Beach Boys: A California Saga, Part II

Page 4 of 6

As he protested, "I'm fine, I'm going to Hawaii to mellow out," his brother drove him to a hospital and said, "You'd better check this boy over."

They simply found that he hadn't been eating. Once he started to eat and meditate again, he was out in four or five days. He learned from the fast. He learned not to do it again.

Mike was given equal time to refute Earl Leaf's contention that he had been taken for a ride all over Europe. "It wasn't all over Europe, it was only once, in Germany. I was going to go to this girl's house for a drink. I found her outside with some other fella in a Mercedes. I was pretty drunk. I had on these black gloves. I smashed his window in. The only minor problem was, he had a gun. That was in my wild youth, I don't do that anymore. I never did make a habit of it.

"Earl's a lecherous old man, he's just jealous. Anything Earl Leaf says must be sifted through a sieve. He elaborates in his senility."

Mike wanted a plug given to his little brother Steve who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California in history and Spanish and recently earned his Master's in business administration and works full-time for the Beach Boys' management; and a plug to his other little brother Stanley (6'9") who broke all basketball scoring records at the University of Oregon and was signed to the Baltimore Bullets for half a million dollars. He also has a sister who sings and another who plays the harp.

* * *

Why did he sell my surfboard

He cut off my hair last night in my

I wish I could see outside

But he tacked up boards on my

(Gosh its dark)

* * *

Dennis Wilson, toenails tough like brazil nuts, has been surfing for 13 years. It was Dennis who came out of the water and told Brian what it was like out there. It was Brian who fooled the world.

Dennis was asked if it was true Charles Manson wrote the words of "Never Learn Not to Love," an eerie opus on the 20-20 album with an ominous message: Surrender . . . I'm your kind . . . Come in, closer, come in, closer, closer.

"That's right, he did."

Why didn't you give him the label credit?

"He didn't want that. He wanted money instead. I gave him about a hundred thousand dollars' worth of stuff.

"But I don't think you should put that in your story. I see no reason the story should mention him at all."

Another Beach Boy, an anonymous one, is a little more talkative about it. "Charlie struck me as a very intense and dogmatic hype. I didn't want nothin' to do with Charlie. He was living with Dennis at the time. Dennis was just divorced; I suppose the life-style appealed to him. Perhaps I have more sexual inhibitions, moral strictures. I wasn't into drugs at that point, which was Charlie's way of conditioning his little friends, turning them into egoless entities. I wasn't going for his pitch.

"Dennis ran up the largest gonorrhea bill in history the time the whole family got the clap. He took them all to a Beverly Hills doctor – it took something like a thousand dollars in penicillin.

"We've got several eight-track tapes of Charlie and the girls that Dennis cut, maybe even some 16-track. Just chanting, fucking, sucking, barfing. Maybe we'll put it out in the fall. Call it 'Death Row.'

"It was a million laughs, believe me."

Dennis said he didn't want all this mentioned.

"Just say Dennis was the farthest out in life-style of any of us, having known Charles Manson before he made the headlines. And that he requested you not to bring it up."

Carl remembers that Dennis did get in more trouble than the others. "Dennis is for sure the most physical of the group," he said. "He has the most nervous energy. I've never witnessed energy like that. His music, the music he likes to write best, is really serious. It's sort of like practical, you know? He's more sort of a physical earth person; he likes simple things, he likes gardening a lot. He's into nature quite a bit.

"There was a big drain ditch near where we used to live. It was really dark down there, and you could take it from right by our house all the way to the beach. We'd ride our bikes down it, and the trip was to see how far you could go without getting scared out of your mind. It was a daredevil thing. I believe Dennis probably did go in the furthest.

"Dennis was the best surfer and he was the one who really had the idea for the group."

According to Murry, this is how it all started. "They had written a song called 'Surfin', which I never did like and still don't like, it was so rude and crude, you know? Dennis made them write it. He told them, 'Write a song about surfing.' He bugged them. He was an avid surfer. He'd disappear every Saturday and Sunday he could, without cutting the lawn – you might put that in, too – without cutting the lawn. He loved the sport.

"And so they kept saying to Mr. Morgan, Hite Morgan, my publisher, "We've written a song about the surfing sport and we'd like to sing it for you.' Finally he agreed to hear it, and Mrs. Morgan said, 'Drop everything, we're going to record your song. I think it's good.' And she's the one responsible.

"It came out on the Candix label, and it was played on three stations in L.A. every hour, 24 hours a day. Sam Riddle introduced it on KDAY, and Russ Reagan--well-known producer and record figure, who was then handling Candix and who gave them the name Beach Boys--got it on KFWB and KRLA. And it went to 76 on the Top 100 chart.

"Then after 'Surfin'' the boys were off the air and they couldn't get back on the air. No one wanted them, they thought they were a one-shot record. Al Jardine hit the road and enrolled in dental school. Mr. Morgan and I went to Dot Records and cooled our heels in the foyer, nobody would talk to us. We went to Liberty, and the big shots were too busy to see us. And finally I asked Mr. Morgan, who produced 'Surfin',' What'll we do?' He says, 'I don't know, Murry, you're their Dad and manager, rots of ruck to you.' And he says goodbye. And that cost him $2,700,000, that statement. It cost him $2,700,000."

Murry was asked what he thought when the news came out about Dennis and Charles Manson. "I told my sons a long time ago," he said, "be careful who you choose as your friends."

* * *

All the Beach Boys except Bruce Johnston practice, to one degree or another, Transcendental Meditation, as personally introduced to them by Maharishi. But perhaps Carl the Youngest just shows it more. Always the most even-tempered of the group, he now speaks in an almost temperless cherubic voice.

"Maharishi, he's really fantastic to be with. Every time I've been with him I've felt very good. He's a very spontaneous person. How happy he is, and things like his laugh are very contagious. And very powerful.

"We were in Paris, doing a UNICEF show, and we met Maharishi there. We talked to him for several hours, and we were all initiated. I meditate regularly. It's helped me to cope with things. Things affect me less. Bad things affect me less--pardon me, I would rather say difficult things. I find that it relaxes me very deeply and gives me energy. I recommend it highly."

Possibly it is Transcendental Meditation that allows Carl to cope so philosophically with the difficult moments in the Beach Boys saga, such as the time Brian suddenly canceled out of the first Monterey Pop Festival, a move some feel stunted their careers for years.

"Brian was on the board, and it changed several times, the concept of it. And he decided, 'Well, shit, let's not play it.' And I think there were some people getting hostile about the group at the time, you know, about the surfing thing. And he figured, 'Fuck you,' or something like that, I don't know.

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

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
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


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »