Happy 80th Birthday Brian Wilson: Recording ‘Good Vibrations’ With The Beach Boys

Also check out artists like Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan and more wishing Brian a Happy Birthday.

By Nate Todd Jun 20, 2022 1:21 pm PDT

Today is Brian Wilson’s 80th birthday. The legendary The Beach Boys co-founder, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer was born on June 20, 1942 in Los Angeles.

Brain Wilson’s social channels shared a video compiling birthday wishes and songs from some of Brian’s fellow music legends including Elton John, Smokey Robinson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, John Fogerty, Chuck D, Carole King and more. Bob Dylan closes out the video, making a rare appearance with his acoustic guitar to sing “Happy Birthday.” Watch the “Happy Birthday Brian Wilson: 80 Years Of Good Vibrations” video below:

The video above references The Beach Boys’ iconic and innovative single, “Good Vibrations.” The song arrived on October 10, 1966 and capped off a particularly creative year for Wilson, who largely composed and produced The Beach Boys’ highly influential 1966 LP Pet Sounds. Brian continued his auteurist ways with “Good Vibrations.” Wilson drew inspiration for the title from something his mother would say to him as a child about dogs barking, or not barking, at people because of their unseen vibrations. Wilson’s bandmate and cousin Mike Love would pen the final lyrics.

“Good Vibrations” also saw Wilson experimenting with a new method of composing called the modular approach. The technique involved taking disparate snippets of music or “modules” and splicing them together. Wilson also called these “feels” because the music would reflect his moods. Also continuing something The Beach Boys began with Pet Sounds was experimenting with unconventional instruments for pop songs. “Good Vibrations” features an Electro-Theremin and cello along with contributions from the famed session band the Wrecking Crew.

Furthermore, Wilson recorded “Good Vibrations” in four different Hollywood studios, which added to the single’s episodic feel. Although Wilson has disputed the reported costs of $50,000 and $75,000 (equal to $420,000 and $630,000 respectively today), the single counted as one of the costliest ever made to date, stemming from Brian’s new recording approach and his attention to detail. Whatever the case, it was money well-spent as “Good Vibrations” is a priceless masterpiece that influenced similar magnum opuses like The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Brian’s deep involvement in all the aspects of recording “Good Vibrations” can be glimpsed in a video taken from The Beach Boys documentary Doin’ It Again. To celebrate Brian Wilson’s birthday today, watch footage of the genius at work on “Good Vibrations” in 1966 below:

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