Like heat from a blast furnace: The sheer raw force of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson

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Four Beach Boys experts investigate coolest band member Dennis Wilson’s troubled childhood, most gut-wrenching composition, whether jealousy clouded the abandonment of “Pacific Ocean Blue’s” intended follow-up “Bambu,” final birthday, soundly put the myth to bed that the multi-instrumentalist did not play on sessions, and fondly recall two serendipitous summits with the emotionally intense songwriter. Seen above at a Beach Boys gig in 1979, the self-taught, open-handed drummer sports a vintage 1976 Venice red T-shirt and faded blue jeans behind a Remo Gold Crown drum kit. Image Credit: Beach Boys Legacy Twitter / Brother Records
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All the girls swoon as the Beach Boys’ number one sex symbol, drummer-keyboardist-songwriter-vocalist Dennis Wilson, rehearses at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, on May 2, 1969, sans T-shirt and likely sporting his first beard. Image Credit: The Jack Lloyd Collection / appears in Ian Rusten and Jon Stebbins’ “The Beach Boys in Concert! The Complete History of America’s Band on Tour and Onstage”

The Andrew G. Doe, Mike Eder, Craig Slowinski, and Jon Stebbins Interview

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Beach Boys Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson lean against a white wall circa January 1972, shortly before Johnston exited the band for the first time and recording of the “Carl and the Passions — So Tough” album began in earnest. Along with Daryl Dragon of future Captain and Tennille fame, Dennis contributed emotionally tortured ballads “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up” to side B of the album. Image Credit: Brother Records
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“Oh, I know people who want to go far, make big movies and become a star, people got to dream — dreamer, who said it was easy?” On September 17, 1976, a lustful Dennis Wilson exhibits a few weeks worth of beard growth while casually sitting inside the Hollywood Palladium during rehearsals for Don Kirshner’s Annual Rock Music Awards CBS telecast. In the wake of the “Brian Is Back!” campaign that resulted in a Top Ten Beach Boys comeback album, “15 Big Ones,” Brian Wilson was a guest presenter and also up for the Hall of Fame category, losing to the Beatles. Younger brothers Carl Wilson and Dennis were on hand to show their support. Thank you to Jenna Appleseed for pinpointing the photo date. Photography by Mark Sullivan / Contour by Getty Images
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Clockwise from top center, Beach Boys Carl Wilson, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, and Mike Love are seated on actual vinyl album covers celebrating America’s bicentennial summer and the unleashing of the “15 Big Ones” album, summer 1976. Image Credit: Brother Records
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On June 2, 1980, the mostly distracted Beach Boys are seen backstage at the Ekeberghallen in Oslo, Norway. Left to right, back row, are Mike Love, Brian Wilson, and Dennis Wilson. Seen on the front row are Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine. The June 1980 European tour marked Dennis’s official return to the band after being suspended for an onstage altercation with Love at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on June 8, 1979 [he did play a few scattered shows with the band during the one-year suspension]. Photography by Michael Putland / Getty Images
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Dennis Wilson demonstrates affection for young son Michael on Venice Beach circa early summer 1977, taken from the photo shoot for Wilson’s debut solo record, “Pacific Ocean Blue.” Photography by Dean Torrence [Jan & Dean] / Kittyhawk Graphics
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Dennis Wilson and actress-model Karen Lamm intensely love one another on a Hawaii beach, circa early summer 1977. Married twice to one another in the late ’70s, Lamm was originally wed to Chicago keyboardist Robert Lamm and co-wrote “Baby Blue,” “You and I,” and “Time” with Wilson. Photography by Dean Torrence [Jan & Dean] / Kittyhawk Graphics
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A forlorn Dennis Wilson poses while the wild surf on Venice Beach swiftly approaches in the early summer of 1977. The shot appeared as the cover of “Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy,” written by Jon Stebbins and the first biography to focus on the late drummer’s tragic life. The new, expanded edition of “The Real Beach Boy“ is expected to be available in 2018. Photography by Ed Roach / ECW Press
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“Let the love I have for you, live in your heart and be forever, I’ve been so happy loving you, so I’ve gone away, but not forever:” Drummer-keyboardist-singer Dennis Wilson ably tackles the sticks at a Beach Boys fall 1975 concert date. Photography by Henry Diltz / Corbis / Getty Images
Forty years since its initial release, Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue,” the first solo album by a member of the Beach Boys, is widely regarded as a cult masterpiece, a stark confessional vehicle of naked primal emotion and deep pain. “Dreamer: The Making of Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue” [2017], written by Ken Sharp, is the first book devoted to the creation of this seminal rock and roll classic. Via extensive interviews conducted with many of the record’s main principals numbering songwriting collaborators, engineers, session musicians, record company personnel, management, fellow Beach Boys, friends, family, music writers and more, the 415-page book is structured as an oral history and chronicles the fascinating back story behind this extraordinary album. To order please email Ken Sharp directly for further details.
Hear Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson perform the radio ready, Latin-tinged “Constant Companion.” The tune was intended for second solo album “Bambu’ but remained locked inside the Brother Records vaults for an astonishing 30 years. Music + Video Credit: Caribou Records / Sony Music Entertainment

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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