Dennis Wilson, Dreamer
Despite Brian's celebrated musical genius, it was the middle Wilson brother who provided the Beach Boys with their inspiration. “I remember Brian would drill Dennis on what was going on, really pump him for the [surfing] terminology and the newest thing,” their brother Carl recalled in a 1983 interview. “Dennis was the embodiment of the group; he lived what we were singing about … I mean, we could have gotten it from magazines like everyone else did. Dennis was out there doing it.'
Dennis was also the only Beach Boy to try his hand at acting. He starred opposite folk rocker James Taylor in director Monte Hellman's 1971 Two-Lane Blacktop, playing a character known only as “the Mechanic.” Even though the film became a critical favorite and cult classic, it wasn't a satisfying experience for Dennis, and he never made another feature film.
He turned his attention instead to solo work. Dennis wrote and recorded Pacific Ocean Blue throughout 1976 and early 1977, and began an abandoned follow-up, Bamboo, late in 1977. Pacific Ocean Blue was a hit with critics and record buyers alike, and it is generally considered the era's best Beach Boys-related release. A review in Rolling Stone magazine said that Dennis's songs “have a way of taking hold of your emotions”—or, as Carl put it, he “made it true.”