Heroes & Villains: The True Story of the Beach Boys by Steven Gaines: 3***

Book Cover

If you are like me, you grew up listening to the sounds of America’s top group, a group so talented that in 1966 there were voted the Top Group in the World! They began with Beach Music and as Brian Wilson got more enraptured with his fame and outside influences the music changed. Times changed, and so did the Beach boys music as we got the Pet Sounds album, the single Good Vibrations and then songs like Heroes & Villains and Darlin’. And then it was over. Over until Kokomo rocketed to the top of the charts in the late 1980’s. There is so much that can be written about their times, and for some reason the author prefers to brush over so much of the years from 1963-66, and instead focuses on trouble and turmoil. Sure all groups evolve, sure all groups have issues, but rather than celebrating the good, Steven Grimes wants to shock with his tell-all about these legends. Heck you barely know Al Jardine is a member of the group and was the driving force behind Sloop John B. Unfortunately the Beach Boys only had 3-4 great years, and yet we only get about 30 pages on their greatness. Could’ve, Should’ve been a better book. Hell, the author never even mentions their performance at the legendary TAMI concert. How can you skip that entire situation and their part in keeping the concert footage from being shown for years. Makes one wonder what the authors real intentions were.

Heroes and Villains, a very good title for a book on the Beach Boys and, by the way, one of my favorite songs. Unfortunately there are few heroes in this expose by Steven Gaines. So many issues, so many problems, and the author seems to relish those. There is little joy in this book, for a group that gave us so many classic songs the author seems to cram all of that into about 30 pages. We read about Dennis’ wild lifestyle and death, Brian’s genius and erratic and bizarre behavior. A totally whacko father in Murry Wilson. Just really a sad look at this group, and the book takes us to about 1984 and misses the rise of the band with Kokomo, etc. All in all a disappointing effort. I wish the author would have paid more attention to the joy of their music, but everyone loves to read about scandals and problems.

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