Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Brian Wilson

Img_capt = Brian Wilson in 2006
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Brian Douglas Wilson
Alias =
Born = Birth date and age|1942|6|20|mf=y
Hawthorne, California
Died =
Instrument = Bass, Vocals, Piano, Synthesizers
Genre = Surf rock, Rock, Baroque pop
Occupation = Songwriter, Bassist, Pianist, Vocalist, Producer, Composer, Arranger
Years_active = 1961–present
Label = Capitol, Brother, Reprise, Caribou
Associated_acts = The Beach Boys
URL = []

Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942 in Hawthorne, California) is an American musician best known as the lead songwriter, bassist, and singer of the American rock and roll band The Beach Boys. Wilson was also the band's main producer, composer, and arranger.


With The Beach Boys

Wilson formed The Beach Boys in the early 1960s with his brothers Carl and Dennis, his cousin Mike Love, and schoolfriend Al Jardine. Together with Love, Wilson authored a series of hit singles in the 1960s including "Surfin' USA", "Fun, Fun, Fun","God Only Knows ","I Get Around", "Help Me Rhonda", "California Girls", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", and "Good Vibrations". These songs and their accompanying albums were internationally popular, making the Beach Boys one of the biggest acts of their time.

Wilson became known for his unique use of vocal harmonies, his trademark style of lyrics and incessant studio perfectionism. Early influences on Wilson's work included The Four Freshmen, Chuck Berry and Phil Spector. He also considered The Beatles to be his chief rivals, and they in turn would cite his work as a major influence. Wilson also produced records for other artists, but to much lesser success. He also co-wrote many of Jan and Dean's biggest hits during this period. In 1965, due to personal issues, Wilson stopped performing live with the Beach Boys and Glen Campbell was called in as a temporary replacement. Wilson then chose Bruce Johnston as a long-term replacement, who remains with the Beach Boys today.

In 1966 he released "Pet Sounds", which sold only modestly at the time, but has since become widely critically acclaimed and often cited among the all-time greatest albums. After Pet Sounds, "Good Vibrations" was released as a single, giving the Beach Boys their third U.S. number-one hit, after "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda", and selling over a million copies. Wilson then began work on a new album, originally called "Dumb Angel" but soon re-titled "SMiLE," which he described as a "teenage symphony to God". A combination of resistance from within the group and Wilson's own growing personal problems led to the cancellation of the project in May of 1967. The hastily compiled "Smiley Smile" was released in its place, and the "SMiLE" sessions became the stuff of rock 'n' roll legend. For many years Wilson would refuse to even discuss the project, calling it "inappropriate music". He would ultimately re-record "SMiLE" as a solo artist in 2004.

Mental illness

Psychologically overwhelmed by the cancellation of his pet "SMiLE" project and the birth of his first child in 1968, Wilson began to take on a diminished creative role within the Beach Boys. Until about 1970 he remained the group's principal songwriter, but increasingly production reins were handed to younger brother Carl. Wilson mostly oversaw the albums "Smiley Smile", "Wild Honey" and "Friends" and while these were not without merit they performed only modestly on the charts. After that, he all but stopped writing songs and was frequently seen partying in the company of songwriter Tandyn Almer and Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton. It was during this period that he was introduced to cocaine. The 1969 album "20/20" was made mostly without Wilson's participation, although the Wilson/Love-authored "Do It Again" was a major hit, topping the charts in the UK.

Wilson spent the majority of the following three years in his bedroom sleeping, taking drugs, and overeating. Many of his "new" contributions to Beach Boys albums were remnants of "SMiLE" (e.g., "Cabinessence", "Surf's Up"), and those that were genuinely new reflected his depression and growing detachment from the world ("'Til I Die", the EP "Mount Vernon and Fairway"). Reportedly, Warner Brothers was so desperate for material from Wilson that the single "We Got Love" (co-written by Ricky Fataar, Blondie Chaplin, and Love) was scrapped from the "Holland" album in favor of "Sail On, Sailor", a song mostly written by committee (including Almer and Parks) that happened to draw its initial germ from a Wilson chord sequence.

In 1975, Brian's wife and family enlisted the services of controversial therapist Eugene Landy in a bid to help Brian, and hopefully help revive the group's ailing profile. Brian did not stay under Landy's care for long, but during this short period, the doctor managed to help him into a more productive, social frame of mind. The new album "15 Big Ones", consisting of oldies and some new songs was released in 1975 and Brian began to regularly appear live on stage with the band. A Love-orchestrated publicity campaign announced that "Brian is Back". Brian was also deemed to be well enough to do a solo performance on "Saturday Night Live" in November 1976. In 1977 the cult favourite "Love You" was released, consisting entirely of new material written and performed by Wilson. He continues to say it is his favourite Beach Boys album.

By 1982, Wilson was regressing into old habits; he was taking large amounts of cocaine, he weighed over 300 pounds, and he was in danger of losing his life. Eugene Landy was once more called into action, and a more radical program was undertaken to try to restore Brian to health. This involved firing him from the Beach Boys, isolating him from his family on Hawaii, and being put onto a rigorous diet and health regimen. This, coupled with long, extreme counselling sessions, brought Brian back to reality. He was certainly healthier and more conversant than previously, but he was also under a strict level of control by Landy. Brian's recovery continued as he joined the band on stage in Live Aid in 1985, and recorded a new eponymous album with the Beach Boys.

It was variously reported that Wilson had either schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder. Dr. Landy's treatment regimen was not a recognized treatment for either of these mental illnesses. Some years later, during his second marriage, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type which supposedly caused him to hear voices in his head. According to the 2006 Peter Ames Carlin biography of Wilson, "Catch a Wave", by 1989 the rumor was that Brian either had a stroke or had abused too many drugs and was permanently fried. Carlin reported that the actual problem was that Wilson, who had been prescribed antipsychotic medication by Landy since 1983, had developed tardive dyskinesia, [ [ Catch a Wave] ] a neurological condition that develops in about 20% of patients treated with antipsychotic drugs for a long period of time [Sweet, R.A., Mulsant, B. H. Gupta, B., Rifai, A.H., Pasternak, R.E., et al (1995). Duration of neuroleptic treatment and prevelance of tardive dyskinesia in late life. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 478-486.] . Wilson's drug regimen has now been reduced to a mild combination of antidepressants, which keep him functioning at a more socially acceptable level than he has been at in decades, enabling him to record and tour.

The effects of Brian Wilson's mental illness on his parenting style were discussed by Wilson's daughter Wendy during her appearance in a [ February 2008 episode] of the British reality television show Supernanny. [ [ "I Like to Watch" by Heather Havrilesky, March 2, 2008,] ] Wilson's daughter Carnie and granddaughter Lola also made an appearance on the episode.

olo career

Wilson launched a career as a solo artist in 1988 with limited success. It is possible that his efforts in this regard were both encouraged and hampered by Landy's influence. Partly due to the control that Landy exercised on his life, Wilson stopped working with the Beach Boys on a regular basis after the release of "The Beach Boys" in 1985. He had been signed to a solo record deal with Sire Records by label boss Seymour Stein.

Wilson released a solo album, "Brian Wilson", in 1988 and a memoir, "Wouldn't It Be Nice - My Own Story", in which he spoke for the first time about his troubled relationship with his abusive father Murry and his "lost years" of mental illness. Although it was written following interviews with Brian and others, Landy was largely responsible for the book, in conjunction with "People" magazine writer Todd Gold. The book describes Landy in terms that could be called messianic. In a later lawsuit over the book, Wilson testified in court that he hadn't even read the final manuscript. As a result, the book was taken out of press some years later.

A second solo album made for Sire, entitled Sweet Insanity, was never released.Landy's illegal use of psychotropic drugs on Wilson and his influence over Wilson's financial affairs was legally ended by Wilson's brother Carl. In 1995, Wilson married Melinda Ledbetter after a longstanding relationship with Stephanie Marks and subsequently the couple adopted two girls, Daria and Delanie, and, in 2004, a son, Dylan. He has two daughters from his first marriage to Marilyn Rovell: Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson, who would go on to musical success of their own in the early 1990s as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips.

Also in 1995 he released two albums, albeit neither containing any new original material, almost simultaneously. The first, the soundtrack to Don Was's documentary "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times", consists of re-recorded versions of songs from his Beach Boys and solo catalogue produced by Was, along with a 1976-vintage demo recording. The second, "Orange Crate Art", saw Wilson as lead vocalist on an album of songs produced, arranged and (mostly) written by Van Dyke Parks, and was released as a duo album under both men's names.

His final release as part of the group was on the 1996 album "Stars and Stripes Vol. 1", a group collaboration with select country music artists singing the lead vocals. After considerable mental recovery, he mended his relationship with his daughters Carnie and Wendy and the three of them released an album in 1997 titled "The Wilsons."

Wilson released a second solo album of (mostly) new material, "Imagination", in 1998. Following this, he learned to cope with his stage fright and started to play live for the first time in decades, going on to play the whole "Pet Sounds" album live on his tours of the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

A new studio album, "Gettin' in Over My Head", was released on 22 June, 2004. It featured collaborations with Elton John, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, and Wilson's deceased brother Carl. Eric Clapton played on the track "City Blues." The album was almost entirely composed of re-recordings of unreleased material, and received mixed reviews.

"SMiLE" resurrected

In February 2004, 37 years after it was conceived, Wilson debuted the newly completed "SMiLE" at the Royal Festival Hall in London and throughout a UK tour. It was then recorded through April to June and released in September, to wide critical acclaim. The release hit #13 on the Billboard chart. The 2004 recording featured his backup/touring band, including Beach Boys guitarist Jeff Foskett, members of the Wondermints and backup singer Taylor Mills. In this version, the song "Good Vibrations" notably features Tony Asher's original lyrics instead of the Mike Love-authored lyrics from the released 1966 version.

Wilson won his first Grammy Award in 2004 for the track "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire)" as Best Rock Instrumental. In 2004 "SMiLE" was taken on the road for a thorough tour of Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In December 2005 he also released "What I Really Want for Christmas" for Arista Records. The release hit #200 on the Billboard chart, a rarity for a holiday offering, though sales were modest. Wilson's remake of the classic "Deck The Halls" became a surprise Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit.

Though no longer a part of The Beach Boys touring band, Brian Wilson remains a member of the Beach Boys corporation, Brother Records Incorporated.

Recent events/"That Lucky Old Sun"

In February 2005, Wilson had a cameo in the TV series "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" as Daffy Duck's spiritual surfing advisor. [ [ Duck Dodgers: Surf the Stars / Samurai Quack - ] ] He also appeared in the 2005 holiday episode of "", performing "Deck the Halls" for a group of children with xeroderma pigmentosum (hypersensitivity to sunlight) at Walt Disney World Resort. On July 2, 2005 Wilson performed for the Live 8 concert in Berlin, Germany.

In September 2005, Wilson arranged a charity drive to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina where people who donated $100 or more would receive a personal phone call from Wilson himself. According to the website, over $250K was raised. [ "Donate to hurricane relief and Brian Wilson will say hi"] ] In November 2005, former bandmate Mike Love sued Wilson over "shamelessly misappropriating... Love's songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the 'Smile' album itself" in the promotion of "SMiLE". [ [ ABC News: ABC News ] ] The lawsuit was ultimately thrown out of court on grounds that it was meritless. [ [,1,6718298.story?ctrack=1&cset=true Beach Boys lawsuit dismissed - Los Angeles Times ] ]

On November 1, 2006, Wilson kicked off a small but highly anticipated tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of "Pet Sounds". [ [ Two Beach Boys to reunite - Listen Up - ] ] He was joined by Al Jardine.

Wilson released a new album "That Lucky Old Sun" [] on September 2, 2008. The piece originally debuted in a series of September 2007 concerts at London's Royal Festival Hall, and in January 2008 at Sydney's State Theatre while headlining the Sydney Festival [ [ Brian Wilson to headline Sydney Festival - Arts - Entertainment -] ] . Wilson describes the piece as "consisting of five 'rounds', with interspersed spoken word". [ [ - News ] ] A series of US and UK concerts lead up to its release.

Brian Wilson and Melinda Wilson will be refunding attendees of a July 11 2008 show. The show, a charity benefit for NYC-based non-profit Stand Up For a Cure, took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Fans who attended the show complained that their seats offered poor visibility, that Wilsons band was too small, that the set was too short, and that Wilson did not play enough solo or Beach Boys rarities. In response to these complaints, Melinda Wilson posted on her husbands official website to offer Brian's apologies and to announce that fans who wanted a refund from the July 11 concert could send their ticket stubs to Wilsons publicist and receive their money back. [cite web|url=|title=Brian Wilson News - Brian Wilson Refunds Disappointed Fans After NYC Charity Benefit Fails to Make Them Feel Better Abou|accessdate=2008-09-12|date=2008-07-22|publisher=idiomag]

Awards and recognitions

*Brian and the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in January 1988, alongside The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.

*In 2000, Brian was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney introduced Brian, referring to him as "one of the great American geniuses". [ [ Kennedy Center: Biographical information for Brian Wilson] ]

*In March 2001, TNT and Radio City Music Hall hosted "An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson". This event featured performances and appearances by Elton John, Billy Joel, David Crosby, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Cameron Crowe, Sir George Martin and others.

*"Pet Sounds" has been widely ranked as one of the most influential records ever released in western pop music and has been ranked at number #1 in several music magazines' lists of greatest albums of all time. It was number #2 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list.

*A 2005 concert, "Musicares: A Tribute to Brian Wilson", was held in Wilson's honor. Performers included Jeff Beck, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Earth Wind & Fire, Barenaked Ladies, and The Backstreet Boys, among others.

*2005 Grammy Award - Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Mrs. O'Leary's Cow

*On December 2, 2007, the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors committee recognized Brian for a lifetime of contributions to American culture through the performing arts in music.

*In November 2006, Wilson was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. He performed "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" at the ceremony.


*The Canadian rock band, Barenaked Ladies, wrote a song entitled "Brian Wilson", which appears on their first album, "Gordon".

*A Parody of Brian Wilson was included in a segment of 2007's "".

In the mid 1990s, Brian Wilson lived in a house in St. Charles, Illinois in a semi-rural subdivision equipped with a small audio studio.


*"Brian Wilson" (July 12, 1988)
*"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" (August 15, 1995)
*"Orange Crate Art" (with Van Dyke Parks) (October 24, 1995)
*"Imagination" (June 16, 1998)
*"Live at the Roxy Theatre" (June, 2000)
*"Pet Sounds Live" (June 11, 2002)
*"Gettin' in Over My Head" (June 22, 2004)
*"SMiLE" (September 28, 2004)
*"What I Really Want for Christmas" (October 18, 2005)
*"That Lucky Old Sun" (September 2, 2008)

ee also

*The Beach Boys
*List of songs by Brian Wilson
*Beach Boys Historic Landmark


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ 2004 Larry King Transcript where they speak about Wilson's mental illness]
* [ "After the wipe out" by Ginny Dougary in "The Guardian" (1 June 2002)]
* [ "Four Decades Later, Wilson's 'Smile' Hits London" Audio review at NPR (25 February 2004)]
* [ SMiLE Timeline]
* [ Brian Wilson Pictures from 2007 Consumer Electronics Show performance]

NAME= Wilson, Brian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Wilson, Brian Douglas
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Songwriter, Bassist, Pianist, Vocalist, Producer, Composer, Arranger
DATE OF BIRTH= June 20, 1942
PLACE OF BIRTH=Hawthorne, California

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