Happy Birthday Brian Wilson: Performing ‘Smile’ Live In Los Angeles

The legendary musician and Beach Boys co-founder celebrates his 79th birthday today.

By Nate Todd Jun 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT

Today marks Brian Wilson’s 79th birthday. The master songsmith and production wizard was born on June 20, 1942 in the Los Angeles area and would go on to co-found The Beach Boys in 1961 and was the groundbreaking band’s primary songwriter and producer not to mention a skilled multi-instrumentalist and vocal arranger. The Beach Boys would sign with Capitol Records in 1962 and Wilson became one of the first pop stars to compose, produce and perform his own material, making him one of popular music’s greatest auteurs.

As such, Wilson would amass a stunning body of work beginning with The Beach Boys genre-defining California Sound in the early 1960s with No. 1 hits like 1963’s “Surf City” 1964’s “I Get Around” and “Help Me, Rhonda” in 1965 as well as instantly recognizable classics like “Surfin’ “USA,” “California Girls” and more. At the forefront of the shift to more psychedelic sounds, Wilson began experimenting on 1966’s “Good Vibrations,” utilizing a theremin, which would lead into The Beach Boys landmark 1966 record Pet Sounds. The highly influential LP partially inspired The Beatles’ own 1967 magnum opus Sgt. Peppers. Paul McCartney later famously said that the Pet Sounds track “God Only Knows” is the greatest song ever written.

While Wilson struggled with mental health issues and largely went into seclusion beginning in the 1970s, the master composer continued to write and record and by the early 2000s was making public appearances again. On September 24, 2004, Wilson released Brian Wilson Presents Smile (BWPS). The album featured new recordings of songs from a Beach Boys project Wilson was working on in the Pet Sounds era and the album, garnering him his first Grammy Award, and its tour marked a late-career renaissance for the legendary musician that continues to this day.

Although Wilson began touring the material in early 2004, he would perform Smile along with a litany of Beach Boys classics at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in his hometown of Los Angeles on November 4, 2004 just over a month after releasing the album. The Smile segment is classic Brian Wilson with gorgeous vocal lines and innovative, expansive arrangements. But the performance is also a breath of fresh air and positivity in a world that desperately needed it and still does. Part of Wilson’s genius was not only his technical skill but also his ability to uplift, which is on full display in his 2004 performance of Smile.

To celebrate Brian Wilson’s birthday, watch the Brian Wilson Presents Smile live segment of the 2004 hometown show below via the JamBase Live Video Archive:

Brian Wilson


Brian Wilson at Walt Disney Concert Hall

  • Surfer Girl  
  • Wendy  
  • Add Some Music to Your Day  
  • Good to My Baby  
  • Please Let Me Wonder  
  • Drive-In  
  • Good Timin'  
  • And Your Dream Comes True  
  • You're Welcome  
  • Sloop John B  
  • Dance, Dance, Dance  
  • Desert Drive
  • Hawaii  
  • Gettin' In Over My Head
  • California Girls  
  • God Only Knows  
  • Forever  
  • Soul Searchin'
  • I Get Around  
  • Sail On, Sailor  
  • Marcella  
Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE
  • Our Prayer/Gee  
  • Heroes and Villains  
  • Roll Plymouth Rock
  • Barnyard  
  • Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine  
  • Cabinessence  
  • Wonderful  
  • Look (Song for Children)  
  • Child Is Father of the Man  
  • Surf's Up  
  • I'm in Great Shape / I Wanna Be Around / Workshop  
  • Vega-Tables  
  • On a Holiday  
  • Wind Chimes  
  • Mrs. O'Leary's Cow  
  • In Blue Hawaii  
  • Good Vibrations  
  • Do It Again  
  • Help Me, Rhonda  
  • Barbara Ann  
  • Surfin' U.S.A.  
  • Fun, Fun, Fun  
  • Love and Mercy

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