New Beach Boys Book Digs Deep Under the Sand

The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left to Know About America's Band By Jon Stebbins Backbeat Books, 400 pp., $19.99.

Backbeat's FAQ series of books are the perfect addendum for those who are already familiar with a band's basic origin and career. Part biography, part compendium of trivia and odd facts, and part liner-note-reader's dream, the soap opera/Shakespearean saga of a group that at times was anything but "Fun, Fun, Fun" is a perfect entry.

I mean, you've got to love a tome that has a chapter titled "Hang On to Your Ego: The Fun of Hating Mike Love."

Did you know that the band was only dubbed "The Beach Boys" as a labeling accident -- otherwise, this book would be called The Pendletons FAQ. Or that the Beach Boys did a co-tour with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after the Beatles dumped the giggling guru that was part concert, part Transcendental Meditation lecture?

It was about as successful as you'd imagine.

Houston appears once in the book, for an incident well-known in Beach Boys lore. On a December 5, 1964, plane ride to the city for a show, Brian Wilson had a complete freak-out, resulting in the end of his days as a regular performing member in concert.

"Brian experienced what has been described as a severe nervous breakdown while in his seat on the plane. The other band members have described his state as inconsolable and irrational. He had to be restrained," Stebbins writes.

"Brian played the show in Houston that night, but returned to L.A. the next day, and those close to him insist he was never quite the same again. He informed the band in no uncertain terms that he would not be performing with them again."

That last statement turned out to be only partially true, as Wilson would sporadically join the Boys onstage over the ensuing decades amidst meltdowns, inter-band lawsuits and erratic druggie performances with the zombie-like stare onstage that continues to this day.

This includes -- despite all improbability -- the band's current 50th anniversary reunion tour, which comes to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion June 8. Hopefully, Brian's plane ride to the Bayou City this time has a more positive ending.

Tickets for the Beach Boys are still available through Ticketmaster.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero