BOOK REVIEW: Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy by Mike Love
Faber & Faber
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Mike Love presents a turbulent tale of his life as a Beach Boy, with lashings of booze, drugs, sex, mental illness, in-fighting, celebrity name-dropping, legal complications and business aptitude as he covers sixty years as part of one of the most well-known and biggest-selling musical families & bands.
Love tackles head-on the preconceptions which the media has imprinted into our minds over the years: that he was ‘just’ the singer of The Beach Boys; that his cousin Brian Wilson was the talented one, a ‘troubled genius’ held back by Love and other band members; that as an acid dropping hippy he got wrapped up too tightly in the transcendental meditation scene with The Beatles’ swami Maharishi.
Love weighs into each of these subjects and many more with great gusto – revealing amongst other bombshells that he co-wrote many of the Beach Boys songs mis-credited solely to Wilson, and that accusations of him being unsupportive of Wilson’s sonic experiments were slanderous lies spread by drug dealers and others with hidden agendas.
The song-writing argument remains staggering – that anyone would simply not argue about credit for some 75 songs, many of which were multi-million selling hits, beggars belief in any normal situation. The Beach Boys, of course, weren’t normal though – three brothers and a cousin, managed by the father of the Wilson trio. Family, it seems, can’t always be trusted. They were also ploughing uncharted waters in the early days of the rock n’ roll revolution, and a heady time of social revolution, and Love isn’t shy in admitting his predilection for hash, vodka and women at the time.
Love remains an integral part of the Beach boys to this day, unlike Wilson, who now tours solo, and his story even manages to make interesting the repeated failed marriages, and the way he overhauled the band’s touring principles from a business perspective.
Everyone cops a serve through the story – and very probably they all deserve it – but some of the heaviest criticism is reserved for Love himself, as he admits his flaws as a human.
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