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Published: 2012/10/05

Featured Column: Why Can’t We All Get Along?

The Beach Boys at Bonnaroo

Recently, the guy who coined the phrase, “why can’t we all get along?” passed away. Over twenty years ago, the beating of Rodney King was big news. Apparently, Rodney, who was 25 years old at the time, was on parole. He was driving a car when he spotted a police cruiser. Rodney panicked not so much because he was driving a car, but more to the point he had been drinking and as such did not want to get stopped buy the cops which would have revoked his parole. That led to a 100 MPH chase though the streets of Los Angeles.

He finally stopped in an area where there were a number of houses and apartments. Sure enough as he expected, the cops beat Rodney senseless. Unfortunately for the police, someone made a video of the beating and that video was widely seen throughout the world and subsequently changed the city of Los Angeles, its police department and race relations. Mr. King’s comment after all the dust settled was, “Why can’t we all get along?”

Two months ago, I wrote a column called “Reinvention” where I pointed to Lionel Richie and the Beach Boys as being emblematic of musical acts that have been able to reinvent themselves to keep pace with the business of music. Lionel was able to reinvent himself by producing an album of his r&b hits sung with country & western stars. The album besides selling extremely well has been a huge critical success for Mr. Richie.

I also used the Beach Boys as an example of a band that was formed 50 years ago in California, that produced some of the best rock’n’roll songs ever heard while in the midst of serious drug use, death of two of their founding members and countless law suits amongst the surviving members of the band to reunite for a world tour that ended in London in September.

It was a feel good story. Brian Wilson, the undisputed leader of the band whose writing overshadowed the rest of the band and most everyone else in the music business was able to discard his drug use and become productive once again. Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnson and David Marks, showing signs of middle age with receding hairlines got together to perform on this world tour after years of acrimony. On interviews, the band seemed to make it clear that they were enjoying themselves and had every reason to continue touring and recording.

One of my neighbors saw their show when they were in the Washington, DC area and reported that it was a great performance. It made me yearn for the impossible, to see other of my favorite groups from the 60’s take the Beach Boys lead and consider touring again.

I was therefore disappointed when I heard this week that Mike Love announced that after the tour ends in London at the end of September, he and only Bruce Johnson will tour as the Beach Boys in 2013 and that Al, Brian and David can go home because they are not needed. To make matters classless and rude, the other three Beach Boys were informed of this decision by e-mail.

Apparently, through all the legal maneuvering over the years, Love owns the Beach Boys name and clearly he intends to use it. It seems to me that the Beach Boys are more Brian Wilson that Mike Love. Admittedly, Mike has written a number of good songs, but his output is nowhere near Brian’s. Moreover, Brian is the Beach Boys. Everyone else in the band, including Brian’s two late Brothers, Carl and Dennis were supporting acts in support of Brian’s incredible musical talent.

Love’s announcement was very disappointing and as such, brought to mind Rodney King’s famous plea for all of us to get along. If it’s impossible to work together, so be it. All of us have worked with a few impossible people over the years, so I can understand that there may be friction amongst the band. It’s just disheartening to see a band that many of us grew up with go their separate ways when we were just treated to such a beautiful renaissance. As a business person, I understand the move. As a fan, I don’t.

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