This is an Endless Summer Quarterly magazine exclusive online excerpt taken from our interview with Lenny Waronker. The remainder of Lenny’s interview pertaining to 1988’s Brian Wilson (self-titled solo album) appears exclusively in Issue #124 of ESQ.
David Beard: At what age did you discover The Beach Boys?
Lenny Waronker: Nineteen or 20. It was when “Ten Little Indians” was released (Nov. 26, 1962). For me, the moment came when “Surfer Girl” was released (July 12, 1963). That was the moment. I was living in New York at the time, and my father owned a record company, so I figured I should probably learn a little bit about promotion. I was living in this little apartment. I remember coming home and having the radio on and hearing “Surfer Girl” … You could tell by the harmonies – and how Brian voiced them – that he was into the Four Freshmen. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. When I heard that song I remember thinking, “Somebody in this band knows what they’re doing.” I was right.
David: What followed “Surfer Girl” where you realized Brian and The Beach Boys were changing music?
Lenny: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is one of my all-time favorite songs. It’s an amazing record. The bridge is as good as any bridge ever written. If it is a bridge … If that’s what you’d call it.
Lenny: Yeah! Yeah … Just Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!! At that point everyone realized … I listened to “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls,” etc., not just as songs, but as a record. There were things going on that were really … There was really terrific production going on, and you knew it was Brian. He ended up becoming one of the greatest producers of all time. I had heard stories about how he didn’t like the mixing process. When he worked with Chuck Britz I had heard that Brian would be outside the studio listening through the door and then would come in and make comments. Brian always knew when he had something. He was fearless … absolutely fearless.
*To read Lenny Waronker’s full account of working with Brian Wilson on his 1988 solo album, be sure to subscribe to Endless Summer Quarterly magazine today. Individual issues will be available January 2019. Subscribe here.
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