Brian Wilson fired? No, but Beach Boys will tour without him
This post has been updated. See note below for details.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall backstage in London on Friday night at the Beach Boys’ final performance of their 50th-anniversary reunion tour, which draws to a close on the jarring note that founding member Mike Love has in essence fired the group’s creative leader, Brian Wilson, and two other original members, Alan Jardine and David Marks.
Odds are good that the Wembley Arena show itself will go as swimmingly as the rest of the tour, which found the four surviving original members and longtime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston digging generously and deeply into their vast catalog to serve up as many as 53 songs in a single night.
But since Love announced last week that he and Johnston will return to their pre-reunion version of the Beach Boys—minus Wilson, Jardine, Marks and several members of the Brian Wilson Band who have been key parts of the reunion juggernaut—he unleashed a tidal wave of public and private response. Much of it has been critical of Love, who many years ago won legal control over the Beach Boys name and brand.
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Love not only caught his bandmates off guard with his press release stating he would no longer be requiring their services once the reunion tour wrapped, he also inflamed feelings in the Eagles camp when he explained to The Times his reason for dispatching the other original Beach Boys.
“You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed,” Love said last week when the group members gathered at the Grammy Museum for the opening of a new Beach Boys 50th anniversary exhibit and an evening salute to their musical legacy. “There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited lineup], but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year.’ The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5.”
That won Love no fans among the Eagles, with whom the Beach Boys have toured in the past.
“Two things that we know for certain: Mr. Love will never allow the facts get in the way of his ramblings and he will never miss an opportunity to regurgitate his venom,” the Eagles’ spokesman wrote in a letter to Love’s publicist Jay Jones, which was copied to The Times. “Lest we forget, during his acceptance speech at the Beach Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, which was ostensibly about the importance of harmony and how the Beach Boys ‘love all people,’ Mr. Love attacked Paul McCartney and Diana Ross for not being in the room. He then went on to say that ‘Mick Jagger has always been [afraid] to get on the stage with the Beach Boys.”
“Since 1994 when the Eagles reunited, they have performed more than 600 shows worldwide,” the letter continued. “Neither the band nor its reps are aware of any promoter accusing them of being ‘overexposed.’ Regarding Mr. Love’s statement about Eagles tickets being sold for $5, according to our records that did happen on June 21, 1975, when the band performed at Wembley Stadium with the Beach Boys.”
The Eagles letter prompted a quick apology from Love’s publicist.
“Please accept my apologies on behalf of my client if you or your client found Mr. Love’s comments offensive,” Jones wrote, also copying The Times in his letter. “That was certainly not his intent I’m sure, if anything his comments were more flippant than venomous. I’m know my client has nothing but the highest artistic and professional regard for The Eagles both as a group and individually.
“In fact, I do recall him commenting on how much he enjoyed visiting with Joe Walsh backstage at the Grammys this year, as well as their friendship of many years,” Jones wrote. “I do regret to hear your personal contempt for my client. Mr. Love is currently in the United Kingdom preparing for this week’s show at Wembley Arena and Royal Albert Hall and as such I have not had the opportunity to share your expressed concerns with him, but in the interest of a swift response I wanted to offer this letter in a conciliatory spirit.”
Jones noted that Love subsequently sent “care packages” to each of the Eagles, through their management, “out of respect” to the band.
In addition, disappointed fans have launched an online petition urging Love to change his tune, given that Brian Wilson told The Times at the Grammy Museum that he was interested in continuing touring with his old bandmates and wants to make another studio album, given the success of their 2012 reunion effort, “That’s Why God Made the Radio.”
The petition had logged close to 7,000 signatures as of Friday morning. It reads:
“To: Mike Love,
In order to preserve the validity of ‘The Beach Boys’ as a whole, and not as a ‘money saving, stripped down version’ that only contains 1 original member, and 1 member that joined in 1965, we ask you to re-instate the 3 other members to the touring group for your final years performing.
“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s what the fans want!”
Picking up good vibrations, anyone?
Update at 11:11 a.m.: An earlier edition of this post identified Jay Jones as Mike Love’s manager. He is love’s publicist.
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