Beach Boys: A California Saga

Page 4 of 9

"I think he was pressured by the group. And knowing that everyone in that group was married, and had children, and a house. I think he felt like more of a benefactor than an artist. I picked that up a few times, that he felt like he was expected to do certain things on time: We'll have a hit record every three months, a tour every two months, and an album every four months. He was the creative force, and there were five other people – five other families – relying on his creativity. Which sort of puts a . . . I don't suppose any musical genius ever operated on a time-clock basis. He was feeling it a lot. So, I think he just went to sleep for a couple months. Just went to his room and went away.

"I think the people in the group blew it by not knowing when they were applying pressure. They might all start independently calling up to say, 'Is there a session tonight?' 'When's the album out?' 'Is the song finished?' When there are five people doing that all the time . . . "

He remembered the house on Bellagio.

"Brian painted his house purple when he first moved in there. The neighborhood went crazy. He lives on Bellagio, in the heart of Bel Air. He painted it a fucking bright purple. Everything. There was a Bel Air Residents Citizens' Committee and all that shit. They were up in arms. They were pretty pissed off. It was funny.

"It was a shirty color, I'll have to admit. You wouldn't want to live in it.

"I don't think he thinks about everything. I don't believe he has time to consider everything.

"Innocent? Oh yeah. For sure. He'd have to be; to be that much involved in one thing, you can't be on your guard. If you would define innocence as being off-guard. Choosing not to have to be aware of certain things. He chooses not to bother."

Terry was present at the public debut of "Heroes and Villains."

"Brian was holding onto this single, like: 'All right, world – I've got it,' and waiting for the right time. He felt it was important to wait for the right time. It was a good record. This woman, I guess she was an astrologer – of sorts – she came by Brian's house. She said to him, 'Brian – the time is right.' He was waiting for the word from this woman to release the record, I guess.

'So he said, 'All right.' He called the whole group. It was like: 'OK. Look. Here it is.'A small disk, you know. Seven inches. It was very solemn, very important. Weighty. A heavy situation. It was all, 'Brace yourself – for the big one.' All the group had those limos. And there was a caravan of Rolls Royces taking the record to KHJ. He was going to give the station an exclusive, just give it to them without telling Capitol.

"We got to the gate of KHJ. The guard wouldn't let us in.

"A little talking, a little hubbub, a little bullshit. The guard was finally intimidated enough by four or five Rolls Royce limousines to open his gate. We got in the building, got to the disc jockey who was presiding over the turntable. It was pretty late, probably around midnight. Brian said, 'Hi, I'm Brian Wilson, here's the new Beach Boys single. I'd like to give you and KHJ an exclusive on it.' And this asshole turned around and he said: 'Can't play anything that's not on the playlist.' And Brian almost fainted. It was all over. He'd been holding the record, waiting for the right time. He'd had astrologers figuring out the correct moment. It really killed him.

"Finally they played it, after a few calls to the program director or someone, who screamed, 'Put it on, you idiot.' But the damage to Brian had already been done.

"He never surfed, you know. And yet he convinced surfers, those songs were written by someone who was out there hanging ten.

"The Beach Boys had people in England surfing. Blokes were bleaching their hair blonde and carrying boards through Soho.

"The guy never asked for any trouble, he just wrote songs about cars and the beach, and everyone nailed the motherfucker to the wall. They really nailed him. That poor motherfucker."

* * *

David Anderle grew up in Inglewood, California during the same years Bring Wilson grew up in nearby Hawthorne. Hawthorne is closer to the ocean, to sun and surf. David was a nocturnal creature. Beach Boys records never meant much to him. He could take 'em or leave 'em. He could not tell the difference between the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean.

He first met Brian in 1966 through a relative who knew the Wilson family. He liked Brian as a person right away, not even associating the man with his music. The next time they met was with Danny Hutton and Van Dyke Parks, whom David was managing. He heard the beginnings of what would become "Good Vibrations," and the music hit him personally. He loved Brian's working processes. They shared an admiration for Beethoven and Dylan. Brian seemed a little frightened by Dylan, and Brian loved things that frightened him a little, like a child hiding under the covers, peeking out at a scary movie.

Brian proved to be a fantastic musician. At a session he would go around to each player, take the instrument from him, show him what he wanted, and hand it back. Once that was accomplished he could go into the booth and take over the board. Sometimes he would mix the track even as it was being recorded. He knew about percussion. He understood music so well that no instrument was foreign to him. He was a total musician.

His musical theories were based upon emotion. He could sit down and write a chart, anytime, but when he described the music it was always in artistic or litewary allusions, colors, mental responses.

And the music . . . Where other people were going to electronics – speeded tapes, concept albums, reversed tapes, echoes, reverse — Brian made those things happen with pure music, just by writing it out or singing a certain way, by telling people how to play, by his mixing. It was awesome.

David became close with Brian. There were other new faces as well: Jules Siegel, a journalist sent by the Saturday Evening Post to turn out a predictable piece on the Beach Boys who stayed instead to do some serious writing; Michael Vosse, a man of many trades whose father had printed one of the first books in America about LSD. And Van Dyke Parks began putting lyrics to Brian's notes.

Anyone who worked with Brian was going way beyond their limits. He would move to a certain point, and everyone would try to move a little ahead of him; that would nudge him forward, and suddenly . . . It was completely crazy. No time existed. There were no rules. No one involved can really remember a lot of specifics. That helped Brian accomplish things: they were burning.

David Oppenheim came up to film a few regulation scenes for Leonard Bernstein's TV special on rock, and they had him and his camera crew in trunks at two o'clock in the morning in the pool, taking underwater shots of all of them; it was way beyond anything Oppenheim thought he was going to get into. They pushed and pushed and pushed because, as they told each other, the only limits were nature.

David and Brian would take four or five desbutols and sit looking at the sky all night, zeroing in whatever they could, rapping until dawn as the steam rose from the swimming pool. They agreed the rules they would live by were whatever rules were out there. That was the only barrier. The limits were the universe; everything else could be dealt with. There were no laws, no rules, no heroes, no giants. They would bust right through all of that.

So much was flowing from Brian. He was going into the studio and cutting sections, thoughts of music; he was coming home and tying these thoughts together into songs. They would change daily. The beginning of "Cabinessence" might become the middle of "Vegetables." or the ending become the bridge. It was like changing colors or areas in a painting, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, but the pieces were so musically interrelated that they would fit. David would beg Brian not to change a piece of music because it was too fantastic; when Brian did change it, David would have to admit it was equally beautiful.

His appetite for experience was as large as his output. When he got into something he'd get into it right then. If he wanted to see the moon, he'd go out and buy a telescope that minufe. "Brian, there's no place open at three in the morning to sell telescopes." He'd get angry. "Well, let's buy a telescope place, man, we'll have it open 24 hours a day." "Brian, who's gonna want a telescope other than you at three o'clock in the morning?" "Somebody does, and if somebody does, they should have it."

Or, "Wouldn't it be great to play ping-pong? Let's get a ping-pong table."

"Brian, it's four in the morning."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »