Promoters are billing the Beach Boys, currently on their 35th-anniversary tour, as "America's Fun, Fun, Fun Ambassadors." But considering the dirty laundry the Wilson brothers and their bad-tempered cousin Mike Love have worn over the years, a more fitting alias might be "America's Bad Boys of Rock!"
What's that you say? Those missing-in-action (but supposedly at work on a new album) ne'er-do-wells in Guns N' Roses hold claim to that title? Bah! Stack up those longhaired ruffians against the crew-cut Beach Boys and, buddy, they'll shut 'em down!
"LET THEM RUN WILD"
Guitarist Izzy Stradlin admits the band members sold drugs and stole money from their girlfriends to buy gear during those lean early years.
The Wilson boys took the money their vacationing parents left them to buy food, and rented instruments for their first-ever recording session. Those guys were in BIG TROUBLE!!
"I CAN HEAR MANSON"
The band's last album The Spaghetti Incident? contains an unlisted track ("Look at Your Game, Girl") that was written by Charles Manson. The Gunners' record label refuses to comment on whether Mr. Helter Skelter eyes will profit from its inclusion. Thanks, Chas!
Manson and his clan were guests in Dennis Wilson's house for much of 1968 and '69. Though credited to Dennis Wilson, the song "Never Learn Not to Love" from the 1969 Beach Boys album 20/20 was actually written by you-know-who as "Cease to Exist."
Axl Rose got pissed at bandmates Slash, Izzy and Steven Adler for getting hooked on heroin (again) during the Rolling Stones' 1989 Steel Wheels tour, and made a cryptic onstage announcement in Boston that this would be his last gig because "too many band members are dancing with Mr. Brownstone." Hey, Axl--shit happens when you open for the Rolling Stones.
Before he died in a 1983 boating accident, Dennis Wilson used to delight in snatching Mike Love's baseball cap from behind at early '80s concerts and Frisbee-throwing it to the audience, the better to expose Love's balding head. Onstage fisticuffs ensued, and both band members eventually went to court to obtain restraining orders against each other.
"BITTER CHILD O' MINE"
Axl is prescribed lithium to treat his manic-depressive disorder, but often refuses to take it. The rocker's mental instability can be genetically traced back to his dad, Billy Rose, who abandoned the family when Axl was but a tyke and disappeared for several years until police found his body 50 feet down in a strip mine.
One time when Dennis was a kid, he stole his dad's glass eye, just for kicks. Murry Wilson punished the little joker by forcing Dennis to stare into the empty socket. Murry saved his best disciplinary actions for Brian, though, making him defecate on a plate for misbehaving at the dinner table, and damaging Brian's hearing in one ear by hitting him upside the head with an iron. Did someone say "back to mono"?
"BUDDY, GONNA SHUT YOU UP"
Axl challenged Vince Neil of Mstley CrYe to fight him any time after Neil punched Izzy Stradlin for allegedly punching Mrs. Neil backstage at the 1989 MTV Music Awards. Got that? Axl issued a similar threat to rock critics he names in the song "Get in the Ring" from Use Your Illusion, telling Spin editor/publisher (and heir to the Penthouse fortune) Bob Guccione Jr. that he only panned the band because "you're mad 'cause your dad gets more pussy than you," and challenging the Gootch: "Get in the ring, motherfucker, and I'll kick your bitchy little ass."
As the Beach Boys were about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Mike Love, in a fun-fun-funk about something or other, rudely challenged fellow inductees the Rolling Stones and award presenters Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen to some bizarre, on-the-spot Battle of the Bands. Imagine if he didn't meditate!
"WE GET AROUND"
The band's overextended layoff period has spawned such frightening aggregations as Slash's Snakepit, Izzy Stradlin and the JuJu Hounds, and the Neurotic Outsiders.
The Beach Boys' frequent layoff periods have resulted in even scarier spin-offs like Mike Love's transcendental meditation group Waves, and Dennis Wilson and Rumbo (Rumbo being the Captain of C and Tennille fame). And don't think we've forgotten about Brian siring two thirds of those renegade sirens Wilson Phillips!
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"WELCOME TO THE BUNGLE"
The Gunners' original cover artwork for Appetite for Destruction--a piece by pop artist Robert Williams that showed the alien-rape of a robot toy vendor--was deemed "offensive to women" and moved inside, opposite the liner notes.
The Boys also had a cover pulled, but only because it was offensive to Brian. In a Freudian slip, Capitol mistakenly listed "Don't Back Down"--on the All Summer Long album, released just after Brian's infamous 1964 crackup--as "Don't Break Down."
The Beach Boys are scheduled to perform on Sunday, October 27, at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. Showtimes are 4 and 7 p.m.