Beach Boys' appeal endures
Written by DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:12
The sounds of the 1960s have endured.
Mike Love, one of the founders of the Beach Boys, sees that night after night in the reaction of fans.
And it's not only the Beach Boys. The music of Motown and the Beatles continues to resonate with the fans who grew up with those sounds, and their children, and their grandchildren.
The music drew from a long line of predecessors, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, among others. New artists drew inspiration from those sounds, and created their own music.
"Then all hell broke loose," Love said in a recent telephone interview.
Even on the Beatles' home turf, the Beach Boys held their own, being named top pop group in England in 1966.
And unlike the Beatles, who famously flamed out, The Beach Boys have persisted despite troubles and tragedy.
The band's musical guru Brian Wilson famously stepped away from touring because of mental health issues. Two of the founding members, Brian Wilson's brothers and Love's cousins, Carl and Dennis Wilson, have died.
The band has fractured, reformed, been shuffled off the charts by succeeding pop styles, many of which bore the imprint of their influence. But in one form or another the band still tours, regularly.
The Beach Boys, featuring Love and long-time member Bruce Johnston, a Grammy-winning songwriter in his own right, will perform the grandstand concert at the Wood County Fair Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $40. Call (419) 352-0441.
They are joined by Christian Love (Mike Love's son), Randell Kirsch, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, formerly of The Cowsills, and Scott Totten.
Love said the band works hard to stay true to its hits.
"I go out every night and do my best to replicate those songs," Love said. "Those songs have some pretty intricate and complex four-part harmonies. They're challenging to do. You have to be on your toes to be able to replicate those songs with authenticity in the same keys with the same arrangements. We're obsessed with that."
They work hard at it keeping their voices in shape "so every night you can recreate those songs." When they sing "California Girls," their oldest fans will "be able to close their eyes and it'll be 1965 again."
How those fans of all ages react brings the spontaneity to the performance, he said. It's the way they listen intently to the ballads, or dance to rocking numbers.
"It's pretty incredible the degree that people enjoy those songs," Love said. "A miracle really."
Love was singing with his cousins before the seminal pop band was formed. He remembered attending youth sessions at the Presbyterian church his family attended. Brian Wilson would come along for the singing. After intoning hymns, they would walk home singing doo-wop and Everly Brothers tunes. In harmony, always in harmony.
From the rich musical environment of the 1950s, Love said, "we gravitated more to the groups, the harmonies."
Those influences included the tight, four-part jazz voicings of the Four Freshmen, a group that was inspired by the sound of Stan Kenton's trombone section. The Beach Boys can still whip out its version of the Freshmen hit "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring."
And "The Sloop John B," which they adapted from The Kingston Trio, still has a place in their shows,
Then there was Chuck Berry who inspired them with "his guitar licks and clever lyrics."
They blended that rich American tradition into a distinctive, sunny sound that the world first heard on "Surfin' Safari" in 1961, followed by "Surfin' USA" in 1962.
"It's amazing how our original fans still come out to see us," Love said. "We're are a perfect act for a fair because the children and grandchildren of our original fans all love the music of The Beach Boys."
At the root was a love of singing together, Love said. "We're just blessed people," he said, "to have a hobby that we loved to do just casually and have that become a profession and a long lasting one at that, and one that people still appreciate to this day. It's a real blessing."
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:37