Musician Biographies » The Beach Boys » GOOD VIBRATIONS - Turbulent Times, Bruce Johnston: “i Write The Song”, “don't Worry Baby”, Spiritual Music

GOOD VIBRATIONS - Turbulent Times

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The bliss was quickly interrupted, however. Mike divorced his wife, Francine, not long after the European tour wrapped up, and Murry and Audree separated later that year. Even worse, Brian suffered a panic attack on a plane to Houston, Texas, as the group set off on their latest tour. He was overcome with anxiety about his marriage, which was becoming troubled, and his competition with other bands. Carl and Dennis sat with him until the plane landed, and Brian was taken to a doctor. He left the tour early and returned home to L.A., where Audree picked him up at the airport. She recalled, “He was in a bad state, crying; then he stopped and talked a lot.” Brian told his mom about his decision to stop touring. When the rest of the group returned, he gathered them in the studio and broke the news. The Beach Boys would go on, he said, but as two separate units: Dennis, Carl, Mike, and Al would perform on the road, and Brian would compose and record at home. They were stunned by his decision. In time, though, they reluctantly agreed to Brian's arrangement.

The Beach Boys tried out the new setup not long after. On a fourteen-day tour of the states, Brian was replaced by guitarist and singer Glen Campbell, an ace session musician. Campbell stayed with the group for three months, but left to pursue a successful solo career. As a parting gift, Brian produced Campbell's first single, “Guess I'm Dumb,” with the Honeys on backup vocals.

The year 1965 started promisingly for the band. Their seventh album, The Beach Boys Today!, was released in March. It spawned five hit singles, including “Do You Wanna Dance” (featuring Dennis on lead vocals) and the number-one “Help Me, Rhonda.” The songs were slower and more thoughtful than on previous Beach Boys' albums, as Brian was finally able to relax and make the kind of music he, and not Capitol Records, wanted. The company executives and Mike Love were skeptical of the new sound, however, and would become even more so as the year wore on.

To round out the touring group, Mike had hired Bruce Johnston, a singer, piano player, and record producer from Beverly Hills. Bruce first played with the Beach Boys during one of Brian's recording sessions in April 1965 and joined them later that month on tour. He became a permanent member of the band after the next tour and appeared on the rest of their albums,

Bruce Johnston: “I write the Song”

Bruce Johnston was already a music industry veteran when he joined the Beach Boys. “I've been recording since 1957,” Bruce said in a 1990 interview. “I was in a band with Phil Spector back I then; he got sounds that haven't been invented. I backed up Ritchie Valens for three months in 1958, as well.” He and Terry Melcher (later a friend of Dennis's) were members of the Rip Chords, a surf band that had a minor hit called “Hey Little Cobra.” “We used the same voices under a variety of different names—Bruce and Terry, the Rip Chords, the Rogues. We had chart records under all these names.” Bruce and Terry later started their own record label, Equinox.

Aside from his contribution to the Beach Boys, Bruce is best known for penning “I Write the Songs,” which was a smash hit for singer Barry Manilow in 1975. But Bruce first offered the song to teen heartthrob David Cassidy. “I warned him: it might be a hit, and end your career. He said, what do you mean? I said, well, imagine the Rolling Stones selling eight million copies of ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon'! But for Barry Manilow, it was perfect.”

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