He is one of popular music's most deeply revered figures, the main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to call Brian Wilson one of the most influential composers of the last century. Wilson’s remarkable journey began in a modest Hawthorne, California home that was filled with music. His mom and dad both played piano, and as a young “boy soprano,” Brian’s vocal gift was immediately evident. He had also started singing harmonies…literally “in their room”…with his two younger brothers (Dennis and Carl). As a teen in the 1950s, he became obsessed with the harmonic blend of groups like the Four Freshmen, and then, in the early 1960s, inspired to combine multi-part vocal harmony with the rock rhythms of Chuck Berry, Brian found his place in the musical sun. He was barely out of his teens when he began to create some of the most beloved records ever... nine consecutive “gold” albums that featured such classics as "Surfer Girl," “In My Room,” “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” "Fun, Fun, Fun," “Help Me Rhonda” and "California Girls"...just to name a handful of the more than two dozen Top 40 hits Brian co-wrote, arranged, produced and performed on with his family band, the Beach Boys.
The first was Pet Sounds; the emotional autobiography of its 23-year old “auteur,” it is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums ever made. In the process of bringing it to life, its composer, arranger and producer (that is, Mr. Wilson) rewrote all the rules of what a record could be; as one observer noted, its release was “Independence Day” for rock ‘n’ roll. Primarily working with a new collaborator (lyricist and songwriter Tony Asher), the album featured a dozen originals (including two astounding instrumentals); Pet Sounds was a musical canvas as boundless as Brian’s heart. (Ironically, when you hear the lost innocence in the wail of “Caroline No,” you realize that Pet Sounds not only heals our broken heart but Brian’s too.)
On the charts in America, the album reached #10 and featured four hit singles (including two Top 10 hits, a reworking of the folk standard “Sloop John B” [#3] and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” [#8] as well as two others that cracked the Top 40---“God Only Knows” and “Caroline No”). The former is considered by many, including Sir Paul McCartney, to be one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded; the latter was released as a solo single under the name “Brian Wilson”. (NOTE: It would be twenty years before there would be another Brian Wilson solo single.)
If you’ve seen Brian in concert, you’ve already witnessed the magic and the celebration. If you’ve heard his records, you know why he’s been called the Mozart of Rock, the Gershwin of his generation. In a culture where trends change overnight, Wilson has gone the distance. It’s been said that if music is math, then Wilson just might be Einstein. But no comparisons are really necessary; he’s Brian Wilson, an American composer, arranger and producer whose work has proved to be as powerful as faith, as timeless as love and as heartfelt as mercy.