Dec 4, 2015
Is it fair to call Carl Wilson the “accidental” Beach Boy? He was the youngest brother – and cousin – in the world’s most enduring and prominent California surf band, the one that probably had other youthful pursuits in mind when older brother Brian recruited him to the band in the early 1960s at age 15.
KENT CROWLEY podcast excerpt: "Murray Wilson, father of Brian, Dennis and Carl, was a very damaged individual. He, too, grew up in an abusive household with an abusive father. So what didn't happen in the Wilson household -- until Carl showed up -- was you never had anyone to break that cycle. That's why there was such an emphasis on Carl Wilson being the caregiver and the caretaker... The one thing that brought that family together was music."
But the rest of The Beach Boys were lucky he got around – I mean, came around – as Carl eventually became the band’s musical director, lead vocalist and its conscience in the absence of brother Brian.
In his new biography, Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys, writer Kent Crowley tells the story of the Brother who spent much of his life in Brian’s shadow, even when Brian was nowhere in sight for years and years.
KENT CROWLEY podcast excerpt: "Carl started out as a teenager, still in high school, playing surf music. Surf music began as an entry-level style of guitar. But as amplifier technology evolved, as the introduced the reverb, there were all these great surf guitar players such as Dick Dale. And over time, the complexities of Brian Wilson's writing demanded that Carl command a much higher level of knowledge about chords, rhythm, and the role that each note played in the chord -- what a lot of guitar players don't need to know."
Know the Boys’ music but not their history? Maybe you didn’t realize those are Carl Wilson’s vocals in your head from the immortal beach tunes “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows,” among many others.
• 3:30 Murray Wilson, father of three of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, and Carl Wilson, was himself the product of an abusive household;
• 19:10 Carl Wilson doesn't get enough credit as a guitar hero, according to biographer Kent Crowley;
• 32:10 Crowley cites examples of Carl Wilson's "wonderful sense of humor."