The Beach Boys to play Prague's Congress Center
The California rock band is back after half a century but with just one original member
The long-running American rock group the Beach Boys will be heading to Prague's Congress Center on June 10 as part of a European tour taking place in May and June. The band currently features only one original member, lead vocalist Mike Love, and longtime member Bruce Johnston on keyboards and vocals.
They are supported by touring musicians including drummer John Cowsill formerly of pop group the Cowsills plus guitarists Jeff Foskett and Scott Totten, bassist Brian Eichenberger, keyboardist Tim Bonhomme and sax player Randy Leago.
The band, with a different lineup, was last in Prague on June 17, 1969, as one of very few Western acts to visit Czechoslovakia during the period of so-called normalization between the 1968 Soviet-led invasion and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. They played two shows in Prague's Lucerna ball room (Velký sál) and also had concerts in Brno and Bratislava, but that was as far as they ventured into Central and Eastern Europe. A clip of one of the Lucerna shows can be found on Youtube. The Beach Boys dedicated the song “Break Away” to the spirit of Prague Spring.
According to the most recent setlists, the current formation of the Beach Boys have been playing over 40 songs in a show that has two sets and an encore. This sounds like a lot, but when the band had its biggest hits, songs tended to be rather short. Classic 1960s songs “Surfin' Safari,” “California Girls,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Good Vibrations” and “Sloop John B” plus their 1988 hit “Kokomo” make up the bulk of the show.
The group first got together in 1961 in California and became associated with the surf sound, but with more complex vocal harmonies. They expanded beyond generic surfing and hot rod themes in 1966 with the album Pet Sounds and the single “Good Vibrations,” which had highly complex studio production for its time.
The band fell out of public favor a bit in the 1970s, as musical trends such as punk and disco left the Beach Boys behind. They toured mostly as an oldies act, relying on their back catalog of hits. The members also got caught up in legal wrangling over royalties and the legal rights to use the band's name. Original member Dennis Wilson died in 1983 in a diving accident, and Carl Wilson died in 1998 of lung cancer. Brian Wilson performed live with the band only sporadically after 1964 due to mental health issues.
The remaining members — Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston plus David Marks —got back together in 2012 briefly for a 50th anniversary tour and recording session that resulted in That's Why God Made the Radio. This was the group's 29th studio album and was released in June 2012. This formation split up after the tour.
The five basic members of the band — Al Jardine, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson — were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Despite their success of having 36 sings in the US Top 40 charts, they only earned one Grammy Award, for The Smile Sessions in 2011. They also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy, which gives out Grammy Awards, in 2001.
Separately, former Beach Boy members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin are touring with their own show based on the influential Pet Sounds album. The tour has five dates in Europe in 2017 including one Frankfurt, Germany, but no stops in the Czech Republic.
For more information on the Beach Boys tour, visit www.thebeachboys.com
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