by Bill Forman
Mike Love’s stripped-down version of the legendary band is coming to Colorado Springs in the wake of the group's historic 50th anniversary reunion album and tour earlier this year. (Tickets for the Dec. 28 show went on sale this morning and are available at pikespeakcenter.com.) And, as befits a group with a long history of legal battles, this leg of the tour has generated considerable controversy.
Things started going awry back in September when Love, who controls the rights to the Beach Boys' name, announced in a press release that co-founders Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks would would not be continuing on as part of the tour once it reached smaller venues.
Instead, Love and one other member, Bruce Johnson, are touring with their own version of the Beach Boys, which is the band that’ll be playing the Pikes Peak Center.
Naturally, the controversy didn’t end there. Wilson, long considered the group’s creative genius, publicly protested Love’s announcement, saying that it “kind of feels like being fired.”
“I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me,” Wilson told CNN. “We are out there having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.”
Love, in turn, responded with a lengthy letter to the L.A. Times, which eloquently praised Wilson and insisted that the plan had always been for him to continue on with a smaller group once the full-scale reunion had run its course.
While Love’s letter is beautifully written and seemingly sincere, it's failed to stem the controversy, with Jardine going so far as to repost a fan’s petition to get himself and the other members reinstated.
While it’s always been difficult to know what’s going on behind the scenes with this group, the bizarre video embedded below portrays a very different — and, to be fair, much younger — Mike Love than the one suggested in his conciliatory letter.
The occasion is the Beach Boys’ 1988 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, during which you’ll see Love use the occasion to wildly insult artists ranging from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen to Diana Ross.
“We did about 180 performances last year,” said Love, who's spent decades touring his version of the Beach Boys. “I’d like to see the Mop Tops match that.” (Be sure to note Julian Lennon’s darkly bemused reaction when the camera cuts to him.)
Love also engaged in a curious interaction with Muhammad Ali, and issued what may have been his most sensible comment of the evening:
“A lot of people are gonna go out of this room tonight thinking that Mike Love is crazy. Well, they’ve been saying that for years. Ain’t nothing new about that.”