Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fred Vail Remembers The Beach Boys - The Early Years


As I read your excellent and detailed review of the Brian Wilson flick, "Love and Mercy," you and I seem to have similar views on a number of issues, including, but certainly not limited to, the fact that the 'early years' were somewhat glossed over, or certainly not portrayed in any great detail. 

With that in mind, I thought I would share with you -- and your readers -- in its entirety -- a story I wrote for David Beard's excellent Beach Boys / Brian Wilson publication, "Endless Summer Quarterly." Most of your readers, unless they are 'die-hard' fans of Bri and 'the boys,' may not have heard of the publication, but it's the best 'go to' magazine for 'everything Beach Boys.'  

I had gotten an e-mail from David in mid-2014 requesting that I write an article on my memories of 1964, which was the 50th Anniversary of "Fun, Fun, Fun," and a few other very significant Beach Boys 'milestones.' I told Dave that although I was honored that he wanted my insight, I felt that not including the two years leading up to 1964 would be a mistake. He somewhat reluctantly agreed to my suggestion but had to break my article up into several issues, using bits and pieces at times. It all eventually came off, but to see it all together, unedited, makes a bit more interesting story for the reader -- whether or not you are a consummate or merely a 'passing' fan of "America's Band." 

Ironically, while a couple of my observances where included in the movie -- including Brian's December, 1963, airplane incident while flying to Texas for a concert -- much of this story concerns a few little known facts that led up to Brian Wilson leaving as a member of the 'touring' Beach Boys so he would have the time to devote to the great songs -- and inspiring innovative production techniques that remain his lasting legacy. (Personally, I truly believe one of the primary reasons he gave up the road is because he's always hated to fly :).

So, here's the original story -- in it's entirety. I hope you enjoy my memories as much I as was blessed to live them.  

Last year, 2014, was not only the 50th Anniversary of  The Beach Boys' massive hit, "Fun, Fun, Fun," but also the group's first appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and Dick Clark's "American Bandstand," their first #1 single, "I Get Around," the release of their first #1 Gold album, "Beach Boys Concert," and the first of their many international tours. Yes, 1964 was, indeed, a very good year for "America's Band". It was also the 51st Anniversary of my association and friendship with 'the boys' of which I was enormously blessed to have had a small role in. 

While the milestone year of 1964 was to be the initial focus of a story I was invited to write for the consummate Beach Boys publication, "Endless Summer Quarterly," I simply could not keep it to that singular important year without also reviewing the two years immediately leading up to '64. The two years that paved the way: the Beach Boys' launch in 1962 -- and the real beginning of their climb to International stardom and musical immortality -- 1963. When you add in the truly breakthrough year of 1964, those amazing three years would see Brian and 'the boys' release an astounding seven studio albums, plus the 'live' album. As a recording studio owner for the past 35 years, I can assure you that such creative output is an unparalleled feat. These days -- here in "Music City, USA" -- you're lucky to see one album released every two years! 

After the poor showing of "Surfin,'" released twice on Candix Records and once on "X" Records between November of 1961 and January 1962, and due to the label's inability to properly fund, distribute and promote future singles, Beach "Dad" Murry immediately began to 'shop' the group to several west coast labels, including Randy Wood's Dot Records, who turned him down. Undaunted, Murry set his sights on a bigger prize, Capitol Records, which at the time, had primarily focused on the 'big bands,' and such legendary solo artists as Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Capitol Records founder singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer, along with The Kingston Trio, and, ironically, The Four Freshmen, Brian Wilson's inspiration for the distinctive harmony 'sound' the Beach Boys would embrace.   

Murry's only contact at Capitol was Ken Nelson, the head of A & R for the label's thriving country division.  Nelson, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at age 92 in 2001, was responsible for signing and / or producing the majority of Capitol's top selling country artists, including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Hank Thompson, Sonny James, Faron Young, a young 'country' Glen Campbell, and Ferlin Husky, who's single, "Gone," produced by Nelson, is often credited with launching the "Nashville 'sound.'" Ken had also been responsible for two of Capitol's early 'rockabilly' stars -- and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, Gene Vincent and Wanda Jackson.   

When I visited with Ken in 2006, he told me: "Fred, Murry was relentless in his pursuit of Capitol. I was the 'country guy' at the label, Nick Venet was responsible for signing the pop acts. Murry gave me a few demos and I sent them along to Nick, who always seemed to have an excuse when I followed up on the status of the Beach Boys tracks. Murry would call me regularly for an update and each time I had to tell him I had no answers. Quite honestly I almost had to threaten Nick just to keep Murry at bay, but he finally did listen and you know how that ended up," said Ken. Murry's stubborn tenacity would serve the group well over the next couple of years and several label executives were known to hide when they got word Murry had entered the 'Tower.' :) 

In essence, The Beach Boys became Capitol's first rock group. The release of "Surfin' Safari" on June 4 far surpassed "Surfin,'" which had stalled at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and a reported 40,000 in sales. Their sophomore release, on the other hand, went to #14 and would set up the third single, "Surfin' USA," to make them a competitive factor on radio and records.  

As 'the boys' move into 1963, hopes are high but much of their success is still centered on the west coast -- where 'surfing' was in high gear and virtually every indie label had a 'surfing band.' The Astronauts, Dick Dale and The Del Tones, The Surfaris, The Challengers, The Lively Ones, The Ventures and others all competed for radio airplay as well as record sales and chart success. But these groups were virtually all 'guitar bands' and The Beach Boys featured distinctive harmonies, were comprised of three brothers, a cousin and a friend, and -- to top it off -- they wrote songs that appealed to the pre-teen and teen-age audience that were starving for new and exciting acts. Yes, while 'cover' songs were still a significant factor in their 'live' shows -- "Runaway," "Misirlou," "The Wanderer," "Runaround Sue," "Hushabye" "Johnny B Goode" and others were a featured part of their concerts -- soon 'originals' by Brian, Mike, Gary Usher and Roger Christian would begin to dominate their sets.  

These were all factors when I began to look for a surfing band to headline a fund raiser for my alma matter, El Camino High School, Sacramento, and the uniqueness of The Beach Boys was just the group I was looking for. That was the situation when I finally located them at the William Morris Agency (Beverly Hills) in late March / early April. In fact, you might say The Beach Boys were the agency's 'best kept secret.' The large talent agencies would often sign an act just to keep them away from a competitor. There was virtually no coordination between the booking agents and the record label to support an up and coming act by finding markets where radio play could create a demand for a concert or dance.    

I had originally worked out a deal with junior agent Marshall Berle (nephew of "Mr. Television," Milton Berle) for $500 ($350 to $500 per night was about average for The Beach Boys during that period). The date was set: May 24, 1963. The venue: the 5,300+ seat Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. Marshall said he'd present the offer to Murry but didn't anticipate any problems. Unfortunately, however, that was not the case.  

He called back the next day to tell me that they  would honor the date but that unlike their appearances in Southern California, where they could easily drive to the gig within a few hours, they could not do that in this case as Sacramento was a solid 400+ miles away and Carl and Dave did not get out of high school until mid-afternoon. They'd have to fly. So the counter offer was amended to either $750 flat, or $500 and six round trip airline tickets. I opted for the $750, which ultimately saved me about $100, as the air fares ran approximately $65 each.  

The total 'nut' (break even point) for the concert was approximately $1,750, which included 'the boys,' auditorium, stagehands, ticket takers, box office manager, posters, tickets, security (two off-duty Sacramento police officers), insurance, sound system and sound tech. A far cry from the $1.2 to $1.8 million that it can cost to mount a full arena or large stadium gig in today's competitive concert market. 

Since it was a fundraiser for a public school, I was able to get free radio spots on the Sacramento radio stations -- saving at least $500 to $750 -- and since there was no "Ticketmaster" to rip off the fans with added 'convenience fees,' I sold tickets at the high school and local record shops and musical instrumental stores. They received no commission but they gained from advertising on the radio spots, on the poster, plus it generated additional store traffic. General admission seats were $1.75! If you wanted the 'front row' you merely got to the venue early:) No 'Golden Circle' or costly VIP packages. As I recall, we did a very short 'sound check' just prior to opening the auditorium doors, therefore, their fans did not have the option to pay an 'additional' $1.75 to sit in on the 'sound check.' :) 

On the day of the show, I borrowed my folk's 1954 Chevy wagon, picked up the advance ticket sale 'cash,' along with unsold tickets (we called it 'dead wood'), and headed out to the old Sacramento Municipal Field (SMF) to pick up Murry and 'the boys.' No 'roadies' in those days, no 18 wheeler semi's loaded with sets, sound and lights. Just three amps, Denny's drums, three guitars and Mike's sax. 

Two short 35 or 40 minute sets, no opening act. It was ALL Beach Boys -- they were about to play their first major 'headlining' concert. It went off without a hitch even though the second set included a few songs from the first set :) After the show, we gathered up the gear, went several blocks to the Mansion Inn Motel and went into the dining room for dinner. We were all excited about the response they had received from the fans. Carl Wilson asked Murry how much they had made -- and after the Morris commission, the six round trip airline tickets, a couple of hotel rooms, and the meal, Murry figured each of the guys would make about $55. All-in-all, they seemed pleased with their 'take.' After all, in 1963 you could put a few bucks in the gas tank, take your girl friend to dinner AND a movie -- with popcorn and a Coke -- for about $10 to $12! They asked me how the class and I had come out and I told them we had made $4,000! You could have heard a pin drop. They were stunned that a kid their own age had made over ten times what they had made. It would be the 'only' time I would make more money than The Beach Boys. My deal was 15% of the net, so I made $600, a lot of  money for a 19 year old in the spring of 1963.   

Murry was amazed how I'd pulled the whole thing off and asked for my advice. It was pretty simple: first, Morris didn't know what they had. In this particular situation -- and possibly others -- they had under priced the 'boys.' There was no such thing as 'market research' in those days, but that is basically what I had done. I told Murry that a lot of promoters were going to 'clean up' on the band and told him they should produce their own shows -- cut out the promoter -- and Morris, if possible.   

Obviously, with Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson all still living at their Hawthorne home, being the group's manager was more like a part time job, as he also had his Able Machinery Company to keep meals on the table at 3701 West 119th Street. Murry simply didn't have time to do all the 'advance' research and set up, so I offered to do It. He accepted and we made plans to meet the following weekend north of San Francisco in the Russian River / Sonoma County region where the group was to perform at the Rio Nido Lodge on June 1. Both these shows -- Sacramento and Rio Nido -- featured Dave and Alan (on bass), no Brian, who was home in Hawthorne. The Rio Nido date -- although I had nothing to do with it -- was my other suggestion to Murry. I told him we needed to concentrate on the small and secondary markets where the kids rarely saw a 'live' act and where expenses could be kept to a minimum. "New York, Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami -- the 'big cities' will be coming on before we know it, but in the meantime, lets' go after Reno, Modesto, Fresno, Boise, ID, Spokane, WA, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, San Bernardino and other similar markets. Those markets rarely get any 'live' entertainment and setting the concerts up won't cost as much," I said. It would be many of those same markets that would set the stage for their major touring success over the years. 

I visited MurryAudree and 'the boys' at their Hawthorne residence in late June, after their eight day, nine concert tour of the Hawaiian Islands, June 14 to 22nd. As their record sales and chart success began to kick in -- following "Surfin' USA" going to #3, "Surfer Girl" hitting #7, "Shut Down" going to #23 and "Little Deuce Coupe" hitting #15 -- the group was pretty well booked -- between recording dates and gigs. Most of July and August saw the group heading into the mid-west and east coast -- and, as I had predicted, most of those dates were in secondary markets. The exceptions were shows in Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and a special "Murry the K" concert in NYC--one of the first of many radio station 'appreciation shows' they would play over the years. 

We began to make plans for a September 14 return to Sacramento. I went to LA the first of September to update Murry on the concert. I encouraged them to have two shows -- a 2:00 PM matinee, aimed at pre-teeners (parents were admitted free with the purchase of a matinee ticket) and an evening show. While in LA, I attended the first of many recording sessions. It was "Be True To Your School." I believe It was at that session that Jan Berry showed up dressed as a 'song pirate,' a reference to Murry becoming quite upset because Brian had given away "Surf City," which had been recorded on March 20, released on May 17, and reached the #1 slot on July 20 (for two weeks) on the Billboard Hot 100. (Note: this session would have made a great scene for the movie). 

On the 14th, once again, Brian Wilson did not appear. Dave was still in the band but it would be one of his final concerts. Since this concert was a "Frederick Vail Production," and not a William Morris date, 'the boys' made about $6,000 to $7,500 after expenses. A far cry from the May 24 show just a few short months earlier. For me, it meant about $750, still a darn good wage for a teenager. Murry was always good to me, the side of him I will always remember when I read -- and re-read -- the more skeptical accounts. On September 16 Capitol released "Surfer Girl," the last of the original three albums to feature Dave on the cover.   

On September 28, I joined Murry and the group at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. It was another 'appreciation' show for KYA Radio -- and it's two leading dee jays, "Big Daddy" Tom Donahue -- the future "Father of AOR Radio" and member of the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" -- and Bobby  Mitchell. They called it the "KYA Surf Party" but it had an all-star cast of rock and rhythm and blues artists. Among them: 13 year old "Little" Stevie Wonder, Jan and Dean, Dee Dee Sharp (and her date, a very young Cassius Clay), The Righteous Brothers, April Stevens and Nino Tempo, The Ronettes, and a number of others. This is also the show where the 'victimized' Chuck Berry supposedly made the remark about 'those white boys' ripping him off by stealing his song, "Sweet Little Sixteen." (Note: "Surfin, USA" has most likely far out performed his other original hits over the years and this past year, 2014, was chosen by as the #1 all-time summer song). Incidentally, the 'house band' was lead by Phil Spector -- decked out in a black tux and playing a red Epiphone guitar. The band's guitarist was none other than Sylvester Stewart, who would later emerge as "Sly" of the "Family Stone."  Oh, what a night -- late September, 1963! 

By mid-October I was setting up two new gigs -- a 'dance and show' in Marysville, CA on Friday, November 22, and a third Sacramento concert on December 21 -- Carl Wilson's 17th birthday. I had suggested to Murry and Brian that they should record that concert for a 'live' album. Both of them initially questioned who would want to have a recording of a 'live' show, as going to a concert was the primary attraction. Yes, that was the main reason, but keep in mind that there were literally millions of kids who had never seen the group and they could get a taste of what it was like to attend a concert so that when the 'the boys' finally did play their city they would be among the first to buy a ticket and those who had been to a Beach Boys concert would gladly pluck down $3.49 to $3.99 to have a souvenir of the event so they could re-live the experience whenever they wished. 

Fortunately, for all of us, Murry and Brian -- and Capitol Records -- decided to go forward with my suggestion for a 'live' album. It remains to this day a rare and historic glimpse of a young and healthy Beach Boys, with Brian still on stage, and the original five members featured front and center. 

The show in Marysville, CA, about 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, was another 'small' market starving for 'live' entertainment but also close enough to Sacramento to draw some of the Beach Boys' most dedicated fans.   

Friday, November 22, would start out like any other fall day but it would not stay that way as radio and television stations broke into their regular programing to announce that shots had been fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. We all know the end of that story, but rather than recount the entire 'back story' and "The Warmth of the Sun," I encourage you to visit Kent's web site, "" where you can find a detailed account of that historic day.

The December 21 Sacramento show went off without a hitch. Brian Wilson and 'the boys' introduced the now Christmas 'classic,' "Little Saint Nick," which had been released on December 9 and would peak out at #3 on the seasonal Billboard Christmas chart. That night was also Carl Wilson's 17th birthday -- and we all joined in singing "Happy Birthday." As fate would have it, the show was originally going to be hosted by the KXOA "Good Guys," but the deejay, Bob Early, didn't show up on time, the audience was starting to stomp their feet and clap, so, about 8:10 Murry said, "we can't wait any longer, Fred. You know the drill, go out and introduce the guys." I wanted to keep it short and sweet, so I merely said, "And now, from Hawthorne, California, to entertain you tonight with a gala Christmas concert and recording session, the fabulous Beach Boys." Months later, Brian and his go to engineer, Chuck Britz, merely edited out the word "Christmas" and I would be forever linked to that historic night. Ironically, with my personal 'thanks' and gratitude to Al, I was finally awarded an R.I.A.A. Gold Album in 2006 -- 42 years after the album was certified :) 

Immediately following Christmas I went down to LA to visit Murry, Audree and the guys. Brian had just leased a small office in the new Sunset-Vine Tower, on the south east corner of Sunset Blvd. and North Vine Street.  Across the street and down the block from the Columbia Records studio, and catty corner with Wallich's Music City and Beau Gentry's Men's Shop, where the group bought the striped shirts, white pants, and suede boots they would be forever linked to (Note: seventeen years later, on December 30, 1980, right across the street from the old Wallich's and Beau Gentry locations, the Beach Boys would get their 'star' on the Hollywood Walk of Fame). 

The Sunset - Vine Tower was the most talked about new address in Hollywood -- perfectly suited for America's hottest new producer / composer -- and Brian was eager to give me a tour.  

It was a small office, about five hundred square feet, if I recall. A reception area (but no receptionist), a walk through hallway with room for some shelves, supplies, a coffee pot and copy machine. It had a single executive office, roughly 150 square feet. It was on the south side of the building and on a clear day you could see south of Hollywood and all the way to Culver City and Long Beach. Brian's office had an upright piano against the west wall, as there was no room for a baby grand. He had a large leather executive chair, but no desk. It was modest, but the perfect 'getaway' for Brian to concentrate on writing. He was putting the finishing touches on his newest masterpiece. The 'boys' would be in Western Recorders, with Chuck at the console, just a few days later -- January 1, 1964. Brian was obviously very excited about the song as he played it for his 'audience of one.' It was just Brian Wilson and I in this modest little office. He pointed to the chorus and said, "when I get to this line, you come in and do Carl's part, I'll take the falsetto." I'd been in the Church Youth Choir, A Cappella and Madrigals, but I knew I was 'no Carl.' :) 

Once we got to the first chorus, I knew Brian (and Mike) had written another solid 'hit.' The song? The one we're celebrating the 50th Anniversary of: "Fun, Fun, Fun." 

On the 31st -- New Years Eve -- we drove out to San Bernardino for a performance at radio personality Bob Eubanks' teen club, The Cinnamon Cinder. I was with Carl Wilson in his shiny new 1964 Pontiac. The boys finished their set shortly before midnight and Carl and I left for Hawthorne. As we drove west, KFWB was 'counting down the hits' and as we approached the midnight hour, the jock introduced the #1 song of the southland for 1963. Yep, "Surfin' USA! Carl and I let out a scream I'm sure to this day they heard all across Riverside County and clear to Hawthorne.  

1963 had been a tragic year for America but a fantastic year for The Beach Boys and as we headed into 1964 no one knew what new challenges and successes awaited us -- but it would not take long. On New Years Day, 'the boys' were in Western Recorders laying down two 'classics,' the very same two songs I had seen unfold in a Sacramento hotel room in the wee hours of November 23 and in Brian's sparsely furnished new office just a few days before: "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "The Warmth of the Sun."   

The first half of January would also see Brian in the studio producing Paul Peterson -- teen star of the popular "Donna Reed Show" -- along with "The Castells" and "The Honeys," and 'the boys' working on "Shut Down, Vol. 2," including "Don't Worry, Baby." The second half of the month included their first International tour, Australia and New Zealand, as one of several opening acts headlined by Roy Orbison -- a concert that also featured "The Surfaris" and "Paul and Paula." 

February 3 saw the release of "Fun, Fun, Fun" on the 5th Anniversary of the tragic death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, and, ironically, the same year ('59) that the House of Representatives began investigations into the radio and record industry's 'pay for play,' more commonly known as "payola."  

As the the group continued work on "Shut Down, Vol. 2," February 9 saw the first appearance of "The Beatles" on the "Ed Sullivan Show." There were four 'new kids on the block' and to make matters even more challenging, they were on the same record label: EMI in the UK and Capitol Records in America. The game was about to take on new dimensions as the two groups would be vying for the attention of the Capitol Records executives, advertising dollars, ticket sales, shelf space at retail, chart positions and airplay. I knew my work was cut out for me and I'm sure Brian Wilson knew he would have to bring his 'A' game into the studio. 

The "British invasion" would change the playing field forever, but we kept busy with tour dates in Seattle, Spokane, and San Jose, where their Feb 28 appearance at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds was followed by a visit with their Capitol Records label mates, "The Kingston Trio," at the Circle Star Theater in nearby San Carlos. My most vivid memory of that evening was watching Alan over in the corner of the trio's dressing room getting tips on the banjo from co-founder Nick Reynolds.   

March 2 saw the release of "Shut Down, Vol. 2", the group's appearance on "The Steve Allen Show" in San Diego on the 12th, and in the NBC Burbank Studios on March 14, to tape what would become known as "The Lost Concert." I still enjoy watching that footage on, as it's another rare glimpse at a healthy and enthusiastic Beach Boys -- and a healthy and 50 pounds lighter Fred! Yes, there I am a couple of rows from the stage -- in the center of the audience -- with three lovely young ladies alongside me: Marilyn, Diane and Ginger, "The  Honeys."  

As William Morris dates began to kick in with more frequency, I was taking on additional concert and dance production -- booking 'all-night' grad parties, teen clubs and service organizations, along with working with several northern Cal radio stations who hired me to put on fund raisers and 'appreciation' shows. Among the acts were "The Surfaris," Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, Ray Peterson, Jan & Dean, The Righteous Brothers, The Coasters, The Rivingtons, Paul and Paula, Dick and DeeDee, Chris Montez and Kathy Young, two of the three members of the early rockabilly band, "The Rock and Roll Trio," Johnny and Dorsey Burnette (one of the great 'early influence' groups who continue to be snubbed by the RRHOF), Freddy Cannon, Johnny Crawford and others, several of whom would end up on Beach Boys shows, and usually as an opening act. On March 25, the day after my 20th birthday, I produced a concert at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for KXOA Radio headlining "The Four Seasons" and -- as their opening act -- "The Crickets." I was staying at my folks' home when the doorbell rang. It was Denny and Carl who had come up to Sac to see The Seasons and take me -- and a few close friends -- out to dinner after the show to celebrate my birthday. We went to the auditorium together -- and were back stage watching the show when someone in the audience spotted Dennis and Carl Wilson and word began to spread throughout the audience. All of a sudden the kids began shouting their names -- stomping their feet -- and The Seasons were in the midst of their show. The group, to their credit, stopped their set and invited Denny and Carl to come out on to the stage. The audience went wild. Denny and Carl told the kids they were in Sacramento to celebrate my birthday, that this was 'the Four Seasons' show and that they would be back in May for another concert. The Season's show went on, Dennis, Carl and I, along with  few friends, went out to a nice restaurant to enjoy the rest of the evening. Oh, they gave me a tie. :)  

On April 2 and 10, "I Get Around" was recorded and a good part of April and well into May saw continued tracking and mixing on "All Summer Long," along with some assorted dates, including Houston and Dallas. On May 9, the group returned to Sacramento for additional two additional shows, this one, I believe, was a benefit for the March of Dimes Children's Hospital, or another charity connected organization. 

June saw Brian back in the studio working with Gary Usher and Sharon Marie, the filming of "The Girls On The Beach" and Annette's "The Monkey's Uncle," (both the single and the opening film segment), more work on "All Summer Long" and "The Christmas Album."  

The "Summer Safari" tour kicked off in Honolulu on July 3 with multiple shows, and additional shows in AZ, NM, TX, OK, KY, NC, MO, and Indianapolis, another early Beach Boys stronghold. Another one of the group's favorite cities, Salt Lake ("we'll be coming soon") was toward the end of this tour. It was "The Lagoon," in Farmington, UT, that would become an almost annual stop on the group's tour schedule, and owner Bob Freed became a close friend of Murry, Audree and 'the boys.' We also did a "Summer Safari" date in Reno, NV, at the State Building Auditorium, which, ironically, was about the only venue in town that was NOT a casino :) The auditorium, which held about 1,500 seats, was actually located below the city library! On this particular tour, opening acts included Lynn Easton and The Kingsmen, Ronnie and The Daytonas, and Jimmy Griffin, who would become a founding member of "Bread."  

On August 1 the boys returned to Sacramento for yet another concert but this time we also recorded it so that additional songs, including "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "I Get Around" could be included on the 'live' album. If  you've not figured it out by now, the Beach Boys 'owned' Sacramento, certainly one of their top cities. They could always count on Sacto for great shows, screaming kids and 'sold out' concerts.                                                                                   
August 5 and 10 saw Brian and the guys back in Western Recorders working on "When I Grow Up To Be A Man." As I listened to the track going down, I was certain it would be another #1. It was not, but over the years it has remained one of my very favorite singles. That song, and another, "I Wasn't Made For These Times" (from the "Pet Sounds" album) are autobiographical -- songs that both reflected Brian's inner feelings at the time. 

September included more touring, this time into CT, MA, NJ, some additional dates in Atlanta, Nashville and Knoxville, a return to The Lagoon in UT on Sept 11, followed by a concert in Boise, ID--in the high school auditorium, which was the only large venu in the city--then a swing through FL, AL, TN, VA, Providence, RI and West Orange, NJ before heading into NYC for the "Ed Sullivan Show" on September 27. 

October's key events included Brian going into the studio with Glen Campbell on the 14th to record "Guess I'm Dumb." Glen, as a member of the famous LA "Wrecking Crew," had recorded on a few Beach Boys tracks, but no one would have guessed -- not in their wildest imagination -- that Glen would soon become a member of the group, replacing Brian on tours in late December and into 1965. On October 19, the "Beach Boys Concert" album was released. By year's end it would become the group's first #1 Gold Album. In retrospect, while I appreciate my dear friend Alan's efforts to finally get me my 'Gold Album" award, I think I would have preferred a 'royalty' :)  

On October 28 and 29, the group filmed the TAMI show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, with James Brown and the Fabulous Flames, The Rolling Stones (Mick and Keith said following James Brown was one of the biggest mistakes of their career), The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Chuck Berry, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, and Lesley Gore, among others. Denny told me that Lesley had snubbed him, asking him 'who are you?' :) I believe he used a certain 'expletive' when he described the meeting to me! Jan & Dean emceed the extravaganza which was released on December 29 in it's entirety.   

(Note: four days earlier, on October 24, I had produced a concert at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for Jan & Dean, who were hoping a 'live' concert album for them might strike "gold" as it had for 'the boys.' We needed a band and I suggested Glen Campbell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, P.F. Sloan and Steve Berry on keys and bass, as they were enjoying a hit record as the "Fantastic Baggies," a song entitled "Summer Means Fun." Glen, along with Phil and Steve, thus did 'double duty' as opening acts for Jan & Dean and as the backing band. Unfortunately, this time I did not get to introduce the duo as I had done the previous year with 'the boys.' I introduced Roger Christian, who, in turn, introduced Jan & Dean: "Girls, hang on to your guys. Guys, just hang on. Here are America's #1 duo, Jan & Dean!" Eventually, the two recordings, "The T.A.M.I. Show" and the Sacramento concert, would be released as the duo's "Command Performance" album).  

There have been various boots and other DVD's of the TAMI show released over the years, but on most of them The Beach Boys segment was deleted due to contractual constraints and copyright issues. TAMI remains an historical look at an amazing year in music -- 1964.                                                                                                                         
November 3 to 21 saw the launch of the group's first European tour -- France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and England -- with key dates in Paris, Rome, Berlin and London. It included major music oriented television shows in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, including the popular program "Ready, Steady, Go." Following the tour the group returned to the US for additional concerts in NY, OH, MI, and CT. Meanwhile, back in the USA, Capitol Records had released their "Beach Boys Christmas" album on November 9.      

Taking a brief break from touring in early December, things began to heat up for the group by mid-month with appearances on TV's "Shindig!" and a "Bob Hope Christmas Special." On a December 23 flight from LA to Houston, Brian suffered an anxiety attack and returned to LA. Glen Campbell, who had worked as a session musician and was familiar with their music, and who had his own distinctive 'falsetto,' was asked to fill in for Brian on their December 26 concert in Dallas. He would continue to work with the boys into early 1965, including end of the year shows in IA, IN, KY and a New Years Eve show in Charlotte, NC.    

1964 had been a milestone year for The Beach Boys, not only with the number of successful albums and singles that had been released, but their first #1 single, "I Get Around," the completion and release of their "live" album, the firing of Murry, the arrival of The Beatles and the British Invasion that followed, and their dominance as a major touring act. Hundreds of thousands had seen The Beach Boys at concerts in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Millions more would now know the group after the major success of the 'live' album.   

With Brian now able to concentrate more on the music, the stage was set for 1965. The Beach Boys were quickly becoming "America's Band," Carl, Alan and Denny were emerging as featured lead singers and the future was, indeed, looking bright.
Fred Vail
Music City, USA
September 15, 2014  (updated June 12, 2015)  

Fred shared his recollections of the origins and recording session for "The Warmth Of The Sun" with Forgotten Hits several years ago, a piece that was picked up by "Endless Summer Quarterly" as well.
You can find the original, "uncut" piece here:

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