Why did we choose to hurt The Beach Boys?

By David Beard

What is it that we’re doing exactly?

How is it that we can contribute to a world cause, and in doing so, pit the surviving members of The Beach Boys against one another? The media just had a field day with The Beach Boys’ name, and the ones who really suffered were the members themselves.

Recently, Eduardo Goncalves (founder, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting), a Gosport, ENG, UK, resident, had already begun the petition to “ban trophy hunting.” Because of his cause, he follows trophy hunting events so he can protest, assumedly because he is truly invested in stopping the act of trophy hunting. So, in his pursuits, he learned that The Beach Boys (Mike Love and Bruce Johnston) were performing at The Safari Club International Convention [TSCIC] with the petition mistakenly addressed to Elliott Lott (who has not been BRI manager for a number of years).

Political feelings aside … I know, hard to do … you are either against hunting and killing animals or you’re not. If you’re a vegetarian/pescatarian like Mike Love, it’s fairly easy to understand his perspective. Now, the only hunter in The Beach Boys (to my knowledge) was Dennis Wilson, and I don’t think he was into trophy hunting. So, as far as The Beach Boys are concerned, this type of behavior is probably frowned upon because I’ve never seen any of the members associated with anything of that nature (except for performing in front of those that support it).

So, at some point, Mike was booked for a private gig to kick off the new tour in Reno to play TSCIC, and it turned out to be a trophy hunting event with Donald Trump Jr. (a known trophy hunter) as the keynote speaker. There is so much going on right now with the Senate and President Trump that it’s easy to see that we’re a country divided, and Goncalves cleverly used The Beach Boys’ name to gain traction, and it worked. In short order, the news of TSCIC event spread, and, because it was Mike (using The Beach Boys’ name) playing the event, it found its way to the Brian Wilson community message board.

A well-intentioned fan then forwarded the link, and it soon became national news with headlines stating that Brian was, “urging fans to boycott the band,” and Brian “disavows Beach Boys show at hunting event with Trump Jr.,” etc. Then, on Monday, Feb. 3, Brian’s Twitter feed had this post: “This organization supports trophy hunting, which both Al (Jardine) and I are emphatically opposed to. There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition.” [Note: Brian’s Tweet included the link to a change.org petition titled: “Tell the Beach Boys to Say No to Trophy Hunting,” but the title has been since updated to “Say No to Trophy Hunting,” and is addressed to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, not Elliott Lott or The Beach Boys.]

In response, Mike offered this statement: “We look forward to a night of great music in Reno and, as always, support freedom of thought and expression as a fundamental tenet of our rights as Americans.”

The story continued to gain a lot of traction, even showing up on primetime news cycles.

The fact was Mike and Bruce were already locked into performing due to a contractual agreement, along with Charlie Daniels. The well-intending fans continued, and, though it was great that Brian signed the petition to protest trophy hunting, things, unfortunately, went down the rabbit hole. Soon, the masses were signing the petition and joining the charge, and lines were crossed. As opposed to signing the petition because they were against trophy hunting, which they may or may not have been, it became an aggressively-toned Mike Love thrash-driven petition signing. Why?

Shouldn’t we have just signed the petition with the understanding that Mike had a contractual obligation that supersedes his personal beliefs, and take it upon ourselves to spread the word to raise awareness?

Suddenly, and expectedly, the story became “Brian Wilson against Mike Love.” Then, more articles about Brian against Mike … and folks, the petition is not a Brian Wilson against Mike Love issue. If it was, the name of the petition would not have changed.

As for Mike, this is what he did: he performed at a private event in front of an audience that he doesn’t personally know while possessing diametrically opposed points of view on life than those in attendance. Think about that for a good minute. For every show, Mike performs in front of an audience that has differing opinions than his. What does each of the audiences and Mike have in common with one another? The music. If you’ve ever attended any concert whatsoever, then you were surrounded by people with differing points of view and belief systems. We’re diversified, but the music always brings us together. At least, it should. I can’t think of a single interview by any member of The Beach Boys at any stage in their career where the idea was to record music of division.

So, I’m going to ask the question again. What is it that we’re doing?

Why did we allow this to happen? Do you think Brian feels better having been in a position where he was quoted as using a word like ‘disavow’ focused on his cousin? That’s an important question. You have to understand there are a lot of Wilson and Love family members that have to endure this type of media coverage, so, the idea that the band members are the only ones affected is hardly the case. We owe all the family members of all the member’s families a sincere apology.

Then there are the issues people have with the current president.

Does Mike Love like Donald Trump, or Donald Trump, Jr.? He must. We’ve seen Mike and Donald together, on many occasions, so they are on a first-name basis, but The Beach Boys and Republican presidents have been linked since Ronald and Nancy Reagan and the nation embraced them in 1983. However, the idea that Mike needed an entire nation to dump on him for performing music at a gig was detrimental to all involved. Not to mention, incredibly insensitive.

The comments I was reading by Brian supporters toward Mike supporters and vise-versa provided a window into what’s wrong with the world we live in. It is as though people were sitting around waiting to dump on Mike, as well as one another. I want to say that Mike’s supporters were cool through it all, but they weren’t … I read a lot of really nasty stuff hurled in Brian’s direction. So, from both sides, I witnessed deplorable behavior behind the guise of a “trophy hunting petition.”

I am a Beach Boys supporter: that’s the petition fans need to sign.

So, what’s the story here? Beyond the reality that there are people that enjoy trophy hunting, the worst part of all of this is that fans did not seem to mind that Brian, Mike, and The Beach Boys’ name were the casualties. And for what, to have Mike feel worse about playing the gig? I’m sure the measure of that tactic reached its zenith, but what about the deepening wound that was just reopened among the members of the group? What about that?

If you know Brian the way I do, he is about love … and his natural ability to use his expression of love in his music. In this case, it was about love for life.

I believe it was right to bring attention to the petition, but the way the fans and the media made Mike a scapegoat was wrong. The event is in the rear-view mirror. We all need to take a step back and understand the greater issue here.

The fact the same petition continues to accrue signatures and is being addressed to Boris Johnson concerning UK law is another indicator that this petition – as far as Goncalves is concerned – is to stop trophy hunting and has nothing to do with The Beach Boys or its members.

The Beach Boys are – after all – “America’s Band,” and America is currently struggling with its (political) identity; it’s only natural that this type of thing would have a ripple effect. But, trophy hunting has been going on for years, and at the very least, we can surmise Goncalves wants to find a way to stop this “sport,” so he used The Beach Boys’ and Brian’s name to promote his cause.

So, if you see Mike, ask him about his stance on different hot topics, and then apologize to him. If you see Brian or Al Jardine, apologize to them, too, for putting them in such an uncomfortable position with the media. Most importantly, thank each of them for all they’ve done for us through their gift of music.

Folks, we owe Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David Marks – along with the late Dennis and Carl Wilson – a debt of thanks and a big apology. I love The Beach Boys. Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David are important and exceptional human beings. Each of them. I am really not sure how anyone would miss that fact. They are the world’s greatest American band!

I’d like to see Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David come together to raise awareness for a collective cause because it would be at that moment where they could truly see how appreciated they are, and how great it is when they a collective voice; the Surfrider’s Foundation would be a great place to start.

©2020 David M. Beard/All Rights Reserved

esqdave101

Leave a comment



Robin Levine

2 weeks ago

I never read any personal attacks directed at Brian. They were all directed towards Mike. Brian is not capable of hate. But Al was a willing participant to share and dump on Mike. … I posted in defense of Mike and received my own hateful posts. The willing ignorance of the “fans” is staggering.
Thanks for posting.

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Robin,
Thanks for the comment. As stated in the article, fans were attacking one another and the different members. I will tell you what I tell everyone, because it works for me, put on your favorite album by The Beach Boys, and just listen.

In music,
David

Jeremy Foss

1 week ago

We didn’t “choose to hurt the Beach Boys.” I would rather we didn’t, but some actions cannot be undone.

I am a huge fan of the band since the mid-60s. Yes, I am a devotee of Brian and his music but one thing I have admired about Mike is his business savvy, and his comprehension of the entertainment industry. So I can’t believe that he went into this event contract without realizing the support he was giving to the game-hunting industry. If you say he was contractually obliged, then he should never have entered that contract.

Some issues on this planet are bigger than analyzing the opposing factions of a rock band. Mike certainly took the opportunity to front the band’s songs about conservation and, environment when it suited him. He must realize that the hunting issue is one of which an increasing number of people are aware, and find a hideous pastime for those who have no conscience about the plant.

Mike has enjoyed the platforms and stages of the world for decades to promote and amplify his opinions. Unfortunately in the modern networked world, social media gives us all the belief that we have a similar platform and that we are all correct, including me. So a backlash was inevitable.

Mike has consciously dragged the band’s name into this quagmire. He isn’t the scapegoat; he caused this distasteful predicament. There is no simple resolution. We can’t just “put it behind us.”

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Jeremy,
Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure I understand your opening sentence because it seems to contradict itself. Yes, our actions were hurtful. Nasty things said about Mike, and Brian being shoved into taking a political stance, which was unfair to Brian as well as Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston.

Mike and Brian were pawns in the petition, as were all the well-intentioned fans that signed the petition (like me). Supporters that signed the petition to ban trophy hunting should be pleased because the petition is continuing to grow with its accrued signatures, but (as mentioned in the article) has had its name changed and is being directed to the attention of the UK Prime Minister. And yes, our signatures are on that petition.

In music,
David

Mike Grant

1 week ago

Very well said David.

esqdave101

1 week ago

Thanks Mike

Thomas Rypka

1 week ago

I absolutely agree with this! We all have – and do – love ALL the Beach Boys for what they have accomplished for nearly 60 years!!! And love them for who they are….AMERICA’S Band! Lets try as suggested here to act, talk and behave in such a manner! That is the RIGHT thing to do (regardless of our opinion on trophy hunting)! That is the least we can do to show them our appreciation for their musical genius and talent!!!

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Thomas,
Thanks for taking the time to read the article, and leave a comment. I was just thinking about how much I enjoy doing the ESQ giveaways because I really enjoy giving the gift of music.

In music,
David

Stephen Davies

1 week ago

Could not agree more. I have been a fan of the band since I first heard them on the radio here in the UK around the mid sixties. I hate the Brian vs Mike thing. I love the music and all the band in their different guises. They are all talented and we should be grateful they are still here and performing

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Stephen,
Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I could not agree with you more! Brian’s band and Mike’s band have amazingly talented singers and musicians, and they’re all super cool.

In music,
David

Phil Miglioratti

1 week ago

Thank you David… An important reminder for every Beach Boys fan.
In my humble opinion, most of those who have taken sides are not doing it on the basis of whether they agree or disagree with trophy hunting – I think people are jumping on their “I love Brian” or their “I hate Mike bandwagon.
Frankly, sadly, they are not true Beach Boy fans. They are fans of their opinion and their preferences.
Keep on with your good work of chronicling the life and music all The Beach Boys.

Phil Miglioratti

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Phil,
Always good to hear from you, and I appreciate your point of view.

I do, however, disagree with the idea that they aren’t true fans. Each of us has a connection, and though there are those that attack Mike, I can only assume they like The Beach Boys’ music. It does surprise me that The Beach Boys music doesn’t bring more fans together than apart.

In music,
David

Brian Barry

1 week ago

“Mike and Bruce were already locked into performing due to a contractual agreement.” The Beach Boys do an amazing amount of gigs every year. Taking a hit on this one with a “We didn’t realize what this gig was for” would have been far less damaging to all concerned.

This debacle ISN’T “in the rear-view mirror,” it will rumble on.

Any concert audience will be diversified in their opinions. That is no excuse to exercise a “We’ll play any gig. It’s all about the music” point of view. Should a band like the Beach Boys play to a Whites Only audience because “We… as always, support freedom of thought and expression as a fundamental tenet of our rights as Americans?”

Taking the hit would have been a far better option for everyone, don’t you think?

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Brian,
Thank for taking the time to read the article, and leave your thoughts. Your point is well-taken, but it is the fanbase that focused on trying to take Mike down as opposed to spreading the word on banning trophy hunting, which was the whole point.

And you’re right, trophy hunting is still going on, so it is not in the rear-view mirror, but if you still have a bone to pick with Mike I’ll go so far as to suggest you’re losing your musical compass, and are focused on the wrong things.

Mike and Brian both took a hit.

In music,
David

Vambeefco Horzey

1 week ago

This is a considered article, but the fact remains Mike Love has spent decades putting money and nostalgia before the band’s integrity and this latest act is simply another example of his hypocrisy. I know from speaking to many fans that yes, while they’ve signed the petition because they’ve long disliked the man, they also have an issue with trophy hunting itself. And let’s be honest here – Love is not going to feel “bad” about proceeding with the gig, he’s going to be angry that people have taken a stance against him because he has absolutely no self-awareness or insight into his own mercurial, contradictory soul.

Vambeefco

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Vambeefco,
Thanks for taking the time to read the article and express your thoughts.

The Beach Boys became a traveling greatest-hits show around 1975, when, after having poor ticket sales voted to approach the band Chicago’s then manager, Jim Guercio, to see if he had any suggestions. It was Dennis Wilson that went to see Jim in 1974. Guercio agreed to help but asked to attend a few shows to gain perspective. The first thing Guercio told the group (who were only performing medleys of their surf and car songs) was, “You have to change what you’re doing.”

In 1974 The Beach Boys released Endless Summer, and by 1975 were opening for Chicago to sold-out concerts! So, it was the entire band that voted for a change, and to get in touch with Jim Guercio, and, it was Dennis that led the charge.

Regarding Mike’s awareness. He knows all too well that fans want to hold him accountable for every bad event in the band’s storied career, but it isn’t that way at all.

In music,
David

Charlie Walsh

1 week ago

Most well said. As a lifelong follower and top fan of The Beach Boys, it hurts to see this divide. I have had the honor in my life of seeing America’s Band, our Beach Boys, close to 100 times. The impact they have collectively had on my life more than justifies the feelings I have for this horrible situation. Brian as well as Mike and all the others have surely suffered many tribulations so why should they have to be pawns in an ignorant political tug of war? As an avid fan of the and their music, I thank you for this post and encourage all Beach Boy fans to unite behind this message.

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for your comment, and for being a subscriber to ESQ.

It did my heart good to read your comment. Yes, Mike and Brian were used as pawns.

In music,
David

Ken Worthing

1 week ago

How incredibly disheartening to read this. If only Mike had said (something like), “ .. we are 100% opposed to trophy hunting, however, we are obligated to play.” That’s far more truthful. I applaud Brian for saying that he did oppose trophy hunting. Sometimes, you have to put your principles before both the music .. and .. of course .. the money. I’m not a ‘Mike Hater,’ but he sure isn’t Brian Wilson. By the way … “Eduardo Goncalves (founder, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting), a Gosport, ENG, UK,” doesn’t sound like a typical Gosport, England, U.K. resident. Here’s hoping Mike’s band reads a little more deeply into future concerts.

esqdave101

1 week ago

Hi Ken,
Thanks for taking the time to write. I’m still not sure if people that signed the original Beach Boys-related petition realize that same petition has now been renamed and redirected at the UK Prime Minister. So, really, if everyone is 100% behind banning trophy hunting, they need to follow Eduardo’s activities and continue to spread the word. That makes sense.

Also, the thing about Mike being Mike, and Brian being Brian, etc., no one should ever make the mistake of comparing anyone else to Brian; he – as Terry Melcher was quoted as saying – changed the music industry. For that matter, no one should compare anyone to anyone. A few years ago I was sitting with David Marks and we were discussing The Beatles, specifically John Lennon and Paul McCartney. David asked me if John or Paul was a better songwriter. I told David, “Comparing the two is a mistake. John was great when he worked with Paul and vise-versa, and John went on to record beautiful and meaningful music long after The Beatles broke up, and Paul … he is a music machine.” David paused, and said, “You’re right.”

The point is, when we compare, we remove the expression of the individual. In the cases of John and Paul, or Brian and Mike, we can see for ourselves that it was case of the individual expression finding a doorway into the collaborative process.

In music,
David

Dr. Mick DeLeon

1 week ago

Of course David is a BB authority, so his opinion carries appropriate weight. I am not a Mike-basher, yet — as I stated on my comments to the petition I signed — I believe it’s important for artists to be aware of what their management is signing them up for, and to cancel gigs that are inconsistent with their beliefs and image. As a kid I thought it was disingenuous for The Who to tour in the US, in the early 80s, under a beer company banner, given the recent alcohol-related demise of their drummer.

The BBs in the late 60s and early 70s would never have played a pro-Vietnam rally/event. That’s integrity. I am very hopeful that Mike/Bruce and Brian/Al/Blondie, as well as Dave solo, instruct their management and promoters clearly about their ethics. The US and UK are in very divisive times, ’tis true, so although it IS about the music, playing certain gigs implies endorsement.

esqdave101

1 week ago

Mick,
Thank you for your thoughtful response.

In music,
David

Jim Reilly

1 week ago

Nicely explained good intentions gone awry

Joseph Zagone

1 week ago

If only it were just about the music. The Beach Boys will always be America’s Band … my favorite band nearly all my life and I am 63 years old. If it were all about the music, The Beach Boys as Mike Love calls his band would have avoided any cause that did not match the views of that band and him. If it becomes about the money and making it while you still can, then you put your views aside and play for whoever will pay to hear it. My biggest wish is to know why the 50th Anniversary lineup was set aside. Mike may own the license for the “name” The Beach Boys, but he is no more The Beach Boys (even with Bruce Johnston) than I am. I have long thought that his tour should be called “The Mike Love Beach Boys Review” because that is what it is. As long as any of them are still alive, the Beach Boys are “the group” of men that made up the band. Problem is – like this animal rights issue – we don’t know and probably will never know the whole truth as to why the Beach Boys can’t tour together. I’m not sure there were ever simpler days for the Beach Boys when things just flowed for the love of the music and the joy that fans got from it. In old age, we have been left with just enough to hang on to, to remind us why we have loved the Beach Boys all these years. When I see Al Jardine in Chicago next month……I will thank him for the music.

esqdave101

6 days ago

A subscriber to the magazine wrote: “The great critical reassessment of The Beach Boys, culminating with the elevation of Pet Sounds to iconic status, occurred sometime after the band (Brian included, but minus Carl) played Sun City and symbolically appeared to be supporting apartheid in South Africa (although they didn’t actually. They just played the gig).”

Blaine Campbell

7 days ago

I do think that none of the surviving Beach Boys should have done this show. Trophy hunting is wrong! But they’re also family, friends, and bandmates for almost 60 years now. That’s a special relationship they have with each other and no one should try to come between them by pitting them against each other. Let’s keep our focus on the music. Great article!

esqdave101

7 days ago

Hi Blaine,
I too wish that Mike had gotten out of this gig … not because it had the ramifications that it did, but because I know that it factors against Mike’s belief system. I would really like to see the fans work on a way to ensure all the members that they matter.

In music,
David

PS I love your new album.

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