By David Beard


Standard hardcover edition
Genesis Publications


The Beach Boys by The Beach Boys is the long overdue hardcover book that beautifully encapsulates the group’s amazing multi-decade career. Covering their earliest days of California family life, this book begins with insight from Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Bruce Johnston spinning memories drawn from their innocent youth. Their respective neighborhoods, musical environments, and experiences forge a book that states without hesitation that The Beach Boys are Brian, Mike, Al, Dennis, Carl, and Bruce. This consistency is what makes this book special from cover to cover.


The cover of the book – whether it’s Artluxe, Deluxe, or standard hardcover – features six members of the group: Brian, Mike, Al, Dennis, Carl, and Bruce. [Note: the cover images are aligned differently on the Artluxe and Deluxe set as a single offset row in the sequence listed above, while the standard version has them in two rows in a different configuration.] In the years covered in this book (the 1950s to 1980), the group’s biggest-selling single was “Good Vibrations,” and the images on the cover are stills from the filmed footage during the recording of that song. So, anyone who knows the band’s history would immediately recognize this and would also know David Marks, Blondie Chaplin, and Ricky Fataar were not in the group in 1966. So, the question is: should David, Blondie, and Ricky be on the cover? Let’s have a discussion.

At no point in this 400-plus page book is anyone or anything ‘glossed over,’ which is probably why they had to stop at 1980. Everyone is given their due. There are roughly 50 pages that span David Marks’ time in the group. Throughout the coverage, there are rare photographs of David combined with quotes from the aforementioned members, including Bruce and his insightful ‘outside the group’ perspective. David is given the opportunity to contribute and does. It isn’t as much as I’d liked to have seen, but every member (including Bruce) sings David’s praises and gives absolute credit to his invaluable contribution in crafting and creating The Beach Boys’ sound. Ultimately, I came away with a great feeling regarding his time in the band and believe his story is well represented.

Blondie and Ricky, who made their own lasting impression on the group with their performance styles, and musical contributions recorded by the group during their tenure are recognized over a twenty-five-page spread. Like David, their contribution is recognized with warmth and appreciation. All in all, this book honors David, Blondie, and Ricky with duly noted respect, and as you might guess, Glen Campbell is included.


The fifteen-chapter book encapsulates the early years through to the July 4, 1980, concert in Washington, D.C. Before the book arrived, I wondered why they would stop in 1980 when their career as a group went up to 2012. This book represents The Beach Boys as they were while Dennis Wilson was in the band. I imagine Mike would have preferred the book go to 1988 and cover the release of “Kokomo,” but the content here focuses on telling the story of the six Beach Boys who are and were the longest-tenured members.

Dennis and Carl are woven throughout the storyline as living presences, marrying their words with the other members. This includes introductory and closing statements by both. I’ve been interviewing The Beach Boys and those associated with them for over thirty years, so I set the bar high when it comes to weaving a precise and coherent story combining copy and photos. This book is very cool and although I’ve been interested in new Beach Boys products over the years, I haven’t felt this engaged in one – musical or otherwise – since Carl passed away.

This curated path of the group’s history is woven through the culture of the time and perfectly marries it with the needed connective tissue that embodies the California aesthetic and its effect on the group. In turn, it illustrates how they created a sound that changed history and the way we listen to music. That said, it’s the little things that I discovered in this book that made the biggest and most lasting impressions.

Carl referred to their early music as ‘hippy music’; rare hand-written images of Brian’s initial proposed lineup for the Surfer Girl album, constant reminders of the insane pace at which they were churning out albums – three weeks between Surfer Girl and Little Deuce Coupe – and a continuous steady reminder of all the great songs they successfully recorded. When it comes to often discussed songs like “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” and others, Mike might cite familiar stories of how he came to write lyrics, but having his recollections succinctly pieced together with the other members creates a full, fresh, and vivid view of even the most well-known accounts from the past, which breathes new life into everything. And to this book’s credit, Brian’s voice is as present as the other members. This is as much his story as it is the group’s. Poignantly, when the book gets to 1977, Brian discusses the Adult Child music and album, and proper love and respect is given to Dennis’s solo outing Pacific Ocean Blue. This is a book where all the members share the stage.

If Sunflower is the group’s best album, then this is the best book about the group. There has never been a book done this well that gathers The Beach Boys together. And, because Carl and Dennis are presented with a voice they feel very much alive. This book brought me back to my earliest discoveries of the band, and the feeling that every member is alive and well. That’s quite an accomplishment. This book is a must-have for any fans of The Beach Boys! As for the team that put this book together? BRAVO!

This is a book that no Beach Boys fan should be without.


©2024 David M. Beard/All Rights Reserved


Leave a comment

Terry Newsome

1 month ago

Are autographed copies available? Are the other versions available?

Gerald Edgar

1 month ago

Perhaps Sunflower from a music critic’s view was the BB’s best but I’ll take any of the early ones up thru Good Vibrations. Whether you’re playing an old cassette in your “01 Sebring convertible, a CD in a newer car or even old/new vinyl singles & albums BUT especially what’s constantly playing on the radio, songs from Sunflower are NOT in the mix (pun intended). I have heard them live a half dozen times in the past 40 yrs, Chicago-area in 1989, State Fairs, the legendary “Surf” ballroom and it’s always those 1st albums everyone wants. You can’t beat perfection!

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