Watch Beach Boys Perform 'Barbara Ann' at Final 2012 Tour Stop - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Beach Boys Prematurely End Reunion Tour in London

Watch reunited band members perform “Barbara Ann” at final stop of their 2012 reunion tour

Things must have been a little awkward for the Beach Boys backstage at Wembley Arena on September 28th, 2012. Just a few days earlier, the news hit that it would be the final date of the band’s 50th anniversary reunion tour, though the group would continue booking dates without founding members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. “I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me,” Brian said in a statement. “We are out there having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.”

News articles shot around the world stating that Brian Wilson had been fired from his own band, infuriating Mike Love. “I cannot fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys,” he wrote in the Los Angeles Times a couple weeks later. “I am not his employer. I do not have such authority. And even if I did, I would never fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. … This tour was always envisioned as a limited run… Brian and Al wanted to keep the 50th anniversary tour going beyond the 75 dates. Like any good party, no one wanted it to end. However, that was impossible, given that we had already set up shows in smaller cities with a different configuration of the band – the configuration that had been touring together every year for the last 13 years.”

In the middle of all this, the group had to fly to London to play two final shows of the tour at the Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Arena. Brian opted to end the Royal Albert Hall show with a mournful “Summer’s Gone” from their new LP That’s Why God Made The Radio. It was the first time they’d done the song live. It made sense since summer was actually over and the tour was ending, but it also seemed like a comment on the premature end of the tour. “Old friends have gone,” he sang. “They’ve gone their separate ways/Our dreams hold on/For those who still have more to say.”

The following night, they headed to Wembley Arena as headlines stated that Mike had fired Brian. Amazingly, they played a 55-song set in a little over two hours. It kicked off with “Do It Again” and crammed in everything from “Wendy” and “Getcha Back” to “God Only Knows,” “Heroes and Villains” and “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.” The final two songs were “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Audience footage of “Fun, Fun, Fun” is too shoddy to post here, so check out “Barbara Ann.”

This could very well be the last that Brian Wilson and Mike Love share a stage, or possibly even speak to each other. Once they got home, and Mike published his Los Angeles Times piece, Brian responded in the same paper. “While I appreciate the nice cool things Mike said about me in his letter, and I do and always will love him as my cousin and bandmate, at the same time I’m still left wondering why he doesn’t want to continue this great trip we’re on,” he wrote. “Al and I want to keep going because we believe we owe it to the music. That’s it in a nutshell, all these conversations need to be between the shareholders, and I welcome Mike to call me.”

It’s five years later and it seems like that call may never come. Mike and Brian released dueling memoirs last year, and the one thing they agree on is that the 2012 tour was a stressful time they aren’t anxious to repeat. “I haven’t seen Brian since the reunion tour,” Love wrote, “and there comes a point where you become so conditioned to doing certain things or not doing certain things. I don’t know if Brian and I will ever play together in another concert, or share a meal together, or even have a conversation. But my radio is on.” 

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