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Love brings good vibrations | Beach Boys to perform March 8 at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Feb 29, 2024

Beach Boys singer Mike Love will bring the latest reincarnation of the Beach Boys to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall March 8. PHOTO CREDIT: Udo Spreitzenbarth

Legendary Beach Boys singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mike Love doesn’t hesitate when asked how the 82-year-old is going to play back-to-back shows with the Beach Boys in Fort Myers on Thursday, March 8.

“It really is no problem. I do my meditation every day,” Love said over the phone from Maui, where he has been touring with the Beach Boys. Love cited his routine of regularly going to the gym, doing pilates and keeping a vegetarian diet to helping him keep in shape.

“I just have to do my beauty rest,” Love said.

There was only supposed to be one Beach Boys show at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall but the concert was selling so good, another show was added. Love is not worried about the extra work. “We have a great crew that sets everything up,” he said.

Love and the Beach Boys will be bringing a set more energetic than most bands a fraction of their age that typically runs two hours and features most of the Beach Boys hits. The band is celebrating the 50th anniversary of their greatest hits album “Endless Summer” which featured the early surf rock sounds of “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfin’ USA” to their California fantasy hits “California Girls,” “I Get Around” and “Fun, Fun, Fun,” to their renowned classic “Good Vibrations.” The set also features the post-Pet Sounds era hits like “Do it Again,” right into hidden gems from their ’70s material — all the way up to their No. 1 hit “Kokomo” and beyond.

The first set of the Beach Boys performance at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall starts at 3 p.m. on Friday March 8. The second set goes off at 7:30 p.m. The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is located on the campus of Florida Southwestern State College at 13350 FSW Parkway in Fort Myers. PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Trocchio

Love partially credits his longevity in the music business to his background running cross-country track in high school. One of his former high school classmates, local resident Craig Owens, will be in attendance at the show. “We used to run 5 miles a day together in the mornings,” Love said. He attributed his hard work ethic more than six decades into his music career to his father who ran a sheetmetal business, waking up at 5:30 a.m. and worked six days a week and long hours. “He was quite an inspiration,” he said.

The Beach Boys these days consists of Love, co-founder of one of the most consequential American music groups of the 20th Century, keyboardist Bruce Johnson (who began replacing founder Brian Wilson on tour in 1965) and a backing group that include several longtime collaborators of Love including his son Christian. Full House actor John Stamos has made special appearances on the tour, playing drums. He has periodically made appearances with the group since the 1980s.

Sad news

Love’s tour with the Beach Boys coincides with recent news that co-founder Brian Wilson was diagnosed with dementia and an application has been made to put him into a conservatorship after his wife died due in part to his difficulties getting around.

“It’s a sad thing,” Love said. Love said he doesn’t know how serious it is but it makes it further unlikely as to whether the two will ever reunite for a show. Love hasn’t performed with Wilson since a 2012 reunion tour in which Love and Wilson were joined by guitarists Al Jardine and David Marks for a 50th anniversary tour of their founding.

“It was great. We started out to do 50 dates but ended up going for 70,” Love said. Though there had been great hopes the Beach Boys would continue to perform with all of the surviving original members, Love and Johnson would go on their own tour under the Beach Boys moniker (which Love controls) while Wilson, Jardine and Marks ended up touring as part of a separate tour.

Love doesn’t know if they will ever all play again. The surviving Beach Boys last gathered together last year for a tribute show they attended but didn’t perform in. Love said the band members discussed playing again though nothing transpired.

The dozen years that has lapsed between all of the band reuniting is a continuation of an acrimonious past in which Love and Wilson have sometimes sparred. Love filed a lawsuit in the 1990s to gain credits for songs he helped write the lyrics for.

The ‘Love Doctor’ touch

Nearly all of the Beach Boys hits have some touch from Love. He provides the lead with his signature high-pitched and rapid delivery on hits like “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls,” “409” and “Surfin’ Safari” but even when he isn’t, he makes impressions with his ability to serve the baritone background notes or smaller, memorable exchanges like on “Good Vibrations” with the lyrics “Got to keep those lovin’ good vibrations happenin’ with her.” On some songs like the underappreciated classic “Good to my Baby,” Love will exchange leads with Brian Wilson and do the baritone notes and harmonies. It’s a formula that led to the Beach Boys selling tens of millions of records despite deaths and inner turmoil.

Remembering Carl and Dennis

Beach Boys co-founder Carl Wilson died in 1997 at the age of 51 from lung cancer. Love said Carl started smoking at an early age though he gave it up a couple years before he died. While Brian Wilson and Mike Love got most of the headlines over the years for the Beach Boys, it was Carl who provided the band their rock and roll sound with his Chuck Berry influences on guitar, Love said. “He gave us that rock and roll element,” he said. He came to the forefront of the group with his lead vocals on “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows.”

“He had an amazing voice,” Love said. “He was a great guitar player.”

Early on, Carl provided the guitar chops for the group with his neighbor David Marks. Both joined the group when they were just 14. Marks would leave the group in 1964 after Love said the group’s manager Murray Wilson (father of Brian, Carl and Dennis) quarreled with him and his parents. “He was railroaded out of the group by my uncle Murray,” Love said.

That led to Al Jardine, part of the original lineup, returning to the band. Jardine would provide lead on “Help me Rhonda.”

Carl would lead the group’s musical direction after his brother Brian began withdrawing from the group at the end of the 1960s. Love’s son Christian handles the Carl Wilson parts during the shows. Brian Eichenberger handles the falsetto notes of Brian Wilson.

“We loved the do-wop, Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Four Freshman,” Love said of the band’s early influences. The band even got to do a show with the Everly Brothers once.

Drummer Dennis Wilson died in 1983 at the age of 40 after drowning. “He had a ton of energy,” Love said. Unfortunately, he was addicted to alcohol and drugs, Love said. “He couldn’t shake it. He would go to rehab for a night (at a time). It doesn’t work that way. … He had a very addictive personality,” Love said.


Love credits his discovery of transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on a 1968 trip to India with Beatles guitarist George Harrison with keeping him on the straight and narrow and away from the drug culture that consumed some of his bandmates.

“It’s lifestyle choices you know. Some people didn’t choose the right path and they are not with us anymore. Some people chose to do things that were harmful to themselves mentally and physically,” Love said.

He said that he, Jardine and Johnston were able to avoid the pitfalls.

Love wrote a song about his time in India with Harrison called “Pisces Brothers,” which he performs on tour.

‘Two bands’

The Beach Boys were able to be one of the most prolific bands in rock history in part by actually being two bands. After Brian Wilson largely withdrew from touring in 1964, he spent his time in the recording studio working on records with The Wrecking Crew — a cadre of session musicians responsible for many of the greatest hits of the 1960s. On the “Pet Sounds” hit “Wouldn’t it be Nice,” for example, there were at least 18 musicians playing different instruments on the song. Much of the Beach Boys material from 1964-1968 was with musicians from the Wrecking Crew adding instrumentation.

On “California Girls,” Leon Russell handled piano duties as part of a backing group of a dozen instrumentalists that included legendary drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Carol Kaye and Al De Lory on the memorable organ notes. “Hal Blaine was the nicest guy you ever want to meet,” Love said.

“We were really two bands,” Love said. That setup allowed the Beach Boys to tour while Wilson worked on laying down the instrumentation for many of the songs. “We wouldn’t have as much of a volume of songs” without the Wrecking Crew, Love said.

Genius of Brian Wilson

On Brian Wilson, Love said “He had an uncanny ability to hear all the parts simultaneously in his head. He would deal all of my low parts and Al’s parts. Very complicated harmonies, he could hear them all in his head. He had an uncanny ability of harmonies and chord progressions.” In recording sessions, Wilson would deal out horn parts and bass parts on the fly to more than a dozen musicians assembled at a time — all while in his early 20s.

Staying hip

Love is still giving off good vibrations these days. When asked about the famous David Lee Roth cover of “California Girls,” Love laughs and says he enjoyed the Van Halen singer’s version. “What a video,” he said.

On this tour, Love and the Beach Boys show another side to the group by covering “Rockaway Beach” by the legendary punk rock band The Ramones.

“That song rocks,” Love said.

The first set of the Beach Boys performance at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall starts at 3 p.m. on Friday March 8. The second set goes off at 7:30 p.m. The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is located on the campus of Florida Southwestern State College at 13350 FSW Parkway in Fort Myers.

“People still love our songs. We love doing them,” Love said. I look forward to doing the concerts, and touring. The concerts generate so much happiness in the audience. For the older fans, it brings a lot of memories and for our younger fans they experience a lot of joy.”