When you think about the Beach Boys, you probably think about their surf-inspired California aesthetic and their dreamy five-part harmonies. But for a band that was such an instrumental component of the peace and love generation. There is an extraordinary amount of bad blood among its members. This is especially true when taking a closer look at the lead singer and songwriter Brian Wilson’s relationship with his cousin and bandmate, Mike Love.
The Beach Boys formed in 1961 when Wilson and his two brothers Carl and Dennis linked up with Al Jardine and Love. Together, they’ve sold more than 100 million records worldwide and have recognized for their musical contributions by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Their 1966 record Pet Sounds is wildly considered to one of the greatest albums of all time. And when Rolling Stone ranked their top 500, it managed to clinch the number 2 position.
Truth be told, Brian Wilson and Mike Love are still raking in the cash through royalties and residuals. But financial successes aren’t enough to unify these opposing personalities. Saying that the two can’t seem to get along is a bit of an understatement. Stubborn and bruised egos, ideological and creative disputes. And straight-up juvenile name-calling have been getting between the two musical heavyweights for decades.
Fans and critics have for years pointed to Brian Wilson’s brilliance and have labeled Mike Love as being his foil. And he isn’t exactly thrilled at that denigrative designation. In fact, he once told Vanity Fair that for all of those fans that think than Brian walks on water. He will always be viewed as the Antichrist.
When the Beach Boys 50th-anniversary tour proved that the two artists were still at odds with each other in 2012 . And when Wilson and Love followed that rocky tour up with damning blame-game memoirs that they both released in 2016. It’s clear that their feud had hardly been put to rest. God only knows that their journey has been far from fun, fun, fun.
We think it’s about time that we get to the bottom of what’s been driving the seemingly ceaseless contentiousness shared between these two legendary musicians. This video is going to unmask the source of the quarrelsome divide that’s been fascinating and disheartening fans of the Beach Boys for half a century now.
And make sure you stick around to find out who has the rights to the Beach Boys name these days. Here’s a hint, Brian Wilson is absolutely livid! But do you want to hear something absolutely crazy?
Mike Love Hated Pet Sounds
When the Beach Boys were recording Pet Sounds back in 1966. Mike Love reportedly resented the fact that Brian Wilson was taking a commanding lead of the band and was guiding them into the unfamiliar waters of his own creative vision. The outfits sound drastically changed. Suddenly they were experimenting with new song structures, unorthodox recording methods, and experimental chord progressions. But what love hated the most feeling like his position in the band being minimized. He felt like Wilson was cheating him out of his vocal parts.
In fact, the album’s name makes reference to the soured relationship between the two musicians. When Brian showed Mike Love some of the tracks from the record, Love reacted by saying that no would want to listen to them and that if they did. Then they obviously had the ears of a dog. Then and there, Wilson knew that the album should called Pet Sounds.
Of course, Love would later deny that he had been so critical of the record. He attributed much of his reputation to a hypercritical media that was eager for story. Admittedly, however, Love did have a few choice words to say about Wilson’s next project Smile. He called much of the lyrical content of the work a bunch of ‘acid alteration’. Wilson would so affected by that bit of criticism that he would hold off from releasing the record for some 37 years.
Brian Wilson’s Mental Illness
Even though John Lennon would go on record calling Pet Sounds the greatest album of all time. The album was initially a commercial failure. But when Good Vibrations released several months later, it became one of the Beach Boys’ biggest hits.
Wilson had originally intended to include the track as the crowing piece of his ‘Smile’ album but Wilson’s failing mental state in part led to the album shelved for many years to come. Not only did Wilson leave the band, but he secluded himself in his home. And neglecting his health and wellness by heavy drug use and poor diet.
Of course, Love was less than compassionate towards his cousin about his struggles. And he weaponized his mental illness and drug use against him for years to come.
Mike Love Loves To Sue Brian Wilson
Love is resolute that one of the primary issues that he has with Wilson is that he has taken too much credit for the group’s songwriting. Whereas fans believe Wilson to be the driving creative force behind the band. Love cries foul and makes claim to a significant chunk of the band’s artistry.
In a lawsuit that settled in 1994, Love retroactively co-credited as a songwriter for nearly three dozen classic Beach Boys songs including Good Vibrations and California Girls. Love further claimed that Murry Wilson, Brian’s father. And the bands ex-manager maliciously failed to credit him for the songs to boost his son’s prominence. As a result of the court’s findings, Wilson ordered to pay love $5,000,000 for his slice of the royalty pie he was deemed entitled to.
One of the largest disagreements between the two surrounded the use of the band’s name. Love won the right to be the lone licensee of the band’s name in 1998. Wilson hadn’t been a key figure in the band since 1967 when he fell into substance abuse and the previously mentioned mental illness problems. When Wilson, Jardine, and Love agreed to their ill-fated 50th reunion tour in 2012 and things went south. Love had the legal freedom to tell Wilson to kick rocks.
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And, stay tuned to find out what the most recent spark in the Wilson-Love feud has to do with President Donald Trump.
Carl Wilson’s Death
Also in 1998, Brian’s younger brother and co-founder of the Beach Boys, Carl Wilson passed away after a long bout with cancer. The band absolutely devastated by the loss, but Brian took it the worse. The members of the band that were still touring effectively broke up and decided to go their own ways. That’s when Love seized the opportunity to co-opt the use of the band’s name that he had recently rewarded with by their label.
Brian Wilson Ardently Opposed Love’s 2020 Beach Boys Show
In February 2020, Mike Love decided to take his Beach Boys branded band to the Safari Club International Convention in Reno, Nevada to play a show. The organization is a hunting club that boldly and vocally supports the trophy killing of animals.
Wilson made a statement condemning the event saying that both he and Jardine are absolutely opposed to the senseless killing of wild animals just for the sake of sport. He further strongly admonished fans to boycott all future Beach Boys shows that Love was fronting.
Love snapped back by saying that the show would go on as scheduled. He cited freedom of speech and expression as being the justifiable reasons for playing the show. And play he did – completely disregarding the mass outcry of fans, a petition which managed to receive thousands of signature. And the condemnation of his former bandmates.
Mike Love’s Beach Boys Play A Trump Fundraiser
The most recent fanning of the flames of the feud between Wilson and Love happened on October 18, 2020. When Love’s Beach Boys played a fundraising rally for President Donald Trump. Wilson, a ardent critic of the president, condemned the move and distanced himself from the event by making it clear and he and Al Jardine had nothing to do with the performance.
He explained that He and Jardine weren’t even aware of the performance until they read about it in the Los Angeles Times.
Love’s performance at the Trump benefit was the main attraction for the rally. Ticket prices alone astronomically expensive ranging from $2,800 per person up to $150,000 for a couple that regarded as the co-chairs of the event.
Mike Love is an outspoken supporter of the president. He quoted as saying that he has nothing critical to say about the president and has previously played on his behalf at his inauguration in 2017.
Wilson once again called for fans of the Beach Boys to boycott Love’s shows in the future.
It doesn’t appear as if Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s feud will ever resolved. It seems very likely that reports highlighting their bitter divide will continue to make their way into the headlines for many years to come.
It’s somewhat of a shame though. The two no-doubt had some serious musical chemistry back in the day. And in a large way, their fans are forced to pay the price of their political and ideological differences today by not able to see their collaborative potential in the modern era.
If they were able to put their differences aside and learn to work together, they could be selling out stadiums and penning modern classics. But alas, the days of good vibrations have long since passed. If you ask us, it sounds like they could both benefit by taking a long relaxing vacation down in Kokomo. That’s, after all, where you want to go to get away from it all.
Anyway, we’d love to hear from you. Do you think Mike Love should be using the name for the band he’s playing with these days or do you think that the Beach Boys aren’t really the Beach Boys without Brian Wilson?
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