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Autumn with The Beach Boys

By Howie Edelson

Although renowned for being America’s foremost “Boys Of Summer” – there are plenty of autumnal winds blowing through The Beach Boys’ ageless career – especially in the 1960’s.

October 1st , 1962, saw the release of the band’s debut long player – Surfin’ Safari. Still a fan favorite and bonafide garage rock classic, out of the gate this group made their mark with their first Top 40 LP and the early-‘60s definitive call to arms in the Brian Wilson / Mike Love-written title track.

autumn 04 Fans were in for an unexpected treat during the fall of ’63 with a double shot of Beach Boys albums issued a scant 21 days apart – Surfer Girl and Little Deuce Coupe. It shows not only the brilliance of the music but the sheer prowess of the band that half an album of new songs (featuring such beauties as “Spirit Of America” and “Ballad of Ole' Betsy”) would see fruition just as their listeners were still reveling in such instant classics as “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” and “Catch a Wave.” Three weeks after that album’s release, the Boys were headed back into the Top 10 with their latest Wilson/Love slice of teenage Americana, “Be True To Your School.” October 1963 also saw the recording sessions for probably rock’s most original Christmas song, “Little Saint Nick,” a holiday perennial going on 60 years!


Fall ’64 will forever be remembered by the brilliant single “Dance, Dance, Dance” – driven by Carl Wilson’s exuberant and forward-thinking opening riff -- backed by perhaps Wilson/Love’s most perfect ballad – “The Warmth Of The Sun.” On October 29th, 1964, The Beach Boys filmed their iconic appearance at The T.A.M.I. Show -- captured live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, in front of 3,000 screaming fans. In addition to spotlighting the most iconic early footage of Brian Wilson with The Beach Boys, T.A.M.I. featured jaw-dropping performances by Chuck Berry, The Supremes, James Brown, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, and others. The landmark film was the first theatrically released rock n' roll concert movie and stands as one of the shining testaments to the power and promise of early-‘60s rock. the beach boys autumn

That same month, October 1964, saw the release of The Beach Boys’ only chart-topping album of the 1960’s, the groundbreaking Beach Boys Concert. Among its many highlights was Mike Love & the gang’s notable take on Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Halloween “fright night” gem -- “Monster Mash.”

autumn 03 October 1965 found The Beach Boys putting the finishing touches on the soon-to-be issued Beach Boys Party! album and their next single, “The Little Girl I Once Knew” – along with a pair of famed TV appearances on NBC’s respective The Andy Williams Show and Jack Benny Hour.

Released on October 10th , 1966 was Brian Wilson’s most ambitious production to date featuring some of Mike Love’s most brilliant lyrics, which resulted in not only the band’s third Number One hit, but The Beach Boys’ first million-selling single. As Mike Love recalled: “I think 'Good Vibrations' was probably the height of our creativity in the '60s. It was not only successful -- really successful -- but it was very unique. It was probably the least derivative of our hit singles. Meaning, everything is based on something that came before -- that's what I mean by derivative. But with 'Good Vibrations,' it was so darn different, so unique sounding. And yet it was successful as well. And I admit to liking things that are both successful and creative (laughs). It was a pleasure to work with my cousin Brian on co-creating that song. And, I think, many years ago, Rolling Stone had some poll and they regarded 'Good Vibrations' as the 'Single of the Century,' or something like that.”

October ‘66 also saw the group’s SMiLE project still operating at full throttle with such tracks as “Our Prayer,” “Heroes And Villains,” “Cabin Essence,” “Wind Chimes,” “Wonderful,” “Do You Like Worms?” and “Child Is Father To The Man,” among others, being committed to tape. graduation day

On October 21st, The Beach Boys’ live-premiered “Good Vibrations” during their concert at Lansing, Michigan’s Jenison Field House at Michigan State University. Brian Wilson was on hand for the band’s next two shows at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan to supervise the recording of a possible live album – the tapes of which were eventually released in 2016 as Graduation Day 1966.

Only weeks after releasing their Smiley Smile album (their first all new collection in a whopping 16 months), October ’67 saw the band on the road with The Box Tops and hard at work on Wild Honey at Brian Wilson’s Bellagio home studio and L.A.’s Wally Heider Studios. The group recorded such upcoming favorites as “Aren’t You Glad,” “Time To Get Alone,” “Darlin’,” “Been Way Too Long,” “Here Comes The Night,” and “Lonely Days,” to name but a few.

carl autumn 04

The following October found The Beach Boys tracking music for the following year’s 20/20 album, their last of the decade, by holding sessions for “I Can Hear Music,” “The Nearest Faraway Place,” “Be With Me,” and “All I Want To Do,” both in Los Angeles and for the first time -- Manhattan. While in New York City, The Beach Boys made their second and final appearance on CBS’ The Ed Sullivan Show, performing “Good Vibrations” and their then-most recent hit, “Do It Again.”

With the band off the road throughout all of October 1969, work continued on the Sunflower album -- then still named Add Some Music -- with sessions at Bellagio for Dennis Wilson’s “Slip On Through,” Brian’s “Walkin’” and “Two Can Play,” along with a pair of Wilson/Love collaborations -- “When Girls Get Together” and The Beach Boys’ first single of the 1970’s -- “Add Some Music To Your Day.”

The month of October has continued to be memorable for The Beach Boys over the decades. On October 5 th , 1974 the band scored their only studio chart-topper to date, when the beloved Capitol compilation, Endless Summer defied all odds and hit the Number One spot on the Billboard 200 album chart – just short of a decade after “America’s Band” had last graced the top spot.

Not too long ago, Al Jardine explained that The Beach Boys' music serves a much greater purpose than mere entertainment: “Each song, or each track selection, is a special little messenger. And they convey a certain optimism, I think. And collectively, they're extremely powerful and it reminds us of a better time -- a more positive time of growing up and experiencing things as a culture.”

Enjoy the autumn leaves while you can -- because pretty soon, as we all know too well -- fall breaks (and back to winter).