Brian Wilson Biography

(Co-Founder of the Rock Band 'Beach Boys')

Birthday: June 20, 1942 (Gemini)

Born In: Inglewood, California, United States

Brian Douglas Wilson is a vocalist, musician, music composer, and producer. He is most famous for being one of the founding members of the band Beach Boys. Commonly regarded as one of the most innovative and significant songwriters of the late 20th century, Wilson personifies a figure of tragedy in the music industry. Despite suffering from schizoaffective disorder with mild manic depression, Wilson created a body of work that is a testament to his unorthodox approaches to pop composition and mastery of recording techniques. A native of California, Wilson grew up deeply influenced by 1950s’ rock and roll and jazz-based vocal groups. He formed the Beach Boys with his brothers Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine in 1961. They released several albums, including the ground-breaking LP ‘Pet Sounds’. Wilson was the de-facto leader of the group as well as their songwriter, producer, and co-lead vocalist. However, his mental health began to deteriorate in the mid-1960s, which eventually led to Wilson ceding the production and songwriting duties to others in the band. It would take him close to three decades to fully return to the public sphere as a solo artist. A two-time Grammy winner, Wilson has the distinction of being the first pop star in history to create and perform his own material.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Brian Douglas Wilson

Age: 82 Years, 82 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Melinda Ledbetter (m. 1995), Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford (m. 1964–1979)

father: Murry Wilson

mother: Audree Wilson

siblings: Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson

children: Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson

Pop Singers Rock Singers

Ancestry: Swedish American, Dutch American, German American, British American, Irish American

Notable Alumni: El Camino College

U.S. State: California

City: Inglewood, California

More Facts

education: El Camino College

  • 1

    What is Brian Wilson known for?

    Brian Wilson is best known as the co-founder and leader of the Beach Boys, a popular American rock band formed in the 1960s.
  • 2

    Did Brian Wilson write all the songs for the Beach Boys?

    Brian Wilson was the primary songwriter for many of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, including "Good Vibrations," "Surfin' U.S.A.," and "Wouldn't It Be Nice."
  • 3

    What is Brian Wilson's musical style?

    Brian Wilson is known for his innovative and complex musical arrangements, incorporating elements of pop, rock, and symphonic music to create a unique sound.
  • 4

    Has Brian Wilson ever released a solo album?

    Yes, Brian Wilson has released several solo albums in addition to his work with the Beach Boys. Some of his notable solo albums include "Brian Wilson" and "Smile."
  • 5

    What impact has Brian Wilson had on the music industry?

    Brian Wilson's pioneering work with the Beach Boys helped shape the sound of American popular music in the 1960s and influenced countless artists in the decades that followed.
Childhood & Early Life
Brian Wilson was born on June 20, 1942, at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California, as the oldest of the three sons of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Wilson. He, along with his brothers Dennis and Carl, drew their initial inspiration from their father, who was a musician and a mechanist. He is of Dutch, English, German, Irish, and Swedish descent.
Wilson began to demonstrate his musical talent even prior to his first birthday. According to his father, he could sing the melody of "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" and was extremely intelligent. About a year later, he heard George Gershwin's ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ for the first time, which would have a tremendous emotional impact on him. The family relocated from Inglewood to Hawthorne when Wilson was two years old.
A few years later, he suffered a drastic hearing loss in his right ear. While the exact cause of this has remained unknown, speculations range from him simply being born with the defect to the hearing loss being a result of abuse at the hands of his father or a neighbourhood bully.
Despite being a good provider for his family, Murry used to beat up his children. He never amounted to anything of significance as a musician and his talented children gave him the opportunity to vicariously fulfil his dreams.
Wilson attended Hawthorne High School, where he played basketball and baseball, and was a cross-country runner. He sang and played multiple instruments. He and his brothers, along with their cousin, Mike, formed a musical act named Carl and the Passions and they performed at a fall arts program. One of the audience members at this program was Jardine, who would join the group a few years later.
After graduating from high school, he started attending El Camino College in September 1960, pursuing a degree in psychology and continuing with his music studies. Drawing inspiration from Dion and the Belmonts’ version of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, he created his first original melody in 1961. It eventually became the song ‘Surfer Girl’, which was released as a part of their third album, which was named after the song.
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Brian Wilson and his group first performed under the name the Pendletones and released their first single ‘Surfin’ through Candix Records, who, without permission from any of the band members, changed the group’s name to the Beach Boys.
Over a period of weeks, ‘Surfin’ began to fade out from the charts and Candix Records sold the band’s master recordings to another record label after they encountered financial problems. Murry, who was serving as the band’s manager at the time, terminated their contract with the label.
The band eventually signed with Capitol Records and through them, released their debut album, ‘Surfin' Safari’, on October 1, 1962. It was a success, reaching no. 32 at one point on the US charts.
The album ’Surfin’ U.S.A’ was released next, in March 1963. It was their first album to be certified Gold by RIAA. They became a national sensation after this. Between 1963 and 1966, the Beach Boys released eight more albums, including ‘Surfer Girl’ (1963), ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ (1963), ‘Shut Down Volume 2’ (1964), ‘All Summer Long’ (1964), ‘The Beach Boys' Christmas Album’ (1964)’ and ‘The Beach Boys Today!’ (1965).
On May 16, 1966, they put out the greatest album they have ever made, ‘Pet Sounds’. After ‘Pet Sounds’, Wilson began to be touted as a genius, a notion that originally circulated among the group’s friends from the music industry. It was later taken up by their publicist, Derek Taylor.
The band’s next project, ‘Smile’, which Wilson had dubbed as “a teenage symphony to God,” was scrapped, leaving Wilson seriously disheartened. It was later released as a simplified version, titled ‘Smiley Smile’. By the time they were working on their 13th album ‘Wild Honey’, Wilson had started asking others to play more prominent roles in the creative process.
Wilson was a heavy substance abuser. Besides the regular use of amphetamines, marijuana, and psychedelics, he started taking cocaine as well. In the late 1960s, Wilson sought treatment at a psychiatric hospital for a brief period of time and was subjected to doses of lithium and electroconvulsive therapy there.
The Beach Boys were in deep trouble financially. They continued to release albums but these albums continued to underperform. In 1969, they were dropped by Capitol Records and later signed a contract with then-newly formed Reprise Records.
In the 1970s, following his father’s death, Wilson became more reclusive and became a shadow of his past self. In 1975, his wife Marilyn introduced him to the psychologist and psychotherapist Eugene Landy and hired him to treat Wilson. He was later dropped because of his astronomical fees.
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In 1983, Landy was re-hired and he eventually became Wilson’s executive producer, business manager, co-songwriter, and business adviser. Landy’s professional license was revoked by the State of California and a restraining order was issued in 1992 barring him from seeing Wilson again.
Wilson released his self-titled first solo album in 1988. Since then, he has released ten more albums. They are ‘I Just Wasn't Made for These Times’ (1995), ‘Orange Crate Art’ (1995), ‘Imagination’ (1998), ‘Gettin' in Over My Head’ (2004) ‘Brian Wilson Presents Smile’ (2004), ‘What I Really Want for Christmas’ (2005), ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ (2008), ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’ (2010), ‘In the Key of Disney’ (2011) and ‘No Pier Pressure’ (2015).
Wilson won the Grammy Award for the Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘Mrs. O'Leary's Cow’ and the Grammy Award for Best Historical Album for ‘The Smile Sessions’. *In 1988, he and the rest of the members of the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney inducted him into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.
The Beach Boys had been plagued with multiple issues for years. Brian’s mental health had been gradually deteriorating. His brother, Dennis, died in 1983. Carl Wilson’s death in 1998 was the final nail in the coffin. The group simply splintered. Brian went on to focus on his solo career.
In February 2011, the remaining members of the group, along with David Marks and Bruce Johnston, put out a single titled ‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ in an effort to help the victims of the 2011 Japan earthquake. They released their 29th studio album, ‘That's Why God Made the Radio’ in 2012. Afterwards, the group briefly reunited for the Pet Sounds 50th anniversary world tour in 2016.
Major Works
While the album ‘Pet Sounds’ received a lukewarm response from the critics and fans alike initially in the United States, it received glowing reviews and massive commercial success in the UK.
With the aim to create the “greatest rock album ever made”, Wilson produced, arranged, and composed ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety. He also contributed to the lyrics; the title song was written solely by him. Highly progressive for its time, ‘Pet Sounds’ has come to be hailed as one of the most influential albums in the history of music.
Personal Life
Brian Wilson has been married twice. His first wife was Marilyn Rovell, whom he was married to from 1964 to 1979. They have two daughters together, Carnie and Wendy. He married car saleswoman and former model Melinda Kae Ledbetter in 1995. The couple adopted two sons, Dylan and Dash. She presently serves as his manager.
Facts About Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys is known for his unique approach to songwriting, often incorporating complex harmonies and unconventional chord progressions in his music.
Wilson's creative genius extended beyond music, as he also experimented with innovative recording techniques, such as using unconventional instruments and incorporating field recordings into his songs.
Despite his struggles with mental health issues, Wilson has been open about his experiences and has used his platform to advocate for mental health awareness and support.
Wilson's passion for music remains unwavering, and he continues to perform and create new music to this day, showcasing his enduring talent and dedication to his craft.
In addition to his musical talents, Wilson is also an avid baseball fan and has been known to incorporate his love for the sport into his music and public appearances.


Grammy Awards
2013 Best Historical Album Winner
2005 Best Rock Instrumental Performance Winner

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