‘The Beach Boys’ Documentary Arrives on Disney+

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The Beach Boys perform onstage circa 1964 in California. (L-R) Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, Brian Wilson, Mike Love. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; used with permission)

The Beach Boys, an all-new documentary that celebrates the legendary band that revolutionized pop music, and the iconic, harmonious sound they created that personified the California dream, is streaming exclusively on Disney+ beginning May 24, 2024. The film, announced on March 25, traces the group from their humble family beginnings and features never-before-seen footage and all-new interviews with Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Bruce Johnston. Watch the official trailer and a reunion clip, below.

In the film, viewers will also hear from the group’s late brothers Carl Wilson (d. 1998) and Dennis Wilson (d. 1983), and former member Ricky Fataar, plus view a new interview with former Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin. The Beach Boys is directed by Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny and written by Mark Monroe.

Watch the trailer for The Beach Boys documentary

Founded in Hawthorne, California in 1961, The Beach Boys were originally comprised of the three teenaged Wilson brothers: Brian, Carl, and Dennis, their cousin Mike Love, and school friend Al Jardine. In 1962, neighbor David Marks joined the group when Jardine left the group to go to college. The Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records in July 1962 and released their first album, Surfin’ Safari, that same year. Jardine returned to the group in summer 1963 and Marks departed. In 1965, Bruce Johnston joined the band when Brian Wilson retired from touring to focus on writing and producing for the group.

They are among the most commercially successful bands of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide. The group had 36 singles reach the U.S. Top 40 (the most by a U.S. rock band), with four topping the Billboard Hot 100 (“I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Good Vibrations” and “Kokomo.” Other Top 5 include “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “California Girls,” “Barbara Ann” and “Sloop John B.”

Watch a brief clip from the film of their 2023 reunion

The Beach Boys’ extensive recording library is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

In advance of the film, The Beach Boys released an official autobiography, The Beach Boys by The Beach Boys, described as “the ultimate chronicle of one of the world’s greatest bands.” The book, which arrived on April 2, via Genesis Publications, captures the group’s astounding rise from Hawthorne garage band to internationally renowned act, covering the release of their first single, ‘Surfin,’ up to their 1980 Independence Day concert at the National Mall in Washington D.C., for an audience of over half a million people. The title is available to order in the U.S. here and the U.K. here. (An earlier, signed limited edition from the publisher has sold-out.)

From the book’s January 24 announcement: Through their unique sound, complex harmonies, sensational live shows and use of innovative recording techniques, The Beach Boys became woven into the cultural fabric of America and influenced generations of musicians globally. This book documents how it happened.

Told through the words of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and accompanied by rare and iconic photographs and ephemera, the result is an extraordinary autobiography from America’s biggest band.

With unlimited access to the Capitol Records archive, The Beach Boys band archive and their personal archives, The Beach Boys by The Beach Boys has been carefully curated from these unique sources to create an exciting visual journey, combining never-before-seen negatives with iconic images.

Book pages via Genesis Publications

Outtakes from iconic album sessions are featured, such as Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) and Pet Sounds, as well as behind-the-scenes recording photographs from Smile, 20/20 and more. An abundance of live shots includes the band’s first European tour and rehearsals for the first live performance of “Good Vibrations,” which Brian Wilson travelled over 2,000 miles to oversee. These photographs are accompanied by ephemera from across the years, including tape boxes, tour posters and programmes, handwritten notes and lyrics, newspaper clippings, album advertisements, chord sheets and studio documents – all of which assist in illustrating their remarkable story.

The Beach Boys by The Beach Boys features new text drawn from extensive interviews with Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston exclusively for this edition, and archive text from band members Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson.

The band members describe their story from the beginning: signing their first recording contract with Capitol Records and creating some of the most flawless, sun soaked singles of all time – “Surfer Girl” / “Little Deuce Coupe,” “I Get Around” / “Don’t Worry Baby” and “California Girls” / “Let Him Run Wild,” to name a few – as well as sharing their memories of making revered albums such as Pet Sounds, and fan favourites Wild Honey, Friends, Sunflower and Holland. The story follows their journey around the world, from school fundraisers to global tours and landmark shows such as Prague when, in 1969, they were the first Western band to visit Czechoslovakia, and New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1972. Throughout, the band reflects on the making of the songs.

Book pages via Genesis Publications

“There’s love in the music and people can relate to the love, regardless of whether you’re two years old or 92 years old. For me, music is about love. Love is the message I want to share. I hope people feel that in my music. That makes the hard work worth it.” – Brian Wilson

Joining them are a host of contributors who have been involved with or inspired by the band’s music, including Peter Blake, Lindsey Buckingham, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan, Def Leppard, David Lee Roth, Jim Kerr, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, Jimmy Page, Carly Simon, Pete Townshend, Rufus Wainwright and Thom York.

Related: Our feature on “Good Vibrations”

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Neal Umphred
    #1 Neal Umphred 3 June, 2024, 10:07

    In late 1970, SUNFLOWER arrived in my part of northeastern Pennsylvania. After the Beach Boys albums of the previous few years (which most of us looked down upon in 1970), this album astonished me.

    There was energy, humor, love, peace, and lots of those good vibrations that seemed mostly missing since 1966.

    And those voices!

    I would drag friends over to my apartment to listen. If I said, “You gotta hear the new Beach Boys album,” people would go, “Nah. Put on something else.”

    But if I just got them high (I haven’t toked in ages but I still miss the fine, fine, superfine Mexican sativa we called Acapulco Gold) and slipped it on, the moment the sinuous, pulsing rhythms of “Slip on Through” started playing, my friends would perk up and listen.

    “This Whole World” followed and, like the first track, it was fantabulous music to be high with!

    It may sound weird today, but those two recordings were so different from most people’s idea of who the Beach Boys were in 1970 that most listeners didn’t know who they were listening to! It wasn’t until the unmistakable harmonies of the third track, “Add Some Music to Your Day,” that it was obvious that it was the Beach Boys they were grooving.

    Then I’d hear something like, “Wow, man . . . the Beach Boys. Far out!”

    It became my mission to turn people on and then turn them onto SUNFLOWER. The album became my go-to gift for friends’ birthdays.

    In early 1971, Mary, who ran the record section of the Book & Card Mart in Wilkes-Barre, told me that she had sold only six copies of SUNFLOWER in its first six months of release and I had bought five of them.

    I replied, “Do you remember who bought the other one?”

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