I first read this book in 1990, ordered it via fax… which dates it and me, from Rockaway Records in LA.
I met David Leaf and at Stomp convention and he was kind enough to say I wasn’t old enough to have a copy.
I first developed my obsession with The Beach Boys in 1979, I was given a cassette of 20 Golden Greats for Christmas that year and played it CONSTANTLY asking my Grandpa Hartley what a Little Deuce Coupe was.. needless to say he had no idea…
I had a tiny picture of The Beach Boys; the one with them standing round the surf board from 1961 and I used to look at the names in the cassette sleeve and wonder who was who.
David Leaf and Mike Grant
These were pre internet days and The Beach Boys were not in vogue as much as they once were so information was few and far between, so getting my hands on David Leaf’s book was one of the first times I knew who the people were and the part they played. I devoured the book then as I have done all these years later, it is such a well written book, and also the love written there on the pages is palpable. As most of us reading this will know, it is not the happiest of tales but thankfully the time that has ensued between my reading it in 1990 and now, it does have a happier ending… I was lucky enough to be there on many of the occasions written in the final update, and also bore witness to the fear leaving Brian on the opening night of Smile, I remember saying it to Mike Grant, you could visibly see the confidence grow. Van Dyke Parks was a few rows in front of us and was in tears, it was one of the most amazing nights of my life and I was just a witness.. I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for all those involved.
Sir George Martin donning Mark London’s design
The thing I take away from the book (s) is the fact that this was ‘willed’ into being, David Leaf said I am going to move to California and see if Brian can finish Smile and it may have taken a few years but by jove he did it! I posted this on Facebook and David was humble enough to say that was not his intention but it happened and let’s face it without the love and support of people like David, Darian, Nick, Probyn et al, the believers this would never have happened.
If you love The Beach Boys or just love music then do yourself a favour, get yourself a copy of this book, pop on the ‘Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys’ box set and immerse yourself in this wonderful world, I can assure you you won’t regret it!