The Beach Boys: When the Good Vibrations Turned Bad

Boston University

William McKeen is the Chair of the Department of Journalism at Boston University, where he also teaches media history, literary journalism, and rock ‘n’ roll history.  He is the author or editor of 13 books, including Everybody Had an OceanToo Old to Die Young and Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.  



The Beach Boys – three brothers, a cousin, and a pal – defined the joy and optimism of America in the early 1960s: tousle-haired Jack Kennedy was in the White House and the Beach Boys provided the soundtrack of the New Frontier. They were the first great American rock’n’roll band and their songs celebrated the “Fun, Fun, Fun” of that more innocent time. After achieving critical success in the mid-1960s with the bold and groundbreaking Pet Sounds album and the “Good Vibrations” single, the band’s popularity fell off a cliff. Their principal songwriter, Brian Wilson – already suffering grievous mental issues — lapsed into a long period of withdrawal and decline. His younger brothers took the reins and led the group through the dark end of the decade, bringing Charles Manson into their circle. Despite the drama and dissolution, the group stayed active and produced some of the best music in its 60-year-history. At the time, the music went largely unheard. Now is your chance to listen to the music and hear their story.



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Michael Groulx

Learned a great deal about the Beach Boys that I never Knew! Another great presentation.

11 months ago
James Magenheimer

Beach Boys

Another terrific talk. I have enjoyed many, and look forward to seeing them. I Tell my friends about One Day U.

11 months ago
Linda Sikorski

Beach Boys

Super interesting. Great audio clips and Mr. McKeen’s commentary was excellent. I would love to hear more from him.

11 months ago
Peter Kahn

What a great lecture. I can’ t wait for your next lecture on sixties music.

11 months ago
Anna Kurt

Beach Boys

Interesting speaker was able to tell the sad story with out it making one feel depressed about it . Also had some interesting facts as much reading as I’ve done on subject I had not heard. I was Lucy to see them perform several times and one always went away feeling they gave there all.

11 months ago
Robert Hencken

I learned a lot.

Very interesting. I didn’t know much about The Beach Boys beyond their early music. Excellent lecture.

11 months ago
mark skinner

This was a great lecture, wonderfully rich in detail but also sparse enough to think there could have easily been a second one (early years/later years) and left me wanting to know more. Like other reviewers, I’m old enough to know some of their stuff but young enough not to have ever purchased an album (or song) until I was an adult. The lecture made me realize I’d been cheating myself my not knowing more, particularly of the works of Dennis Wilson and later Brian Wilson works like Smile. I will strive to correct that now. THANK YOU!

10 months ago
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