It might have been true that the 60’s music scene was dominated by Brit Pop and the so called British invasion but there was a group of California boys creating their own special magic and they owed most of their success to an enigmatic genius called Brian Wilson.
Born in California in 1942, Brian Wilson formed the Beach Boys in 1961 and had a long string of hit singles and albums, helping to establish the “California sound” along the way. By the mid-60s, however, Wilson looked to move beyond the cheery, simple, teen-based formula that characterized much of the Beach Boys’ early music. The result was 1966’s Pet Sounds, which is ranked by many as one of the greatest albums of all time. But at the peak of his creative powers, substance abuse and mental illness took their toll on Wilson, who for much of the next 25 years lived in seclusion. After breaking free from psychologist Eugene Landy, who exerted an excessive amount of control over Wilson’s life during the 1980s, Wilson revived his career and released several solo albums in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, remarried in 1995 and was honoured by the Kennedy Centre in 2007 for lifetime contribution to the performing arts. Since that time he has continued to tour and record albums and was also the subject of the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy.
In my book this man almost single handedly changed the face of pop music with some evergreen classics like California Girls, God Only Knows, Wouldn’t It be Nice, Kokomo and many others. We still listen to these songs today and marvel at the layered harmonies, the wonderful production techniques and sheer musicality of the work.
His more recent work might be somewhat less accessible but that doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the music. But by the mid-60s, Brian Wilson had begun to experiment musically, conceptually and chemically, and he sought to push the group’s sound beyond the light and accessible sun-and-fun formula that characterized its early music. By late 1964, he had quit touring with the Beach Boys, due in part to a nervous breakdown he had suffered on the road, and he used his time at home to begin work on the band’s next album. Initially inspired by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul (1965), Wilson’s goal was to create an album where “every song mattered” and that would “make people feel loved.” After collaborating with his friend Tony Asher on the lyrics, and writing and arranging the music almost entirely on his own, Wilson then employed the famous session group known as the Wrecking Crew to commit his vision to tape.
The result was Pet Sounds an iconic album ranking with the Beatles Sgt. Peppers and the Stones Sympathy for the Devil as collections that changed pop music forever. Do yourself a big favour and hunt out this man’s music on the internet, It will open your mind.

About the author: Dalene Haugh