TRIB LIVE – SEPTEMBER 27, 2016
By Alan Sculley
Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love is coming out with an autobiography this month that will cover the long — and at times tumultuous — history of the group, not to mention more than a few parts of his personal life.
But when asked what he hopes readers will take away from the book, which is titled “Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy,” Love points to something that might surprise some — his lifestyle.
“I’m hoping they get the fact that the reason I’m still doing what I’m doing at the level we’re doing it, … is probably because I chose a path that wasn’t a path of all the nefarious drugs that my cousins did,” Love says, referring to his Beach Boys bandmates, brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. “I will say that during the ’60s, I did my share of weed. But once I learned to meditate, I gave up hard liquor and anything to do with drugs. So that meditation has given me the ability to relax and yet gain more energy and clarity, and be able to, what would you call it, withstand the negatives that are thrown at you.”
Love, indeed, remains very much a working musician, fronting the latest incarnation of the Beach Boys as the group plays 150-plus shows in a typical year. And a Beach Boys show is usually quite generous compared to the sets most bands play as headliners.
“We actually do like an hour opening set with a 20-minute intermission, followed by another 55 minutes to an hour,” Love says.
This year is actually a landmark in Beach Boys annals. It was 50 years ago that the group, led by the groundbreaking musical vision of singer-keyboardist and chief songwriter and producer Brian Wilson, released its masterpiece, the “Pet Sounds” album and the wondrous single “Good Vibrations.”
“Pet Sounds” proved to be the high point of the group’s career. With that album, Brian Wilson broke away from some of the surfing, fun and sun themes of earlier albums in favor of more personal themes and created an album that raised pop music to a true art form.
The history of the Beach Boys since then has seen one last hit song — “Kokomo” from the soundtrack to the 1988 movie “Cocktail” — plenty of internal tensions and tragedies in the form of the drowning death in 1983 of Dennis Wilson and the loss of Carl Wilson to cancer in 1998. Through it all, though, Love kept the Beach Boys going as a successful touring act. In 2012, the surviving members of the classic Beach Boys lineup — including Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston — reunited with Love for a 50th anniversary tour and a new Beach Boys album, “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” The album had some worthy moments, but by June 2012, Wilson had left the tour and the highly celebrated reunion was over.
Even with the heartache and drama that has been part of the Beach Boys’ history, Love says he is nothing but grateful for the group and the life it has enabled him to lead.
“I’ve been part of a group that’s one of the more well-known groups in modern music. And the music will live on after us,” he says.