THE BEACH BOYS: 20 Golden Greats

First Published: 15th August 2018

This is the first in an occasional series of blogs about my all-time favourite band, The Beach Boys. With a career spanning fifty-seven years, there’s clearly a lot of potential material out there to focus on. A library’s worth of books have been published with varying degrees of accuracy; some meeting fan’s satisfaction, others not. The band’s combined record sales (in excess of 100 million) are enough to make even the most seasoned of record executives salivate. 

Some of what’s been written is true – some, slightly less so. But what do I have to offer that’s not been said before? Well, it’s certainly not my intention to simply regurgitate, in mindless chronological form, their history. Rather, I want these offerings to be my own interpretations of their long-established story; to share with you some of my own experiences during a lifetime’s loyal support.

Another reason I’ve decided to dip my literary toe into the tempered, often-troubled waters of this legendary group is to address some of the ludicrous, childish and imbecilic accusations and stories aimed at various band members by those who purport themselves to be fans, but who, in reality, troll the internet like the human detritus they are.

But enough about them. I’ll aim my literary sights on them in due course. This is a special day…

Today, as my brother celebrates his fifty-first birthday, I too have a little anniversary of my own to commemorate. Forty-one years ago, on the 15th August 1977, I first heard the music that, with no sense of hyperbole or time-worn cliché, would become the soundtrack to my life.

From infancy, my brother and I were both brought up on the music my dad loved…the tracks of his childhood and youth…the 50s and, to a lesser extent, that of the 60s. Elvis was the unquestioned king in our home and by the age of seven years and fifty weeks, I had amassed a pretty respectable record collection. But that fateful day in August changed everything for me. Of course, the following day would change everything for everybody…forever.

Call it good fortune, but for some inexplicable reason, all my childhood memories remain as clear as when they first occurred. And on that particular sunny mid-August afternoon, I can readily recall the palpable sense of urgency and excitement as I dashed into my brother’s bedroom who, surrounded by a raft of birthday presents (mostly new albums), was listening to something utterly amazing.

Private Collection – Photo Credit: Mark Blasdale

The album in question was 20 Golden Greats by a hither-to unknown band called The Beach Boys. I caught at the name immediately. It just sounded so cool. Surfin’ USA was blasting out of the speakers and I was instantly hooked. By the time the second track (Fun, Fun, Fun) had ended, I was all but ready to form a new religion in their honour. Track three…when Mike Love opened up with “Round, round, get-around…” the white flag was raised, I gleefully surrendered and rushed off to my bedroom, soon returning with pretty much everything I owned…toys, records, the lot! Well, almost. 

Of course, I couldn’t part with Panda, my black and white bear since a baby; he was my childhood partner-in-crime and was (and remains) essential to my modest plans for world domination. But everything else was laid out before my brother as spoils of war. All I wanted was that album. He’s always been a good egg, and after only a few hours begging and crying, he relented. The much-coveted record was all mine!

The intervening two weeks between my brother’s birthday and mine (my 8th), saw me reverentially playing the disc, and copying out the lyrics to all twenty songs as best as I could determine them. My versions weren’t exactly identical…and whether adopting the lyrical variations I penned would have given the band several million extra record sales, we’ll never know. But, as I look back across the tapestry of time and see my eight-year-old self, scribbling away, I’d like to think so…