Still Surfin' USA

Still Surfin' USA

Beach Boys leader Mike Love performs 100 shows a year, including a concert Sunday with the Pasadena POPS at the LA County Arboretum

By Carl Kozlowski 06/19/2014

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After 50 years on radio and the road, Mike Love and the Beach Boys have long since become beach men. But the key to their enduring popularity — including the ability to draw huge crowds this Sunday for a show with the Pasadena Symphony-POPS at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. 

Looking back on the band’s origins as a bunch of teenage brothers and cousins jamming in a garage, the 73-year-old Love admits that they had no idea their music would help change the face of popular culture. But as an advocate of healthy living and Transcendental Meditation (TM), the spiritual practice he learned alongside the Beatles from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he also feels confident that he will have the will and the ability to keep playing for many years to come. 
“We didn’t see it coming, not in the beginning,” says Love. “It was exciting to hear our first song on the radio and the second being a bigger national hit instead of just a regional hit. We did a hundred deejay-promoted sock hops all over the country and I remember being outside Minneapolis at a ballroom and having four sets that night, and after the first one we had a break for 15 minutes and saw the line of cars, place was sold out and people were breaking windows trying to get in. I turned to my cousin Brian [Wilson] and said, ‘This must have been what Elvis had it like.’ But that took a year to happen.”  

Five decades later, after a long run on the charts, a vitriolic breakup largely caused by court battles over songwriting credits and the tragic deaths of some original Beach Boys members, Love stands strong with a full schedule of more than 100 shows annually. The surviving original members and the most important replacement members teamed up two years ago for a 50th anniversary tour and acclaimed new album, but once it was over, Love put his own version of the Beach Boys back together and seems content to have parted ways again with Wilson. 
“The Beach Boys are indelibly carved in the Library of Congress,” says Love. “Earlier this year we saw Tony Bennett in concert and he’s 87 years old, but he sounded great.  There’s a guy who enjoys music, stays in great shape vocally and has a terrific song list he performs. If you’re a musician, it’s what you love to do. No one forces you into it. For many it’s a hobby, but in our case our hobby became a profession.”  

The Beach Boys perform with the Pasadena Symphony-Pops at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. Tickets are $30. Call (626) 793-7172 or visit Pasadenasymphony-pops.org. 

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