Carl Dean Wilson (December 21, 1946 – February 6, 1998) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys. He is best remembered as their lead guitarist, as the youngest brother of bandmates Brian and Dennis Wilson, and as the group's de facto leader in the early 1970s. He was also the band's musical director on stage from 1965 until his death.
Influenced by the guitar playing of Chuck Berry and the Ventures, Wilson'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" (1966), "Good Vibrations" (1966), and "Kokomo" (1988). 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 1960s. After Brian's reduced involvement with the group, Carl produced the bulk of their albums between 20/20 (1969) and Holland (1973), where the production was nominally credited to "the Beach Boys". Concurrently, he spent several years challenging his draft status as a conscientious objector.
During the 1980s, Wilson attempted to launch a solo career, releasing the albums Carl Wilson (1981) and Young Blood (1983). In the 1990s, he recorded material with Gerry Beckley and Robert Lamm, later released for the posthumous album Like a Brother (2000). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beach Boys in 1988. Wilson was also a member of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, a religious corporation. He died, aged 51, of lung cancer in 1998.
Wilson in 1983
|Birth name||Carl Dean Wilson|
|Born||December 21, 1946|
Hawthorne, California, U.S.
|Died||February 6, 1998 (aged 51)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Carl Dean Wilson was born in Hawthorne, California, the youngest son of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Gage Wilson. From his pre-teens he practiced harmony vocals under the guidance of his brother Brian, who often sang in the family music room with his mother and brothers. Inspired by country star Spade Cooley, at the age of 12, Carl asked his parents to buy him a guitar, for which he took some lessons. In 1982, Carl remembered from this time: "The kid across the street, David Marks, was taking guitar lessons from John Maus, so I started, too. David and I were about 12 and John was only three years older, but we thought he was a shit-hot guitarist. John and his sister Judy did fraternity gigs together as a duo. Later John moved to England and became one of the Walker Brothers. ... He showed me some fingerpicking techniques and strumming stuff that I still use. When I play a solo, he's still there." While Brian perfected the band's vocal style and keyboard base, Carl's Chuck Berry-esque guitar became an early Beach Boys trademark. While in high school, Carl also studied saxophone.
Turning 15 as the group's first hit, "Surfin'", broke locally in Los Angeles, Carl's father and manager, Murry (who had sold his business to support his sons' band), bought him a Fender Jaguar guitar. Carl developed as a musician and singer through the band's early recordings, and the early "surf lick" sound shown in "Fun, Fun, Fun", recorded in 1964 when Carl was 17. Also in 1964, Carl contributed his first co-writing credit on a Beach Boys single with the guitar riff and solo in "Dance, Dance, Dance" co-written with Mike Love and Brian Wilson. By the end of 1964, he was diversifying, favoring the 12-string Rickenbacker that was also notably used by Roger McGuinn in establishing the sound of the Byrds and by George Harrison of The Beatles during this era. Dave Marsh, in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (1976), stated that Pete Townshend of The Who expanded on both R&B and rock "influenced heavily by Beach Boy Carl Wilson..."
Carl's lead vocals in the band's first three years were infrequent. Although all members of the band played on their early recordings, Brian began to employ experienced session musicians to play on the group's instrumental tracks by 1965 to assist with the complex material, but the band weren't entirely eliminated from recording the instrumental tracks and still continued to play on certain songs on each album. Unlike the other members of the band, Carl often played alongside session musicians and also recorded his individual guitar leads during the Beach Boys' vocal sessions, with his guitar plugged directly into the soundboard. His playing can be heard on tracks like 1965's "Girl Don't Tell Me" and 1966's "That's Not Me".
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. He sang leads on the singles "Good Vibrations", "Darlin'", and "Wild Honey". Starting with the album Wild Honey, Brian requested that Carl become more involved in the Beach Boys' records.
In 1969, the Beach Boys' rendition of "I Can Hear Music" was the first track produced solely by Carl Wilson. By then, he had effectively become the band's in-studio leader, producing the bulk of the albums during the early 1970s. Though Carl had written surf instrumentals for the band in the early days, he did not get into his stride as a songwriter until the 1971 album Surf's Up, for which he composed "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows", with lyrics by the band's then manager Jack Rieley. Carl considered "Long Promised Road" his first real song. After producing the majority of Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" (1972) and Holland (1973), Carl's leadership role diminished somewhat, due to Brian's brief public reemergence and because of Carl's own substance abuse problems.
For L.A. (Light Album) (1979), Carl contributed four songs, among them "Good Timin'", co-written with Brian five years earlier, which became a Top 40 American hit. Carl's main writing partner in the late 1970s was Geoffrey Cushing-Murray, but for Keepin' the Summer Alive (1980) he wrote with Randy Bachman of the band Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Carl told Michael Feeney Callan, writer-director of the RTÉ 1993 documentary The Beach Boys Today (a celebration of the Beach Boys' 30th anniversary), that Bachman was his favorite writing partner, accordingly: "Basically because he rocked, and I love to rock".
As a producer and vocalist, Carl's work was not confined to the Beach Boys. During the 1970s, he also produced records for other artists, such as Ricci Martin (son of Dean Martin) and South African group the Flames, two members of which later temporarily joined the Beach Boys' line-up. He lent backing vocals to many works, including Chicago's hits "Baby, What a Big Surprise" and "Wishing You Were Here" (with Al Jardine and brother Dennis), Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (with Bruce Johnston), David Lee Roth's hit cover of "California Girls", Warren Zevon's "Desperados Under the Eaves", and the Carnie/Wendy Wilson holiday track "Hey Santa!" Carl also recorded a duet with Olivia Newton-John, titled "You Were Great, How Was I?", for her studio album, "Soul Kiss" (1985). It was not released as a single.
By the early 1980s the Beach Boys were in disarray; the band had split into several camps. Frustrated with the band's sluggishness to record new material and reluctance to rehearse, Wilson took a leave of absence in 1981.
He quickly recorded and released a solo album, Carl Wilson, composed largely of rock n' roll songs co-written with Myrna Smith-Schilling, a former backing vocalist for Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, and wife of Wilson's then-manager Jerry Schilling. The album briefly charted, and its second single, "Heaven", reached the top 20 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. Wilson also undertook a solo tour to promote the album, becoming the first member of the Beach Boys to break ranks. Initially, Wilson and his band played clubs like The Bottom Line in New York City and the Roxy in Los Angeles. Thereafter, he joined the Doobie Brothers as opening act for their 1981 summer tour.
Wilson recorded a second solo album, Youngblood, in a similar vein, but by the time of its release in 1983 he had rejoined the Beach Boys. Although Youngblood did not chart, a single, the John Hall-penned "What You Do To Me", peaked at number 72, making Wilson the second Beach Boy to land a solo single on the Billboard Hot 100. Additionally, the song cracked the top 20 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. Wilson frequently performed that song and "Rockin' All Over the World" (from the same album), as well as "Heaven" from the 1981 album, at Beach Boys' concerts in the 1980s. "Heaven" was always announced as a tribute to brother Dennis, who drowned in December 1983.
The Beach Boys' 1985 eponymous album prominently featured Wilson's lead vocals and songwriting, highlighted by his "It's Gettin' Late" (another top 20 Adult Contemporary hit) and the "Heaven"-like "Where I Belong".
In 1988, 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. After this, Love increasingly dominated the band's recorded output and became the driving force behind the album Summer in Paradise (1992), the first and only Beach Boys album with no input from Brian in any form. In 1992, Carl told Michael Feeney Callan his hope was to record new material by Brian. "Speaking for myself", he told Callan, "I only want to record inspired music".
Carl continued recording through the 1990s and participated in the Don Was-led recordings of Brian's "Soul Searchin'" and "You're Still a Mystery", songs conceived as the basis of a cancelled Brian Wilson/Beach Boys album. He also recorded the album Like a Brother with Robert Lamm and Gerry Beckley, while continuing to tour with the Beach Boys until the last months of his life.
A cigarette smoker since the age of 13 or 14, Carl was diagnosed with lung cancer after becoming ill at his vacation home in Hawaii, in early 1997. Despite his illness, Carl continued to perform while undergoing chemotherapy. He played and sang throughout the Beach Boys' entire summer tour which ended in the fall of 1997. During the performances, he sat on a stool, but he stood while singing "God Only Knows".
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, Audree Wilson. He was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
The Beckley-Lamm-Wilson album, Like a Brother, was finally released in 2000, and Carl's late recordings continue to appear. Brian's album Gettin' in Over My Head (2004) features Carl's vocal from the unreleased Beach Boys song "Soul Searchin'", with new backing vocals recorded by Brian. The original Beach Boys version, sourced from a cancelled attempt at a new Beach Boys album in late 1995, was eventually released in the Made in California (2013) box set, along with another 1995 track titled "You're Still a Mystery", which features Carl in the vocal blend. In 2010, bandmate Al Jardine released his first solo album, A Postcard From California, which includes a similarly reconstructed track, "Don't Fight The Sea", featuring one of the last vocals Carl recorded. Carl can also be heard on the continual stream of Beach Boys archival releases, most notably as a central voice in the November 2011 release of The Smile Sessions.
It was announced that Wilson's voice would be heard on a track from the reunited Beach Boys, on the album That's Why God Made the Radio (2012), but this never materialized. Instead, the scheduled song, "Waves of Love", featured on the 2012 re-release of Jardine's A Postcard From California. During The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour, a segment of the show was dedicated to the memories of Dennis and Carl. The band harmonized with isolated vocal tracks of Carl performing "God Only Knows" and of Dennis singing "Forever", as the band's crew projected images of the individual Wilson brothers on a large screen behind the band onstage.
Wilson was a significantly spiritual person and frequently spoke of what he called his "connection with Spirit". Prayer ritual was an important part of his life and, according to Brian, "prayer sessions" were conducted before recordings on Pet Sounds in order to invoke higher guidance in the music. Wilson declared himself a conscientious objector and refused the draft to join the American military during the Vietnam War. By 1988, Wilson had become an ordained minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness.
Wilson was married twice: first to Annie Hinsche, sister of frequent Beach Boys sideman Billy Hinsche, then in 1987 to Dean Martin's daughter Gina (born December 20, 1956). With Annie, Wilson had two sons, Jonah (born 1969) and Justyn (born 1971). It was during the breakup of his and Annie's marriage that Carl wrote "Angel Come Home" which, according to co-writer Geoffrey Cushing-Murray, was about Wilson's grief over separating from his wife during the incessant touring with the Beach Boys. His marriage to Gina lasted until his death, and she accompanied him on all of his touring duties.
|Year||Album details||Chart positions|
|March 1981||"Hold Me" / "Hurry Love"||Carl Wilson||—|
|June 1981||"Heaven" / "Hurry Love"||#20 (Billboard Adult Contemporary)||#107|
|March 1983||"What You Do To Me" / "Time"||Youngblood||#72 (Billboard Hot 100)|
|July 1983||"Givin' You Up" / "It's Too Early to Tell"||—|
|September 2015||"This Is Elvis"||—|
|April 1981||"Heaven" / "The Right Lane"||Carl Wilson||—|
|May 1983||"What You Do to Me" / "Time"||Youngblood||—|
The Beach Boys Historic Landmark commemorates the site of the childhood home of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. The monument, located at 3701 W. 119th Street, Hawthorne, California, stands on the former location of the Wilsons' house, which was demolished in the mid-1980s during construction of the Century Freeway.
Music industry notables such as Dick Clark and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were among the letter-writers who supported the BBHL's landmark application process. Its status as a California State Historic Landmark NO. 1041 Site of the Childhood Home of the Beach Boys was granted by the California State Historic Resources Commission in a unanimous vote on August 6, 2004, in Ontario, California, and the monument was dedicated on May 20, 2005.
The image face of the landmark was inspired by the album cover of Surfer Girl. The lineup of the Beach Boys at that time was Brian, Carl, and Dennis; their cousin Mike Love; and David Marks (who grew up in a house across the street from the Wilson home.) Al Jardine, the group's original bassist, would later rejoin the band soon before David's departure. Six gold 45 records are embedded in the base of the landmark, each with the name of one of the Beach Boys; the three Wilson brothers to the left, and Love, Marks and Jardine to the right. The names of donors, Wilson friends and family members, and the Beach Boys Landmark Committee are engraved into the monument bricks. The construction work was undertaken by Scott Wilson, Dennis's adopted son.
The landmark plaque reads:
It was here that the childhood home of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson developed their unique musical skills. During Labor Day weekend 1961, they, their cousin Mike Love, and a friend Al Jardine, gathered here to record a tape of their breakthrough song “Surfin’.” This marked the birth of the rock group known worldwide as the Beach Boys, and the beginning of a historic musical legacy. The music of the Beach Boys broadcast to the world an image of California as a place of sun, surf, and romance.
Less than a month after the unveiling of the landmark, it was targeted by graffiti vandals.Carl Wilson (politician)
Carl Wilson is an American politician from Oregon. He is currently the House Republican Leader in the Oregon House of Representatives. He took office in January of 2015 to represent District 3 as one of two new state representatives from Grants Pass, together with Duane Stark. He previously represented the area from 1998 to 2003. He was named Deputy Leader of the House Republican Caucus in the 78th Legislative Assembly.Carl and the Passions – "So Tough"
Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" is the 18th studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on May 15, 1972. The album is frequently considered a transitional album for the band, with the addition of Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar on guitar and drums, respectively, and long-time member Bruce Johnston departing during its initial sessions.
The initial American pressings of the album included the band's 1966 studio album, Pet Sounds, as a bonus record. It has been speculated that Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" was either scheduled to be released, or re-released, as a single album. A Warner/Reprise catalogue number, MS 2090, had been assigned to this single disc release, but nothing came of it. The album was released as a standalone album in Europe on Reprise Records.
Carl and the Passions was Brian Wilson and Mike Love's high school band. This was the first album released under a new deal with Warner Bros. that allowed the company to distribute all future Beach Boys product in foreign as well as domestic markets.Dance, Dance, Dance (song)
"Dance, Dance, Dance" is a song composed by Brian and Carl Wilson with lyrics by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for the American rock band the Beach Boys. It was first released as a single in 1964 backed with "The Warmth of the Sun" and was released the following year as the sixth track on the Beach Boys' eighth studio album, The Beach Boys Today! "Dance, Dance, Dance" marks Carl Wilson's first recognised writing contribution to a Beach Boys single, his contribution being the song's primary guitar riff and solo.Friends (The Beach Boys song)
"Friends" is a song written by Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson and Al Jardine for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1968 album Friends. It was also released as a single, with "Little Bird" as the B-side. The single peaked at #47 in the United States and #25 in the United Kingdom. The song was recorded on March 13, 1968.Good Timin' (The Beach Boys song)
"Good Timin’" is a song written by brothers Brian and Carl Wilson for the American rock band the Beach Boys. It was the second single released from the album L.A. (Light Album) (1979); the B-side was "Love Surrounds Me".I Can Hear Music
"I Can Hear Music" is a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector for American girl group the Ronettes in 1966. This version spent one week on the Billboard Pop chart at number 100. Three years later, American rock band the Beach Boys released a cover version as a single from their album 20/20 (1969), peaking at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.It's Gettin' Late
"It's Gettin' Late" is a song written by Carl Wilson, Myrna Smith Schilling and Robert White Johnson for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1985 album The Beach Boys and as a single with "It's O.K."
The music video directed by Dominic Orlando, was filmed on location in Malibu, California, two months after Getcha Back.List of songs recorded by the Beach Boys
This list is an attempt to document every song released by The Beach Boys. It does not include songs released only separately by the individual members.
Lead vocals by the official members of the group (Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Bruce Johnston, Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar) are listed by first name only. Guest lead vocals show full names.Livin' with a Heartache
"Livin' with a Heartache" is a song written by Carl Wilson and Randy Bachman for the American rock band the Beach Boys, one of two collaborations between the two writers. It was recorded from August 27–29 at Bachman's home studio known as "The Barn" in Lynden, Washington with two further sessions at Rumbo Studios in November and December 1979. "Livin' with a Heartache" was released on the Beach Boys' 1980 album Keepin' the Summer Alive and was subsequently released with a truncated 3:05 mix as a single backed with "Santa Ana Winds" which failed to chart in the US.Long Promised Road
"Long Promised Road" is a song written by Carl Wilson and Jack Rieley for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was first released as a single in May 1971, and did not chart. It was then released on their 1971 album Surf's Up, and was re-released as a single, with a different b-side, "'Til I Die", in October of the same year. This time it made it to #89 on the Billboard Hot 100. Aside from a few guitar instrumentals written in the early days of the band and collective co-writing credits, the song is Carl Wilson's first solo composition.Murry Wilson
Murry Gage Wilson (July 2, 1917 – June 4, 1973) was an American musician, record producer, and businessman who acted as the first manager of the Beach Boys, a rock band formed by his sons Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, his nephew Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine. For most of the 1960s, Murry also worked as a music publisher for the band.
After the Beach Boys dismissed Murry as their manager in 1964, he produced the sound-alike group the Sunrays, and recorded a single solo album: The Many Moods of Murry Wilson (1967). In 1969, Wilson sold off their publishing company Sea of Tunes for $700,000 (equivalent to $4.78 million in 2018), then considered an undervalued sum. In 1973, he died aged 55 of a heart attack.Stars and Stripes Vol. 1
Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 is the 28th studio album by American rock band The Beach Boys, released on August 19, 1996 on River North Records. Produced by Joe Thomas and Brian Wilson, Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 is a collaborative album between The Beach Boys and various country musicians. Despite its Vol. 1 sub-title, the album is the band's only venture into the genre of country pop music, and is the last studio album to feature founding member Carl Wilson who died in 1998.
According to Brian Wilson's wife Melinda, during the album's recording, "They [the Beach Boys] treated him [Brian] like an invalid, all the time saying, 'Do this, don't do that, are you okay?'" The album's failure prevented him from getting a record contract, leaving the group's highly anticipated Andy Paley collaborations in limbo.Wendy Wilson
Wendy Wilson (born October 16, 1969) is an American singer and television personality and member of the pop singing trio Wilson Phillips. She is the daughter of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and his first wife Marilyn, who was a member of girl group The Honeys, and she is the younger sister of Carnie Wilson.
Wilson was born in Los Angeles. She co-founded Wilson Phillips with Carnie and childhood friend Chynna Phillips when they were in their teens. Wilson Phillips released two albums in 1990 and 1992 before splitting up. Wendy and Carnie released a Christmas album together in 1993, and an album called The Wilsons in 1997, with their formerly estranged father, Brian.
In 2004, Wendy reunited with Carnie and Phillips for a third Wilson Phillips album entitled California. In 2012, the reunited Wilson Phillips released the album, Dedicated, which comprised covers of songs by The Beach Boys and The Mamas & the Papas. In June 2012, Wendy joined her sister Carnie and other members of The Beach Boys' families to form the vocal group, California Saga, which performed at the intermission during the homecoming Hollywood Bowl show of The Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour.You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone (song)
"You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Jack Rieley for the American rock band the Beach Boys. It was the opening track on their 1972 album Carl and the Passions – "So Tough". In its only known chart entry internationally it peaked at #29 on the official Netherlands Top 100.Young Blood (The Coasters song)
"Young Blood" is a song written by Doc Pomus along with the songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit in 1957.
|Background and history|