The Beach Boys
When exactly did the Beach Boys become not-the-Beach Boys? Arguably around 1967, when Brian Wilson — who had stopped touring with the group three years earlier — completed the core tracks of his conceptual coming-of-age-in-California tale, Smile. He knew the crowning touch would be the vocal blend of his beach brethren Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine, and he believed that exploiting their harmony-drenched sound was the future of the group’s identity, not the passing promise of sun and fun. But when Love balked at Wilson’s acid-drenched dream — coupled with the Beatles trumping the play of Pet Sounds with the release of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” — Wilson began a drug-induced retreat from both band and reality. Yet the Beach Boys forged on and successfully remained in the public eye with regular touring, which continues today with Love and Wilson-road-replacement Bruce Johnston. Nonetheless, Brian Wilson is now regarded as the genius, and the Beach Boys are a nostalgia act. Life can be so cruel.