BURBANK, CALIF. — A “miracle.”
That’s the word Al Jardine not-so-jokingly uses to describe the latest Beach Boys reunion – this one consisting of himself and fellow founding Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Mike Love, as well as longtime players Bruce Johnston and David Marks.
After decades of prolonged separations, legal spats and near reunions, the core Beach Boys are back together, both on stage and for an upcoming new album. Their rebirth, which became a reality earlier this year when the group performed “Good Vibrations” with Maroon 5 and Foster the People at the Grammys, has reawakened musical memories for 69-year-old Jardine.
“When I’m rehearsing over there, I’m hearing stuff I haven’t performed for many years,” Jardine said during a recent break from rehearsals for the iconic band’s 50th anniversary tour, which kicked off last week in Tucson, Ariz.
“It’s wonderful to rediscover the music that way. When you’re recording three albums a year, as we did in the early days, it’s yesterday’s news,” he said. “You’re on to the next thing. Boom. That stuff gets parked somewhere though, and now it’s becoming unveiled again.”
When the Beach Boys formed in 1961, it was mostly a family affair: School pal Jardine established the group with Wilson and his late brothers, Carl and Dennis, and their cousin, Love.
Their breezy harmonic tunes and embodiment of freewheeling West Coast sensibilities captured the nation’s attention just before the Beatles invaded the United States, and continued for much of the 1960s.
Following the 1998 death of Carl Wilson, the group fractured and began moving in different directions. Over the past 20 years, the Beach Boys’ legacy has been mired in messy conflicts that the group’s members agreed to squash in honor of their fans and the band’s 50th anniversary, a hallmark occasion even in this jaded age of reboots and comebacks.
“They sense that we love each other and that we really want to share that love with them (the fans),” said 69-year-old Wilson, the visionary songwriter of such classics as “Help Me Rhonda,” “Surfin’ USA” and “California Girls.” Wilson, who has released solo albums in recent years and now speaks with a slight slur, had a turbulent tenure with the Beach Boys, notoriously leaving then returning to the band at one point as he battled mental illness and drug abuse.
“The chemistry is there,” said 63-year-old Marks, who recorded four Beach Boys albums and has moved between the band’s camps. “We pick up right where we left off, especially the five of us together.”