meta-scriptHow Brian Wilson Crafted The Beach Boys' Early Sound: A Symphony Of Inspirations, From Boogie-Woogie To Barbershop | GRAMMY.com
Brian Wilson Recording Pet Sounds
Brian Wilson recording 'Pet Sounds' in 1966

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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How Brian Wilson Crafted The Beach Boys' Early Sound: A Symphony Of Inspirations, From Boogie-Woogie To Barbershop

Weaving together never-before-synthesized elements, the Beach Boys were a totally singular creation from the jump — and Brian Wilson is the primary man to thank.

GRAMMYs/Mar 31, 2023 - 02:28 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Pardon the non-oceanic metaphor, but imagine the Beach Boys' original sound as a pot of stew.

There's a mess of various ingredients, but the taste is unified and comforting. Generally speaking, you don't enjoy this dish — or this band's early hits — on an analytical, academic level; both simply provide a wave of sensation and association. Both just feel good.

Likewise, America's Band’s early sound was singular, a blast of pure feeling. But the veneer of simplicity belies that they drew it from a dizzying number of directions — long before they reached their innovative peak with Pet Sounds and its never-finished follow-up, Smile.

Just unpack "Surfin' USA," generally thought of as simple, straightforward fun: it's a Chuck Berry melody and riff, a surfing lyric and theme, the gleaming harmonies from the Four Freshmen and any number of doo-wop greats. They were all in the public consciousness, but nobody had synthesized them in this particular way until Brian Wilson came along.

To bring up Pet Sounds and Smile again: there's no dearth of reportage, nor musings, on how the Mozart of pop/rock worked his spellbinding magic. But how Wilson managed to craft the Beach Boys' early sound is just as flabbergasting.

For a full-throttle trip through the fruits of that inspiration, look no further "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," a two-hour tribute special featuring a lineup of heavy hitters, including John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and many more. "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

From the beginning, Wilson connected with the strengths of each member: basso profundo Mike Love's wordplay and swagger; brother Carl's punchy midrange and gleaming guitar; resident folkie Al Jardine's earthiness and likeability; brother Dennis' straightforward attack on the drums, powering the whole operation. (Within a few years of their inception, Dennis would blossom as a lead vocalist and songwriter in his own right.)

How did Wilson and the other Beach Boys absorb the raw ingredients of their sound — surf music, doo-wop, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues? By having big ears, and bigger imaginations.

Right as he turned double-digits, Wilson began experimenting with various instruments — ukulele, accordion — but the piano was the skeleton key. Brian, Carl and Dennis' infamous-yet-galvanizing father, Murray, was a struggling songwriter who played piano; the family instrument became a tool for Wilson to analyze and dissect what crossed his consciousness on the radio.

"[I] started picking out the melodies of songs that I heard on the radio," Wilson recalled in his 2016 memoir, I Am Brian Wilson, citing tunes by the Chordettes, the Hi-Los, Nat King Cole, and more. Harmony singing soon grabbed his attention. The Four Freshmen were also something of an obsession, particularly for the colors in their harmonies.

"I tried to understand the way their voices were working," he continued. "To take their songs apart like they were clocks and then rebuild them for me and Dennis and Carl." The latter brother connected deeply with Black R&B, like the Penguins and Johnny Otis: "We had never heard anything like it," Wilson wrote. "They were just as sophisticated as the Four Freshmen, but different."

A harbinger of Pet Sounds-era Wilson: Murray would bring tape machines home, and Wilson seized upon their possibilities: not just as a method of getting ideas down, but for overdubbing. In the book, Wilson describes the first "real song" he ever wrote as the still-luminous "Surfer Girl," which drew inspiration from "When You Wish Upon a Star." It's hard to imagine him splicing that DNA without these simple machines.

Dennis, the only surfer in the group, added the ingredient that made everything else pop: his experiences within surf culture. This not only gave the nascent Beach Boys — formerly the Pendletones — a thesis and mission statement. Their embrace of surf culture made the separate components explode into something entirely new.

The rest is history: Wilson rapidly developing into a studio maven far beyond his years, a la Phil Spector; the introduction of avant-garde and classical elements in Pet Sounds and Smile; folk elements undergirding the spectacular Sunflower; Wilson digging into his California roots as an elder statesman on 2008's underrated That Lucky Old Sun.

And none of it would have happened if Wilson hadn't surveyed the ingredients at his disposal, as a very young man— and wove them into a symphony of flavors the world will never forget.

10 Memorable Oddities By The Beach Boys: Songs About Root Beer, Raising Babies & Ecological Collapse

Giles Martin
Giles Martin

Photo: Alex Lake | C A Management

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Masterful Remixer Giles Martin On The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' The Beatles, Paul McCartney

Ahead of his spectacular, Dolby Atmos-elevated remix of the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' Giles Martin discusses the pressures and jubilation of handling such a precious album.

GRAMMYs/Jun 2, 2023 - 02:06 pm

Bicycle bells, Coca-Cola cans, sleigh bells, water bottles, French horn, Electro-Theremin — and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Compared to even ambitious Beatles masterpieces like Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's, remixing the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds is an entirely different beast. While the Fabs' recordings were often deceptively sparse — "Taxman" is guitars, bass, drums and vocals — Pet Sounds is an ocean of eccentric, melancholic, joyful sound.

Astonishingly — by today's standards — the album was initially recorded to a four-track machine. A student of the studio might assume that remixing the such a record would require  some form of sacrifice during the remixing process, wherein various elements would have to be buried, or excised, to bring another to the light.

Giles Martin, who has remixed Sgt. Pepper's, The White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be, and Revolver — and now Pet Sounds, for Dolby Atmos — has an incisive answer.

"Will I sacrifice taste or feel for the sake of it being an Atmos mix? If that starts getting compromised, then let's make it mono," two-time GRAMMY winner Martin tells GRAMMY.com. "It doesn't make any sense to affect the integrity of a song for the use of technology. Technology should be there to serve the music, as opposed to the other way around.

"I don't want people to listen to an Atmos mix I've done; I want people to listen to a song," he continues. "My mix is just a small part in the process."

But sitting in complete darkness in a Dolby screening room on Sixth Avenue in New York City, it was difficult to think of Martin's touch as being a "small part."

This version of Pet Sounds was nothing short of revelatory — shining up each Beach Boy's vocals, unburying numberless exotic instruments, mapping the musical elements in physical space. All without compromising Brian Wilson's timbral and harmonic syntheses that characterize this art-rock cornerstone.

Read on for a candid interview with Martin about his remixing philosophy, moving from the Beatles space to the Beach Boys space and what he wants to improve about his methodology — in short, "everything."

The Atmos mix of Pet Sounds is available now on Amazon Music, Tidal and Apple Music; stream it here.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

During Beatles listening events, there's a little bit of tension between yourself and that fan community. This Beach Boys event seemed to possess a completely different energy — less antagonistic, more of a lovefest. What's it been like moving from the Beatles world to the Beach Boys world as per their fan communities?

I don't know — I think that I may not be perceiving it right [laughs].

I never felt that there was a huge amount of antagonism with the Beatles thing. I think to begin with, there was. With the early days of me, certainly, doing Love, ironically, there was a suspicion of what I was up to — what are my motives, and what gives you the right to screw around with these tracks, and who the hell do you think you are, and that sort of thing.

I think there's been a sort of shift in a level of trust, hopefully, that people don't realize that I deliberately do this to try and screw things up.

I was actually more nervous going to a Beach Boys playback than I was going to a Beatles playback. With the Beatles, I kind of know where I am — and regardless of what anyone may think, I probably have more experience on this than most other people do.

The Beach Boys, I don't. It's my first rodeo, if you like, so I was probably a bit more nervous addressing their audience.

"Antagonism" is probably too strong a word. Just a little bit of tension in the air, when somebody's like, "What happened to that guitar squeak at 2:01 on 'Taxman,' Giles? Would you like to explain yourself?"

That always makes me laugh. There are two guys who are those people, and they come and listen in the studios. They came around recently for something, and they were like, "Well, we heard something at this moment."

I'll always listen and respect what they say, but then I'll just go… I do have Paul and Ringo. So they'll just go, "Well, we think it's fine."

I think what you are alluding to is there's a sense of ownership that people have over Beatles music. But I think that's the case with Pet Sounds and the Beach Boys as well.

From a business standpoint, what's it been like docking your spaceship on a new mothership?

I pay no attention to the business side of stuff. It's the same record label, actually — Capitol. I have a really good relationship with them, and they're great.

They know what they're getting themselves into by asking me to do stuff, which means that generally, things will be late; I'll miss deadlines. But they also know that I'll take care. And I think part of my job is, obviously, listening to what people have to say, and listening to and collaborating with other people on this, and doing it.

What role did the Beach Boys and Pet Sounds play in your life up to this point? Obviously, you're steeped in this overall miasma due to your lineage.

It's funny: as I said to my dad [legendary Beatles producer George Martin], "It's amazing the work you did." And he was like, "Yeah, but I mean, compared to what Brian Wilson did when he was just on his own — you need to go listen to that." And so I did, and I suppose that there's an otherworldliness to it.

Just as a producer, or someone who loves music, Pet Sounds could not be ignored, because it's so intricate in the way it is, and it's an album that gets better the more you listen to it as well. And I hope that is sustainable in times of TikTok where people only have a short amount of time to pay anything attention.

I suppose that I wouldn't have agreed to do it if it wasn't important to me.You have to give it your all; you have to spend a lot of time listening to this music. It's such an important and influential record — not just for other people, but for me as well.

**You mentioned during the listening party that you didn't have to employ the same AI techniques to unglue the tracks as you did on Revolver. Can you elaborate?**

I wouldn't say it was unglued. If you imagine on, for instance, "That's Not Me," essentially, the band are kind of on three tracks a lot. So, they're stuck.

And "That's Not Me" has drums, organ, tambourine on one track. So, I can't move the organ or tambourine away from the drums. They have to be on one side. And I have bass and lead guitar on another track, so bass and guitar are going to be in the same place no matter what I do.

But there's an intent with this, where it's unlike having a band like the Beatles. This isn't really a band record; it's more of an orchestral record. It has a backing to it.

There's not really a drum kit on Pet Sounds, per se. There's drums on one or two tracks, but there's not really a drum kit. It's like orchestral percussion. So it's fine having those things glued together. Whereas on something like "Taxman," we have guitar, bass and drums — and only guitar, bass and drums going on for the whole song.

If you want to have a stereo record, you have to separate them — because otherwise, they're just on one side and the vocals on the other side; there's no reality. But with this, you have chunks of musicians in a room, and then you can create this real world around it.

**Brian Wilson rightfully soaks up the lion's share of the discourse around Pet Sounds; he crafted the record. But in this process, what did you learn about them as per their group dynamic? You alluded to their vocal precision during the listening event. I love Carl and Bruce's vocals on "God Only Knows." I know that Carl and Dennis played on the record in a limited capacity.**

I don't know what I learned that I didn't already know, apart from the fact that — this is what people miss — bands exist with resentment, and everything else. But bands exist because they're human beings in a room. The fact that you don't hear someone doesn't mean that they're not having influence.

With the Beach Boys, obviously, you hear their incredible harmonies. And Brian couldn't have done what he did without having the palette of outstanding musicianship, and the ability for these guys to harmonize and create these vocals that can't exist anywhere else.

So, that's what I suppose you hear. You hear the other members of the band come in on tracks, as you alluded to, and you suddenly think — not that it's a relief, but it's like, Oh my god, this is a band. This isn't just Brian. That's what I took from it.

**I could genuinely sit there and think about the Beach Boys on a conceptual level and be entertained for hours. But is there a danger of overthinking an artifact like Pet Sounds? Or is it a fount for infinite analysis and edification?**

No, I think you are absolutely right. You can take the fun out of it — and people do frequently — by being too pretentious about things. I find this quite amusing. It's almost like the song becomes the ownership of the journalist — or the expert, if you like — and not the person listening to it.

People are told what to listen to, and what to listen out for, in a sort of educational way: "You don't really understand this." It's that sort of thing: "If only you knew you knew how good this was, you'd be able to like it." That sort of conversation. "Music isn't like how it used to be, because it's not as good as this," and all this sort of conversation.

It's absolutely rubbish. It's like, let people enjoy what they want to enjoy. As long as you're passionate about something, it doesn't make a difference whether you like Megadeth or the Beach Boys.

You recently worked on a refreshed version of Paul McCartney's "Live or Let Die." That song is such a mind movie — and not just because it has James Bond roots. I'm sure you had fun with that one.

It was great. It's a bit like a lot of the projects I do; the expectancy is so vast spread.

It's quite tricky; how do you meet the expectation? Because one thing that mono or stereo or compression gives you, is it gives you loudness. You separate stuff in an immersive soundfield, you have to be careful that you don't start losing impact.

One thing that "Live and Let Die" has is impact. And that's the tricky thing about that song. But I'm really happy. It was actually a big mix to do; I can't lie. It was like, "Oh my god, here we go; I have to be fully qualified to do this mix."

But I'm really happy with it. I can't wait for people to hear it. I think it's super cool.

How do you want to get better at what you do? Where do you want to improve?

Oh, god. "Everywhere" is the answer. I think you are never done. It's only sometimes I hear things back and go, Oh, that actually sounds quite good. Oh, I did that. That's alright. Otherwise, you sort of hate everything.

I nervously watched you [all] through a screen in New York going, Oh my god, it sounds terrible. That's what goes through my head.

You still struggle with that, huh?

Yeah, of course. And then the thing is, I don't think, What if it sounds terrible? because of ego. It's, What if it sounds terrible because you guys really like this record and I need to do it justice? That's what goes through my head.

The Beach Boys' Sail On Sailor Reframes Two Obscure 1970s Albums. Why Were They Obscure In The First Place?

John Legend Brandi Carlile
(L-R): Brandi Carlile, John Legend

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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5 Memorable Highlights From "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys": Weezer, St. Vincent, John Legend & More

Drawing generation-spanning connections, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," which rebroadcasts Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and is available on demand on Paramount+, was a world-class tribute to America's Band. Here are five highlights.

GRAMMYs/Apr 10, 2023 - 07:25 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

That's a wrap on "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," an emotional, star-studded toast to America's Band — as the core lineup of the legendary group bore witness from a balcony.

From its heartfelt speeches and remarks to performances by John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and other heavy hitters, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" served as a towering monument to these leading lights on the occasion of their 60th anniversary.

If you missed the CBS telecast, never fear: the thrilling special is rebroadcasting on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream on demand on Paramount+.

Below are some highlights from the Beach Boys' big night.

Read More: How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More

Weezer Gave "California Girls" A Shot In The Arm

The Weez was a natural choice for a Beach Boys bash — the GRAMMY winners have worn that influence on their sleeve throughout their career — from the harmony-stuffed Blue Album. to their love letter to the West Coast, the White Album.

And while Fall Out Boy's transmutation of "Do You Wanna Dance" into supercharged pop-punk was a joy, Weezer's version of "California Girls" was satisfying in a different way.

Therein, frontman Rivers Cuomo threaded his chunky power chords into the familiar arrangement masterfully. His head-turning, song-flipping guitar work in the outro was also gracefully executed.

John Legend Sang A Commanding "Sail On Sailor"

The rocking-and-rolling "Sail On Sailor" leads off the Beach Boys' deeply underrated 1973 album Holland. On that cut, the lead vocal isn't taken by an original member, but one of their two South African additions at the time: the brilliant Blondie Chaplin.

Fifty years ago, Chaplin channeled the stouthearted tune through his punchy midrange; John Legend possesses a similar one. In his hustling, wolfish performance at the piano, the 12-time GRAMMY winner gave this dark-horse Beach Boys classic the gusto it deserves.

Read More: The Beach Boys' Sail On Sailor Reframes Two Obscure 1970s Albums. Why Were They Obscure In The First Place?

Brandi Carlile Stunned With A Capella "In My Room" Verse

Nine-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile is an eminent and versatile creative force; it's easy to imagine her nailing almost any song in the Beach Boys’ catalog — even the weird ones.

That said, this was more or less a night of hits — so Carlile took "In My Room" head on, and the results were spectacular. Even better was when the backing band dropped out for a verse, highlighting the song's proto-Pet Sounds solitude and introspection.

"Now it's dark/And I'm alone, but/I won't be afraid," Carlile sang, only joined by two harmonists. Mostly unadorned, she radiated a sense of inner strength.

Norah Jones Gorgeously Pared Back "The Warmth Of The Sun"

"The Warmth of the Sun" has always been a fan favorite for its radiant vocal interplay, but Norah Jones proved it's just as powerful with one voice front and center. 

Sure, the nine-time GRAMMY winner had harmonists behind her. But while Brian Wilson shared the spotlight with the other Boys in the original tune, she was front and center, teasing out its mellow, jazzy undercurrents.

St. Vincent & Charlie Puth Plumbed The Atmosphere Of Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys' most famous album by some margin, 1966’s Pet Sounds, was well represented at "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

Beck performed a witty "Sloop John B"; Mumford & Sons drew hymnal energy from "I Know There's An Answer"; LeAnn Rimes drew lonesome power from "Caroline, No."

But two performances in particular captured the singular atmosphere of the album — whimsical, hopeful, melancholic, longing, sophisticated, strangely exotic. One was Charlie Puth's "Wouldn't It Be Nice," which strapped on the album's aesthetic like a rocket and took off.

The other was St. Vincent’s captivating take on "You Still Believe In Me," which highlighted the harpsichord melody to spectral effect.

Near the end, when the three-time GRAMMY winner launched into the "I wanna cry" outro, it was hard to not get chills — the kind the Beach Boys have given us for 60 years.

How Brian Wilson Crafted The Beach Boys' Early Sound: A Symphony Of Inspirations, From Boogie-Woogie To Barbershop

The Beach Boys 1967
The Beach Boys in 1967

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Listen: 50 Essential Songs By The Beach Boys Ahead Of "A GRAMMY Salute" To America's Band

From "Surfin' USA" to "God Only Knows" to "Summer's Gone," here's a 50-song portal into the weird, inventive, and heart-stoppingly gorgeous catalog of the Beach Boys.

GRAMMYs/Mar 29, 2023 - 02:51 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

The Beach Boys are arguably still defined by their imperial phase in the 1960s — their string of infectious early hits that dovetailed with the psychedelic era, culminating in masterpieces like "California Girls," all of Pet Sounds, and "Good Vibrations." But that's not the full story.

Indeed, there are pockets of greatness throughout their entire 60-year run. Sure, you've heard "Catch a Wave," but are you hip to "Add Some Music to Your Day," their impossibly lovely gospel song from Sunflower? "Fun, Fun, Fun" is a staple, but have you beheld the head-spinning "Surf's Up," from the aborted Smile album?

Because America's Band's six-decade year voyage — the breadth of it — is about to get its own GRAMMY bash.

Back in April, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," a two-hour tribute special featuring a lineup of heavy hitters, including John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and many more, aired on CBS. “A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will now re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream on demand on Paramount+.

Ahead of this unforgettable special, take a trip through the Beach Boys' career with this 50-song playlist — full of those indelible early hits, mid-period deep cuts and late-career masterpieces. Listen to the playlist in full on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.

Playlist powered by GRAMMY U.

Read More: How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More

the beach boys standing in 1966
The Beach Boys: Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson and Mike Love in 1966

Photo: Malcolm MacNeil/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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7 Artists Influenced By The Beach Boys: The Beatles, Weezer, The Ramones & More

Ahead of the re-airing of "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" on Monday, May 29, take a look at the profound influence of the harmonious Southern California trailblazers of a new sound of surf-rock and good-time vibes in the 1960s.

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2023 - 01:42 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

When talk turns to the history of American pop vocal groups in the 20th century, the conversation begins — and ends — with the Beach Boys. These California siblings and their high school compadres reinvented modern music, taking listeners on a sonic journey with their melodic harmony-rich hits. More than 60 years on, the group is still considered a touchstone for today’s artists and the pinnacle of pop.  

The Beach Boys formed in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne in 1961. The original lineup featured the three Wilson brothers (Dennis, Brian and Carl), cousin Mike Love and high-school friend Al Jardine. Initially, Murry Wilson (the siblings father) managed the group and helped land their first paying gig: opening for Ike and Tina Turner at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance in Long Beach on New Year’s Eve 1961. 

It was an auspicious start to the year. That summer, the teenage quintet with a joie de vivre and a love of sun, surf, and sand signed to Capitol Records. The major label deal followed  the success of their first two singles: "Surfin,’" which reached No. 3 on West Coast regional charts and sold 40,000 copies,  and "Surfin’ Safari." The band’s debut full-length, Surfin’ Safari, climbed all the way to No. 32 on the Billboard charts. 

The Beach Boys sophomore release, Surfin’ U.S.A., came out less than six months after their debut and saw Brian Wilson experimenting more with innovative studio techniques like double-tracking vocals. The album hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts — but the band's success and innovation had far from peaked. 

1964's All Summer Long capped a year when the group played more than 100 shows around the world and recorded all or parts of four albums,  largely leaving the beachy parts of their sound behind in favor of new sonic textures and more personal  lyrics. Released in May 1966, Pet Sounds was the high point of this experimentation and cemented  the group as innovators. The intricately arranged concept album peaked at No. 10 in the U.S., but reached second spot in the British charts. The record came to represent the future possibilities of pop and signaled a shift in music-making and studio wizardry. Today, it’s considered one of the most influential albums of the 20th century due to its pioneering production and introspective lyrics. 

Dozens of artists have covered the album’s most well-known song: "God Only Knows," including: Glen Campbell, David Bowie, Olivia Newton-John and Wilson Phillips. Graham Nash cites "God Only Knows" as a significant inspiration to him when first learning the craft of writing songs.  

All told, the Beach Boys released 29 studio albums, 11 live recordings and dozens upon dozens of compilations. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and they have been nominated for four GRAMMY Awards. The band have impacted everyone from contemporaries like the Beatles to current indie-folk rockers Fleet Foxes. Beyond commercial success — more than 100 million records sold, four No.1 Billboard hits and more than 33 Platinum and Gold Records (the greatest hits album Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys sold three million copies alone) — there are few genres these California kids have not had an influence on over the past six decades. 

In advance of the re-airing of the television special "A GRAMMY Salute to The Beach Boys" on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS — which features Beck, Brandi Carlile, Fall Out Boy, Norah Jones, John Legend, Michael McDonald, Weezer, Charlie Puth and Mumford & Sons —  GRAMMY.com shines a light on seven artists who count these sweet-singing melody-making trailblazers as essential to their musical education.

Read More: How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More

The Beatles

Listen to the vocal harmonies in songs like "Paperback Writer" and the complex arrangements, orchestration and time-shifts on "A Day in the Life" and try not to hear the sonic similarities. Pet Sounds came out the year before the GRAMMY-winning Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and early demos and acetates of the album ended up in the hands of the British band. Paul McCartney is also on record saying: "God Only Knows" is the greatest song ever written and he cries every time he hears it.  

George Martin, the "fifth Beatle" and GRAMMY-winning producer who was the studio architect of some of the Fab Four’s biggest albums, heralded Wilson and acknowledged the Beach Boys' influence on Sgt. Pepper’s. "Brian is a living genius of pop music. Like the Beatles, he pushed forward the frontiers of popular music," Martin says in Charles L Granata’s book Brian Wilson And The Making Of Pet Sounds.

Bruce Springsteen 

"There’s no greater world created in rock and roll than the Beach Boys, the level of musicianship, I don’t think anybody’s touched it yet," Bruce Springsteen said in the documentary Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road.

Listen to "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" from 2007s Magic, which sonically could have easily fit on Pet Sounds 40 years earlier. Or put on your headphones and zone out to "Hungry Heart," the Boss’ first top 10 hit and try not to hear the Beach Boys' influence in the arrangement. In the documentary, Springsteen praises Wilson, his friend and musical mentor: "[He] just took you out of where you were and took you to another place."  

The Ramones

Surf-rock influencing punk-rock? You bet. The Ramones were well aware of, and influenced by, the SoCal music movement of the 1960s when they exploded onto the burgeoning punk scene in 1974. 

The Beach Boys were one of the messiahs from the past they worshiped and looked to while crafting some of their most enduring punk rock anthems. "Rockaway Beach" was penned by bassist Dee Dee Ramone to mimic the style of the Beach Boys earliest surf-rock hits, but was sped up to match the punk rockers energy. Many of the Ramones’s song titles and lyrics — just like the California group — clung to the innocence of youth and name-dropped local attractions and experiences that kids growing up in the boroughs understood. 

Take these lines from: “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” : “I’d rather stay here in my room/ Nothin’ out there but sad and gloom/ I don’t want to live in a big old tomb on Grand Street.” Remind you of the pensive “In My Room” perhaps? Or, how about "Oh Oh I Love Her So," from Leave Home? Joey Ramone sings of falling in love by a soda machine and then riding the coaster with his girl down at Coney Island all night long. The song even ends with a surf-rock riff.

Weezer 

Not long after moving from the East Coast to Los Angeles, Weezer’s lead singer and songwriter Rivers Cuomo bought a copy of Pet Sounds. The album would go on to influence the early days of the alternative-rock band and Cuomo’s approach to songwriting, especially on their self-titled debut. 

Weezer once covered the Beach Boys' "Don’t Worry Baby" and, on the GRAMMY-nominated Pacific Daydream (2017) there’s a song called "Beach Boys." In an interview, Cuomo reflected on Wilson’s wide-ranging, everlasting influence: "To me, he’s one of the standout talents of the century or of our culture. I think I’m a pea in comparison. But I certainly emulate him as do countless others." On the forthcoming GRAMMY salute to the Beach Boys, Weezer covers "California Girls."

Fleet Foxes

While his friends were studying algebra, a teenage Robin Pecknold was studying The Beach Boys — specifically how they created their complex stacked harmonies. This musical education began the foundation for his band Fleet Foxes and their approach to harmonizing and making music. In this interview on Brian Wilson’s website, the songwriter refers to the Beach Boys music as his "textbooks." "My parents bought me a four track for my1 5th birthday and I would practice stacking harmonies for hours on end," he recalled.

From the layered harmonies that open "Sun it Rises," the first track on the band’s self-titled 2008 debut, and the intricate orchestration that follows, the Beach Boys comparison is evident. Pecknold acknowledges this influence in the liner notes, writing: "Whenever I hear 'Feel Flows' by the Beach Boys, I’m taken straight to the back of my parents’ car on the way to my grandparents’ place, fourteen with Surf’s Up in my walkman and the Cascade Mountains going by in the window." 

In that same interview posted on Wilson’s website, Peckhold raved about Brian Wilson's influence on him as a young musician. "I remember being so driven as a teenager by how much amazing music Brian made in his early 20s. That he was such a prodigious master of his craft, making Pet Sounds at the astounding age of 23, always pushed me to get as good as I could as a musician, as soon as I could," Peckhold reflected. "But at some point I accepted that haste is no substitute for brilliance, there is only one Brian Wilson." 

And, if this is not proof enough, Fleet Foxes sampled Wilson’s voice from "Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" on the song "Cradling Mother, Cradling Woman" on 2020s GRAMMY-nominated Shore

Phoenix

The French synth-rock quartet that formed in 1995 show how the Beach Boys' influence spans not only generations, but borders. This admiration for the California soft-rock sounds of the 1960s and harmonious pop is most apparent on the GRAMMY-winning band’s sixth album: Ti Amo. Just like Pet Sounds, these cerebral musicians mine the depths of human emotions on this record and find the spaces in between to shed light on what we all feel. In this piece, Phoenix discusses how Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys influenced the sunny sounds of this 2017 record that is a love letter to Europe.    

The Sha La Das

Family harmonies? Check. Summer vibes? Check. Led by father Bill Schalda and featuring the sibling sounds of his three sons — Will, Paul and Carmine — this band hail from Staten Island. Growing up, the brothers often sang on the front stoop with Bill providing guidance. Later, they sang backup on the late Charles Bradley’s Victim of Love

Listen to the old-soul and do-wop of "Summer Breeze" from the band’s 2018 debut Love in the Wind and you are transported to southern California, circa 1961, and the first time the sunny sounds of the Beach Boys came across the airwaves. 

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