You know how sometimes you can’t unsee something, no matter how violently your eyes leap back into your brain, screaming?
I just witnessed a clip of something from 1976 featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, posing as CHP officers, pulling Brian Wilson from bed and forcing him to surf because not surfing was against California law in 1976.
Stunningly … not their best work. Any of them.
It certainly wasn’t indicative of how police really wake someone in their own bedroom (just trust me). I suspect it was 1976’s version of a new fangled “video” for “Surfin’ USA,” and it was predictably uncomfortable, not just because of the massive comedic swing and miss (“Two Broke Girls”-level unfunny). Just watching 1976 Brian Wilson walking into a real ocean is like waking up one morning to find your daughter’s boyfriend in your kitchen (trust me, not comfortable for anyone).
The experience wasn’t dissimilar to watching the old “Faces of Death” movies, a party fave from the 1980s for stupid guys (me, friends) demonstrating how brave and cool we were watching a guy’s parachute not open. Though, in retrospect, it actually was kind of fascinating to see how high he bounced … but overall a gross experience I wouldn’t recommend.
Wilson, of course, didn’t die (but he did kind of bounce when the ocean coughed him back onto the beach).
But then the video’s terror level really escalated.
Mike Love became involved.
The scene cut to a mid-’70s Beach Boys concert … with Love dancing … and … make it STOP.
At least the video still meant well up until then. What a strange juxtaposition. There was the late Dennis Wilson–maybe the coolest-looking guy ever pretending to play drums, and his very lovable brother, the late Carl Wilson, playing guitar, not far from the civilized Al Jardine, and a couple other mellow-looking guys in Hawaiian shirts.
And right dab in the center of it all was Mike Love, looking typically smug, having some sort of awful seizure while trying to impersonate Mick Jagger.
Look, when I decide to impose myself onto a dance floor somewhere, people surround me with cameras for children’s tutorials on how not to behave at someone else’s wedding. I’m the last guy to make fun of someone else throwing a fit to music.
But my issue with this video is the issue with anything that’s ever been wrong with the otherwise fantastically pleasant Beach Boys: Mike Love.
I started wondering if there’s a worse human being in rock music history who hasn’t actually killed someone, besides Marilyn Manson. And not just because Mike Love approaches dancing like a deeply rooted palm tree approaches a hurricane.
Not to get too detailed, but Love has always had a certain entitled, misplaced arrogance about the Beach Boys, despite Brian Wilson being the genius who gave Love a career. Cousin Mike went great lengths to possess the Beach Boys name, lends it to various conservative causes that don’t thrill fans, and seems like an all-around bully. Especially to Wilson who, of course, has a long history of various mental health issues.
I won’t go to into all the details, because I don’t get paid by the word (or at all, really). For our purpose, let’s just take one of his most severe crimes: being the least rock and roll guy in rock and roll.
Is there a less rock and roll guy than Mike Love? This is where I was going to put to the list, use it as an excuse to make fun of a few people, and be on my way … but, seriously, no one comes to mind. Not even close.
I tried to think up some prog rockers–which isn’t very rock and roll at all–but at least they wear capes and have lasers. Steve Perry would be a candidate, but those vocal chords let him get away with anything … Dennis DeYoung? Rob Thomas? He seems like he takes a lot showers. Pat Boone was the least rock and roll human of his time, but at least he seemed nice. Ozzy says nice things about him.
Mike Love isn’t just not rock … he’s actually in the red, like the anti-rock. He’s in rock debt and should spend his next life wearing golf pants and selling hairpieces. If anyone has other suggestions for the job of the most unrock rock star ever, find me on social media below. I don’t think it can be done.
Follow music critic Tony Hicks at Twitter.com/TonyBaloney1967.