Happy Birthday Brian Wilson: The Beach Boy Performing Solo

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Master of composition and a music production pioneer, Brian Wilson celebrates his 74th birthday today. The co-founding leader and primary songwriter of The Beach Boys, his early 1960s surf rock hits and the group’s groundbreaking 1965 album Pet Sounds helped to place the idiosyncratic and at times reclusive Wilson among the best of his generation. For The Beach Boy’s birthday today, here’s a look at Wilson performing some of his most well-known songs solo throughout his long and successful career.

The three videos below feature Wilson playing piano and singing without any live accompaniment. The first video is from a 1966 rendition of the song he wrote with Van Dyke Parks for Smile, the moody “Surf’s Up” which later aired as part of a television documentary about the California music scene. Watch the footage of the young Wilson here:

One of Wilson’s and his band’s best-known songs, “Good Vibrations” is performed in the next video presented below. The camera work is a bit shaky but the audio is clean in this mid-1970s appearance, watch the raw rendition of the classic track:

Though not written by Wilson, his arrangement of the traditional “Sloop John B” became a highlight of the sprawling production of Pet Sounds. Though not 100 percent “solo” – he’s joined by a recorded backing track – Wilson is still alone in this clip taped for television in 1976. View his Mike Douglas Show performance below: :

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