"Let's get together and do it again," sang the Beach Boys, reunited for their 50th anniversary. But behind the harmonies the California group has spectacularly fractured in the middle of a UK tour after Brian Wilson and his fellow founder members were told they were being replaced.
After years of squabbling, Wilson, hailed as the compositional genius behind the Sixties veterans symphonic hits, agreed to re-join the surviving founder members for a new tour. The quartet even recorded their first album of original material together for 20 years.
This week Wilson, 70, was left bewildered after his cousin Mike Love, the group's frontman, issued a statement announcing that the Beach Boys would continue to tour, with second generation member Bruce Johnston but without their chief songwriter and the other original members, Al Jardine and David Marks.
The trio will be replaced by session musicians but the group will perform under the official Beach Boys name, which Love owns the rights to after a series of legal battles with his musical partners.
Despite the rift, the original members will perform the final concerts of their 50th anniversary celebration tour this week at London's Royal Albert Hall tomorrow night and Wembley Arena on Friday.
Wilson, who had been hoping to work on a new "rock'n'roll" album with his colleagues, told CNN: "I'm disappointed and can't understand why he (Love) doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys."
"Brian is very bummed," said Wilson's manager, Jean Sievers.
Jardine, 70, the guitarist and harmony vocalist, has backed a Facebook campaign urging Love to reverse his decision.
Jardine linked to a fan petition, which reads: "In order to preserve the validity of 'The Beach Boys' as a whole, and not as a 'money saving, stripped down version' that only contains 1 original member, and 1 member that joined in 1965, we ask you to re-instate the 3 other members to the touring group for your final years performing."
Love, 71, who has sued Jardine and Wilson over band issues in the past, said the decision made financial sense. He said: "You've got to be careful not to get overexposed. There are promoters who are interested (in more shows by the reunited line-up), but they've said, 'Give it a rest for a year.' The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5."
The shelved Beach Boys are said to have found out their services were no longer required when Love issued a statement, which read: "The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band."
After surviving the death of Wilson's siblings Dennis and Carl, as well as Brian's own mental instability during the recording of the infamous Smile album, the latest row is unlikely to derail the Beach Boys for good.
Love is said to be happy to work with Brian and the other members on a follow-up to this year's That's Why God Made The Radio album but sees a clear distinction between the Beach Boys as a recording and a touring unit.