Wouldn’t it be nice to take a tour of Southern California Beach Boys landmarks? Then don’t worry baby, because God only knows, we’ve got them for you.
The site of the Wilson home, the childhood home of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson (three of the original five Beach Boys) was once located at what would have been this address, which is now near the intersection of West 119th and Kornblum Avenue in Hawthorne.
However, it was demolished for the construction of the 105 Freeway in Los Angeles County back in the mid-1980s. But good news. A commemorative landmark plaque and monument was dedicated on May 20, 2005 at the site of the house where the Wilson brothers grew up and The Beach Boys began as a group.
Opened in the mid 1950’s, this is where Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson attended high school, along with fellow band member Al Jardine.
The reason Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wanted to record here was because he knew it was where Phil Spector had created his famous “Wall of Sound” approach to recording: the dense, layered, echo-filled sound that surrounded songs like He’s a Rebel, Be My Baby, Baby, I Love You, and You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling to name a few. The result was Pet Sounds, the dynamic 1967 album that supposedly pushed the Beatles to up the ante with Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Small and lacking air conditioning, the main recording studio at Gold Star sat on the southeast corner of Santa Monica and Vine, but was razed in the mid 1980s to make room for the mini-mall that’s there now.
The Beach Boys grew up in Hawthorne, California, just outside of greater Los Angeles. The “hamburger stand” mentioned in their hit song, Fun, Fun, Fun, was actually this very Foster’s Freeze (which they nicknamed “Frostie’s”).
It seems that Brian Wilson spotted a friend here driving by in her daddy’s T-Bird. This Foster’s Freeze is still open for business.
Filmed in a single day (October 29, 1964) near the ocean in Santa Monica, this 1964 concert film represents one of rock ’n’ roll’s seminal concert events—one of the first major “package” performances that fused together all of music’s most primal forces of the day. The title stood for “Teenage Awards Music International” and the show had a huge influence on how other directors (such as D.A. Pennebaker of Monterey Pop) would soon document rock ’n’ roll on film.
Featuring outstanding performances by James Brown (featuring two go-go dancers named Teri Garr and Toni Basil), Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, this was also an important live performance for the Beach Boys.
On a chilly morning in 1962, the Beach Boys posed here on this stretch of California beach for the cover of their first album. (The site is open to the public, but there is a charge for entry.)
Back in the 196os is was called United Western Studio, and was home to many famous recordings by Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and Bing Crosby. But then more modern sounds took over. Phil Spector started using the studio, as did the Mamas and the Papas, and then in 1966 Brian Wilson had the band record much of the seminal, classic album Pet Sounds here (though other studios were used around town as well).
The building is still used as a recording studio today.
The musical genius Brian Wilson once painted this mansion purple, much to the ire of his neighbors. It was also in the home studio here that he recorded much of the albums Smile, Wild Honey, Friends, 20/20, Sunflower and Surf’s Up.
And yes, this was the house that featured his infamous living room sandbox.
This is where Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis Wilson died at the age 39 in a drowning accident off of a friend’s boat. With his brothers and Mike Love, Dennis helped the Beach Boys turn out such hits as California Girls, Fun, Fun, Fun and Wouldn’t It Be Nice.
Apparently, on December 28, 1983, Wilson had too much to drink, decided to go swimming, and subsequently drowned.
Lead guitarist, founding member and sometime band lead vocalist Carl Wilson died of cancer in 1988 and is buried in the same small cemetery where musicians Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa and many others are laid to rest (Marilyn Monroe is also here).
During the 1970s, the talented Wilson produced albums for several other artists and also appeared on others’ records as a backing vocalist, including Chicago’s Wishing You Were Here (with brother Dennis Wilson and bandmate Al Jardine), Elton John’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (with then former-band mate Bruce Johnston) and Dave Lee Roth’s hit cover version of California Girls.