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The Beach Boys
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Beginning their career as the most popular surf band in the nation, the Beach Boys finally emerged by 1966 as Americaís preeminent pop group, the only act able to challenge the over-arching success of the Beatles with both mainstream listeners and the critical community. From their 1961 debut with the regional hit "Surfin," the three Wilson brothers-Brian, Dennis, and Carl - plus cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine constructed the most intricate, gorgeous harmonies ever heard from a pop band.
The origins of the group lie in Hawthorne, California, a southern suburb of Los Angeles situated close to the Pacific Coast. The three sons of a part-time song-plugger, Brian, Dennis, and Carl grew up a just few miles from the ocean. The three often harmonized together as youths spurred on by Brianís fascination with Ď50s vocal acts like the Four Freshmen and the Hi-Los. Their cousin Mike Love often joined in on the impromptu sessions, and the group gained a fifth with the addition as Brianís high school football teammate, Al Jardine.
In mid-1962 the Beach Boys released their label debut, Surfiní Safari. The title track, a more accomplished novelty single than its predecessor, hit the Top 20 and helped launch the surf-rock craze just beginning to blossom around Southern California. By the end of 1963, the Beach Boys had recorded three full LPs, hit the Top Ten as many times, and toured incessantly. Released in May 1966 Pet Sounds, more than justified the effort. Itís still one of the best-produced and most influential rock LPs ever released. The Beach Boysí next single, "Good Vibrations," had originally been written for the Pet Sounds sessions. Released in October 1966, "Good Vibrations," capped off the year as the groupís third number one single and still stands as one of the best singles of all time.
The Beach Boys continued touring, and Mike Love and Brian Wilson actually began writing songs together in 1995. Instead of a new album though, the Beach Boys returned with Star and Stripes, Vol. 1, a collection of remade hits with country stars singing lead and the group adding backing vocals.