Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The fake Beach Boys mixer

The band's engineer Chuck Britz had a solution to Murry Wilson's incessant studio meddling; he constructed a fake control panel for him to fiddle with

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

* Fifty years ago this weekend, The Beach Boys released their eighth album, Today! It featured "Help Me, Ronda", an early version of the song that would, later that year (and with the letter 'h' added) give them a US No 1 single. The recording of the album version, however, would be a pivotal moment in the fractious relationship between the Wilson brothers and their father, Murry.

* Murry Wilson had recently been sacked as the band's manager, but you can't sack someone as your father. Envious of his sons' success (he once had 5,000 badges made featuring the words "I know Brian's dad"), he withheld royalty payments totalling well over $200,000 and continued to exhibit overbearing, abusive behaviour in the studio. On 8 January 1965, he repeatedly and drunkenly intervened as Al Jardine attempted to sing his lead vocal. The tape, however, kept on rolling.

* "Quit screaming and start singing from your hearts," he instructs the band. "What's the matter?" he asks his son Carl, "You made too much money, buddy? So you're big stars?" Shortly after informing Brian that "I'm a genius, too,'" Brian snaps; at one point, the two men literally fight over the controls of the tape recorder. The band's long-time engineer Chuck Britz had a solution to Murry's incessant studio meddling; he constructed a fake control panel for him to fiddle with. It was wired up to nothing, but would at least give him the illusion of control.

* The relationship between father and sons would only become more acrimonious. In a lengthy letter to Brian dated 8 May 1965, Murry sentimentally concludes: "Please understand that all I tried to do was to make you all honest men." In November 1969, Murry sold the publishing rights to the Beach Boys' music for $700,000. He kept all the money.

@rhodri

Comments