The Beach Boys Sell Out

The Beach Boys in 1965. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)

by Kyle K. Mann

Gonzo Today Editor-in-Chief

My mouth actually opened in shock when I read that The Beach Boys had signed over their legacy to Irving Azoff.

I follow Brian Wilson on Facebook, and there it was, announced blandly. Just Music Biz as usual, eh? Right.

So, I  made a disparaging Facebook comment, ending with “My heart hurts.” Within minutes the entire thread was deleted, and replaced by a Rolling Stone article that reads like Irving Azoff’s PR firm wrote it.

Now, if you don’t know who Irving Azoff is, and what he and guys like him have done to the business of music, think TicketMaster and Pearl Jam for starters. 

I heave a big sigh and look out at my beautiful oak tree. Balance returns, and I shake my head. How the hell do I summarize Azoff? His Wikipedia article gives a few hints about his horrific career, but it appears to have been largely scrubbed. I’d say read ‘Hit Men’ by Fredric Dannen, a book released 30 years ago that stands as a lasting documentation of the man labeled “The Poison Dwarf.”

And the Beach Boys legacy is now in Irving Azoff’s grimy hands. This is like your childhood sweetheart, the one you always loved, marrying the class bully, the guy who made your life a living hell.

The Beach Boys were my heroes in my late pre-teen and early teenaged years. The band of Wilson brothers who loved to sing together, enlisted neighbor David Marks and cousin Mike Love, and made some innovative surfing records that became big hits. Then Brian Wilson overcame Capitol Records resistance and began officially producing, recording what they wanted, where they wanted. The Beach Boys got out from under their domineering Manager/father Murry Wilson, weathered the British Invasion and even influenced the Beatles.

Yeah, they were washed up by the end of the 60s, tarnished by infighting and an association with Charlie Manson. But they still meant something then and still did until now. They simply meant creative freedom and joy in times when those thing were in short supply.

Now this 2021 disaster, selling out because the touring money has dried up in these awful COVID-19 times. No butts in seats. That high multi-house overhead is brutal.

What the Beach Boys could have done, in my view, is livestream a 60th Anniversary Beach Boys concert. Get top-name producers and directors involved. Show the Beach Old Men at their best, singing, playing and reminiscing. Charge a reasonable price like 20 bucks to stream it live. 

Like many musicians and artists, the BB’s have historically been clueless in promoting themselves. It’s a tragic Achilles Heel. How do you stay creative, or even just active, if you are broke? Or afraid you are gonna go broke?

Mike Love has mentioned a Broadway play about the Beach Boys, and he and Al Jardine have talked about a Beach Boys restaurant. What the fuck?

The Beach Boys ain’t Jimmy Buffett, who is managed by, yep, Irving Azoff. Howabout that chain of Margaritaville Restaurants? Hell, now he even has turned into a real estate mogul with parrothead retirement villages. Are you fucking kidding me? 

What’s next, Margaritaville Cemeteries?

The key word in the Music Biz these days is “monetize.” It’s shorthand for “anything for a buck.”

I can’t stand it. Even Bob Dylan sold out. Aside from the Doors, who as long as John Densmore is alive to veto such naked greed will refuse to sell out, the entire legacy rock music field is now up for grabs. There are probably a few other major artists out there who haven’t yet and who won’t, but I can’t think of ‘em. The precedent has now been set. The fix is in.

Soooo… Fuck you, Irving Azoff.

Fuck you, Beach Boys.

Fuck you, Rolling Stone Magazine, for putting such a nice chirpy spin on this shit. Again, did Azoff and Company pay you to write that crap?

I will spend the rest of my life despising you motherfuckers. It’s the ultimate betrayal. For what it’s worth, I will trash you at every turn. I hoist my now-aging middle finger aloft. Fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you again.

But hey, thanks for pissing me off so much that I broke through my writer’s block, you greedy fucks.

Kyle K. Mann

Topanga 

February 21, 2021

About Kyle K. Mann 68 Articles
Kyle K. Mann is the pen name of a contributor to, and sometimes editor of, Gonzo Today. He lives high atop Topanga, California, where owls hoot and coyotes howl. A radio broadcaster in multiple fields in the 80s and 90s, Kyle currently supports himself part time as a Union film crew member in Hollywood. His articles and interviews first appeared in Gonzo Today in early 2015, and some of them are fairly good.