TIFTON — One of American music’s most successful and influential bands is planning a stop in southwest Georgia during its ongoing international tour.
The University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center’s John Hunt Auditorium will host The Beach Boys on their “Now and Then” tour at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27.
An American rock band formed in Hawthorne, Calif., in 1961, the group’s original lineup consisted of brothers Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and their friend Al Jardine. Beginning as a garage band, they became known for their vocal harmonies and surf songs and are now one of the most acclaimed acts of the rock era.
Love, 77, the frontman of the band, said the hits fans knew from the early days — such as “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Surfer Girl,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Barbara Ann,” “Good Vibrations,” “Kokomo,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “California Girls” and “God Only Knows” — will be some of the songs those attending the concert can expect to hear.
Fans too young to have heard those classics growing up likely have heard them on “oldies” and Classic Rock radio station.
“We like to start shows by going retro and getting back (to the old favorites),” Love said in a phone interview with The Albany Herald from his home near Lake Tahoe. “Every one of them you can possibly imagine.
“People come to hear what they know.”
Love recalled the band’s first song, “Surfin,” being released in 1961. The following year, the “Surfin Safari” vinyl had “409” on the flip side — the latter of which was played with Dennis Wilson’s guitar. What started off as a family hobby was launched into a career.
Given that The Beach Boys had to compete with groups like The Beatles, they did fare too badly.
“Despite the enormous impact of the British Invasion, The Beach Boys are highly regarded in their own nation and around the world,” Love said.
The band’s shows includes, in addition to the hits, car songs, and an intermission followed by another hour of music. Fans at the Tifton show may hear some songs from Love’s new “Reason for the Season” album.
“I like to do our hits and things a little less known,” Love said. “We are artists and musicians, and we love doing it.”
Since “Reason for the Season” is a Christmas album, Love said concertgoers should not anticipate it playing a big part of the show — but a few songs will likely make the playlist. Love’s children played a part in the album’s creation by contributing their vocal talents as well as artistic talents for the cover art.
“It is really a family affair,” he said. “Christmas is a Christian holiday. We want people to remember that.”
Carl Wilson succumbed to lung cancer in 1998, Dennis Wilson died by drowning in 1983 and Daryl Frank Dragon from the duo Captain and Tennille — who worked with The Beach Boys — passed away last week. Mortality is something that is not lost on Love or his bandmates.
“We honor both of those (Wilson) guys every night with our shows,” Love said. “We don’t hide that history.”
Part of what has allowed Love to perform as long as he has is his lifestyle. It includes, he revealed, little to no drinking or smoking.
“I try to live a lifestyle that is sensible,” he said.
Love said he practices mediation twice a day. He was invited to India, where he encountered Beatles member George Harrison, and learned how to practice the discipline. He said meditation has made a significant difference in his health.
“It can (help) your metabolism (and improve) blood chemistry challenges,” he said.
Since the band has learned the hard way the impact of drugs and alcohol, they stick to a rule of no alcohol consumption less than four hours before a show.
The fans who dance and sing along to the music have played a role in the band’s longevity. Some of the fanbase consists of multiple generations of the same family, so some of those fans were not even born yet when The Beach Boys got their start.
“The children and grandchildren (of fans) enjoy The Beach Boys,” Love said. “It is very uplifting emotionally for us. It is pretty miraculous when you think about it.
“We are very blessed to do what we do.”
The love of music stemmed from the upbringing of the Wilson family. Brian Wilson used to sit in their grandmother’s lap singing “Danny Boy,” and Love grew up with a harp, organ and grand piano in his home.
Love got together with his cousins to write songs, and it blossomed from there.
“I grew up in a completely musical environment,” he said. “We recreated that on ‘Reason for the Season.’”
Asked what he considered the most interesting point of his career, Love pointed to the shows in Washington, D.C., done by The Beach Boys on Independence Day during the 1980s — where they received standing ovations for just being there.
“That was one of the most spectacular things one could imagine doing,” he said.
To this day, the early Beach Boys hits from 50 years ago still get radio play. Love points to Tony Bennett, 92, who still has an active singing career, when asked about possible retirement. In other words, he says, he sees no need to stop while he can still make music and keep fans satisfied.
“There is no problem as long as we can perform at a certain level,” the band’s frontman said. “There is no definite cutoff period in my mind.”
This does not mean the band will necessarily play at the same frequency. They did 50 fewer shows in 2018 than the year before, so they have become more selective. The current tour is set to include 25-30 shows in Europe.
In formatting these shows, songs of similar mood and tempo are grouped together in a way that makes sense, which fans appear to appreciate.
“We seem to always have a really good group of people coming out,” Love said.
Another factor that has kept The Beach Boys going is a five-person crew who helps the band prepare for shows. Bringing this crew along means all the band has to do prior to a show is a sound check.
“We are blessed with a really great crew,” Love said. “All we have to do is get our rest. We have got a good system going. If we had to do all the work ourselves (we would burn out a lot sooner).”
The band’s harmonies tend to be complex, so a sound man is considered an essential part of the crew.
“In order to give the greatest performance, we have everyone doing their part,” Love said. “We do the best job we possibly can. It makes it possible to do far more than we could without their support.”
The Beach Boys play in venues large and small, and Love said they like them all. Smaller venues, including theaters and performing arts centers, however, offer something the bigger ones that get more activity do not.
“We like playing at places people have never been to or haven’t been in a while,” he said. “I think it becomes more special (at smaller spaces). A lot of the smaller towns don’t get anybody.
“It is just a little more special. It is a good feeling to know the smaller communities like The Beach Boys.”
After the tour is over, Love said he hopes to get back into the studio for summertime recordings. He added that the band looks forward to performing with symphonies, which it has done previously in London and Sydney.
Between the 1960s and 2010s, The Beach Boys had more than 80 songs chart worldwide, 36 of them on the U.S. Top 40 charts with four reaching the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band has sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide.
The original quintet was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Ticket costs for the Tifton show range from $50-$85. They are available for purchase online at ticketalternative.com or by phone at (877) 725-8849.
A CD copy of “Reason For The Season” is included with every ticket for the show. It is being sponsored by LandShark Lager and Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association and produced by Six String Southern Productions.
The John Hunt Auditorium is located at 15 RDC Road.