Beach Boys: Still ‘Surfin' after all these years
Had Mike Love and the Wilson brothers listened to an executive at Capitol Records when they were just starting out in 1962, the course of music history may have been changed significantly.
"We met with this guy, and he wanted us to audition by singing a folk song," said Love in a recent phone interview. "Well, we told him, we love Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary, but we don't really sing folk songs. We're more rock and roll."
So the folk number was scratched and in it's place the band did another song, "Surfin'."
"No one was writing songs about surfing in those days," recalled Love.
Needless to say, they aced the audition, and Beach Boys were officially born.
Love and the other original member of the band, pianist Bruce Johnston, will bring the Beach Boys to Tanglewood on Mondayfor the first time in many years.
"I can't really remember how long it's been," said Love. "At least 10 years. But we love playing there. It's a beautiful amphitheater and the grounds are beautiful."
The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and have sold more than 100 million records. They have had more than 80 songs chart worldwide and 38 of their songs have appeared in the Billboard Top 40, more than any other rock group in American history.
According to Love, the group's distinctive sound, with multiple harmonies and catchy hooks, comes in part from the harmonizing groups of the 1950s and ‘60s.
"But really, music was just a part of our lives growing up," he said. "My cousin Brian [Wilson] was a year younger than I, and he was listening to the Doo Wop groups and the Everly Brothers, with those great harmonies.
"When we were kids, Brian and my other cousins and I harmonized all the time, at parties, at holiday events, at family events," said Love. "That was long before we signed a record contract."
The Beach Boys are amid an extended tour this year. On top of the extended tour last year, and the year before that.
"We have a pretty busy schedule this year, more than 130 dates," said Love. "We've been touring a lot the last several years. We get offers from around the world, and we're always adding dates. But by far, our busiest months are the summer: June, July and August."
The extended touring is not really a grind, said Love.
"No, the only time you really get tired of touring is when you're tired," he said. "I enjoy being on stage, I enjoy making music. I don't look at touring a a chore."
One of the more memorable dates, said Love, was playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston on July 3.
"As far as I'm concerned, being onstage with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, that was a career highlight," he said.
Love said the Beach Boys will be playing all their usual hits -- with a few other songs in the mix.
"Well, my philosophy has always been to give the people what they want to hear. They pay good money to see us," he said. "They'll hear a lot of our hits, certainly."
But lately, said Love, "We've been diving a little deeper into our catalog. We'll be playing some songs that people might not have heard in a while, that we like to play. And we have a few covers we've been doing that are kind of fun, I think."
Love said he was at a loss to define what it is that seems to make the music of the Beach Boys so timeless.
"Well, you're right about that," he said. "We have our fans from the Sixties, a lot of whom are actually 60, still come to our shows. And their children and grandchildren. It's pretty amazing. I don't know if it's the harmonies or the melodies or the lyrics, but we have a pretty large following."
To reach Derek Gentile:
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile
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