A Beach Boy’s Life

•  Not an ideal time to interview an idol of mine

•   Under the spell of a quack, Brian Wilson visits CNN

•   This piece was no fun . . fun . . fun

It’s most unfortunate for me that the two times I was in the close presence of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, the circumstances were unhappy. Because I not only loved the music he and his brothers and cousins made, I loved the beach, loved being a boy on a beach, and loved the surfing craze they helped propel in the 1960s.

In My (living) Room

In landlocked North Jersey in 1965, I was a couple of hours away from the Jersey Shore with its sketchy surf, known in surfing circles as…..crappy for the most part. But, fired up by Surfin’USA, and Little Surfer Girl, I hopped in my convertible Corvair, drove down the shore and bought a longboard from Ron Jon surf shop. It had a strange, pre-psychedelic paint job. One of my friends dubbed it the Circus Board.

I once drove all the way to Virginia Beach with the board stuck at an angle out the back seat. There I encountered storm surf and got beat up badly trying to get “outside,” as they say. When all was said and done, I got upright maybe 25 percent of the time I was trying to learn the damn sport. Sold the Circus Board and went off to college in Ohio.

My buddy Pete and I saw the Beach Boys at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall on July 23rd 1965.

The next time I saw Brian Wilson, he was under arrest in Texas.

Then, in 1991, he came to the CNN bureau in NY and I interviewed him about a book he had supposedly written. He was not in good shape:

The guys in the control room made fun of Wilson’s befuddlement in that year’s Christmas reel.

The book prompted a blizzard of lawsuits from band members and family members. It was said Landy wrote it, not Wilson. Brian was eventually pried away from the clutches of the psychotherapist, who had his professional license taken away for ethical abuses. Landy died in 2006.

Brian was still performing and touring in 2019.

Pet Sounds is one of my top five favorite albums.

Surf’s up.


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