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‘The Beach Boys’ is a sentimental documentary that downplays the band’s squabbles – The Mercury News

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By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

I will (almost) always watch a film about the Beach Boys — the latest, titled simply “The Beach Boys,” premiered Friday on Disney+ — not just for the part they played in American musical and cultural history but for the part they played in my own. From 1966 to 1969 my father worked for the band, in the capacity of a tour promoter; that these were their years of lesser popularity, as rock got heavy and dour and jammy, meant that this relationship gave me no cachet among my peers. But it was interesting to me.

I saw them play, in striped shirts, white suits, colorful velours and out of costume, at the Hollywood Bowl, when the kids still screamed during their shows; at the Melodyland theater-in-the-round across from Disneyland, when they seemingly couldn’t get booked any closer to L.A.; and at the Whisky A Go Go, when “Sunflower” was released. I saw Dennis Wilson drag race; his Shelby Cobra rolled over my toe as it was being pushed to the starting line, but as much of the weight had been stripped out of the car, no damage was done. Bruce Johnston introduced me to Eric Clapton backstage at a Blind Faith concert. (“This is Eric,” he said. “Hello,” I said.) I rode for a minute in a car with Carl Wilson and his parents.

I knew them as much as any child knows a parent’s business associates, which is to say, not at all really, but they were familiar characters, as were the support staff in the office, the studio and the road. They came together in stray bits of news and gossip, coalescing into a pantheon that floated about my life. The Maharishi, with whom the band briefly toured, gave my dad his mantra. And there was Charles Manson, of course, the ineradicable dark blot in any telling of this tale, who attached himself to Dennis looking for pop stardom. My father had moved on by the time of the Tate-La Bianca murders, but as he had once thrown Charlie out of the office — that was a moment in our house.



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