Dennis Wilson, 1944-1983, The Beach Boys

Dennis Wilson, the quintessential Beach Boy. The only one of The Beach Boys who was actually a surfer. Died at age 39 when he drowned after falling off his boat at Marina del Rey, California.


Dennis Wilson, clipped from
"Behind The Sounds: Sloop John B"
picture from perhaps 1966
Dennis Wilson was born in 4 Dec 1944 in either Inglewood or Hawthorne, Los Angeles County, California, the second of three sons born to Murray Gage Wilson (1917-73) and his wife Audree Neva Korthof (1917-97).  His older brother was Brian Wilson, and his younger brother Carl Wilson.  See also my articles on The Beach Boys, and also The Beach Boys on YouTube.
Dennis Wilson, clipped from
"The Beach Boys - California Girls
(Jack Benny Hour 1965)"

In 1961, the three brothers, along with their first cousin Mike Love, and Brian's high-school friend Al Jardine, formed the rock band The Beach Boys, arguably the most successful American band ever.  Their first hit in 1961 was "Surfin".  They had been calling themselves "The Pendletones" but their first publisher changed their name to "Beach Boys", when that single was cut.  That song peaked at #75 on the national pop charts.  Their first manager was the Wilson's father Murray who himself had had a minor musical career.  Since Dennis and Carl were both minors at the time, they probably didn't have much choice in the matter.  In his much later autobiography, Brian states that his father was physically and psychologically abusive, mostly to Brian, but also to Dennis.  Brian or the group collectively ousted Murray as their manager in 1964.  This was simultaneously when they started receiving worldwide fame, and when Carl turned eighteen.
"Never Learn Not To Love" (1968)
Dennis Wilson

According to the Wikipedia article "List of The Beach Boys songs", Dennis sang lead on the following songs: "All Alone (1979), Angel Come Home (1978), Baby Blue (1977?) with Carl, Barbara (1971), Be Still (1968), Be With Me (1968), Celebrate the News (1969), Cuddle Up (1972), Do You Wanna Dance? (1965), Forever (1969), Girls On The Beach (1964) with Brian, Got To Know The Woman (1969), Had To Phone Ya (1976) with all the others, I Wanna Pick You Up (1977) with Brian, I'll Bet He's Nice (1976) with Brian and Carl, In the Back of My Mind (1965), In the Still of the Night (1976), Little Bird (1968), Little Girl (You're My Miss America) (1962), Love Surrounds Me (1977 ?), Luau (1961) with Mike and Brian, Make It Good (1972), Mona (1976), Morning Christmas (1977), My Diane (1976), Never Learn Not To Love (1968), Sea Cruise (1976), She's Goin' Bald (1967) with all the others, Shortenin' Bread (1979) with Carl, Slip On Through (1969), Surfers Rule (1963) with Brian, This Car of Mine (1964), A Time to Live in Dreams (1968), Walk On By (1968) with Brian, We're Together Again (1968) with Brian, Wind Chimes (1967) with all the others, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (1965)
"You Are So Beautiful"

In the video on the right here, Dennis sings "You Are So Beautiful" while on tour in Australia.  I'm not sure if this was a solo tour, or if he was with The Beach Boys at this time.

On 8 Dec 1983 at Marina del Ray, California Dennis Wilson, while on his boat, had a fit of anger in which he threw some things overboard.  Then, wanting to retrieve them, he went into the water himself and drowned.  He was buried at sea.

I don't usually like video montages with background vocals.  I prefer live performance videos with the actual live vocals.  However this next video is down very well as a tribute to Dennis, with the vocals of his song "Barbara" and the montage of still and video clips of him at various points throughout his career.

"Barbara" vocals by Dennis Wilson