Last week we reported on the fracture that developed between Beach Boys Mike Love and his longtime band mates Al Jardine and Brian Wilson. We were surprised the story didn’t blow up more considering the drama involved, but after the U.K.’s Telegraph posted an article with the inflammatory headline “Beach Boys founders sacked in middle of the reunion tour” dozens of outlets picked up the item complete with “Beach Boys Fired” headlines. The articles claim Wilson and Jardine were “blindsided,” yet that’s bullshit and we’ll explain why.
Let’s step back for a second and think about the recent history of Beach Boys tours. Ever since 1998 Mike Love has licensed the “Beach Boys” name and has played hundreds of shows under the moniker. Love agreed to do the reunion tour but as he says, it was intended to have a start and a finish. Mike continued to book shows for his version of the Beach Boys and since back in June has been making it clear which version of the band would play the shows booked in October – his.
For instance, Mike Love’s Beach Boys are set to perform in Waco, Texas next week at the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo. Press releases for the event have included word that Love and Bruce Johnston’s Beach Boys will appear NOT Jardine, Wilson and David Marks. We don’t have the figures, but you’ve got to expect that the event’s promoters paid way less to get Love’s version of the band than the reunited Beach Boys that played theaters and large amphitheaters this year. Jardine, Wilson and Marks were never set to perform at the upcoming Beach Boys shows. To say they were “fired” or “sacked” just isn’t accurate.
Some would ask why wouldn’t Love want to keep the reunion going? Let’s remember he’s been involved with dozens of lawsuits with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, he signed up for a plan in which they’d record an album and tour together for about six months. For over a decade Love hasn’t had anyone to answer to and was the guy everyone came to see at pre-reunion Beach Boys shows. With the reunited band he’s got to make sure Wilson and Jardine are onboard musically and is supported by a backing band that is mostly filled with musicians from Brian Wilson’s band. For his own Beach Boys gigs, Love only performs with six other musicians who were picked by him and include his son Christian.
Perhaps Jardine and Wilson see their opportunity to take advantage of the situation which is why they are feigning surprise at the deal they agreed to coming to its scheduled conclusion. They know the public would rather see a Beach Boys with three original (Johnston and Marks actually aren’t original members, they joined in ’65 and ’62 respectively) members than one – I know I would, but it’s Love’s prerogative to stick to the original terms of the reunion in which he continued touring under the name after a few legs of touring with the reunited band.
[Mike Love's version of the Beach Boys]
Look, Love doesn’t help his cause by telling the Telegraph, ”You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed. There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited line-up], but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year’. The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5.” But he’s kinda got a point. The Beach Boys were everywhere the past six months. It’s not like fans haven’t had plenty of opportunity to see them.
Personally, I’m not a huge Mike Love fan. I just think he’s getting thrown under the bus by Jardine and Wilson which shows exactly why he wasn’t looking to continue ceding control to them for any longer than agreed to. These guys just can’t avoid drama, it’s in their blood. The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour comes to a close on Friday at Wembley Arena in London.