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Wrinkled Beach Boys,

Same Sweet Sounds

The Beach Boys, circa 1976.
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Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys.
Fifty Years Since ‘America’s Band’ Appeared On The Music Scene, The Group Is Back On The Road And Sound As Good As Ever

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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

July 3, 2012 — The Beach Boys are heading for Phoenix July 7 and the whole gang is coming to play at Grand Canyon University Arena, even their often-reclusive leader Brian Wilson.

“Spending time with Brian Wilson is always at the top of my list,” said Bruce Johnston the band's bassist and back-up singer.

This is the closest the band has gotten to an original lineup reunion in 20 years, with three original members in Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine. Johnston and David Marks — though not original Beach Boys — have been playing and touring with the band since the 1960s.

Buy Tickets To The 8 p.m. Concert At Grand Canyon University Arena

Marks lived across the street from the Wilson family and he and Carl Wilson were credited with developing the Chuck Berry-esque guitar sound of The Beach Boys’ earlier recordings. Marks played on most of the early demos and played on early hits "Surfin Safari", “409”, "Surfin USA", “Shut Down”, "Surfer Girl", "In My Room" and "Be True to Your School," before leaving the band in October 1963. He served as a session musician on varied projects for most of his career.

Johnston originally joined The Beach Boys as Wilson’s touring replacement on vocals and bass in 1965. He stayed with the band until 1972 — although he subsequently returned in the 1980s — and his first lead vocal assignment in the studio was on “California Girls.” Johnston is also a respected songwriter and composer. He wrote the Barry Manilow hit, “I Write The Songs.”

This is a landmark tour for the boys of summer: this marks 50 years of The Beach Boys taking a “Surfin’ Safari” across the country to entertain the masses. The Beach Boys 50th anniversary tour has already had some notable stops along the way including a 47 song jam-fest on Jones Beach in Long Island, New York, as well as playing their first ever Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival in Manchester, Tenn.

“Man, we had the best time at Bonnaroo,” said Johnston “It was amazing, funky and wonderful.”

Johnston admitted that while Bonnaroo was a great experience, he prefers to play inside an air conditioned venue, which won’t be a problem for them at Grand Canyon Arena.

“First thing I do in Phoenix is break out the flip flops, it’s like 450 degrees there,” said Johnston, “and then I go find some Mexican food.”

Hopefully some spicy foods will add some extra flair to the Beach Boys milestone tour that also included an early summer stop in Tucson.

“It’s time for a tour,” said Johnston. “The new album sounds great, it’s a reunion year, this is going to be a lot of fun.”

The Beach Boys newest album, “That’s Why God Made The Radio” was released June 5, and the title track has been described by Wilson as one of their best songs ever.

The Beach Boys have gone a long way from being the fresh-faced teenage surfers from Hawthorne, Calif. From sales and reviews rivaling even their English counterparts The Beatles, to in-fighting and substance abuse issues and heated court battles over the use of the name The Beach Boys, the California surfers have always managed to put on a great show and make great music.

With most of them sporting grey hair and wrinkles, “America’s Band” looks like they are as likely to pass out early after a long day at the beach as opposed to strum the guitar all night around the fire.

But beyond the looks are the sounds: iconic melodies and classic hits that still sound so sweet.

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, OccupyUprising.org and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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