, since without The Beach Boys,  David Marks, and the raison d'etre for this book, would be lost.

Endless Summer: My Life With The Beach Boys
by Jack Lloyd
BearManor Media, 238 p.;
Released July 26, 2010

When the Maharishi and I finally kicked around our philosophical differences, and I went up front to where everyone else was sitting, Carl Wilson said to me, "You can't talk that way to him.  It's disrespectful."

I said, "I wasn't being disrespectful at all.  We were just having an intellectual discussion."

"Well, all the same, you shouldn't talk that way."

"Carl," I said, "the man is just a man.  He's a bright man and he's got something to sell. He's a pitchman, with a very good pitch.  I respect him for his honesty, but he's not god." Actually, I was going to finish the conversation with, "I am," but decided against it because Carl did not really have a very swift sense of humor.
[pg 125]

 Another book by another "insider" - Jack Lloyd's Endless Summer: My Life with The Beach Boys is readable, but filled with so much behind-the-scenes business deals and sleazy recounting of bedroom antics that I found it a dire experience.  Hired by Irving Granz to run the Beach Boys concerts (selling programs, counting the box office, and eventually doing promotional work), the author spends a great amount of time talking about the shady dealings behind the scenes, which included a lot of graft, a lot of theft, and a lot of favors.  Not only does he talk about The Beach Boys, but other acts that Granz handed him, including Sonny and Cher, The Pickle Brothers, and Paul Revere and the Raiders, to name but a few.  Fresh out of college, Lloyd learns the business from the ground up, and although he mostly paints himself with a virtuous brush, he has no qualms about showing the seamier side of show biz - with multiple lurid accounts of after-concert drunken orgies, drug use, stupid pranks, and irresponsible behavior, so that anyone who reads this will likely have any pre-conceptions about the personal lives of the Beach Boys irrevocably shattered.  No one is spared - Carl, Alan, Mike, Bruce and Dennis all have their exploits splashed over the pages, and Lloyd veers wildly between dry recounting of contracts, money disputes, graft, and white collar theft and sad, turgid scenes of young girls constantly prostituting themselves for the band and other hangers-on.  And despite the author's claim in the introduction that he limited both the foul language and the scenes of sexual escapades, this is a very R-rated book.  Since the author's time with the band was during the late 1960s, there are brief mentions of both the Maharishi and Charles Manson, but because Lloyd was primarily a business associate, his meetings with both were brief, and add little to the canon of knowledge.  Most comparable to Steven Gaines' seamy Heroes and Villains, Endless Summer tries hard to balance dry business facts with bedroom sleaze, and generally succeeds - unfortunately, it all left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and a little less respect for The Beach Boys.

Brian Wilson: The Lowdown
Sexy Intellectual [AUDIO BOOK]
Released August 29, 2011

Disc: 1   
1. Humour/Science/Art
2. Genius
3. Pocket Symphony
4. One Sound Out of Two
5. Being Brian Wilson
6. Health Nut
7. Spector & The Beatles
8. Highs & Lows
9. Smiley Smile

Disc: 2   
1. Introduction: the Perfect Wave   
2. Everybody's Learning How
3. The Sound of California
4. Today!
5. The Greatest Album Ever Made
6. The Greatest Album Never Made   
7. Nothing Doing
8. Band of Brothers
9. Stranded On the Beach
10. The Doctor Will See You Now
11. Return of the Dumb Angel
12. Made For These Times

REVIEW:  The packaging of this audiobook is a little deceiving; for housed within the cardboard box are two separate CD's, the first being the previously-released Maximum Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys (reviewed above), and the second being a separate disc: Brian Wilson: The Interview - which is in itself a deceptive title, since it's not ONE interview, but several, all sort of haphazardly sequenced in no discernable order.  And since this is a borderline bootleg recording, there are no sources for the interview segments.  The first two interviews are the lengthiest, clocking in at over 10 minutes each, with the other segments clocking in anywhere from eight to a mere two minutes.  The entire album runs just over sixty minutes, and might be worth a listen once or twice, but Brian, even at his most articulate, is sometimes barely coherent - he rambles on about great Thai food; discusses how intense his father's spankings were; touches on the genesis of "Good Vibrations" - talks about health food; but for long-time fans, there's little truly revelatory here - and Brian is so stream of consciousness in his speech, jumping from one idea to another with little rhyme or reason.  At times he seems rattled - his 2005 interview promoting his Christmas album has the interviewer making him sound like a performing dog, singing snippets of Christmas carols on demand.  Some fans would say this is a sign of his genius, I tend to think that it's more a result of his prolonged drug abuse, (which he also discusses at length, and often defends) - and it can make for a spotty listening experience.  Neither enlightening nor greatly entertaining, this set can be viewed for what it is; a quick, cheap release by a cheap, shady company.

Surfboards, Stratocasters, Striped Shirts: The Beach Boys on Tour 1966 - A Photo Journal
By Bill Yerkes; foreword by Bruce Johnston
Surf Chase Publishing, 160p.
Published 2012
“Do you ever wonder why bar bands that cover classic rock tunes from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s almost never do any Beach Boys’ tunes?  It’s because they can’t.   The Beach Boys’ music is just to difficult to play and sing for the average gigging musician. 
From the beginning, The Beach Boys were different.  First, they were a surf band.  They didn’t plan it that say and the term didn’t even exist when the music we would later hear termed as “surf music” was being played at teenage dances all over Southern California by groups such as The Bel-Aires or Dick Dale and the Del Tones.  The Beach Boys added lyrics to surf music and created a whole new genre.
Although The Beach Boys would take the California beach surf lifestyle to the rest of the world, at home, the hard core surfers were not their biggest fans.” [from the introduction]

REVIEW:  This self-published book by Bill Yerkes, long-time surf-hound and Beach Boys aficionado, is a wonderful gift for fans of the Beach Boys. Essentially chronicling four concerts from 1966, beginning April 29th at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and continuing to a July 23rd Asbury Park, New Jersey date, followed by a July 30th Atlantic City, New Jersey show, and finally a November 22nd return to Ithaca at Ithaca College, this book is literally a “snapshot” of a pivotal moment in Beach Boys history. With a few pages of text interspersed between the large, glossy black-and-white photographs of behind-the-scenes and on-stage moments, the author details how he and his roommate snuck into the backstage of the concert, and his first meeting with Bruce Johnston, followed by the rest of the band, on the eve of the release of Pet Sounds. Carl talks up the release, claiming it is far better than Summer Days (the author’s then-favorite album), and the author remembers the night with remarkably clear hindsight. Luckily, he took his 35mm camera with him, and documented several close-up, candid moments of the band rehearsing and lounging around, and later, in performance. At the next concert, the Beach Boys are dismayed to discover that DJ’s in the city haven’t been playing the “A”-side of Pet Sounds first single, “God Only Knows” (over concern of the word “God” in the title) and are instead flipping the disc to the “B”-side “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” which the band has never played live before. Quickly, the band throws together a concert version of the song backstage, and inserts it in the set list right after “Sloop John B” all of which is photo-chronicled by Mr. Yerkes. The author also documents Dennis’s first stabs on the piano of what would eventually become “Forever,” and later snaps what would be one of the Beach Boys last performances in their striped shirts, shortly before the release of “Good Vibrations.” The book’s presentation is very simple, heartfelt, and genuine - a rare thing for a fan publication, but the author is wise enough to keep his words to a minimum and let the photographs do most of the talking. A very nice addition to the Beach Boys library.

Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-1963
By James B. Murphy
McFarland Publishing, 436p.
Published June 8, 2015

DESCRIPTION: They were almost The Pendletones--after the Pendleton wool shirts favored on chilly nights at the beach--then The Surfers, before being named The Beach Boys. But what separated them from every other teenage garage band with no musical training? They had raw talent, persistence and a wellspring of creativity that launched them on a legendary career now in its sixth decade.
Following the musical vision of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys blended ethereal vocal harmonies, searing electric guitars and lush arrangements into one of the most distinctive sounds in the history of popular music. Drawing on original interviews and newly uncovered documents, this book untangles the band's convoluted early history and tells the story of how five boys from California formed America's greatest rock 'n' roll band.

  Author James B. Murphy has done a brave, and difficult thing in writing what, is essentially a densely-packed microcosmic look at the formative forces that created "The Beach Boys".  Echoing Timothy White's similarly dense, but wider-ranging The Nearest Faraway Place, which traced The Beach Boys within the scope of California history and mythos, Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 takes a much narrower view, examining social, economic, cultural and familial tidal forces which helped shape the the band's work ethic, musical approach, and ambition.  What's truly impressive about this book is how much detail Dr. Murphy has included - everything from interviews and newly-discovered documents trace how an essentially untrained group of musicians, raw and undeveloped, wrote, played and sang their way from a local hit single on an independent label, into a nationally-recognized phenomenon, all within the space of just a few months.  He delves into recording label practices of the time, which allowed for young artists to be discovered, developed, and nurtured past what might only have been a flash-in-the-pan "one-hit wonder".  But for all the swirling detail that's packed into this four-hundred-plus book, the author impressively never loses sight of the human struggle at it's core; all of the fears, hopes, and insecurities of the band are laid bare - along with their amazement of how everything broke their way.  This is an important book for Beach Boys fans; it chronicles the band's quintessential reality of the American Dream, which in turn became part of the American story.  Personally, I would be very interested in seeing a sequel or two which looks at later milestones in the band's career.  Absolutely essential.

Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys - The Biography
By Kent Crowley
Jawbone Press, 288p.
Published October 12, 2015

DESCRIPTION: No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens.  The proud owner of one of the greatest voices in popular music--one that graced some of the most important records of the pop era, including 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations'--Wilson was also one of the first musicians to bring the electric guitar to the forefront of rock'n'roll. His musical skills provided The Beach Boys' entree into the music business, from which he then stewarded their onstage journey through the ups and downs of the 60s to their comeback in the 70s and into the role of 'America's band' in the 80s. Along the way, Carl quietly endured his own battles with obesity, divorce, substance abuse, and ultimately terminal cancer, all the while working to protect his family's business and legacy. This major new biography reveals the true story of modern rock'n'roll, lived from the center of the most important decades of popular music.

REVIEW:  For fans of Carl Wilson who have been hoping that a closer, more intimate look at his life and valuable contributions to The Beach Boys has arrived - they'll have to wait a while longer.  Long Promised Road by author Kent Crowley makes the unpardonable error of fooling buyers into thinking this book is an in-depth look at Carl Wilson, but instead, its merely a rehash of well-trodden Beach Boys lore, reducing it's main subject, Carl, to a side-player in his own life story.  While lauding Carl's voice and guitar work, not to mention his important ascent to leader of the Beach Boys following Brian's slow descent into depression, the author doesn't seem to have had access to any primary sources for his narrative, eschewing interviews with any people close to Carl, and instead culling information from other biographies and articles - little of which throws any new light on its subject.  The only real new threads are oddly sympathetic portraits of Murray Wilson, whose efforts to promote the band early on are lauded, and a speculative interpretation of Jimi Hendrix's Monterey Pop Festival comment that "Surf music is dead."  In the absence of any close primary sources (his children?  His marriages?   His bandmates?) Crowley instead leans on conjecture and speculation for many of his conclusions.  In short, if you're looking for an illuminating biography of Carl Wilson, this ain't it.

The Beach Boys: America's Band
By Johnny Morgan
Sterling Press, 256p.
Published October 27, 2015

DESCRIPTION: The Beach Boys pioneered the wildly popular "Surf Sound," selling more records than any other American band. And 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of their groundbreaking and hugely influential album Pet Sounds and its follow-up single, "Good Vibrations." This book offers the first fully illustrated, in-depth examination of the group's story, with a special emphasis on the creation of those two masterpieces and what came after. More than 150 images include classic and rarely published photographs, album artwork, and archive memorabilia. By examining the writing, recording and performance of the band's entire catalogue, the book presents a unique look at the making of the Beach Boys, both before and after their 1966 triumphs.

REVIEW:  Johnny Morgan, a London-based author, editor, and journalist, whose previous publications have all been about music and graphic art, including The Greatest Album Covers Of All Time and The Art of the LP: Classic Album Covers 1955–-1995 has carried his love of design over to this handsome, coffee-table-sized book, reminiscent of DK Publishing's many graphic-intense publications, which marries a competent history/biography of The Beach Boys with a plethora of illustrations to help carry the narrative.  The Beach Boys: America's Band is a colorful, panoramic overview of the Beach Boys lives and career; wisely laid out in chronological format, it's eight chapters begin with the births of the band (1942-1961) and concludes with the most recent year, 2015.  Biographical events are highlighted by numerous sidebars with charting singles and album information, along with high-lighted quotes by band members, pictures of studio sessions with such alum as Glen Campbell, Van Dyke Parks and the Wrecking Crew, information on select concerts, and brief comments on The Beach Boys music and its importance.  Rare concert photographs, color reproductions of posters, singles, and albums, and lots more is all gorgeously mounted and easily navigated.  Nothing here is particularly ground-breaking or revelatory, but it's all presented with such class that everyone should find some pleasure in the wealth of images and factoids presented in such a clean, attractive style.

Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy
By Mike Love with James S. Hirsch
Blue Rider Press, 436p.
Published September 13, 2016

Mike Love is a founding member of The Beach Boys, considered to be the most popular American band in history, with 13 Gold Albums, 55 top-100 singles, and four #1 hits. Love has been the lead singer of the group one of its principal lyricists since its inception in 1961. His credits include such pop classics as "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," "I Get Around," "Fun Fun Fun," and "Kokomo." Love has received an Ella Award for his song writing, and, as part of The Beach Boys, he is a member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Vocal Group Hall of Fame; and has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

James S. Hirsch is a journalist and New York Times bestselling author whose books include biographies of Willie Mays and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and examinations of military issues, the health care system, and global philanthropy. Hirsch won the Christopher Award for Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World.

REVIEW:  No one has ever accused Mike Love of being self-reflective, so, an autobiography from the most controversial of the founding members of the Beach Boys is almost a contradiction of terms.  For those hoping for personal insight into the man, look elsewhere - this book serves one purpose - to recast himself and his legacy as the driving force of The Beach Boys, all while painting each of the other members in a less-than-flattering light.  Alternately defensive, hagiographic, and credulous, Mike whisks readers past his family life and upbringing to dive almost immediately into what he really wants to discuss - his own talent, and his white-knuckle relationships with almost everyone else - especially Dennis.  He pointedly tackles long-standing rumors about him (the oft-quoted "Don't f*** with the formula" quote? - he never said it.  His Hall of Fame rant against The Rolling Stones?  He hadn't had time to meditate that day.) Essentially, he spends a great deal of ink excusing or justifying his actions with little sign of honest regret or repentance, for every mean-spirited, hateful thing he's ever done or been accused of.  While he tacitly acknowledges his failures as a husband and father, and lightly brushes over his many infidelities and drug uses, he's less forgiving of other's faults - and freely rakes everyone from former managers, lyricists, business associates and The Beach Boys over the coals for their slights and sins, all while putting a gentlemanly "lighthearted" gloss on everything to keep himself from looking too small.  Long, excruciating passages about board meetings and lawsuits drag the narrative down, but for long-time fans, that has been The Beach Boys experience - and Mike Love has been the driving force behind the lawsuits and business deals for the past four decades, so yeah, that's what you're going to get.  The writing style is very dry, with the seams between Mike's quotes and James S. Hirsch's dull recitation of Wikipedia-style factoids starkly evident.  It makes for an arid and depressing reading experience - one which I was glad to get to the end of.

i am Brian Wilson: a memoir
By Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman
Da Capo Press; 312 p.
Released October 11, 2016

They say there are no second acts in American lives, and third acts are almost unheard of. That’s part of what makes Brian Wilson’s story so astonishing.

As a cofounding member of the Beach Boys in the 1960s, Wilson created some of the most groundbreaking and timeless popular music ever recorded. With intricate harmonies, symphonic structures, and wide-eyed lyrics that explored life’s most transcendent joys and deepest sorrows, songs like “In My Room,” “God Only Knows,” and “Good Vibrations” forever expanded the possibilities of pop songwriting. Derailed in the 1970s by mental illness, drug use, and the shifting fortunes of the band, Wilson came back again and again over the next few decades, surviving and—finally—thriving.

REVIEW: So, here it is, released barely a month after Mike Love's own autobiography, Brian's second autobiography (after the heavily Landy-influenced Wouldn't It Be Nice), is a startlingly different affair from his former book.  For anyone to imagine that Brian Wilson, who is famed for his terse, monosyllabic interviews, could ever manage to wrangle enough sentences to fill a 300-page book is enough to strain all credulity, but unlike Mike's bio, i am Brian Wilson: a memoir, actually reads like Brian Wilson is speaking.  For one thing, it's non-linear; beginning from 2004's historic first Smile concert in London, and jumping backwards and forwards throughout, the book keeps the reader on their toes - it reads almost like stream-of- consciousness writing, with one experience leading to earlier memories, and then to another memory - but constantly moving forward - from his earliest childhood memories at home, to his most recent concert tour of Pet Sounds, Brian lays all of his fears, doubts, troubles, and triumphs on the table.  In doing so, he reveals what most of us knew, at least distantly - that Brian struggles with mental illness, but continues on, regardless.  He shows a deep understanding of human nature - including his band-mates, family members, and business partners.  Is everything we're reading true?  It's hard to know, as Brian has changed and embellished facts of his life before - but it reads as a very honest, open examination of his life.  And additionally, it sheds a great deal of light on his latter-day revival - post-Landy: he discusses each of his albums and how they came about, how he feels about them, and how he's dealt with seeing his own life portrayed on screen, most recently in the stunning Love & Mercy biography.  For fans, it's an extraordinarily illuminating read, and although you might be left wanting more, it's the most naked portrait of Brian Wilson we're likely ever to see.

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