Founded in Hawthorne, California in 1961,
The Beach Boys were originally comprised of the three Wilson Brothers, their cousin Mike Love, and school friend Al Jardine , managed by the father Murry Wilson.
The Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records in July 1962 and released their first album, Surfin’ Safari, that same year.
The Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide. Between the 1960s and today, the group had over 80 songs chart worldwide, 36 of them in the US Top 40 (the most by a US rock band), and four topping the Billboard Hot 100.
Dennis Wilson was the middle brother.
Dennis was the only true surfer in the Beach Boys, and his personal life exemplified the “California Myth” that the band’s early songs often celebrated. He was also known for his brief association with Charles Manson, a cult leader and songwriter later convicted of several murders, and for co-starring in the 1971 film “Two-Lane Blacktop”
He was the wild one. He could never get enough of anything: drugs, women or booze. But in the end, he had nothing…
By the time the Beach Boys’ fifth hit single, “Little Deuce Coupe,” was released in 1963, Dennis was frequently being replaced in the studio by session drummer Hal Blaine.
It apparently didn’t bother Dennis that Blaine was drumming on the Beach Boys’ records. “I think as soon as the checks started rolling in, Dennis had other things,” says Blaine. “He was buying things; he was appreciating his motorcycling and hobbies and so forth. When you’re sixteen years old and you’re literally handed millions of dollars, you get crazy.”
Wilson was famous for letting people crash at his house — when he had one. In 1968, Charles Manson and his “family” moved into Dennis’ Sunset Boulevard home. By then, Dennis had divorced his first wife, Carole Freedman, and was participating in orgies and other debauchery under Manson’s direction. During this, period, he also tried heroin for the first time. The Manson Family spent $100,000 of his money and wrecked an uninsured $21,000 Mercedes. But rather than kick them out when things got too heavy, Wilson himself split, moving in with Gregg Jakobson, a friend and musical collaborator.
Dennis’ most creative period came in the mid-Seventies, when he wrote and produced a marvelous solo album titled Pacific Ocean Blue. Released in 1977, it sold a respectable 200,000 copies.
Still, along with the romance and good times came bouts of drunken destruction, when Wilson would storm through the house breaking anything within reach. “He used her place like a hospital,” said Steve Goldberg. “Then he’d call me, I’d go and pick him up, and she wouldn’t see him for a week. When he was totaled out — he wouldn’t sleep for a week — he’d go back. Over and over again. He cared about her, but his priority was having a good time.
In 1979, the Beach Boys had had enough. Dennis was frequently missing tours, and when he did show up, he was often too messed up to play. Finally, he was kicked out of the group, but rejoined after a yeat , 1980.
It was while Dennis was living in Venice that the affair with his illegitimate second cousin, Shawn Love, began.
In 1982, the more business-minded beach Boys — Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love — and their manager, Tom Hulett, felt there were 1 big problem that had to be solved: Dennis Wilson.
For a month prior to his death, Dennis was without a home. He had no car and little money. He lived a nomadic life, crashing with various friends.
He checked into a therapy center in Arizona for two days, and then on December 23, checked into St. John’s Medical Hospital in Santa Monica, where he stayed until the evening of December 25. Following a violent altercation at the Santa Monica Bay Inn, Dennis checked into a different hospital in order to treat his wounds. Several hours later, he discharged himself and reportedly resumed drinking immediately.
On December 28, 1983, three weeks after his 39th birthday, Dennis drowned at Marina Del Rey
after drinking all day and then diving in the afternoon to recover his ex-wife’s belongings, previously thrown overboard at the marina from his yacht three years earlier amidst their divorce.
The Beach Boys released a statement shortly thereafter: “We know Dennis would have wanted to continue in the tradition of the Beach Boys. His spirit will remain in our music.”
His song “Farewell My Friend” was played at the funeral.
By all appearances the happy-go-lucky Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson lived out the proverbial live-fast-die-young motto. To some degree, that’s a fair assessment. Dennis did indeed drive fast cars, hang with hippies (including Charles Manson) and dated his share of beautiful California women.
In 1988, Dennis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously as a member of the Beach Boys.