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California Saga

When Brian and Dennis were born, on June 20, 1942, and December 4, 1944, respectively, the Wilsons lived even farther from the ocean. Their parents, Murry and Audree, had rented a cramped apartment near downtown Los Angeles shortly after they were married in 1938. Murry, who was originally from Hutchinson, Kansas, had moved with his family to southern California as a young boy. His father, William (nicknamed Bud), was an unsuccessful, hard-drinking plumber who frequently took out his frustrations on his wife, Edith, and their eight children. Murry told his sons that he'd been abused by Bud as a child, but that he also had happier memories of singing and playing piano with his parents and siblings long into the night.

In 1945, Murry and Audree bought a house on 119th Street and Kornblum Avenue in Hawthorne—the “City of Good Neighbors” as it was called at the time. Murry had steady work at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (where he'd lost an eye a few years before in a freak accident) and later at his own company, ABLE Machinery. Carl was born on December 21, 1946, and the Wilson family was complete.

The best thing about the new house, at least from Brian's perspective, was a converted garage that Murry had turned into the family music room. It contained a phonograph (or record player), a piano, and an organ. The boys listened night after night as their mother and father happily performed duets of the latest popular songs and a few of Murry's own compositions. Murry was an amateur songwriter who had hoped for a big break his entire life. His only real success, though, came when a local group called the Bachelors recorded his song “Two Step Side Step.” Bandleader Lawrence Welk later performed the tune on his weekly live radio show. (Brian remembers his father being so overcome with emotion during the broadcast that he left the room.) Murry continued to write songs long after the Beach Boys had become a worldwide sensation, and he even released an album called The Many Moods of Murry Wilson in 1967.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesThe Beach BoysWHEN I GROW UP (TO BE A MAN) - California Saga, “rock And Roll Music”, Family Affair, Surf City Soul, What's In A Name?