"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, the genius behind the band's Sixties 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, to which Love owns the rights 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 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. He linked to a fan petition, which reads: "In order to preserve the validity of 'The Beach Boys' as a whole... we ask you to re-instate the 3 other members to the touring group for your final years performing."
Earlier this year eight children of the original Beach Boys formed their own group called California Saga, which they billed as "the next chapter in the story of America's band".