I have chosen to pursue this forum in a chronological order, profiling artists that I think have had an influence on my musical listening habits over the years.
The first artist I can remember having an impact was the Beach Boys. This would have been around '62 or '63 so I would have been 13. I recall getting a transistor radio for my birthday. While the rest of the family was in front of the boob tube, I had other plans. We had another radio in the house, but it wasn't on that often. I knew dad was still hopelessly hanging on to the big band era, while mom, even though a country girl, was into the crooners of the day. Can't really say I was into anything specific. But I did know there was other stuff out there. I just had to find it. We even had earphones back then. I was probably twisting the dial and came across this.
I was hooked.
The group preceded the british invasion, which swept me away to another level, but for a brief time this was the group that put music in my head. I remained a fan up till around Pet Sounds in 1966, and can't recall much after that, that I cared for. It was fun while it lasted.
Due to space limitations, the following is a trimmed down article from wikipedia profiling the early years of one of the greatest groups of all time.
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961, who gained popularity for their close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of cars, surfing, and romance. Brian Wilson's growing creative ambitions later transformed them into a more artistically innovative group that earned critical praise and influenced many later musicians.
The group was initially composed of singer-musician-composer Brian Wilson, his brothers, Carl and Dennis, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. This core quintet was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1988.
The Beach Boys have often been called "America's Band", and Allmusic has stated that "the band's unerring ability... made them America's first, best rock band." The group has had thirty-six U.S. Top 40 hits (the most of any U.S. rock band) and fifty-six Hot 100 hits, including four number-one singles. Rolling Stone magazine listed The Beach Boys as number 12 in the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to Billboard, in terms of singles and album sales, The Beach Boys are the No.-1-selling American band of all time.
Many changes in both musical styles and personnel have occurred during their career, notably because of Brian Wilson's mental illness and recreational drug use (leading to his eventual withdrawal from the group) and the deaths of Dennis and Carl Wilson in 1983 and 1998, respectively. Extensive legal battles between members of the group have also played their part. After the death of Carl Wilson, founding member Al Jardine left to pursue a solo career. Currently, the surviving members of The Beach Boys continue to tour in three separate bands: "The Beach Boys Band" with Love, Bruce Johnston, and a rotation of backing musicians; Al Jardine's "Endless Summer Band" with Jardine, his sons, and several former Beach Boys backup musicians; and Brian Wilson with a 10-piece band including members of The Wondermints and Jeff Foskett, who toured with the Beach Boys in the 1980s and 1990s as a backing guitarist/singer.
The first Beach Boys record (released December 1961) after having their band name changed from The Pendletones: this is the record's first pressing, on X RecordsBrian Wilson was born in Inglewood, California, in 1942, and his family moved to nearby Hawthorne when Brian was two years old. At the age of 16, Brian shared a bedroom with his two brothers, Dennis and Carl. He watched his father, Murry Wilson, play piano and listened intently to the harmonies of vocal groups like The Four Freshmen. One night he taught his brothers a song called "Ivory Tower" and how to sing the background harmonies. "We practiced night after night, singing softly, hoping we wouldn't wake our Dad." For his 16th birthday, Brian had received a reel-to-reel tape recorder. He learned how to overdub, using his vocals and those of Carl and his mother. He would play piano and later added Carl playing the Rickenbacker guitar he got as a Christmas present.
Soon Brian was avidly listening to Johnny Otis on his KFOX radio show, a favorite station of Carl's. Inspired by the simple structure and vocals of the rhythm and blues songs he heard, he changed his piano-playing style and started writing songs. His enthusiasm interfered with his music studies at school. He failed to complete a twelfth-grade piano sonata, but did submit an original composition, called "Surfin'".
Family gatherings brought the Wilsons in contact with cousin Mike Love. Brian taught Love's sister Maureen and a friend harmonies. Later, Brian, Mike and two friends performed at Hawthorne High School, drawing tremendous applause for their version of The Olympics' (doo-wop group) "Hully Gully". Brian also knew Al Jardine, a high school classmate, who had already played guitar in a folk group called The Islanders. One day, on the spur of the moment, they asked a couple of football players in the school training room to learn harmony parts, but it wasn't a success — the bass singer was flat.
Brian suggested to Jardine that they team up with his cousin and brother Carl. It was at these sessions, held in Brian's bedroom, that "the Beach Boys sound" began to form. Brian says: "Everyone contributed something. Carl kept us hip to the latest tunes, Al taught us his repertoire of folk songs, and Dennis, though he didn't [at the time] play anything, added a combustible spark just by his presence." It was Love who encouraged Brian to write songs and he also gave the fledgling band its first name: The Pendletones. The Pendletones name was derived from the Pendleton woolen shirts popular at that time. In their earliest performances, the band wore the heavy wool jacket-like shirts, which were favored by surfers in the South Bay. In 1962, the Beach Boys began wearing blue/gray-striped button-down shirts tucked into white pants as their touring "uniforms." This was the band's signature look through to 1966.
Although surfing motifs were very prominent in their early songs, Dennis was the only member of the group who surfed. He suggested that his brothers compose some songs celebrating his hobby and the lifestyle which had developed around it in Southern California.
Jardine and a singer friend, Gary Winfrey, went to Brian's to see if he could help out with a version of a folk song they wanted to record - "Sloop John B." In Brian's absence, the two spoke with his father, Murry, who was a music industry veteran of modest success. In September 1961, Murry arranged for The Pendletones to meet publishers Hite and Dorinda Morgan at Stereo Masters in Hollywood. The group performed a straightforward rendition of "Sloop John B.", but failed to impress the Morgans. After an awkward pause, Dennis mentioned they had an original song, called "Surfin'". Brian was taken aback — he had not finished writing the song — but Hite Morgan was interested and asked them to call back when the song was complete.
With help from Mike, Brian finished the song and the group rented guitars, drums, amplifiers and microphones. They practiced for three days while the Wilsons' parents were on a short vacation. A few days later they auditioned for the Morgans again and Hite Morgan declared: "That's a smash!"
On October 3, 1961, The Pendletones recorded twelve takes of "Surfin'" in the Morgans' cramped offices (Dennis was deemed not yet good enough to play drums, much to his chagrin). A small quantity of singles was pressed. When the boys eagerly unpacked the first box of singles, on the Candix Records label, they were surprised and angered to see their band name had been changed to "Beach Boys". Murry Wilson, now intimately involved with the band's fortunes, called the Morgans. Apparently a young promotion worker, Russ Regan, had decided on the change to more obviously tie the group in with other surf bands of the time (his original name for the band was The Surfers). The limited budget meant the labels could not be reprinted.
Released mid-November, 1961, "Surfin'" was soon aired on KFWB and KDAY, two of Los Angeles' most influential radio stations. It was a hit on the West Coast, and peaked at #75 on the national pop charts.
At first, Murry steered the Beach Boys' career, engineering their signing with Capitol Records in 1962. In 1964, Brian ousted his father after a violent confrontation in the studio. Over the next few years, they became increasingly estranged; when Murry died of a heart attack in June 1973, Brian and Dennis did not attend the funeral.
Murry Wilson told the boys he did not like "Surfin'". However, "he smelled money to be made and jumped on the promotional bandwagon, calling every radio station..." He got the group's first paying gig on New Year's Eve, 1961, at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance in Long Beach, headlined by Ike and Tina Turner. Brian recalls how he wondered what they were doing there; "five clean-cut, unworldly white boys from a conservative white suburb, in an auditorium full of black kids". Brian describes the night as an "education" - he knew afterwards that success was all about "R&B, rock and roll, and money." The boys went home with $50 apiece. In February 1962, Al Jardine left the band to continue his college studies. David Marks, a thirteen-year-old neighbor and friend of Carl's, replaced him (Jardine, at Brian's request, rejoined the group in July 1963).
Though Murry effectively seized managerial control of the band without consultation, Brian acknowledges that he "deserves credit for getting us off the ground... he hounded us mercilessly... [but] also worked hard himself". He was the first to stress the importance of having a follow-up hit. They duly recorded four more originals, on June 13 at Western Studios, Los Angeles, including "Surfer Girl", "409" and "Surfin' Safari". The session ended on a bitter note, however: Murry Wilson unsuccessfully suggested and then demanded that the Beach Boys record some of his own songs, saying "My songs are better than yours."
On July 16, on the strength of the June demo session, the Beach Boys were signed to Capitol Records. By November, their first album was ready - "Surfin' Safari". Their song output continued along the same commercial line, focusing on California youth lifestyle. The early Beach Boys’ hits helped raise both the profile of the state of California and of surfing. The group also celebrated the Golden State’s obsession with hot-rod racing ("Shut Down," "409," "Little Deuce Coupe") and the pursuit of happiness by carefree teens in less complicated times ("Be True to Your School," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "I Get Around").
Their early hits made them major pop stars in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries, with sixteen hit singles in 1962-1965. After the British Invasion in 1964, some British groups, in particular The Beatles, eclipsed their success.
Apart from the Wilsons' father and the close vocal harmonies of Brian's favorite groups, early inspiration came from the driving rock-and-roll sound of Chuck Berry and Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Musically, their early songs are often based on those of others; for instance, "Surfer Girl" shares its rhythmic melody with "When You Wish Upon a Star", while "Surfin' USA" is a slight variation of Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen". However, Brian Wilson rapidly progressed as a composer, arranger and producer; the Pet Sounds album in particular is recognized for the quality and originality of its melodies, harmonies, and arrangements. In his autobiography, Brian states that the melody of "God Only Knows" was inspired by a John Sebastian record.
The stress of road travel, composing, producing and maintaining a high level of creativity was too much for Brian Wilson to bear. On December 23, 1964, while on a flight to Houston, Brian suffered from an anxiety attack and left the tour. Shortly afterward, he announced his withdrawal from touring to concentrate entirely on songwriting and record production. This wasn't the first time Brian had stopped touring. In 1963, when Al Jardine returned, Brian left the road; but when David Marks quit, Brian had to return in his place. For the rest of 1964 and into 1965, Glen Campbell served as Wilson's replacement in concert, until his own career success required him to leave the group. Bruce Johnston was asked to locate a replacement for Campbell; having failed to find one, Johnston himself subsequently became a full-time member of the band, first replacing Wilson on the road and later contributing his own talents in the studio beginning with the sessions for "California Girls."
Jan & Dean, close friends with the band and opening act for them in concert in 1963 and 1964, encouraged Brian to use session musicians in the studio. This, along with Brian's withdrawal from touring, permitted him to expand his role as a producer. Wilson also wrote "Surf City" for the Jan & Dean opening act. Their recording hit #1 on the U.S. charts in the summer of 1963, a development that pleased Brian but angered father/manager Murry, who felt his son had "given away" what should have been the Beach Boys' first chart-topper. A year later, the Beach Boys would notch their first #1 single with "I Get Around."
By 1964, traces of Brian Wilson's increasing studio productivity and ideas were noticeable: "Drive-In," an album track from All Summer Long features bars of silence between two verses while "Denny's Drums," the last track on Shut Down, Vol. II, is a two-minute drum solo. As Wilson's musical efforts became more ambitious, the group relied more on nimble session players, on tracks such as "I Get Around" and "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)." "Help Me, Rhonda" became the band's second #1 single in the spring of 1965.
1965 led to greater experimentation behind the soundboard with Wilson. The album Today! featured less focus on guitars, more emphasis on keyboards and percussion, as well as volume experiments and increased lyrical maturity. Side A of the album was devoted to sunnier pop tunes, with darker ballads on the reverse side. This pattern was also evident on some of the band's singles, with songs such as "Kiss Me, Baby" released on the B-side to "Help Me, Rhonda" and "Let Him Run Wild" on the B-side to "California Girls", each featuring Brian Wilson's lead vocals and foreshadowing the youthful angst that would later pervade Pet Sounds.
In November 1965 the group followed up their #3 summer smash "California Girls," with another top 20 single, "The Little Girl I Once Knew." It is considered to be the band's most experimental statements prior to Pet Sounds, using silence as a pre-chorus, clashing keyboards, moody brass, and vocal tics. Perhaps too extreme an arrangement to go much higher than its modest #20 peak, it was only the band's second single not to reach the top 10 since their 1962 breakthrough. In December they would score an unexpected #2 hit (#3 in the UK) with the single "Barbara Ann", which Capitol Records released as a single without input from any of the Beach Boys. It has become one of their most recognized hits over the years and was a cover of a 1961 song by The Regents.
It was during this time that the Beatles' Rubber Soul came out, and Brian Wilson was enthralled with it. Until then, each Beach Boys album (and most pop albums of the day) contained a few "filler tracks" like cover songs or even stitched-together comedy bits. Brian found Rubber Soul filled with all-original songs and, more importantly, all good ones, none of them filler. Inspired, he rushed to his wife and proclaimed, "Marilyn, I'm gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!"
Wilson's growing mastery of studio recording and his increasingly sophisticated songs and complex arrangements would reach a creative peak with the acclaimed LP Pet Sounds (1966). Pet Sounds is on many music lists as one of the greatest albums of all time, including those of TIME, Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Mojo, and The Times. According to Acclaimedmusic.net, Pet Sounds is the most acclaimed album of all time by music journalists. Among other accolades, Paul McCartney has named it one of his favorite albums of all time (with "God Only Knows" as his all-time favorite song). McCartney has frequently said that it was the inspiration behind the seminal Beatles' album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Echoing this sentiment, Beatles producer George Martin is quoted saying, "Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."
The album's meticulously layered harmonies and inventive instrumentation (performed by the cream of Los Angeles session musicians known among themselves as The Wrecking Crew) set a new standard for popular music. It remains one of the most evocative releases of the decade, with distinctive strains of lushness, melancholy, and nostalgia for youth. The tracks "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows", showcased Wilson's growing mastery as a composer, arranger, and producer. "Caroline, No," also taken from Pet Sounds, was issued as a Brian Wilson solo single, the only time Brian was credited as a solo artist during the early Capitol years. The album also included two sophisticated instrumental tracks, the quiet and wistful "Let's Go Away for Awhile" and the brittle brassy surf of the title track, "Pet Sounds". Despite the critical praise it received, the album was indifferently promoted by Capitol Records and failed to become the major hit Brian had hoped it would be (only reaching #10). Its failure to gain wider recognition hurt him deeply.
The following is a list of the studio albums released by the band.
Surfin' Safari (1962)
Surfin' USA (1963)
Surfer Girl (1963)
Little Deuce Coupe (1963)
Shut Down Volume 2 (1964)
All Summer Long (1964)
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album (1964)
Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) (1965)
Beach Boys' Party! (1965)
Pet Sounds (1966)
Smiley Smile (1967)
Wild Honey (1967)
Surf's Up (1971)
Carl and the Passions - "So Tough" (1972)
15 Big Ones (1976)
Love You (1977)
M.I.U. Album (1978)
L.A. (Light Album) (1979)
Keepin' the Summer Alive (1980)
The Beach Boys (1985)
Still Cruisin' (1989)
Summer in Paradise (1992)
Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 (1996)
Here are some more of my favorite Beach Boys songs.
Here is the groups official website