Endless Summer at 50

Endless Summer at 50

By Howie Edelson


It was 50 years ago – June 24th, 1974 – that Capitol Records released The Beach Boys’ now-legendary double-album hits collection, ENDLESS SUMMER. The album, which marked the band’s sole studio chart-topping set to date, took fans, the industry – not to mention The Beach Boys themselves completely by surprise when on October 5th, 1974, during its sixth and final week in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart, it snagged the coveted Number One spot. Endless Summer went on to spend a total of 19 weeks in the Top 40 and apart from 1964’s live set, Beach Boys Concert, is only the second Number One album “America’s Band” ever scored on the U.S. charts.

Although The Beach Boys’ “striped shirt” era had been mined for label-created confections going back to 1966, with the group then enjoying an upswing with critical success in the studio and once again selling out larger and more prestigious venues as a live act; the perfect storm of a simpler time, an awesome album title, and the most joyous music of a generation seemed to be exactly what America’s teens were looking for. In the wake of Vietnam, Watergate, Patty Hearst, and the like, it was time to look back, chill out, and just feel good. The Beach Boys’ coolest cuts from a decade earlier checked all the requisite boxes. Inspired by the previous year’s pair of Beatles double-album blockbusters – 1962/1966 and 1967/1970 (better known as the “Red” and “Blue” albums, which were actually the “Fabs’” answer The Rolling Stones’ 1971 and ’72 two Hot Rocks double-sets) – Capitol knew it was sitting on a monster collection of Beach Boys hits tailor made for summer and a whole new generation.

Despite The Beach Boys having long parted ways with Capitol Records, Mike Love helped sequence Endless Summer, recalling, “Maybe 90 percent of the sequencing is what I hoped it would be. I wanted the listener to experience the same feeling as one would have in listening to a concert. That was just born of years of doing shows. The response to Endless Summer was stunning. Four months after hitting the stores, it reached Number One and remained on the Billboard album chart for a remarkable 155 weeks; more than three million copies were sold in the United States. Rolling Stone, which hadn’t taken us seriously in years, named us ‘Band Of The Year’ in 1974. Later, we sold out five nights at Chicago Stadium and added a sixth night. We sold out four nights at Madison Square Garden, while packing 62,000 into Schaefer Stadium in Massachusetts. It was, at the time, the largest crowd to ever attend a concert in New England. . . I just remember it was all positive. When something turns out to that level of success, I’ve got no complaints whatsoever.”

Brian Wilson admitted to being confused, amazed, but ultimately thrilled at seeing The Beach Boys back on top of the American charts: “Endless Summer was named after a famous surf movie and it had all our early hits on it. The album started selling like crazy, and that made Capitol put out a second set of hits called Spirit Of America. Both had cool illustrated covers. Endless Summer had all our faces. Spirit of America had Mickey Mouse and a baseball glove and a girl lying down with the Playboy bunny logo on her underwear.”


Al Jardine looked back at the Endless Summer “comeback” with only good memories of a time of well-deserved success after years of hard work: "We had a resurgence when Capitol released the Endless Summer double-album compilation. It sold triple platinum. It was huge and gave us a new audience. It was a wonderful feeling; we were very fortunate. . .We were out there with a new energy and so it seemed appropriate after Endless Summer came out to really go after the older material and embrace it. Because that’s what we were – we were The Beach Boys. . . We set a standard and everybody else was trying to meet that. It takes a lot of hard work and great songwriting and, of course, great arranging and producing. So, you must have all those components together at the same time. It’s miraculous. The Beach Boys are always there underpinning pretty much everyone. So, it’s like we’re always here.”

Chart success and ticket sales aside, Carl Wilson remembered being intrigued by just how far The Beach Boys’ music now spanned in the wake of Endless Summer: “The audience had become much wider in terms of their age. When we started playing, it was mostly high school students and then through the years it evolved into college students and families, even. The audience ranged from little babies and children to middle-aged people. . . It was real clear that we had a new audience. We just surrendered to it. We’d gone through so many changes over the idea of oldies over the years, but it became obvious what people wanted us to play. . . To us, we were just us, and the music is the group. There is of course the idea of The Beach Boys in striped shirts, but when it gets down to it people really like to see the goodness of our relationship endure. I think maybe the group is comforting to people.”

For Dennis Wilson, having a bigger celebration each and every night with the band’s fans was all the success he needed: “I love singing ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ while standing on the piano. ‘Good Vibrations,’ ‘Little Deuce Coupe,’ ‘I Get Around,’ ‘Surfer Girl,’ ‘Catch A Wave’ -- there are so many songs that are relatable to my life while I was growing up. There was a time when The Beach Boys were a very big touring group. Then, after a while, there was a time when it was uncool to be into The Beach Boys. Somehow The Beach Boys didn’t fit. Now, it’s not uncool to like The Beach Boys anymore. Personally, I’ve always liked them. . . The Beach Boys are not a superstar group. The music is the superstar of the group. There will always be The Beach Boys; being a Beach Boy is like being in love.”

In celebration of Endless Summer’s golden anniversary and this coming July 4th weekend, we’ve put together a new EXPANDED 50-track playlist featuring the band’s beloved 1974 chart-topper, while dipping liberally into The Beach Boys’ other classic compilations, including 1975’s Spirit Of America; 1981’s Ten Years Of Harmony; 1982’s Sunshine Dream; and 2013’s Made In California – with a few other favorites snuck in!




  1. "Surfin' Safari"
  2. "Surfer Girl"
  3. "Catch A Wave"
  4. "Surfer Girl”
  5. "The Warmth Of The Sun"
  6. "Surfin' U.S.A."
  7. "Be True To Your School"
  8. "Little Deuce Coupe"
  9. "In My Room"
  10. "Shut Down"
  11. "Fun, Fun, Fun"
  12. "I Get Around"
  13. "Girls On The Beach"
  14. "Wendy"
  15. "Let Him Run Wild"
  16. "Don't Worry Baby"
  17. "California Girls"
  18. "Girl Don't Tell Me"
  19. "Help Me Ronda"
  20. "You're So Good To Me"
  21. "All Summer Long"
  22. "And Your Dream Comes True"
  23. "Dance, Dance Dance"
  24. "Salt Lake City"
  25. "Spirit Of America"
  26. "Little Honda"
  27. "Don't Back Down"
  28. "Hawaii"
  29. "Barbara Ann"
  30. "I Can Hear Music"
  31. "Do You Wanna Dance?"
  32. "Cool Cool Water (alternate early version)"
  33. "Good Vibrations"
  34. "Cotton Fields (The Cotton Fields)"
  35. "Back Home"
  36. "Sloop John B."
  37. "Soulful Old Man Sunshine"
  38. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  39. "Please Let Me Wonder"
  40. "4th Of July (2019 mix, previously unreleased)"
  41. "It's A Beautiful Day"
  42. "Peggy Sue"
  43. "San Miguel"
  44. "Rock And Roll Music"
  45. "Sunshine"
  46. "Good Timin'"
  47. "It's O.K."
  48. "Keepin' The Summer Alive"
  49. "Wouldn't It Be Nice"
  50. "Do It Again"