THE NEAREST FARAWAY PLACE
The Beach Boys Try Tm
In December 1967, the group encountered the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a benefit concert in Paris, France. The Maharishi was the leader of a movement known as transcendental meditation, or TM, which had influenced several notable figures in the West, including the Beatles. Dennis, Carl, and especially Mike became devotees of the Maharishi and raved about TM to Brian. Believing that meditation might help him cope with his emotional problems, Brian traveled to New York to meet the Maharishi in early 1968. He was unimpressed, however, and the Maharishi's reputation soon soured with many of his followers; three of the Beatles went so far as to publicly denounce TM. Mike remained a disciple despite the scandal, and he traveled to India to study under the Maharishi.
The Beach Boys recorded their next album, Friends, in the spring of 1968. It revealed the influence of TM as well as Brian's growing lack of interest. He contributed only three songs to the project, one of which summed up his lifestyle at the time: “Busy Doin' Nothing.” Only Dennis's classic “Little Bird” lived up to the group's earlier work. Mike convinced the Beach Boys to tour the southern United States with the Maharishi when the album was finished, but it proved to be a disastrous move. Fans were less interested in hearing the Maharishi's long lectures than the Beach Boys' music, so crowds were sparse. Also, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, just as the tour started, and people were understandably more concerned with the aftermath of this tragedy than with the Maharishi's message. When Friends was released that summer, it didn't even break the top 100. It was the worst-selling Beach Boys album ever.