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Friday, June 8, 2012

Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Seems Like Surf's Up Forever

In the flavor-of-the-month world of pop culture golden anniversaries are extremely rare but The Beach Boys are celebrating that milestone right now that has stretched from 1962 to 2012. Actually, pop longevity at this level is unheard of so I welcome you to come up with another one. This year California's iconic band of brothers, cousin and friends are marking the moment with a world tour and album of brand new songs. Even the addition of "50" below their classic logo to celebrate these times feels like a natural fit.

As soon as the concert dates were first announced there was never a doubt that I'd be there for this historic concert at the legendary Greek Theater on the U.C. Berkeley campus.  What makes this anniversary even more important is the reuniting of all the original surviving members of the band. Like most performing groups they have had some rotation of personnel over the years and lost two original members, brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson, who have passed away. The reunion of four founding members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and David Marks on stage with Bruce Johnston is really a dream come true for any fan of the band.

Long time Beach Boys followers from left to right: Peter Fields, me, Les Chan and Stu Ganz
While Hawaiian print shirts were seen everywhere I opted to honor the occasion with my classic striped shirt which became a signature look for the band in the mid-sixties. However, the true back story on how these shirts came about will surprise many fans. They were actually inspired by the legendary folk group, The Kingston Trio. Beach Boy, Alan Jardine, was a big folk music lover and he encouraged the rest of the band to take on this matching striped shirt look too. At the show I was constantly approached by so many people who said my shirt was the perfect one for the evening.  One lady even came up to me and said I looked like a popcorn box! :-)

At the end of the day it is still all about the music and we were not disappointed. There was no opening act and the fourteen performers on stage filled the classic amphitheater with 2.5 solid hours of harmony drenched heaven. From the appropriate opening number, "Do It Again" to their standard closing encore of "Fun Fun Fun" they delivered big time for both the casual and ardent fans. Great photos, video clips and a tribute to Carl and Dennis Wilson on the huge screen behind them made this anniversary concert the real deal.

The highlight of the night for me was when the five Beach Boys huddled around Brian's piano and launched into "Add Some Music To Your Day" to open up the second set. They all took turns on the lead vocal making for one very appropriate anthem to this past fifty years of musical heritage.


In the end they played 46 songs nearly one for each of their years together. For a complete set list click here. When the entire group of 14 performers lined up at the end to take a bow they nearly stretched across the giant stage. The sold out crowd of 8500 fans showered them with appreciation.

My parting shot is of a souvenir I got during a quick stop at the merch booth. The bright yellow color instantly reminded me of summer and the sunny soundtrack The Beach Boys have created for five decades. Some people think all of these songs are about surfing, cars and girls but really they are metaphors about the joys of youth and youthfulness at any age. Their newest song is called "That's Why God Made The Radio" which I find to be a bit ironic. Every time I hear these harmonies jump out of a speaker I think that's also why God made The Beach Boys.


  1. The best show I have ever seen them perform and I have seen over 50 shows. Ed

  2. Ed, I haven't seen 50 shows but I have been listening very carefully for 50 years and this performance was completely off the charts.