"Without (the Beach Boys') 'Pet Sounds,' 'Sgt. Pepper' wouldn't have happened. 'Pepper' was an attempt to equal 'Pet Sounds'"
- Beatles' producer Sir George Martin
" 'God Only Knows' is one of the few songs that reduces me to tears every time I hear it. It's brilliantly done, it shows the genius of Brian."
BRIAN PETERS photo
“It’s fantastic,” says Mike Love of the reaction the Beach Boys still get from audiences. The legendary group plays the MACC Friday.
- Sir Paul McCartney on BBC's Radio 1
One of the most successful and important American bands in rock history, the Beach Boys' massive popularity began in the early 1960s with a stream of hit teen anthems like "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfin USA," "California Girls," and "I Get Around," espousing the joys of California's surf, sun, hot rods and girls.
After almost 50 years the Beach Boys still draw enthusiastic audiences.
* The Beach Boys perform at 7 p.m. Friday under the stars on the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Events Lawn. Ticket prices for the Beach Boys concert at 7 tonight at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center are $35, $45, $55 and $65, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or online at mauiarts.org. It's a 21-and-older concert presented by Tom Moffatt Productions.
"Audiences respond so well to our music, it's fantastic," says the band's leader Mike Love. "They're predisposed to have a good time, and they join in and sing along to songs like 'Kokomo,' 'Help Me Rhonda' and 'Barbara Ann.' We just performed at the Sydney Opera House and it was phenomenal."
And it's just not nostalgia that attracts sellout crowds, because the Beach Boys' timeless music has consistently drawn younger generations to their shows.
"I have a 14-year-old daughter who four years ago came home from school and said, 'My class' favorite song is 'Wouldn't it be Nice,' " he reports. "I think the subject matter of Beach Boys' songs, the beach life, along with the sound and the harmonies all goes together."
Largely a family affair, the musicians came together in a Los Angeles suburb in 1961. Three brothers, Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, were joined by their cousin, Mike Love, and a friend, Alan Jardine. Bruce Johnston joined the band in 1965.
Beginning their career as the most popular surf band in the nation, by the mid-'60s the Beach Boys had evolved into America's greatest pop group, rivaling the Beatles for creativity.
Much of the group's epic music was composed by Brian Wilson, who adapted Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique to a series of sublime recordings that culminated in some of the most beautiful songs ever heard in pop music. This creative maturity fully flowered on the band's 1966 masterpiece, "Pet Sounds," praised by Rolling Stone as the second greatest album of all time (after "Sgt. Pepper"). Initially conceived as an effort to top the Beatles' "Rubber Soul," "Pet Sounds" included classics like "God Only Knows." Then came "Smiley Smile," featuring the brilliant, No. 1 single "Good Vibrations," which has been hailed by many critics as one of the greatest songs of all time.
"We sang originally about our environment in Southern California, and then we progressed," explains Love, who co-wrote many of the band's hits from "I Get Around" and "Fun, Fun, Fun," to "Good Vibrations." " 'Pet Sounds' was more introspective and reflective. 'Good Vibrations' was unique and creative and successful. It was avant-garde with great chord progressions and lyrics."
Subsequent albums such as "Surf's Up" and "Holland" contained some sublime moments, and the hits kept rolling like "Heroes And Villains," and "Do It Again." They returned to the charts in 1988 with the No. 1 hit "Kokomo," featured in the Tom Cruise movie "Cocktail."
Around the time of the "Friends" album, Mike Love traveled to India to study TM with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, joining the Beatles and Donovan at a retreat in Rishikesh.
"It was the most phenomenal time that I've ever experienced," he recalls. "Having conversation with Paul McCartney, and he came to the breakfast table one morning playing 'Back in the USSR.' I said, you should talk about all the girls in Russia, which he did. The whole thing was pretty remarkable."
Last year, Love sang with McCartney and Ringo Starr at a TM benefit concert in New York City. "It was a great event; the whole purpose was to teach a million at-risk kids the TM program," he notes.
Riding on their legendary status through the '80s and '90s and into the 21st century, the Beach Boys have maintained their popularity. After the death of Carl Wilson in 1998, the band continued touring fronted by Love, with Bruce Johnston, who over the years wrote Barry Manilow's huge hit "I Write the Songs," and sang on Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
For their Hawaii shows the band will be joined by actor John Stamos of "Full House" and "ER" fame. "John has been coming out with us since 1985," says Love. "Before he was an actor he played drums in a local band in Southern California. He's a life-long Beach Boys fan."
Over the years the Beach Boys produced 36 U.S. Top 40 hits, more than any other American rock band. To commemorate their 50th anniversary in 2011, PBS is compiling a retrospective, which could see Brian Wilson and Al Jardine re-teaming with their old band mate.
"PBS wants to do a documentary and it would make a lot of sense for us to get together," he concludes. "I'm totally open to it. It's just a matter of getting our schedules together."
With stellar friends like Michael McDonald, Pat Simmons, and John Cruz joining the festivities, Gail Swanson's CD release party at Mulligan's will undoubtedly be remembered as a legendary Maui night. Along with spotlighting Gail's latest recording, "Simple Truth," this amazing show at times featured a band of nine musicians including Bonnie Raitt's bassist James "Hutch" Hutchinson, McDonald's wife, Grammy-nominated singer Amy Holland, guitarist Tom Conway, drummer Paul Marchetti and Cris Sommer Simmons on backing vocals. Highlights included the Motown classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," with McDonald on vocals and keyboards, Cruz delivering favorites like "Island Style" and "Shine On," and a rousing finale of the Doobie's "Takin' It To The Streets" and "Long Train Runnin.' "
Jamaican national treasures, The Mighty Diamonds, were one of the most popular reggae groups to emerge from the '70s roots era. Donald "Tabby" Shaw, Fitzroy "Bunny" Simpson and Lloyd "Judge" Ferguson formed the group in 1969 in the Trenchtown area of Kingston, Jamaica, and they've been enlightening the world ever since with their conscious lyrics and sweet, soulful harmonies.
Devout Rastafarians, the Mighty Diamonds often balanced their spiritual and political messages with sweet romantic material. Their debut album "Right Time," still stands as one of roots reggae's all-time classics. With backing by Jamaican heavyweights Sly and Robby on drum and bass, it generated the hits "Africa," "Have Mercy" and "Natural Natty." One of their biggest hits, "Pass theKutchie," was later covered by Musical Youth, and has been sampled by artists like Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean.
Reggae Sunsplash regulars, The Mighty Diamonds have appeared on a number of interesting compilations including "Is it Rolling Bob? A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan," singing "Lay Lady Lay," and "Fire on the Mountain: Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead," singing "Touch of Grey."
* The Mighty Diamonds perform at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the MACC's Events Lawn. Gates open at 4 p.m. There are three opening bands. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show, available as above.
A romantic night of smooth jazz sees saxophonist Michael Paulo, guitarist Peter White and special guest keyboardist Brian Simpson teaming for a Valentine's Day show in the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Long familiar to Hawaii audiences from years playing with Kalapana, Michael Paulo has enjoyed success in pop, soul and contemporary jazz. His 1989 album, "One Passion," was praised by Jazziz Magazine as one of the most influential contemporary jazz albums in the genre's history. Over the years he's toured and/or recorded with Al Jarreau, Herbie Hancock, James Ingram, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin and David Benoit. The former music director of the Dolphin Days Waikoloa wine and food festival, he is currently artist in residence at the Java Jazz Festival.
One of smooth jazz's best- known artists, Peter White toured for many years with Al Stewart, co-writing the hit "Time Passages." He later played on several albums by Basia, and has worked with Dave Koz, David Benoit, and Rick Braun. Keyboard player Brian Simpson has toured with Sheena Easton, Janet Jackson, Dave Koz, George Duke, and Stanley Clarke.
* Tickets are $40 plus fees, available as above.