This is the story of a young genius, a giant among pop musicians, who cracked up under pressure of loyalty to his group and their fans. He continued writing their songs, producing their records, steering their business affairs and traveling on one-nighter tours long after physical, mental and emotional strain had drained his last ounce of strength. He kept doing it because he hated to let his people down. And it almost killed him.
It’s the story of Brian Wilson, leader laddie of the Beach Boys, told in his own words when we showed him a stack of mail from girls protesting his absence from the concerts. Brian speaking:
“I was run down mentally and emotionally trying to be everything to everybody, writing, arranging, producing, planning, teaching and traveling until I had no peace of mind, no chance to sit down and rest or think.
“Two days before Christmas, 1964, we started on a two week tour. I said goodbye to Marilyn at the airport but it was strained because we weren’t getting along too well then.
“After about five minutes in the air I felt myself going to pieces and I turned to Al Jardine in the next seat to me and I said I was cracking up. He told me to cool it. I couldn’t. I put a pillow over my face and began screaming that I wouldn’t get off the plane when we arrived in Houston, Texas. The boys were scared. They could see I was breaking up but were as understanding as they could be. But I was past help. The rubber band had stretched as far as it would go.
“That night I felt a little better and played the show although I have no memory of it. Next morning I awoke with a terrible knot in my stomach. I felt I was going out of my mind. I must have cried about 15 times that day. Though I fought for control I’d start crying every half hour. When Carl came to my hotel room I slammed the door in his face. I didn’t want to see him or anyone. The truth is I was flipping out fast.
“The road manager took me back to Los Angeles that night but the other boys had to finish the tour. I wouldn’t talk to him or anyone except my mother, Audrey. She was at the airport to meet me. As soon as I saw her I began crying again. I needed to hear her gentle voice. It’s a real security to be able to talk to your mother as I can talk to her.
“She drove me to the house and we talked half the night. I told her things I’d never told anyone in my life. Generally I dumped all my lifelong hang-ups and she helped straighten me out as she always does.
“When the other Beach Boys returned from the tour they had to know what was happening yet they didn’t press because they didn’t want to bug me. I wasn’t ready to express myself and needed more time to evaluate what I am, what I’m doing and what I should be doing. I was also under pressure from my old man who said I’d be a traitor if I didn’t travel one-nighters with the other guys. Everyone outside the group was giving me a lot of static, too. I guess my sub-conscious defense was to break down as I did.
“At a recording session one night I laid it on the line to the boys. I told them I wasn’t going to ever travel or perform on the stage again. I said the Beach Boys could have a beautiful future if they did their job and I did mine. There would have to be a replacement for me on the road.
“Man, they all broke down. I’d already gone through my breakdown, now it was their turn. They couldn’t accept the reality of their big brother never appearing on the stage with them again. It was a terrible blow to their security. They felt like it was no use going on as a group.
“Mike had tears in his eyes. Dennis lost his cool, picked up an ashtray and told the people to get out of the control room or he’d hit them. Al Jardine broke out in tears and had a seizure of stomach cramps. My mother, who was there, had to take care of him.
“Good old Carl was the only one who didn’t get uptight. He’s the group’s greatest stabilizing influence. Without him we’d probably have split up long ago. Carl has mastered his emotions. He calmed Dennis, Mike and Al.
“Now the guys realized they had to learn to adjust to the new scene. Our first replacement, Glenn Campbell, had his own career and he wasn’t really a Beach Boy type. When he got sick and couldn’t tour with the boys, they were really in trouble as it was too late to cancel the tour. At the last minute Mike phoned Bruce Johnston who happened to be free and was happy to go with the guys. Carl taught Bruce enough songs in one day to perform with the group the following night. Bruce, now a Beach Boy regular, is happy with us and we with him.
“Well, that’s the story. I always knew what I should do but I had difficulty communicating it to people. The Beach Boys are improving all the time and I’m completely dedicated to them.
“No, I’m no genius. I’m just a hard-working guy who loves the whole great big wonderful bag we’re in.”
Perhaps Brian’s frank and honest confession of a never-before-told story may help BB lovers to understand his reasons for cutting out on the concert tours.
Music groups are coming apart like a paper dress in a hurricane. It’s a fact there aren’t many bands with the starting team intact. Some have none but one of the starters left, and many new music squads are glued together from the jobless members of split-up groups such as the Grass Roots, New Generation, MFQ, Nashville Teens and others who’ve had chart hits in the past.
The Drifters seem to have a different lead singer on every new disk. Sam the Sham changes Pharoahs like shirts. Player/singer drop-outs have sometimes hurt and sometimes helped certain groups like the Turtles, Standells, Kinks, Hollies, Leaves, Left Banke, Them, Mindbenders, Palace Guard and Raiders.
The Missing Links didn’t survive the departure of Micky Dolenz who turned Monkee. Gene Clark’s flight really hurt the Byrds. The Vejtables died when Jan Errico, long-haired songstress-drummergirl, transplanted herself to the Mojo Men, who immediately lucked in with their first major hit, Sit Down I Think I Love You, written by Steve Stills of the Buffalo Springfield.
We think the Yardbirds will recover from the loss of lead guitarist Jeff Beck, one of the YB founders. Jimmy Page, the most recent addition to the roster, is a personality-plus boy and a fantastic musician.
Jeff Beck’s personal and emotional problems laid a stone drag on the Yardbirds. He’d already missed two U.S. tours—without being missed much by the concert-goers. Blonde and curvy Mary Hughes, the sex queen of many AIP beach bikini blasts, flew to London to help him overcome his personality crisis. She’s also helping him form a new music combo in England. Rumors that lead singer Keith Relf would fly the Yardbird coop were false as dentures. With both Keith and Jeff out, the group couldn’t possibly continue to happen.
Although all but one TV teen song-shows were wiped out after the last disastrous seasons, several adult program producers are smart enough to cash in on the hunger of the young for their kind of music with the foot-stomping beat. Hollywood Palace signed the Buffalo Springfield for six programs and also promised to deliver a promising new or great old rock pop band each week. The Springfielders are high on self-created material. Their latest LP contains seven songs cleffed by Stephen Hill [sic], rhythm guitarist, and five by Neil Byong [sic] who wields the lead g-tar.
The Detroit Wheels, spinning wild down the track to hitsville, were stunned when Mitch Ryder hired himself a new brashy band of ten pieces to back him on his city-hopping road tours. He rightly believes ticket-buyers are not getting their money’s worth when they see nothing but a whole program of deadpanned stand-up musicians headlined by one star act. The Wheels will still record with their leader, but the Mitch Ryder Show will be a variety program of singers, musicians and dancers aided by the best lighting and electronic systems $30,000 can buy him.
With the screams, plaudits and coin of their last visit still ringing in their ears, Sonny and Cher returned to London for an encore of their first triumphal tour to perform and to plug the film they finished last summer for release next summer. Sonny won’t wear his shoulder rug or Cher her gaudiest get-ups off duty. Innkeepers and head waiters are stuffy about kookie kostumery; this time S/C would like to register at a fancy hotel and dine at swellegant West End restaurants without any arguments.
Don and Goodtimes are the neatest, politest gang we’ve met in many a moon. They shake hands with everybody all the time and treat even the youngest, screwiest, gum-chewingest teenie-bopper with kindness and respect.
So now the Rolling Stones say they will make their movie, no matter what anybody says. Cameras will start rolling within a few months after numerous delays due to legalities, finances and arguments about the script. They’ve already mitted and spent some of the advance which their business manager, Allen Klein, claims was 900,000 pounds. This sum doesn’t ring true to our ears; in U.S. coin it amounts to a staggering $2,500,000 which is more than Liz Taylor and Dickie Burton combined would ask as an “advance.” Press agents sometimes do make Himalayas out of hillocks. They get paid to hype the public.
Benefits can be a gas. Some stars donate bread and play many benefit shows, while others do nothing for anybody. Mankind can be divided between Givers and Grabbers. One of the gassiest benefits of the year was the Fishing Derby sponsored by John Dehner for the Boys Club of Hollywood. Each kid on the daylong Pacific cruise was assigned a “star pal”—Fabian, John Saxon Peter Fonda, Barbara Luna, Glenn Corbett, Ron Harper, etc. One of the charmiest pals was Barbara Hershey, the 18-year-old feminine star of Them Monroes whose fresh beauty and fabulous sense of humor won all hearts.
How did she happen? She told us: One day an agent sent this Hollywood High School girl to a TV studio for an interview. Several hard-nosed business-men types heard her read a “cold script” and told her, “We’ll let you know.” They seemed uninterested and she left, lacking hope. To her astonishment they called her later and said she had the job. Barbara still imagined it was a small part in a single TV episode but she was hopped-up happy about it. Then she went into shock to learn she’d copped a permarole in a pre-sold teleseries. And so a star was born.
Ding-Dong the wedding chimes are gonna gong for Frank Sinatra, Jr., and Pamela Petersen, New Orleans belle.
Bang-bang, the court will please come to order for the divorce hearing of Carol and Dennis Wilson. Wedlock ended in deadlock for them after a fearsome fracas only a week or two before the baby shower for Carol. Implusive [sic] hot-headed Denny is being prodded by family and friends to reconcile his diffs but he’s on a stubborn shtick.
Hayleigh Caine Love is the monicker Suzanne and Mike Love hung on their new bright-eyed baby girl.