Together with his brothers Brian and Dennis he made the Beach Boys one of the most successful Rock bands of all time
Remembering the Beach Boy Carl Wilson on his 73rd anniversary
Carl Dean Wilson was born on December 21, 1946 in Hawthorne, California, he founded the Beach Boys with his older brothers Brian and Dennis Wilson. Unlike other members of the band, he often played alongside the studio musicians employed during the group’s critical and commercial peak in the mid 1960’s. The Beach Boys were one of the best selling and popular American Rock bands during the 1960’s, with their catchy songs, first Rock N’ Roll based and later Psychedelic and experimental, the band had a string of hits during the decade including “Surfin’ Safari”, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “I Get Around”, “California Girls”, “Help Me, Rhonda”, “Sloop John B”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and “Good Vibrations” among others. Influenced by the guitar playing of Chuck Berry and the Ventures, Carl’s initial role in the group was that of lead guitarist and backing vocals, but he performed lead vocals on several of their later hits, including “God Only Knows”, “Good Vibrations”, and “Kokomo” this role became more prominent after Brian’s retirement from touring in 1965, Carl became the musical director of the band onstage.Contracts at that time stipulated that promoters hire “Carl Wilson plus four other musicians”. Following his lead vocal performance on “God Only Knows” in 1966, Carl was increasingly lead vocalist for the band, a role previously dominated by Mike Love and Brian. Starting with the album “Wild Honey”, Brian requested that Carl become more involved in the Beach Boys’ records. He remained as the band’s musical director on stage from 1965 until his death. His songwriting or production contributions for the Beach Boys included “Dance, Dance, Dance” in 1965, “I Can Hear Music” in 1969 and “Feel Flows” in 1971.
As a producer and vocalist, Carl’s work was not confined to the Beach Boys. During the 1970’s, he also produced records for other artists and lent backing vocals to many works, including Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (with Bruce Johnston) and during the 1980’s on the David Lee Roth’s hit cover of “California Girls”, During the 1980’s, he attempted to launch a solo career, releasing the albums “Carl Wilson” in 1981 and “Young Blood” in 1983 but didn’t achieved the same type of success he was used to as a Beach Boys member. In 1988, the reformed version of the Beach Boys scored their biggest chart success in more than 20 years with the US Number 1 song “Kokomo”, co-written by Mike Love, on which Carl sang lead in the chorus. Carl died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, surrounded by his family, on February 6, 1998, just two months after the death of his mother, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beach Boys in 1988, today would had been his 73rd anniversary.
Watch the Beach Boys performing “Good Vibrations” in 1969 featuring Carl Wilson on lead vocals
Look back at the 1988 Beach Boys music video for “Kokomo” featuring Carl Wilson on lead vocals
Listen to “The Beach Boys – 50 Big Ones: Greatest Hits” on Spotify
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