Wouldn't it be nice...if the Beach Boys could finally all get along? Alas, it appears that the beloved icons--who have a long history of inter-band ups and downs--are not destined for peace in this lifetime. After delighting fans this year with a 50th anniversary reunion tour and album including revered frontman Brian Wilson, Mike Love has dropped a bomb on three of his surviving bandmates: He's going to continue touring without them. Under the name "The Beach Boys."
Love first made this announcement last week, when he unceremoniously stated that he planned to dump his cousin and creative lead Wilson, as well as original members Al Jardine and David Marks, to resume touring as the Beach Boys with second-generation bandmate Bruce Johnston and his own band, which he's been out with since the '90s. The story continues to gain momentum and shock fans this week, as the full lineup's final reunion shows approach. The classic Beach Boys' last two concerts will take place in London this week, on September 27 and 28.
"The 50th anniversary tour was designed to go for a year and then end," Love confirmed, at an awards presentation in front of a special Beach Boys exhibit at Los Angeles's Grammy museum. "You have to be careful not to get overexposed," he added, citing fears that interest would level off and ticket prices would fall.
Legally, Love has the right to do this as he is the sole member with control over the Beach Boys' name. However, fans are confused and upset over his decision, given that the tour and new album, That's Why God Made the Radio, have been so well-received. The album marked the band's highest charting release in nearly four decades; whereas their reunion show has played over four continents.
Wilson told CNN that he's not happy with the decision. "I'm disappointed and can't understand why Love doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me," he said. "We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys." He also noted that he would like his next project to be a Beach Boys album.
That certainly seems to be true, at least if one goes by various reactions on Twitter. "Mike Love fired Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys? This makes no sense. Wilson IS the Beach Boys," stated one fan; while another noted "Mike Love's insecurities once again get the better of him in an embarrassing manner," and yet another grumbled, "Sometimes I can't find it in my heart to love Mike Love."
To those who are longtime followers of the band, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Love is the instigator of controversy yet again. He has an infamously rocky legal history with his bandmates, compounded by the fact that Wilson suffered from mental issues throughout the decades and was often not in a position to--or had the desire to--contend.
Love's lawsuits began as early as in 1989, when he discovered that Wilson's father Murry--who managed the group in its inception--did not properly credit him for co-writing on a number of the Beach Boys' songs. Although Wilson is largely known for the bulk of songwriting, Love claimed he contributed lyrics to many of the tunes. He hit Wilson with a lawsuit in 1992 for this omission, eventually collecting $13 million for lost royalties. Wilson and Love both claimed that the suit did not rise out of or cause any animosity; it happened merely because they could not work out what Love was owed on their own.
By 1998, Love managed to gain legal control of the Beach Boys' name after founding member and youngest Wilson brother Carl Wilson died, making himself the sole licensee to perform under that billing. In 2001, he put the smackdown on bandmember Al Jardine, who had been touring with Wilson's daughters Carnie and Wendy as "The Beach Boys Family and Friends," as well as solo with the billing "Al Jardine of the Beach Boys." The court ruled in Love's favor, which Jardine instantly appealed. The case dragged on until 2008, finally reaching a confidential settlement.
In 2005, Love hit Wilson with yet another lawsuit, claiming that Wilson improperly used the Beach Boys name and images to market his solo album Smile, as well as illegally allowed a promotional giveaway of the band's Good Vibrations CD in connection to the release. He claimed at the time that Wilson was being used by his advisors for financial gain. The suit was dismissed in 2007.
Love took control of the Beach Boys' touring schedule throughout the '70s and '80s due to Wilson's unpredictable health. He led the band, which included Wilson's other brother Dennis (who died in 1983) and Carl, as well as Jardine. He began touring with his own set of musicians, including actor John Stamos, after Carl's death. Marks was a part of the band during its earliest years, reuniting with them once in 1971 and then for the present reunion tour.