Michael Edward "Mike" Love (born March 15, 1941) is an American singer/songwriter with The Beach Boys. He formed the band along with his cousins Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, and their friend Al Jardine.
Role in The Beach Boys
Although he played the saxophone in the early days, Mike Love was mainly the co-lead singer, along with Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys. Love sang the lead vocal on many of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, including, "Surfin' Safari", "Surfin' USA", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Be True to Your School", "Fun, Fun, Fun", "Little Saint Nick", "I Get Around", "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" and "California Girls". His lead vocal roles later diminished as other members' voices began to be heard more, but he remained one of the most recognized voices in the group, due in part to his nasal sound, on songs such as "Do It Again". He is also known for his bass vocals, such as the vocal break in "I Can Hear Music" and the bass line in "Good Vibrations." Onstage, Love has always served as the Beach Boys' MC, introducing songs and band members.
Love also wrote or co-wrote lyrics to many of the Beach Boys songs, mostly with the themes of surfing, cars or love, but also memorable ballads such as "The Warmth of the Sun". In the 1990's he initiated and won a legal proceeding to gain co-authorship credit for many of the Beach Boys hits. Throughout his career he continues to co-write numerous songs, and wrote some songs on his own.
In the late sixties, as founder Brian Wilson was sidelined by mental illness and drug problems, Love played an increasingly contentious role in the Beach Boys' career. According to most sources, Love was the most vehement among group members in his opposition to the lyrical content and avant garde modalities of the Pet Sounds and SMiLE projects (see below), fearing that the band had strayed too far from their tried-and-true hitmaking formula.
Love was one of the first pop musicians to become involved in the practice of Transcendental Meditation, through his meeting with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As a result he accompanied The Beatles, Donovan, Prudence, and Mia Farrow on their famous trip to the guru's ashram at Rishikesh in India in early 1968. Love remains an advocate of the benefits of TM to the present day.
In the late sixties, with Brian no longer touring, Carl Wilson initially took over leadership of the band (with contracts reading that venues hired "Carl Wilson plus four other musicians"), but by the late 70s Love reasserted his dominance over the band; setlists were often limited to the hit catalog and a few songs from the most recent album. This approach alienated the Wilson brothers?especially Dennis, who after a hand accident had assumed co-frontman responsibilities?but it capitalized directly on the first wave of late 50s/early 60s rock and roll nostalgia (spurred by the success of American Graffiti and Happy Days) and managed to keep the group's business interests viable. The success of this approach was confirmed in 1974 with the release of the compilation Endless Summer. (Love has claimed to be responsible for the title album, though it was supervised by Capitol Records staffer Michael Ross.) The album reached the top of the charts and introduced new generations of listeners to their music, cementing the creation of a cottage industry of touring and repackages that continues to this day.
In 1988 the Beach Boys had a US number-one hit with "Kokomo", the only number-one song the band had without Brian Wilson's involvement. Mike Love (along with "Kokomo" co-writers Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, and John Phillips) was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (1988) in the Original Song category, and was nominated for a Grammy Award as well.
As of 2009, Mike Love continues to tour with The Beach Boys, along with Bruce Johnston and a supporting band of new musicians. He has stated he is open to a reunion and something is in the works with Al Jardine.
Pet Sounds-Smile controversies
He reportedly led the group's opposition to the Pet Sounds material and particularly objected to the song "Hang On to Your Ego"?directly inspired by his cousin's LSD experiences?which at his insistence was partly re-written and re-titled as "I Know There's an Answer." However, at this stage Brian Wilson still held sufficient sway to overrule his bandmates, and the album was completed more or less as Brian had intended.
Another factor that is likely to have influenced Love's views is that, while Brian had withdrawn from touring in late 1964, Love and his bandmates had to perform Brian's increasingly complex music on stage. There is no doubt that Brian's rapid musical development placed the group in an increasingly difficult position, since they were being asked to perform material that, in the case of "Good Vibrations," Brian had recorded over a period of many months using the best musicians available. While the Beach Boys were equal to the task as vocalists, Brian's intricate arrangements were becoming all but impossible for them to perform as a five-piece band.
Love's trenchant and vocal opposition to Wilson's new direction came to a head over the songs they were recording for their follow-up to Pet Sounds, the legendary Smile album, which was begun in August 1966 but was eventually shelved near its completion in May 1967 (though a less-ambitious version of the album, Smiley Smile, was released later that year).
Love is reported to have vehemently objected to Van Dyke Parks' oblique lyrics, reserving particular scorn for the song "Cabinessence." During a heated argument at a recording session, Love demanded that Parks explain the song's meaning; Parks demurred and walked out; some few weeks later he officially terminated his partnership with Wilson. Although Love allegedly had nothing personal against Parks (who plays on the Summer in Paradise album and whom Love has defended several times as being "a nice guy," despite Parks' admitted hostility against him), he apparently feared the lyrics were too abstract for a Beach Boys record.
Parks has long maintained that Love's dogged opposition to Smile was the major reason that Brian finally abandoned it, and that his opposition was motivated in part by professional jealousy, as well as the fear that Wilson's departure from the Beach Boys' proven formula would cause them to lose ground. In a 2004 interview with Mojo magazine, Love argued that he was not opposed to Smile, as claimed, and that he liked and respected Parks' work, but this claim was strongly denied by Parks, who wrote to the magazine to protest at what he described as Love's "revisionism" and stated unequivocally that Love?s hostility to Smile was indeed the chief reason why the project was shelved.
Love contributed lyrics to their famous 1966 single "Good Vibrations," although the song also has an earlier set of lyrics written by Wilson's main Pet Sounds collaborator, Tony Asher, which Wilson restored on the 2004 SMiLE version.
Partly in response to the band's concerns, articulated by Mike, Brian began writing songs that were easier to perform live, which turned up on the late 1967 album Wild Honey.
In the late 1990s Brian Wilson went to court to regain his rights to the publishing company, Sea of Tunes, which owned the copyrights to most of the Beach Boys' hit songs. The suit stemmed from Wilson's forced decision to sign over his publishing rights to his father Murry Wilson in 1969, but when the suit came to court it was found that the contract Wilson had signed was not valid because of the mental problems he was suffering from at the time. (It was even suggested that Murry had signed his son's name on the document.) Wilson failed to regain the copyrights, but won a $25 million settlement.
Following Wilson's win, Love launched his own lawsuit, claiming that he had made significant writing contributions to many Beach Boys songs, including two titles on Pet Sounds and "California Girls", and never received due credit (or the accompanying royalties). Love won the case, due in no small part to Brian's statements that Mike's assertions were correct (although Tony Asher has unequivocally stated that Love had no input into at least one song involved, "Wouldn't It Be Nice"). As a result, he was granted $13 million of Wilson's award, and his name was retroactively added to the writing credits on all subsequent releases of those songs. (Love and Wilson reportedly had no malice toward each other in the lawsuit; unable to come to terms, they resorted to going to court to settle matters.)
Love has also initiated successful lawsuits against Al Jardine (mostly the Beach Boys' company, Brother Records, suing Jardine at Love's instigation, but also personal lawsuits) for Jardine's use of the band name Beach Boys Family And Friends in his solo work.
Most recently, Love initiated a lawsuit on November 3, 2005 against Brian Wilson and the Mail On Sunday newspaper, arguing that both misused the Beach Boys' name and Love's image in a promotional CD that was given with the paper to promote the 2004 Smile release, and also arguing that Wilson has misused the Beach Boys' name in other promotions relating to Smile, resulting in loss of income for the band. He sought several million dollars in damages plus a million dollars to cover costs of advertising to correct the perceived damage to the band's reputation.
Love has stated: "Once again the people around Brian, my cousin and collaborator on many hits, who I love and care about, have used him for their own financial gain without regard to his rights, or my rights, or even the rights of the estates of his deceased brothers, Carl and Dennis, and their children... Unfortunately, history repeats itself. Because of Brian?s mental issues he has always been vulnerable to manipulation. I simply want to stop the infringers and stop the deception!"
The legal document filed is purported to contain many half-truths and inaccuracies. Among these it credits Mike Love as the primary force behind the Beach Boys, accuses Al Jardine of mental instabilities and incorrectly refers to one of Brian Wilson's songs as "Love and Money" instead of "Love and Mercy".
Brian Wilson?s website listed the following statement in response: ?The lawsuit against Brian is meritless. While he will vigorously defend himself he is deeply saddened that his cousin Mike Love has sunk to these depths for his own financial gain.?
Recently, however, Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine have appeared in front of the cameras together again in what seemed to be one of their many attempts to reconcile. They even jokingly stated that they wanted "to start a new tour if they weren't stopped to do so by Brian's management, and Mike's incurable addiction to lawsuits".
The lawsuit was thrown out of court on May 16, 2007 on the grounds that it was meritless.
Love has attempted several times to have a career outside the Beach Boys. In the mid 1970s he recorded and released two albums with side band Celebration, including the top 30 hit single "Almost Summer" (co-written with Brian Wilson and Jardine), along with further songwriting contributions to the bands third (unreleased) album "Disco Celebration". In the late 1970s he also recorded two unreleased solo albums, First Love and Country Love. Some tracks from First Love were used on later Beach Boys releases.
In 1981 he released a solo album, Looking Back With Love. Consisting mostly of cover versions, the album was neither critically nor commercially successful.
After that point he confined himself to guest spots on recordings alongside artists such as Dean Torrence of Jan And Dean and The Association, contributing to the albums "Rock'n'Roll City", "Rock 'n Roll Again," "Winter Party On The Beach (aka "Scrooge's Rock'n'Roll Christmas")" and "New Memories". He also developed a penchant for re-recording old Beach Boys' hits, released on packages like "Catch a Wave" and "Salute Nascar" with Adrian Baker. He has also lent his vocal abilities to a 2003 Bruce Springsteen tribute CD (singing "Hungry Heart"), and a Bruce Johnston-produced album for the Kings Singers, amongst others.
Also, in 2003 he announced plans for a new solo album. This album, which has been announced under the working titles Unleash The Love and Mike Love, Not War (not to be confused with the Beach Boys bootleg of the same name), is still a work in progress (although bootleg recordings have appeared) and, to date, one new track from these sessions, "Cool Head, Warm Heart", has appeared on an official Beach Boys-related collection.