Mike Love has been a Beach Boy since the band began way back in 1961, and wrote the lyrics to some of their best-known songs, including “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls,” “I Get Around” and “Good Vibrations.” And that’s him singing lead vocals on the recordings of the first three of these, plus “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” and more. Overall, The Beach Boys have had three dozen Top 40 hits, and they were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
Summer is a great time to catch The Beach Boys in concert, and it is our good fortune that they will be back in the area to perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ventura County Fair. The concert is free with paid admission to the fair. Click here for more information.
This incarnation of The Beach Boys includes Love and long-time member Bruce Johnston, and Love reports that the band’s early guitarist, David Marks, will also be joining in. While purists would prefer to see all of the surviving members performing together, as was the case for the 50th anniversary tour that stopped at the Santa Barbara Bowl two years ago, it seems that ship has sailed.
But don’t worry — Love, Johnston and Marks will be joined by a collection of first-rate musicians who quite nicely fill in the sounds and beautiful harmonies of all those Beach Boys songs that have become part of our cultural DNA.
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Mike Love: We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Fifty years of “Fun, Fun, Fun.” That song came out in the spring of 1964. Then “I Get Around” came out in the fall. Those two big hits for us. We’re still enjoying doing it to this day, and it still seems to go over great with the audiences.
Jeff Moehlis: Can you tell us what you remember most fondly about your time living in Santa Barbara?
ML: Well, I lived at 101 Mesa Lane on the Mesa, and it was just a beautiful spot. An old friend of mine from Santa Barbara named Chuck Williams, who’s an avid Beach Boy fan, grew up and lived most of his life in Montecito, and he’s the one that turned me on to the place at 101 Mesa Lane. I was able to rent the place and buy it. It had several structures on the property.
It was quite an amazing place. We had a studio there, and I have a daughter, Summer, who was born there, and also a son, Brian, who was born there. It’s a very special spot to me.
It turned out that we moved to Lake Tahoe — Incline Village, Nevada — it must’ve been about 20 years ago now. But I love Santa Barbara. My favorite place to go is the Rose Café out on the Mesa. Mexican food. It just couldn’t have been a more beautiful setting.
But with the several structures there, I was becoming a landlord, and that wasn’t my cup of tea. So we decided to get a little more remote, I guess, by going to Lake Tahoe. It’s still overlooking the water, as the place on Mesa Lane was.
But there’s not much better environment than Santa Barbara. My oldest son, Christian, who has been touring with us up until this year for the last several years, he still is a Santa Barbaran, and he enjoys East Beach. He’s always in volleyball tournaments. He loves beach volleyball, grew up surfing and all that. So he’s living the life we sang about back in the early days.
JM: I saw you guys when you performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl as part of your 50th anniversary tour. What are your reflections on that tour, which got the surviving members of the band back together?
ML: Well, actually David Marks is going to be with us in Ventura, it looks like. I spoke to him a couple of days ago, and then re-spoke to him last night, and he's on board with there. He’s doing a weekend of touring with us. He’s always been a real cool guy to be with and hang out with. We have a lot of fun with him. He has a great sense of humor. But he was another one who was really adversely affected by my Uncle Murry (Wilson). He was actually pretty cruel to him. At a very young age, maybe 15 years old, he was eliminated from The Beach Boys in not such a great way. But we’re still friends.
My cousin, Brian (Wilson), he’s been doing his own thing for about 15 years. Bruce and I, we’ve been doing The Beach Boys touring ... I for 52 years now (laughs). So we’ve been carrying on the way we do things. We joined forces there for that 50th anniversary tour, which seemed to be a good idea to do. It was not without problems, but it was a good thing to do, I think, for the fans who wanted to see us together.
We were to have done 50 shows, but it grew to 73, actually. So we did actually more than we originally agreed to do. But there was an agreement that we would do “X” amount of shows, and it was signed by everybody and agreed by everybody. And at the end of it, there were some false statements put out, from Brian’s press people, saying that it felt like I fired him or something. But it’s not true, because it was well-documented that we were going to go back to doing things the way we had done once we accomplished these reunion shows. Everything wasn’t done in a way that I would consider on the up and up. So although it was great to do it, and we had many successes, the way things were done by certain people involved weren’t my cup of tea.
But we’re very happy now. We’re doing 130 shows this year, or more (laughs). We’re doing really great. A lot of people are saying how great we sound. We’re doing a lot of sell-outs here, there and everywhere. I think there will be a big crowd in Ventura on Thursday night. So I’m not complaining, I’m just saying we’re having a great time.
John Stamos is going to be there. He loves to come out and play drums. We back him up on a song. He has a great time, and I think it’s a real treat for the audience, as well.
Click here for the full interview with Beach Boys legend Mike Love.
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.