Flashback: Brian Wilson Launches First Solo Tour in 1999 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Brian Wilson Launches First Solo Tour in 1999

Watch the Beach Boy play “Caroline No” at the Beacon Theater

In the spring of 1999, Brian Wilson put aside his decades-long aversion to touring and hit the road for the first time as a solo artist. He was ostensibly supporting his new album Imagination, but of the 29 songs in the show only three came from the LP. This was really an opportunity to reward long-suffering Beach Boys fans by playing unheralded classics like “Add Some Music to Your Day,” “The Little Girl I Once Knew,” “Let’s Go Away for a While” and other songs that Mike Love’s version of the Beach Boys rarely touched.

He was backed by the Los Angeles-based power pop band the Wondermints, with keyboardist Darian Sahanaja serving as the musical director. “It was surreal and a bit nerve-racking at first,” Sahanaja told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “He’s very fragile. I was concerned he wasn’t going to make it through a whole song, let alone a show. During those first few shows I remember thinking, ‘This is gonna be the one where he bolts after a song.’ But he made it through the next one and the next one. Before I knew it, we had a mini-tour in our pockets. We were so thrilled.”

The tour touched down at New York’s Beacon Theater on June 18th, 1999. Here’s video of “Caroline No,” which was the first encore of the night. The Pet Sounds material from the show was particularly popular with fans, and the following summer Wilson and the group played the album straight through backed by local symphonies. They revived Pet Sounds for the album’s 40th anniversary in 2006, and next year they’re going to do it yet again for the 50th anniversary. That might be Wilson’s final big tour, but then again 2017 is the 50th anniversary of SMiLE …

In This Article: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys


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