Mike Love

Mike Love
Mike Love

Mike Love in concert, June 2006.
Background information
Birth name Michael Edward Love
Born March 15, 1941 (1941-03-15) (age 70)
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Psychedelic rock, surf rock, psychedelic pop
Occupations Vocalist, Songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1961–present
Associated acts The Beach Boys

Michael Edward "Mike" Love (born March 15, 1941) is an American singer/songwriter and musician with The Beach Boys. He was a founding member of the band along with his cousins Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, and their friend Al Jardine, and continues to perform with the band to the present day. Love, along with the other founding Beach Boy members, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.


Early years

As young children, Mike Love's mother Emily and her brother Murry Wilson had moved with their parents to Los Angeles in 1922. Emily married Milton Love, and Mike was born in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, in 1941. Murry Wilson was a songwriter and musician with a few minor triumphs to his credit, including a song performed on the Lawrence Welk radio show in 1952. The Wilson family home in nearby Hawthorne was a musical one, and Mike often sang with the Wilson family at get-togethers at the Wilson home during his childhood. [1]

Role in The Beach Boys

Although Love played the saxophone in the first years of the band, he was mainly the co-lead singer, along with Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys. His R&B styled voice was heavily influenced by classmates at the predominantly black high school, Dorsey High, and the songs he listened to on two of Los Angeles' R&B radio stations. Love sang the lead vocal on many of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, mainly fast-paced rock'n'rollers (while Brian Wilson handled the early ballads), including "Surfin' Safari", "Surfin' USA", "Shut Down", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Be True to Your School", "Little Saint Nick", "Fun, Fun, Fun", "I Get Around", "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)", "Little Honda", "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "California Girls". His lead vocal roles later diminished as other members' voices began to be heard more, but he remained one of the most recognized voices in the group, due in part to his nasal sound, on songs such as "Do It Again". He is also known for his bass vocals, such as the vocal break in "I Can Hear Music" and the bass line in "Good Vibrations". Brian Wilson once stated that band members Mike and Carl had voices from heaven. Onstage, Love has always served as the Beach Boys' MC, introducing songs and band members.

Love also wrote or co-wrote lyrics to many of the Beach Boys songs, mostly with the themes of surfing, cars or love, but also memorable ballads such as "The Warmth of the Sun". In the 1990s, Love initiated and won a legal proceeding to gain co-authorship credit for many of the Beach Boys hits.

Love was one of the first pop musicians to become involved in the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, through his meeting with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As a result he accompanied The Beatles, Donovan, Prudence Farrow, and Mia Farrow on their famous trip to the guru's ashram at Rishikesh in India in early 1968. Love later received training in advanced techniques, including Yogic Flying, and became a "Governor of the Age of Enlightenment" at a reported cost of up to $1 million.[2]

In 1988, the Beach Boys had a US number-one hit with "Kokomo", the only number-one song the band had without Brian Wilson's involvement.[citation needed] Mike Love (along with "Kokomo" co-writers Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, and John Phillips) was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (1988) in the Original Song category, and was nominated for a Grammy Award as well.

Currently, Love continues to tour with The Beach Boys, along with Bruce Johnston and a supporting band of new musicians. He leases the right to tour under the Beach Boys name.[citation needed] Love is the only original member in the present band lineup.


Love is reported to have objected to Van Dyke Parks' oblique lyrics to Smile, reserving particular scorn for the song "Cabinessence." During a heated argument at a recording session, Love demanded that Parks explain the song's meaning; Parks demurred and walked out, which led to Parks officially terminating his partnership with Wilson. Although Love allegedly had nothing personal against Parks, he apparently feared the lyrics were too abstract for a Beach Boys record.[3]

Love later stated that he was suspicious of the new friends[according to whom?] with whom Brian was associating, and that his opposition to these people was another major source of conflict. Love has suggested that some of those who have since been critical of him did so because he had told them to "take a hike".

Love denied disliking Pet Sounds, also claiming that he liked the Smile music and only disliked the lyrics. However, this is strongly disputed by several other participants, including Van Dyke Parks. Responding to Love's claims in a letter to the editor of UK music magazine Mojo, Parks was strongly critical of Love's comments – which he described as "revisionism" – and he was unequivocal in citing Love's hostility to Smile as one of the major factors in Brian's decision to abandon the project. On the DVD that accompanied the 2004 Smile release, Brian himself also states that Love's antagonism was one of the major deciding factors in the cancellation of the album:

"The reasons that I didn't release Smile: One, Mike didn't like it...".[4]

Love contributed lyrics to their 1966 single "Good Vibrations", although the song also has an earlier set of lyrics written by Wilson's main Pet Sounds collaborator, Tony Asher, which Wilson restored on the 2004 Smile version.

Writing for The Guardian in December 1999, Will Hodgkinson summarized the main reasons for the demise of Wilson's project:

"[A] combination of factors, including litigations against the record company and increasing animosity between Wilson and the rest of the band, meant that in May 1967 Wilson pulled the plug on the record... [Mike] Love had already dismissed 'Good Vibrations' as "avant-garde shit" and objected to the way Wilson, Parks and a group of highly skilled session musicians were creating music way beyond his understanding... By March 1967, the bad feeling got too much for Parks and, having no desire to break up The Beach Boys, he walked out."[citation needed]

Legal controversies

In the late 1990s, Brian Wilson went to court to regain his rights to the publishing company, Sea of Tunes, which owned the copyrights to most of the Beach Boys' hit songs. The suit stemmed from Wilson's forced decision to sign over his publishing rights to his father Murry Wilson in 1969, but when the suit came to court it was found that the contract Wilson had signed was not valid because of the mental problems he was suffering from at the time. (It was even suggested that Murry had signed his son's name on the document.) Wilson failed to regain the copyrights, but won a $25 million settlement.

Following Wilson's win, Love launched his own lawsuit, claiming that he had made significant writing contributions to many Beach Boys songs, including two titles on Pet Sounds and "California Girls", and never received due credit (or the accompanying royalties). Love won the case, due in no small part to Brian's statements that Mike's assertions were correct (although Tony Asher has unequivocally stated that Love had no input into at least one song involved, "Wouldn't It Be Nice"). As a result, he was granted $13 million of Wilson's award, and his name was retroactively added to the writing credits on all subsequent releases of those songs. (Love and Wilson reportedly had no malice toward each other in the lawsuit; unable to come to terms, they resorted to going to court to settle matters.)[citation needed]

Love initiated a second successful lawsuit against Al Jardine (mostly the Beach Boys' company, Brother Records, suing Jardine at Love's instigation, but also personal lawsuits) for Jardine's use of the band name Beach Boys Family And Friends in his solo work.[citation needed]

Most recently, Love initiated a third lawsuit on November 3, 2005 against Brian Wilson and the Mail On Sunday newspaper, arguing that both misused the Beach Boys' name and Love's image in a promotional CD that was given with the paper to promote the 2004 Smile release, and also arguing that Wilson has misused the Beach Boys' name in other promotions relating to Smile, resulting in loss of income for the band. He sought several million dollars in damages plus a million dollars to cover costs of advertising to correct the perceived damage to the band's reputation. The lawsuit was thrown out of court on May 16, 2007 on the grounds that it was without merit.[5]

Solo career

Love has attempted several times to have a career outside the Beach Boys. In the mid 1970s, he recorded and released two albums with side band Celebration, including the top 30 hit single "Almost Summer" (co-written with Brian Wilson and Jardine), along with further songwriting contributions to the band's third (unreleased) album "Disco Celebration". In the late 1970s, he also recorded two unreleased solo albums, First Love and Country Love. Some tracks from First Love were used on later Beach Boys releases.[citation needed]

In 1981, he released a solo album, Looking Back With Love. Consisting mostly of cover versions, the album was neither critically nor commercially successful.[citation needed]

He confined himself to guest spots on recordings alongside artists such as Dean Torrence of Jan And Dean and The Association, contributing to the albums "Rock'n'Roll City", "Rock 'n Roll Again," "Winter Party On The Beach (aka "Scrooge's Rock'n'Roll Christmas")" and "New Memories". He also developed a penchant for re-recording old Beach Boys' hits, released on packages like "Catch a Wave" and "Salute Nascar" with Adrian Baker. He has also lent his vocal abilities to a 2003 Bruce Springsteen tribute CD (singing "Hungry Heart"), and a Bruce Johnston–produced album for the Kings Singers, amongst others.

Also, in 2003, he announced plans for a new solo album. This album, which has been announced under the working titles Unleash The Love and Mike Love, Not War (not to be confused with the Beach Boys bootleg of the same name), is still a work in progress (although bootleg recordings have appeared) and, to date, one new track from these sessions, "Cool Head, Warm Heart", has appeared on an official Beach Boys–related collection.[citation needed]


  • Looking Back with Love (1981)
  • Mike Love: Catch a Wave (Limited Edition CD 1996) MELECO – MEL CD 101 – 1996
  • Mike Love, Bruce Johnston & David Marks: Salute NASCAR (Limited Edition)
  • Mike Love & Bruce Johnston: Summertime Cruisin' (Limited Edition CD 2001)
  • "Santa's Goin' To Kokomo" (single) (iTunes download 2006)
  • "Hungry Heart" (single) (iTunes download 2007)


Love was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Emily Glee (née Wilson) and Edwin Milton Love. In addition to being cousin to the Wilson brothers, Love is the brother of former NBA basketball player Stan Love and of Pink Martini harpist Maureen Love, and the uncle of Minnesota Timberwolves basketball player Kevin Love. Love's son Christian Love tours with The Beach Boys in their backing band.[citation needed]

Love has been married five times -[citation needed]

  • Susan Forrista, divorced
  • Suzanne Belcher (October 14, 1965 – 1969) two children
  • Tamara Fitch (October 18, 1971 – 1974) divorced
  • Catherine Linda "Cathy" Martinez (September 17, 1981 – July 30, 1984) divorced, one child
  • Jacqueline Piesen (current).


In 2010, Love contributed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: More Hope For The Holidays album with vocals on its first track "Closing of the Year" as well as his own "Santa's Goin' To Kokomo". He appears alongside many other names such as Weezer, Brandi Carlile, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Proceeds from this album go to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Badman, Keith (2004). The Beach Boys:The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band on Stage and in the Studio. Backstreet Books. pp. 10-11. ISBN 0-87930-818-4. 
  2. ^ Hagan, Joe (March 6, 2008). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". Rolling Stone (1047): p. 16. 
  3. ^ The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony Documentary
  4. ^ Brian Wilson, quoted in Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson & the Story of Smile (Warner Vision/LSL Productions, 2005)
  5. ^ "QUICK TAKES; Beach Boys lawsuit dismissed (HOME EDITION)". Los Angeles Times: p. E.3. 16 May 2007. http://www.proquest.com/. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  6. ^ Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

External links

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