Beach Boys splinter over politics again as Brian Wilson repudiates Trump fundraiser

The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys performed at the Grammy Museum in L.A. in 2012.
(Becky Sapp / Grammy Museum)

God only knows that, two weeks out from the presidential election, the stakes are high.

On Sunday, a version of the Beach Boys — the touring incarnation of the group led by cofounder Mike Love — performed at a last-minute fundraiser for President Trump near Newport Beach in Orange County.

Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, two other founding members of the beloved California band, were less than happy about the news.

“We have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump benefit today in Newport Beach. Zero,” Wilson and Jardine told Variety through a spokesperson Sunday. “We didn’t even know about it and were very surprised to read about it in the Los Angeles Times.”

The Beach Boys rehearse in Newport Beach.
The Beach Boys rehearse in Newport Beach Saturday in preparation for President Trump’s fundraiser.
(Mark Chervinsky / For The Times)

The L.A. Times published a story about the fundraiser Sunday, including the detail that Love’s touring version of the group would headline the event. The Beach Boys formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, less than an hour’s drive from Lido Isle, the exclusive man-made island in Newport Beach where Trump’s campaign held the fundraiser.


“Everyone assumes he’s going to go to battleground states. No one really thinks about how Orange County, California, is an ATM machine,” Jon Fleischman, a former state GOP official, told The Times Sunday.

In 2016, Orange County shifted blue and voted Democratic in a presidential election for the first time since the Great Depression. Its collective pockets however, remain deep — and GOP donors still have a strong presence.

A cash-strapped President Trump stopped in California to raise money 16 days before election day, appearing at a high-dollar Newport Beach fundraiser.

Oct. 19, 2020

“The only reason a presidential candidate should be in California in late October is if the GPS breaks or if he is so desperate for money that he has no choice,” political strategist Dan Schnur told The Times. “At this stage in the campaign, every hour is precious. The fact that the candidate himself has to raise money in person means their fundraising situation is way beyond dire.”

But Sunday wasn’t the first time the “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” hitmakers divided over political differences. In February, Wilson and Jardine both signed a petition urging supporters to “Say No to Trophy Hunting!”

At the time, the request called for a boycott of Love’s group after it secured a headlining spot at the Safari Club International Convention in Reno, where Donald Trump Jr. was the keynote speaker.

“This organization supports trophy hunting, which both Al and I are emphatically opposed to,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. “There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition.”


Love holds the legal rights to the name for the touring edition of the Beach Boys, although Wilson and Jardine have plans to tour together too, playing Beach Boys music with guitarist Blondie Chaplin.

“I don’t have anything negative to say about the president of the USA,” Love told Uncut magazine in 2017. “We did attend the inauguration. That was a moving experience.

“I understand there are so many factions and fractious things going on — the chips will fall where they may,” Love added. “But Donald Trump has never been anything but kind to us. We have known him for many a year. We’ve performed at some of his venues at fundraisers and so on.”

The Beach Boys featuring Mike Love will perform at a trophy-hunting convention where Donald Trump Jr. will speak. Band co-founder Brian Wilson disavows the gig.

Feb. 3, 2020