BIOGRAPHY: BRIAN WILSON: A BEACH BOY'S TALE (TV)

Summary

One in this series of documentaries which examines the professional and personal lives of a wide range of individuals, both those in the public eye and those of historic note. This documentary, narrated by Beau Bridges, utilizes home movies; rare concert footage; and interviews with family, friends, collaborators, and fans in an examination of the life and career of Brian Wilson, leader of the pop group the Beach Boys. Promoter Fred Vail and family friends Rick Henn, David Leaf, and Rich Sloan recall Wilson's early life under the tutelage of his dictatorial, would-be composer father Murry, and Sloan, Stephen Kalinich, and Smashing Pumpkin's Billy Corgan remember how Brian's brothers Dennis and Carl, cousin Mike Love, and friend Alan Jardine joined him in a group originally called the Pendletons. Bridges follows Murry Wilson's development as the group's manager, the band's early hits such as "Surfin' Safari," and David Marks' substitution for Jardine during 1962; and radio personality Art Laboe examines how the group cultivated an image of all-American surfer boys. Ginger Blake recalls going with her boyfriend Gary Usher to hear Brian Wilson try out his well known falsetto voice for the first time, drummer Hal Blaine discusses Murry Wilson's increasing involvement with the band and antiquated approach to the music business, Daryl Dragon of the Captain and Tenille explains how the band's surfer outlook was personified by Dennis Wilson's lifestyle, former Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and surfer Greg Noll characterize the group's image as based solely on a Hollywood version of beach life, and Corgan explains how the Beach Boys' music captured just the right sound for the subjects they explored. Next, Diane Rovell, Brian's first wife Marilyn Wilson, and Ginger Blake, once known as the group "the Honeys," discuss the carefree, spontaneous, naive nature of the Beach Boys in their early days. Friend Dave Nowlen talks about the effects of Murry Wilson's bullying on his son's composition of the song "In My Room," and roommate Bob Norberg describes Brian's move out of the family home once he felt that Murry was holding him back creatively. Former manager David Anderle examines Brian's total involvement in the output of the group, from composing to producing, and Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night describes Brian's use of his music as a means of self-expression. Brian fired his father as manager in 1964; in a 1966 interview mother Audree Wilson tells of Murry's jealousy of their son's success. Sloan looks at the preponderance of Beach Boys songs related to automobiles, and Kalinich surmises that Wilson captured the optimism of America filtered through a uniquely Californian sensibility. In 1964 Brian Wilson suffered the first of many panic attacks and began increasingly to avoid air travel; Glen Campbell recalls replacing him on tour at that time. Marilyn Wilson discusses her former husband's introduction to drugs by recording-industry insiders, and Hutton describes the start of a new sound for the group in "California Girl" and the frustration of Wilson and Bruce Johnston with the clean-cut image they perpetuated. Bridges introduces a little-seen clip of Jack Benny and Bob Hope pretending to be surfers, and he explains changes made by Brian in choosing lyricist Tony Asher for the upcoming "Pet Sounds" album as well as his adoption of the Beatles' publicist, Derek Taylor. Bass player Carol Kaye, drummer Hal Blaine, and Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks recall the phenomenon of "Good Vibrations," after which Brian's drug-induced behavior and the emergence of the hippie culture drew the Beach Boys away from the mainstream of popular culture. Rare footage of Brian Wilson performing the never released ballad "Surf's Up" is shown, and surprising information about the group's involvement with Charles Manson is revealed. Brian's daughters Carnie and Wendy Wilson note that their father had little involvement in their childhood; and Johnston, family friend Diane Rovell, and second wife Melinda WIlson describe Brian's withdrawal from the group and exhibition of signs of deep depression as a result of mental illness and drug abuse. Marilyn Wilson recalls Brian's unusual treatment by psychiatrist Eugene Landy. Segments of his comeback after two years are shown in a scene in which Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi force him to go surfing and in a 1976 appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show" in which Wilson talks about his drug abuse. Marilyn Wilson then recounts the incident that led to the breakup of her marriage with the musician, and footage is shown of the last concert held by the original Beach Boys in 1983, shortly before Dennis Wilson's death. In 1984 Brian was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and manic depressive; Blake, Melinda Wilson, and the musician's daughters recall the following period, in which psychiatrist Landy controlled Wilson's every movement. A series of lawsuits followed, and eventually Brian and Melinda Wilson moved to the midwest to escape the "California dream." Commercials deleted.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Marc Haas and Helen Hotze Haas Foundations, 2000. This selection from the Alan Gerry Cable Collection has been made available by the Gerry Foundation, Inc.

Details

  • NETWORK: A&E
  • DATE: June 20, 1999 Sunday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:29:50
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:58949
  • GENRE: Arts documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: A&E - TV series, 1987-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Michael Cascio … Executive Producer
    • Peter Jones … Executive Producer
    • Carolanne Dolan … Supervising Producer
    • Andrew Tilles … Supervising Producer
    • Morgan Neville … Producer, Director, Writer
    • Angie Corcetti … Associate Producer
    • Beau Bridges … Narrator
    • David Anderle
    • Tony Asher
    • Dan Aykroyd
    • John Belushi
    • Jack Benny
    • Hal Blaine
    • Ginger Blake
    • Glen Campbell
    • Billy Corgan
    • Mike Douglas
    • Daryl Dragon
    • Rick Henn
    • Bob Hope
    • Danny Hutton
    • Alan Jardine
    • Bruce Johnston
    • Stephen Kalinich
    • Carol Kaye
    • Art Laboe
    • Eugene Landy
    • David Leaf
    • Mike Love
    • Charles Manson
    • David Marks
    • Greg Noll
    • Bob Norberg
    • Dave Nowlen
    • Van Dyke Parks
    • Diane Rovell
    • Rich Sloan
    • Derek Taylor
    • Gary Usher
    • Fred Vail
    • Audree Wilson
    • Brian Wilson
    • Carl Wilson
    • Carnie Wilson
    • Dennis Wilson
    • Marilyn Wilson
    • Melinda Wilson
    • Murry Wilson
    • Wendy Wilson