WHEN I GROW UP (TO BE A MAN)
As he neared high school graduation, Brian signed up for academic courses at El Camino Junior College in nearby Lawndale. His heart, however, was in his piano playing, singing, and songwriting. In fact, he had moved his bed into the Wilson home's music room in order to be closer to his beloved piano. What got him thinking seriously about a music career, however, was the encouragement of his cousin Mike Love.
Mike, the oldest child of Murry's sister Emily and her husband, Milton, was a self-assured young man a few years older than Brian. Although his father owned a successful sheet-metal factory and the Love family was financially comfortable, Mike lacked direction. He worked for his father during the day and pumped gas by night, with few other prospects on the horizon. Already married and a father himself, he wanted more from his life, and he recognized an opportunity in Brian's gift for music. The two had sung together since childhood, most notably at family holiday get-togethers, and it was a pastime they both enjoyed. After Brian graduated, Mike persuaded him to spend his spare time singing and writing songs.
The only Beach Boy who actually knew how to surf was Dennis Wilson. The extended family's most accomplished surfer, however, was Stephen Love, Mike's brother and later the group's business manager. Brian Wilson, who feared the ocean, was finally coaxed onto a surfboard for a 1976 TV special called The Beach Boys: It's O.K.
Not long after, Brian bumped into an old high school acquaintance named Alan Jardine on the El Camino College campus. Like Brian, Al was an athlete with a love of music. He played guitar and bass and had his own folk group called the Islanders. The two got to talking, and Brian invited Al to his house to sing with him, Mike, Dennis, and Carl.
The group was so excited by the sounds they made together that they soon rented guitars, amps, drums, and an upright bass for a weekend jam session. Murry and Audree were on vacation at the time, and Brian spent the food money they'd left for the boys on the instruments and equipment. The results were encouraging—even to the raging Murry, who returned home to find his music room looking more like a makeshift studio. He agreed to contact a couple he knew in the recording industry on behalf of the soon-to-be Beach Boys.