One Last Comeback
As usual, the next few years were full of ups and downs for the band. Brian began working on a solo album with Eugene Landy, and, in January 1988, the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received a standing ovation at the ceremony, and in a moving acceptance speech Brian said, “I only wish my younger brother Dennis could be at our side tonight.” Unfortunately, Mike stole the spotlight with a long and bitter rant directed at some of rock and roll's greatest musicians—many of whom were in the audience. He also criticized other artists, such as Diana Ross and Paul McCartney, for not attending the induction ceremony.
Brian Wilson not only writes songs, he has songs written about him. The Barenaked Ladies composed a tune called “Brian Wilson,” and British band Tears for Fears wrote a song called “Brian Wilson Said.”
The group bounced back from this embarrassment that summer with “Kokomo,” a contribution to the sound track for the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. This surprise hit song, which was written and recorded without Brian, became the first Beach Boys record to reach number one since “Good Vibrations,” Capitol released an album in 1989 to capitalize on its unexpected success. Composed of leftover material, different versions of older songs, and even a new tune from Brian called “In My Car,” Still Cruisin' was neither a popular nor critical success. Brian's solo project, Brian Wilson, was also released around the time that “Kokomo” came out. His amazing mental and physical comeback was praised more than the album itself, which nevertheless sold respectably and broke into the top 100.
The new decade saw the end of the Beach Boys' recording career. A final album, 1992's Summer in Paradise, came out under the group's name, but it was a CD-only release on which Brian played no part. He officially left the band when the other members filed a lawsuit alleging he'd withheld money from them over the years. He also published his best-selling autobiography with co-author Todd Gold during this period, and its unflattering portrait of his band mates sparked controversy. Charges that Eugene Landy had actually written the book led Brian to distance himself from the psychologist in the interest of his career. The Beach Boys remained a successful live act even without their founder, but they were all soon devastated by another tragedy: On February 6, 1998, Carl Wilson died of lung cancer at the age of fifty-one.
Although deeply shaken, Mike, Al, and Bruce continued to perform together for a time. They soon drifted apart, however, and by 2001 Mike Love was the only original member left in the band calling itself the Beach Boys.