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Beach Boys reunite through music, memories

Updated May 16, 2024 - 2:02 pm

They met up last year at Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California: three rock ’n’ roll legends sitting on a blanket at sunset to ponder life.

They’d been here before, famously. The Beach Boys shot their first album cover for “Surfin’ Safari” at this exact spot in the spring of 1962.

Things were different as older men, naturally. For starters, one of them had their late friend Jimmy Buffet’s guitar and put it to good use as the sun melted into the Pacific.

“We sat on the beach remembering things from our childhood and just enjoyed hanging out together again,” Mike Love says of fellow Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. “Al played Jimmy’s guitar and we sang ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ and ‘Surfin’ USA’ a cappella — just for us.

“That’s the funny thing about getting older,” Love adds. “You can have separations with people you love and then hopefully a joyous reunion. In our case, we always unite, and always will, through the harmonies.”

He hopes that will continue even after Wilson, 81, was placed in a conservatorship this month to manage his personal and medical affairs. Love told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” that his cousin has good long-term memory and still has his “musical abilities.”

Love, Jardine and Wilson worked together last year, shooting a scene on the beach for a defining documentary called “The Beach Boys,” debuting May 24 on Disney+. An official soundtrack will be available the same day.

The film celebrates the band that revolutionized pop music with its iconic harmonies and signature California sound. It traces the Beach Boys from their humble beginnings with never-before-seen footage and new interviews with Wilson, Love and Jardine, plus other music luminaries, including Lindsay Buckingham, Janelle Monae and Don Was.

Most poignant are archived comments from late founding members Carl and Dennis Wilson. Carl died in 1998 of lung cancer; Dennis drowned in 1983 at Marina del Rey.

Jardine marvels at the longevity of the group’s music: “Even today when we do ‘Good Vibrations’ live or you hear it on the radio, it’s uplifting to people. There is so much negativity in the world. Our music brings positivity, love, harmony and hope.”

Their good life tips:

Keep going

Love says that the band jumped at the chance to do the Disney documentary. “It was a phenomenal opportunity at this stage to have this kind of accolade,” he says. “I’m honored that this will coincide with the 50th anniversary of our ‘Endless Summer’ album, which we still do live. … It’s miraculous that 60 years later, we’re still singing those songs and get huge cheers.”

Don’t screw it up

How did the Beach Boys get that signature sound? Back in the day, Jardine says, they found their legendary harmonies at the piano. “Whenever we started a song, the arrangement was already in Brian’s head,” he shares. “Brian then would put his right hand on the keys of the piano. Each one of us was assigned a note. He would sing melody and we would individually jump in when he hit our note. It was easy, but if you didn’t remember your part, well … it was all screwed up and we would have to start again! So, you would look at your friends and think, ‘We’re a team. I’m not going to screw up.’… It’s good advice: Don’t let your friends down.”

Embrace all ages

Jardine says that one secret to longevity in life and the music business is not to be ageist. “We’re kinda lucky that over the decades we’ve had a constant renewal of fans creating a whole new audience. We appeal to people from 8 to 80. Now, we’re 80 and we’re still appealing! The point is to interact with people of all ages in life. It’s a far richer experience and you learn a lot.”

Share what you know

What advice do they give younger musicians? “Work hard. Respect each other,” Jardine says. “From the time we were young working in church parking lots to big stadiums, we worked our butts off!”

Go down memory lane

How tough is it to look back? “Well, I like to say that it’s easy to go forward because the music carries your forward,” Jardine says. “Looking back is a trip, but one you should take. It’s wonderful to allow yourself to remember when, but I try to mostly focus on the good memories. It cracks me up when I remember how immature we were as young men, but how much hope we had in our hearts for a great future.”

Dwell on the good

The band has had its fair share of hardships. “Dennis is gone. Carl is gone. Brian has had some rough times. So, there is some sadness,” Jardine acknowledges. “But there is a lot of appreciation and gratitude for the good times and the memories of what was … and that can really make you happy at this age or any age. … I prefer to focus on how the love of music always brought us together despite any differences or tragedies.”

Leave a legacy

“Our music is solid,” Jardine says with a wide smile. “It’s going to continue on, which gives me great joy. Brian’s music will be heard 100 years from now. … Anyone can leave a legacy. It’s a way for you to go on forever.”

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