By OTW Student Eric Andrews
Still in honor of our Oscar music week, let’s talk about the Beach Boys, the iconic band that was at the center of one of this year’s biggest Oscar snubs: Love & Mercy. The band’s biopic deals with the beautiful harmonic groovy days of the Beach Boys as well as frontman Brian Wilson’s life struggles. And it has some awesome music!
But we’d be talking Beach Boys here at OTW, anyway, because 46-years-ago this Sunday, on February 28. 1970, the Beach Boys played two shows at Seattle Center at the venue now known as McCaw Hall.
The Boys had played Seattle before, and would again. However, what made these two evening shows extraordinary was a rare appearance by founder and bassist Brian Wilson who had left the band several years earlier but offered to step in to help out when sing Mike Love was too sick to perform.
A tape of one of the shows exists
– incomplete and with muddy sound quality – but it does show Brian Wilson’s voice to still be in fine shape, including his unparalleled falsetto.
The Seattle Times, however, was not impressed with the concert, criticizing the band’s harmonies as “sloppy” and “out of tune.” Perhaps the Opera House shows caught the band on an off-night because only two days earlier The Gonzaga Bulletin reported that the Beach Boys “blew the collective mind of the audience” when they played at Gonzaga University.
The Beach Boys’ set focused mostly on recent material. These included songs from their classic album Pet Sounds (1966): “Sloop John B”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “God Only Knows”. However, there was still room for audience favorites in classics like “Surfer Girl,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “Barbara Ann”.
And even Wilson seemed to enjoy having the chance to step in for the band’s 4-night northwest tour. A few months after the tour he told a radio host, “I was scared…it had been a while since I was in front of so many people. But after it started to cook, I really got with it. It was the best three days of my life, I guess.”
Wilson appeared with them again in November, for four shows at the Whisky A Go Go, in Los Angeles. Even this early on, the chance of an appearance by him made any Beach Boys concert an event.
Now it’s time for some “Good Vibrations” and watching the Beach Boys in some rare studio footage. Catch the mistake and rolled eyes at the 3-minute mark. Fun stuff!
See? Wasn’t that fun? Even enough to forget about the Oscar snub. 🙂