|Real Name:||Brian Wilson|
|Birth Day:||June 20, 1942|
|#3||Daria Rose Wilson||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
Brian Douglas Wilson was born on June 20, 1942, at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California, the eldest son of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Wilson, a musician and machinist. His two younger brothers were Dennis and Carl. He has Dutch, English, German, Irish, and Swedish ancestry. When he was two, the family moved from Inglewood to 3701 West 119th Street in nearby Hawthorne, California. Speaking of Wilson's unusual musical abilities prior to his first birthday, his father said that, as a baby, he could repeat the melody from "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" after only a few verses had been sung by the father. Murry Wilson said, "He was very clever and quick. I just fell in love with him." At about age two, Wilson heard George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which had an enormous emotional impact on him. A few years later, he was discovered to have diminished hearing in his right ear. The exact cause of this hearing loss is unclear, though theories range from him simply being born partially deaf to a blow to the head from his father, or a neighborhood bully being to blame.
Recorded by Hite and Dorinda Morgan and released on the small Candix Records label, "Surfin'" became a top local hit in Los Angeles and reached number seventy-five on the national Billboard sales charts. Dennis later described the first time that his older brother heard their song on the radio, as the three Wilson brothers and David Marks drove in Wilson's 1957 Ford in the rain: "Nothing will ever top the expression on Brian's face, ever ... that was the all-time moment." However, the Pendletones were no more. Without the band's knowledge or permission, Candix Records had changed their name to the Beach Boys. Wilson and his bandmates, following a set by Ike & Tina Turner, performed their first major live show at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance on New Year's Eve, 1961. Three days previously, Wilson's father had bought him an electric bass and amplifier. Wilson had learned to play the instrument in that short period of time, with Al Jardine moving to rhythm guitar. On stage, Wilson provided many of the lead vocals, and often harmonized with the group in falsetto.
Wilson enrolled as a psychology major at El Camino College in Los Angeles, in September 1960, while simultaneously continuing his musical studies at the community college as well. At some point in 1961 he wrote his first all-original melody, loosely based on a Dion and the Belmonts version of "When You Wish Upon a Star". The song was eventually known as "Surfer Girl". Although an early demo of the song was recorded in February 1962 at World-Pacific Studios, it was not re-recorded and released until 1963, when it became a top-ten hit.
Looking for a follow-up single for their radio hit, Wilson and Mike Love wrote "Surfin' Safari", and attempts were made to record a usable take at World Pacific, including overdubs, on February 8, 1962, along with several other tunes including an early version of "Surfer Girl". Only a few days later, discouraged about the band's financial prospects, and objecting to adding some Chubby Checker songs to the Beach Boys live setlist, Al Jardine abruptly left the group, but rejoined shortly thereafter. When Candix Records ran into money problems and sold the Beach Boys' master recordings to another label, Wilson's father terminated the contract. As "Surfin'" faded from the charts, Wilson, who had forged a songwriting partnership with Gary Usher, created several new songs, including a car song, "409", that Usher helped them write. Wilson and the Beach Boys cut new tracks at Western Recorders including an updated "Surfin' Safari" and "409". These songs convinced Capitol Records to release the demos as a single; they became a double-sided national hit.
Recording sessions for the band's first album took place in Capitol's basement studios in the famous tower building in August 1962, but early on Wilson lobbied for a different place to cut Beach Boys tracks. The large rooms were built to record the big orchestras and ensembles of the 1950s, not small rock groups. At Wilson's insistence, Capitol agreed to let the Beach Boys pay for their own outside recording sessions, to which Capitol would own all the rights. In return, the band would receive a higher royalty rate on their record sales. Additionally, during the taping of their first LP Wilson fought for, and won, the right to be in charge of the production – though this fact was not acknowledged with an album liner notes production credit.
In January 1963, the Beach Boys recorded their first top-ten (cresting at number three in the United States) single, "Surfin' U.S.A.", which began their long run of highly successful recording efforts at Hollywood's United Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard. It was during the sessions for this single that Wilson made the production decision from that point on to use double tracking on the group's vocals, resulting in a deeper and more resonant sound. The Surfin' U.S.A. album was also a big hit in the United States, reaching number two on the national sales charts by early July 1963. The Beach Boys had become a top-rank recording and touring band.
Wilson was for the first time officially credited as the Beach Boys' producer on the Surfer Girl album, recorded in June and July 1963 and released that September. This LP reached number seven on the national charts, containing singles that were top 15 hits. Feeling that surfing songs had become limiting, Wilson decided to produce a set of largely car-oriented tunes for the Beach Boys' fourth album, Little Deuce Coupe, which was released in October 1963, only three weeks after the Surfer Girl LP. The departure of guitarist David Marks from the band that month meant that Wilson was forced to resume touring with the Beach Boys, for a time reducing his availability in the recording studio.
For much of the decade, Wilson attempted to establish himself as a record producer by working with various artists. On July 20, 1963, "Surf City", which he co-wrote with Jan Berry of Jan and Dean, was his first composition to reach the top of the US charts. The resulting success pleased Wilson, but angered both Murry and Capitol Records. Murry went so far as to order his oldest son to sever any future collaborations with Jan and Dean. Wilson's other non-Beach Boy work in this period included tracks by the Castells, Donna Loren, Sharon Marie, the Timers, and the Survivors. The most notable group to which Wilson would attach himself in this era would be the Honeys, which Wilson intended as the female counterpart to the Beach Boys, and as an attempt to compete with Phil Spector-led girl groups such as the Crystals and the Ronettes. He continued juggling between recording with the Beach Boys and producing records for other artists, but with less success at the latter—except for Jan and Dean.
The Beach Boys' rigorous performing schedule increasingly burdened Wilson, and following a panic attack on board a flight from L.A. to Houston on December 23, 1964, he stopped performing live with the group in an effort to concentrate solely on songwriting and studio production. Wilson explained in 1971: "I felt I had no choice. I was run down mentally and emotionally because I was running around, jumping on jets from one city to another on one-night stands, also producing, writing, arranging, singing, planning, teaching—to the point where I had no peace of mind and no chance to actually sit down and think or even rest." Glen Campbell was called in as his temporary stand-in for live performances, before Bruce Johnston replaced him. As thanks, Wilson produced Campbell's single "Guess I'm Dumb".
From late 1964 to 1979, Wilson was married to Marilyn Rovell. Together, they had two daughters Carnie and Wendy. Both went on to musical success of their own in the early 1990s as two-thirds of the singing group, Wilson Phillips. In 1995, Wilson married Melinda Kae Ledbetter, a car saleswoman and former model whom he met in 1986. They dated for three years before Landy, his psychotherapist, convinced him to end the relationship. Wilson and Ledbetter reconnected in 1992 and married in 1995. As of 1999, Melinda was acting as Brian's manager, a job which she said is "basically negotiating, and that's what I did every single day when I sold cars."
In late 1965, Wilson began working on material for a new project, Pet Sounds. He formed a temporary songwriting partnership with lyricist Tony Asher, who was suggested to Wilson by mutual friend Daro. Wilson, who had recorded the album's instrumentation with the Wrecking Crew, then assembled the Beach Boys to record vocal overdubs, following their return from a tour of Japan. Upon hearing what Wilson had created for the first time in 1965, the group, particularly Mike Love, was somewhat critical of their leader's music, and expressed their dissatisfaction. At this time, Wilson still had considerable control within the group and, according to Wilson, they eventually overcame their initial negative reaction, as his newly created music began to near completion. The album was released May 16, 1966 and, despite modest sales figures at the time, has since become widely critically acclaimed, often being cited among the all-time greatest albums. Although the record was issued under the group's name, Pet Sounds is arguably seen as a Brian Wilson solo album. Wilson even toyed with the idea by releasing "Caroline, No" as a solo single in March 1966, it reaching number 32 on the Billboard charts.
Wilson is diagnosed as a schizoaffective with mild manic depression. He regularly experiences auditory hallucinations that present themselves in the form of disembodied voices. According to him, he began having hallucinations in 1965, shortly after starting to use psychedelic drugs. In 1984, he had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, with doctors finding evidence of brain damage caused by excessive and sustained drug abuse. The paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis, originally made by Landy, was later retracted. Wilson's mental condition improved in later years, although his struggles with auditory hallucinations were not eliminated. He credits his relationship with his wife as the thing that allowed him to resume his career as a musician. In his own words, he said that he should have spent the early 2000s "in a mental institution under heavy sedation" due to the stresses of his condition, however, "Things have started to get a little bit easier, but I'm not always in a positive, happy place."
Wilson continued experimenting with psychotropics for the next few years. He became fixated on psychedelia, claiming to have coined a slang, "psychedelicate," and foreseeing that "psychedelic music will cover the face of the world and color the whole popular music scene." A week after his first LSD trip, Wilson began suffering from auditory hallucinations, which have persisted throughout his life. In a 1966 interview, he referred to the rest of 1965 as an era in which he learned "a lot of things, like patience [and] understanding", while in a 1977 interview he referred to 1965 as "a year worth of paranoid".
During the Pet Sounds sessions, Wilson had been working on another song, which was held back from inclusion on the record as he felt that it was not sufficiently complete. The song "Good Vibrations" set a new standard for musicians and for what could be achieved in the recording studio. Recorded in multiple sessions and in numerous studios, the song eventually cost $50,000 (equivalent to $394,000 in 2019) to record within a six-month period. In October 1966, it was released as a single, giving the Beach Boys their third US number-one hit after "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda". It sold over a million copies.
Some interviewers have said that Wilson was difficult to interview, rarely ever giving a long answer. According to Salon writer Peter Gilstrap: "He's also been known to get up, extend a hand and blurt out 'Thanks!' well before the allotted time is up. And sometimes he just gets tired and shuts down. None of this, however, is due to a bad attitude." He admits to having a poor memory, and in interviews occasionally lies to "test" people. David Oppenheim, who interviewed Wilson in 1966, remembers that "we tried to talk with him but didn't get much out of him. Some guy said 'He's not verbal.' He was odd and he seemed odder." In 2017, The Charlotte Observer's Theodon Janes surmised that while Wilson's past struggles with mental illness are widely documented, he still "is faring well enough to write a book [I Am Brian Wilson] ... and to headline [a] hugely ambitious concert tour, so presumably he's capable of telling people who work for him that he's not up for interviews, if he isn't."
By the time of the universal success of "Good Vibrations", Wilson was underway with his next project, Smile, which Wilson described as a "teenage symphony to God." "Good Vibrations" had been recorded in modular style, with separately written sections individually tracked and spliced together, and Wilson's concept for the new album was more of the same, representing a departure from the standard live-taped performances typical of studio recordings at that time. Having been introduced to Van Dyke Parks at a garden party at Terry Melcher's home, Wilson liked Parks' "visionary eloquence" and began working with him in the fall of 1966. After Wilson famously installed a sandbox and tent in his living room, the pair collaborated closely on several Smile tracks. Conflict within the group and Wilson's own growing personal problems threw the project into terminal disarray. Originally scheduled for release in January 1967, the release date was continually pushed back until press officer Derek Taylor announced its cancellation in May 1967.
By 1967, Wilson's life was on the verge of a serious decline. Following the cancellation of Smile, the Beach Boys relocated to a studio situated in the living room of Wilson's new mansion in Bel Air (once the home of Edgar Rice Burroughs), where the band would primarily record until 1972. This has been perceived by some commentators as "the moment when the Beach Boys first started slipping from the vanguard to nostalgia." Throughout mid-to-late 1967, Wilson oversaw the production of only a few heavily orchestrated songs holding continuity with his Pet Sounds and Smile work, such as "Can't Wait Too Long" and "Time to Get Alone". Wilson's interest in the Beach Boys began to wane. Carl explained: "When we did Wild Honey, Brian asked me to get more involved in the recording end. He wanted a break. He was tired. He had been doing it all too long."
Still psychologically overwhelmed by the cancellation of Smile and the imminent birth of his first child Carnie Wilson in 1968 amid the looming financial insolvency of the Beach Boys, Wilson's creative directorship within the band became increasingly tenuous; additionally, cocaine had begun to supplement Wilson's regular use of amphetamines, marijuana, and psychedelics. Shortly after abandoning an intricate arrangement of Kern and Hammerstein's "Ol' Man River" at the instigation of Mike Love, Wilson entered a psychiatric hospital for a brief period of time. Biographer Peter Ames Carlin has speculated that Wilson had self-admitted and may have been administered a number of treatments ranging from talking therapies to doses of Lithium and electroconvulsive therapy during this stay.
At a press conference ostensibly convened to promote "Break Away" to the European media shortly thereafter, Wilson intimated that "We owe everyone money. And if we don't pick ourselves off our backsides and have a hit record soon, we will be in worse trouble ... I've always said, 'Be honest with your fans.' I don't see why I should lie and say that everything is rosy when it's not." These incendiary remarks ultimately thwarted long-simmering contract negotiations with Deutsche Grammophon. Although Murry Wilson's sale of the Sea of Tunes publishing company (including the majority of Wilson's oeuvre) to A&M Records' publishing division for $700,000 at the band's commercial nadir in 1969 renewed the longstanding animus between father and son, the younger Wilson stood in for Mike Love during a 1970 Northwest tour when Love was convalescing from illness. He also resumed writing and recording with the Beach Boys at a brisk pace; seven of the twelve new songs on the 1970 album Sunflower were either written or co-written by Wilson. Nevertheless, the album (retrospectively appraised as "perhaps the strongest album they released post-Pet Sounds" by Pitchfork) was a commercial failure in the US, peaking at number 151 during a four-week Billboard chart stay in October 1970. Following the termination of the Capitol contract in 1969, the band's new contract with then-au courant Reprise Records (brokered by Van Dyke Parks, employed as a multimedia executive at the company at the time) stipulated Wilson's proactive involvement with the band in all albums, a factor that would become hugely problematic for the band in the years to come.
Sometime in 1969, Wilson opened a short-lived health food store called The Radiant Radish. The store closed in 1971 due to unprofitable produce expenditures and Wilson's general lack of business acumen. Reports from this era detailed Wilson as "increasingly withdrawn, brooding, hermitic ... and occasionally, he is to be seen in the back of some limousine, cruising around Hollywood, bleary and unshaven, huddled way tight into himself." This notion was contested by lyricist and close friend Stanley Shapiro. Nevertheless, Wilson's reputation suffered as a result of his purported eccentricities, and he quickly became known as a commercial has-been whom record labels feared. When Shapiro persuaded Wilson to rewrite and rerecord a number of Beach Boys songs in order to reclaim his legacy, he contacted fellow songwriter Tandyn Almer (whom Wilson would later characterize as his "best friend") for support. The trio then spent a month reworking cuts from the Beach Boys' Friends album. As Shapiro handed demo tapes to A&M Records executives, they found the product favorable before they learned of Wilson and Almer's involvement, and proceeded to veto the idea. Wilson commented in 1976:
In late 1971 and early 1972, he worked on an album for the American Spring, titled Spring, a new collaboration between erstwhile Honeys Marilyn Wilson and Diane Rovell. He was closely involved in the home-based recordings with co-producer David Sandler and engineer Stephen Desper, and did significant work on more than half of the tracks. As with much of his work in the era, his contributions "ebbed and flowed." According to Dan Peek of America, Wilson "held court like a Mad King as [longtime friend] Danny Hutton scurried about like his court jester" during the ascendant band's engagement at the Whisky a Go Go in February 1972. Concurrently, he contributed to three out of eight songs on Beach Boys' Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" (1972).
In 1973, Jan Berry (under the alias JAN) released the single "Don't You Just Know It", a duet featuring Wilson.
After his father's death in June 1973, Wilson secluded himself in the chauffeur's quarters of his house, where he spent his time sleeping, drinking, doing drugs, overeating, and exhibiting self-destructive behavior. He attempted to drive his vehicle off a cliff, and at another time, demanded that he be pushed into and buried in a grave that he had dug in his backyard. During this period, his voice deteriorated significantly as a result of his mass consumption of cocaine and incessant chain smoking. Wilson later said that he was preoccupied with "[doing] drugs and hanging out with Danny Hutton" (whose house became the center of Wilson's social life) during the mid-1970s. John Sebastian often showed up at Wilson's Bel Air home "to jam" and later recalled that "it wasn't all grimness." Although increasingly reclusive during the day, Wilson spent many nights at Hutton's house fraternizing with Hollywood Vampire colleagues, such as Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, who were mutually bemused by an extended Wilson-led singalong of the folk song "Shortnin' Bread"; other visitors of Hutton's home included Vampires Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon. Micky Dolenz recalls taking LSD with Wilson, Lennon, and Nilsson, where Wilson "played just one note on a piano over and over again". On several occasions, Marilyn Wilson sent her friends to climb Hutton's fence and retrieve her husband.
Jimmy Webb reported Wilson's presence at an August 2, 1974 session for Nilsson's "Salmon Falls"; he kept in the back of the studio playing "Da Doo Ron Ron" haphazardly on a B3 organ. Later that month, he was photographed at Moon's 28th birthday party (held on August 28 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel) wearing only his bathrobe. Sometime in 1974, Wilson interrupted a set by jazz musician Larry Coryell at The Troubadour by leaping onto stage and singing "Be-Bop-A-Lula", again wearing slippers and a bathrobe.
During summer 1974, the Capitol Records-era greatest hits compilation Endless Summer reached number 1 on the Billboard charts, reaffirming the relevance of the Beach Boys in the popular imagination. However, recording sessions for a new album under the supervision of Wilson and James William Guercio at Caribou Ranch and the band's studio in Santa Monica that autumn yielded only a smattering of basic tracks, including a banjo-driven arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"; "It's OK", an uptempo collaboration with Mike Love; the ballad "Good Timin'"; and Dennis Wilson's "River Song". Eventually, Wilson diverted his attentions to "Child of Winter", a Christmas single co-written with Stephen Kalinich; released belatedly for the holiday market on December 23, it failed to chart.
Although still under contract with Warner Brothers Records, Wilson signed a sideline production deal with Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher's Equinox Records in early 1975. Together, they founded the loose-knit supergroup known as California Music, which involved them along with L.A. musicians Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher, and a few others. This contract was nullified by the Beach Boys' management, who perceived it as an attempt by Wilson to relieve the burden of his growing drug expenses, and it was demanded that Wilson focus his efforts on the Beach Boys, even though he strongly desired to escape from the group. The idea of California Music immediately disintegrated.
Marilyn and the Wilson family were dismayed by Wilson's continued deterioration and were reluctant to payroll him as an active partner in the touring Beach Boys, an arrangement that had persisted for a decade. They enlisted the services of radical therapist Eugene Landy in October 1975. Landy diagnosed Wilson as a paranoid schizophrenic (a diagnosis later retracted); under Landy's care, Wilson became more stable and socially engaged, with his productivity increasing once again. The tagline "Brian's Back!" became a major promotional tool for the new Beach Boys album 15 Big Ones, released to coincide with their fifteenth anniversary as a band. The record, which consisted of a mixture of traditional pop covers with newly written original material, was released in 1976; despite lukewarm reviews, it peaked at number eight on the Billboard album chart. Wilson returned to regular stage appearances with the band, alternating between piano and bass, and made a solo appearance on Saturday Night Live in November 1976; to the chagrin of the other Beach Boys, producer Lorne Michaels stipulated an exclusive performance from Wilson.
Wilson's behavior during this time was reported by many as strange and off-putting, and Landy's role was described as "unethical" and ostentatious. Often, Wilson would ask for drugs in mid-interview. During this period, Wilson was under constant surveillance by bodyguards, which he resented. Rolling Stone editor David Felton chronicled bizarre exchanges between Wilson and Landy in "The Healing of Brother Brian", a profile of the resurgent band published by the magazine in November 1976; these included a report of Landy's medical staff promising Wilson a cheeseburger in exchange for writing a new song.
Wilson expressed a fervent desire to leave the Beach Boys and record a solo album, but was prevented by conflicts that it would create between him and the group, leading him to remark: "Sometimes I feel like a commodity in a stock market." He was also firm in that he wanted to record another work on par with the achievement of Pet Sounds. In April 1977, the all-original album by Wilson, Love You, was released bearing the Beach Boys moniker, although the group's song writing contributions were minimal. It was described by Wilson as an attempt to relieve himself from mental instability brought on by a period of inactivity. Love You has since been cited as an early work of synthpop. The album features playful lyrics (alternately invoking Johnny Carson, Phil Spector, and adolescent interests) and stark instrumentation (featuring Moog bass lines and gated reverb-drenched drum patterns reflective of contemporaneous work by David Bowie and Tony Visconti). Although Love You only reached number 53 on the Billboard chart, it was lauded as an artistic watershed by many critics, including punk rock lodestar Patti Smith (writing for Hit Parader) and Robert Christgau of The Village Voice.
Wilson was under Landy's care for fourteen months until December 1976, when the therapist was dismissed for a dispute concerning his monthly fee. Throughout the next several years, Wilson vacillated between periods of relative stability (frequently joining the touring band on piano, bass and vocals and writing or co-writing eight of the twelve tracks on 1978's poorly received M.I.U. Album) and resurgences of his addictions. During this period, Wilson and his wife, Marilyn, amicably divorced in 1979 due to the strain of his erratic behavior on their family. He repeatedly checked in and out of hospitals and continued to be plagued by incessant mood swings. At one point, he wandered off alone for several days and was sighted at a gay bar playing piano for drinks. For a short period in 1978, he lived as a vagrant in Balboa Park, San Diego until police officers took him to Alvarado Hospital for alcohol poisoning. Wilson's role in the band, as well as the Beach Boys' commercial prospects, began to diminish once more. By 1982, he owed tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes.
After Wilson overdosed on a combination of alcohol, cocaine, and other psychoactive drugs, he once again employed Landy. With this effort by Landy, a more radical program was undertaken to try to restore Wilson's health. This involved removing him from the Beach Boys on November 5, 1982 at the behest of Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine, in addition to isolating him from his family and friends in Hawaii as well as putting him on a rigorous diet and health regimen. According to Carolyn Williams, Wilson refused to see Landy: "They told him that the only way that he could be a Beach Boy again, and the only way they would release his 1982 tour disbursement money, was if he would agree to see Dr. Landy. Brian started yelling that he didn't like Dr. Landy and that [Landy] was charging him $20,000 a month the last time. He was willing to see anybody to get the weight off, but he didn't want to see Landy. And they said, 'Well, no, you have to see Dr. Landy. That's the only way.'" Landy described the program that he accorded Wilson in The Handbook of Innovative Psychotherapies:
Between 1983 and 1986, Landy charged about $430,000 annually. When he requested more money, Carl Wilson was obliged to give away a quarter of Wilson's publishing royalties. In 1988, Wilson said that "Dr. Landy doesn't like me to be in touch with my family too much. He thinks it's unhealthy." Landy responded to the charges that he exerted too much control on the songwriter: "He's got a car phone in his car. If he wants to call somebody, he calls somebody... He can go anywhere, on his own, anytime he wants." Regarding Wilson's relationship to the Beach Boys at that time, Wilson added: "Although we stay together as a group, as people we're a far cry from friends. One time we were doing an interview together, and the interviewer asked Carl what it was between him and me. He goes, 'Well, Brian and I don't have to talk to each other. We're just Beach Boys, but we don't need to be friends.' And that's true. Although, whenever I think about him, I feel rotten."
Coupled with long, extreme counseling sessions, this therapy was successful in bringing Wilson back to physical health, slimming down from 311 pounds (141 kg) to 185 pounds (84 kg). As Wilson's recovery consolidated, he rejoined the Beach Boys for Live Aid in 1985 and participated in the recording of the Steve Levine-produced album The Beach Boys. Wilson stopped working with the Beach Boys on a regular basis after the release of the album, largely due to the control that Landy exercised. Eventually, Landy's therapy technique created a Svengali-like environment for Wilson, controlling every movement in his life, including his musical direction. In the mid 1980s, Landy stated, "I influence all of [Brian]'s thinking. I'm practically a member of the band ... [We're] partners in life." Wilson later responded to allegations with, "People say that Dr. Landy runs my life, but the truth is, I'm in charge."
Despite the critical success of his debut solo album, rumors abounded that Wilson had either suffered a stroke or had been permanently disabled due to excessive drug use. Wilson, who had been prescribed massive amounts of psychotropic drugs by Landy's staff since 1983, had developed tardive dyskinesia, a neurological condition marked by involuntary, repetitive movements, that develops in about 20 percent of patients treated with anti-psychotic drugs for an extended period of time. During recording of the Brian Wilson album, engineering staff had observed what seemed to be "every pharmaceutical on the face of the earth," referring to the medicine bag Landy was using to store Wilson's prescription drugs. Landy separated from Wilson in 1989, however, they remained business partners. Wilson's proposed second solo album under the direction of Landy, Sweet Insanity, was rejected by Sire in 1990.
An ostensible memoir, Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story, was published in 1991. In the book, whose authorship is still debated, Wilson spoke about his troubled relationship with his abusive father Murry, his private disputes with the Beach Boys and his lost years of mental illness. Landy's illegal use of psychotropic drugs on Wilson, and his influence over Wilson's financial affairs, were legally ended by his brother Carl and other members of the Wilson family after a two-year-long conservatorship battle in Los Angeles. Landy's misconduct resulted in the loss of his license to practice in California, as well as a court-ordered removal and restraining order from Wilson.
Wilson released two albums simultaneously in 1995. The first was the soundtrack to Don Was's documentary I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, which consisted of new versions of several Beach Boys and solo songs. The second, Orange Crate Art, saw Wilson as lead vocalist on an album produced, arranged and written by Van Dyke Parks. I Just Wasn't Made for These Times includes Wilson performing for the first time with his now-adult daughters, Wendy and Carnie of the group Wilson Phillips and Van Dyke Parks. During the early 1990s, he also worked on some tracks with power pop band Jellyfish, which remain unreleased. Roger Manning has recounted an anecdote during these sessions involving Wilson falling asleep at the piano yet continuing to play. Later in the decade, Wilson and his daughters Carnie and Wendy would release an album together, titled The Wilsons (1997). Also, around this time, Wilson sang backup vocals on Belinda Carlisle's "California".
In 1998, Wilson teamed with Chicago-based producer Joe Thomas for the album Imagination. Following this, he received extensive vocal coaching to improve his voice, learned to cope with his stage fright, and started to consistently perform live for the first time in decades. This resulted in Wilson successfully performing the entire Pet Sounds album live throughout the US, UK and Europe. In 1999, Wilson filed a suit against Thomas, seeking damages and a declaration which freed him to work on his next album without involvement from Thomas. The suit was made after Thomas allegedly began to raise his industry profile and wrongfully enrich himself through his association with Wilson. Thomas reciprocated with a suit citing that Melinda Wilson "schemed against and manipulated" him and Wilson. The case was settled out of court. Wilson's third solo album Gettin' In Over My Head (2004) featured collaborations with Elton John, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and brother Carl, who died of lung cancer in February 1998.
In 1999, when asked if he was a religious man, Wilson responded: "I believe in Phil Spector," later clarifying that while he had spiritual beliefs, he did not follow any particular religion, also adding that he believed "music is God's voice." When asked by The Guardian in 2004 if he believed in life after death, Wilson replied "I don't."
With his mental health on the mend, Wilson decided to revisit the aborted Smile project from 1967. Aided by musician and longtime fan Darian Sahanaja of Wondermints, and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Wilson reimagined the session material into something that would work in a live context. His work was finally revealed in concert on February 20, 2004, 37 years after it was conceived, though he later stated that the finished product was substantially different from what was originally envisioned. Wilson debuted his 2004 interpretation of Smile at the Royal Festival Hall in London and subsequently toured the UK. Following the tour, Brian Wilson Presents Smile was recorded, and released in September 2004. The release hit number 13 on the Billboard chart. At the 47th Grammy Awards in 2005, Wilson won his first Grammy for the track "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" as Best Rock Instrumental. In 2004, Wilson promoted Brian Wilson Presents Smile with a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
In February 2005, Wilson had a cameo in the television series Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century as Daffy Duck's spiritual surfing adviser. On June 26, 2005, Wilson performed at Glastonbury Festival in England to critical success. On July 2, 2005, Wilson performed for the Live 8 concert in Berlin, Germany. In September 2005, Wilson arranged a charity drive to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, wherein people who donated $100 or more would receive a personal phone call from Wilson. According to the website, over $250K was raised. In November 2005, former bandmate Mike Love sued Wilson over "shamelessly misappropriating ... Love's songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the 'Smile' album itself" in the promotion of Smile. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on grounds that it was meritless.
In December 2005, Wilson released What I Really Want for Christmas for Arista Records. The release hit number 200 on the Billboard chart, though sales were modest. Wilson's remake of "Deck the Halls" became a surprise Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit. He appeared in the 2005 holiday episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, performing "Deck the Halls" for children with xeroderma pigmentosum (hypersensitivity to sunlight) at Walt Disney World Resort.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pet Sounds, Wilson embarked on a brief tour in November 2006. Beach Boy Al Jardine accompanied Wilson for the tour.
Wilson released That Lucky Old Sun in September 2008. The piece debuted in a series of September 2007 concerts at London's Royal Festival Hall, and in January 2008 at Sydney's State Theatre while headlining the Sydney Festival. Wilson described the piece as "consisting of five 'rounds', with interspersed spoken word". A series of US and UK concerts preceded its release. On September 30, 2008, Seattle's Light in the Attic Records released A World of Peace Must Come, a collaboration between Wilson and Stephen Kalinich, originally recorded in 1969, but later lost in Kalinich's closet.
In later years, Wilson became influential to the spirit of punk rock and was regarded as "godfather" to an era of indie musicians who were inspired by his melodic sensibilities, chamber pop orchestrations, and recording explorations. In lists published by Rolling Stone, Wilson ranked 52 for the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" in 2008 and 12 for the "100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time" in 2015. In 2012, music publication NME ranked Wilson number 8 in its "50 Greatest Producers Ever" list, elaborating "few consider quite how groundbreaking Brian Wilson's studio techniques were in the mid-60s". His life was dramatized in the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy.
In summer 2009, Wilson signed a two-record deal with Disney after he was approached to record an album of his interpretations of Gershwin songs, and to assess unfinished piano pieces by Gershwin for possible expansion into finished songs. After extensive evaluation of a vast body of Gershwin fragments, Wilson chose two to complete. Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin was released in August 2010 on Disney's Pearl label. Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin achieved Number 1 position on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and had sold 53,000 copies by August 2011. Wilson's second album for Disney was In the Key of Disney, a collection of Disney film songs, which was released on October 25, 2011. Wilson contributed his revival of Buddy Holly's "Listen to Me" to the tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, released on September 6, 2011, on Verve Forecast. Rolling Stone praised Wilson's version as "gorgeous," featuring "... angelic harmonies and delicate instrumentation."
The official Beach Boys release of the original, partially completed Smile recordings was overseen by Wilson for the compilation, titled The Smile Sessions, released on October 31, 2011.
In October 2011, Jardine reported that the Beach Boys would reunite in 2012 for 50 American dates and 50–60 overseas dates. The Beach Boys released their new album, That's Why God Made the Radio, on June 5, 2012. The album's title track was released as its first single in April 2012. The new album debuted at Number 3 on the Billboard charts which was their highest album debut to date. Following the reunion a year later, it was announced that Wilson would no longer tour with the band as Mike Love returned the lineup to its pre-Anniversary Tour configuration with him and Bruce Johnston as its only members.
On June 6, 2013, Wilson's website announced that he was recording and self-producing new material with guitarist Jeff Beck, session musician/producer Don Was, as well as fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. On June 20, the website announced that the material might be split into three albums: one of new pop songs, another of mostly instrumental tracks with Beck, and another of interwoven tracks dubbed "the suite" which initially began form as the closing four tracks of That's Why God Made the Radio. In January 2014, Wilson confirmed that he did not write any new material with Beck, that Beck was just a guest musician on songs he wrote and nothing the duo recorded together would appear on his upcoming album.
Premiering in September 2014 at the Toronto International Film Festival, Wilson was in attendance at the first screening of Love & Mercy, a biographical film of his life directed by Bill Pohlad. On October 7, 2014, BBC released a newly recorded version of "God Only Knows" with guest appearances by Wilson, Brian May, Elton John, Jake Bugg, Stevie Wonder, Lorde, and many others. It was recorded to celebrate the launch of BBC Music. A week later, Wilson was featured as a guest vocalist for the Emile Haynie single "Falling Apart". A cover of Paul McCartney's "Wanderlust" was contributed by Wilson for the tribute album The Art of McCartney, released in November 2014. Almost two years after recording began, Wilson released his eleventh solo album, No Pier Pressure, on April 7, 2015. The thirteen track album (a deluxe edition containing three bonus tracks was also released) features many guest appearances including Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin as well as Fun's Nate Ruess, She & Him's Zooey Deschanel and M Ward, Capital Cities' Sebu Simonian, along with Kacey Musgraves and Peter Hollens. Earlier in January 2015, Wilson contributed vocals to Mini Mansions' single "Any Emotions" from the album The Great Pretenders. On September 17, 2015, Wilson announced that he would play a November 4 benefit concert as part of a new partnership with the Campaign to Change Direction. Proceeds from the concert went to provide free mental health services to veterans.
In 2014, Wilson's life was dramatized in the biopic Love & Mercy, directed by Bill Pohlad. It stars John Cusack portraying Wilson during the 1980s and Paul Dano portraying Wilson during the 1960s. The film co-stars Paul Giamatti as Eugene Landy and Elizabeth Banks as Wilson's second wife, Melinda Ledbetter.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, Wilson embarked on the Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour in April 2016. It was promoted as his final performances of the album. An autobiography titled I Am Brian Wilson, co-written by ghostwriter Ben Greenman, was published in October 2016. That same month, Wilson announced a new album, Sensitive Music for Sensitive People, comprising originals and rock and roll cover songs. He described the name as a "working title" and said that the recording of the album would begin in December 2016. Wilson continued to tour in 2019 with fellow former Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin and his band.
In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, Wilson responded to a question about retiring: "Retirement? Oh, man. No retiring. If I retired I wouldn’t know what to do with my time. What would I do? Sit there and go, 'Oh, I don’t want to be 74'? I’d rather get on the road and do concerts and take airplane flights." Whether he truly consents to his semi-regular touring schedule since the 2000s remains a subject of debate among fans. Ginger Blake, a family friend formerly of the Honeys, characterized Wilson in 1999 as "complacent and basically surrendered". In 2016, Mike Love questioned whether Wilson's printed statements in the press were actually spoken by him and suggested that he is "not in charge of his life, like I am mine. ... But, I don't like to put undue pressure on him ... because I know he has a lot of issues."
In May 2019 Wilson announced a co-headlining tour with the Zombies called "Something Great From '68", featuring Wilson performing selections from Friends and Surf's Up.
Currently, Brian Wiles is 80 years, 0 months and 5 days old. Brian Wiles will celebrate 81st birthday on a Tuesday 20th of June 2023.
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