Tom Lohr is a fan of surf music. He has seen the Beach Boys 12 times in concert. He has also caught three Jan and Dean concerts.
Sun, Surf, and Scandals
The Beach Boys often bring visions of the boys next door. Some surfers who made it big by singing about wholesome good times in southern California. They seemed like family. In fact, they were a family. Wilson boys Brian, Dennis, and Carl (along with their cousin, Mike Love, and Brian's school chum) formed the group. What could be more innocent than that?
Despite their squeaky clean image, there were some strange issues that plagued the group. Plus, every family has some weirdness. The Beach Boys were no exception. While some of their issues are or were made public, several were swept under the rug and not spoken about in public. Some scandalous, some unpatriotic, some risqué. So grab your Pet Sounds album, cue it up, and take a gander at the ten things you never would have thought the Beach Boys would do.
1. Hit the Road Jack
Life is sweet when you are a teenager. And it was sweet for Mike Love as well; until he got his girlfriend pregnant. The result was his mom being so pissed that she tossed most of his stuff into the yard and kicked him out of the house. In his defense, Mike manned up and married the mother of his child. Backseat romances have consequences.
2. Brian Was a Cradle Robber
It's not that odd for a man to marry a woman six years his junior. Except when he is 22, making his bride all of 16. I mean she just turned 16. Somehow, Brian got Marilyn Rovell's parents to agree and soon Brian and his child bride were a happy couple.
3. Keeping It All in the Family
Brian's wife Marilyn had a sister, Diane. The two of them and their cousin Ginger formed an all girl surf band called The Honeys. Brian did most of the musical heavy work for the group. I mean he would do anything for the love of his life right? Apparently he had trouble deciding which Rovell sister he wanted. Only one way to find out. He slept with both of them (not at the same time).
4. Clap for Dennis
Wild child drummer Dennis Wilson had a thing for the ladies. One day he picks up two cuties hitchhiking. He beds both of them and then meets the leader of their groovy group. Sounds cool, except their leader was none other than Charles Manson. Manson exploited Dennis and moved his cadre into Dennis' house. The only way he could get rid of them was letting his rental lease expire and moving. Sometime in between, all of the free love ended up giving everyone venereal disease. Dennis ended up paying for the entire group to be treated.
5. Love the Love
Dennis' thing for the ladies lead him down a twisted road more than once. His cousin, Mike Love, was married to Suzanne Belcher from 1965 to 1968. During Mike and Suzanne's divorce proceedings, Mike disclosed that Dennis had bedded his wife, thus the divorce.
6. Really Keeping It All in the Family
During the early days of their stardom, the Beach Boys had screaming girls at their beck and call. It was during one of these liaisons that Mike Love impregnated a woman who gave birth to a girl she named Shawn. Mike vehemently denies that the child was his, but take a look at their pictures side by side. It is commonly accepted, and pretty obvious, the Shawn was indeed Mike Love's child.
Fast forward a decade and then some and Shawn has become part of the southern California night life. It was during a party she met Dennis Wilson. So what did Dennis do? He slept with her of course. Eventually he married her and they had a son together. While their relationship was troublesome, they were still legally married at the time of Dennis' death.
7. Carl Was a Draft Dodger
In the 1960s, being drafted into the military was something every man faced. Carl eventually got the call and was supposed to show up in January 1967 to begin the process after being drafted. He didn't show up. A few days later he filed for conscientious objector status. Carl was a rock star, he could get out of military service couldn't he? Ends up Uncle Sam was not pleased and Carl was arrested for draft evasion a few weeks later. He was eventually offered to perform community service instead. Rather than thanking his lucky stars that he would never have step foot in Vietnam, he refused the offer. After years of legal haggling, he was allowed to perform musical performances as his community service.
8. Draft Dodging in Drag
During the mid '60s, while on tour, Brian Wilson suffered a mental breakdown. He left the tour and Glen Campbell was called to fill in and complete the tour. After the tour, Brian announced he would not being going back on the road again and would stay behind and work on new material for the group. As a permanent replacement, Bruce Johnston, who had involvement in some music in the same genre of the Beach Boys, was selected. Bruce was eligible for the draft. Just prior to his draft board meeting, he borrowed some makeup from a female friend and lightly applied it. He looked quite feminine. During the 1960s, homosexuality was strictly forbidden in the military and could earn you a bad conduct discharge. No worries for Bruce, after he showed up in pseudo-drag, he never heard from the draft board again.
9. Going Ape
The cover of the Pet Sounds album features the Beach Boys feeding some animals at a petting zoo. The photo session was conducted at the children's petting zoo inside of the famous San Diego Zoo. Seem easy enough, pose with some goats, get some shots and get the heck out. Unfortunately, some of the group misbehaved. One of them bounced a carrot off of a tiger's head, tried to stick a baby antelope's head through some bars, and were careless in their handling of puppies and chicks. The group got their photos, but they also got banned from the San Diego Zoo for life.
10. Daddy Dearest
It is no secret that the Beach Boys' father, who was also their manager for several years, was a real gem. He was manipulative, dishonest and a bully. But it seems he was also a bit of a gruesome dad. Murry Wilson was injured in an industrial accident while his kids were still young. The accident cost him an eye. When we was upset with one or all of his boys, he used to remove his glass eye and make them stare into the empty socket. And you wonder why Brian had mental issues?
America's Band...Warts and All
Sorry if these tidbits of Beach Boy history and trivia busted your idolization bubble. The group was nothing short of pioneering giants in the history of rock and roll. Rock stars have never had a reputation for being model citizens, but the Beach Boys seemed the exception. Perhaps they were, most of what they did can be viewed as mild in comparison to other rockers' shenanigans. But I always thought the band was as wholesome as mom and apple pie. It ends up, they are/were human and had faults and demons like the rest of us.