Golden anniversaries are always cause for celebration, but when it marks the 50th year and long-awaited reunion of one of America's most iconic bands, Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson says it becomes "sentimental."
The Beach Boys, who will headline the Westchester County Center in White Plains tonight, are on a worldwide tour through August. In honor of tonight's show, County Executive Rob Astorino has declared today "Beach Boys Day" in Westchester. Tickets are still available, according to the Beach Boys website.
"A lot of people still like the group, you know?" says Wilson, 69.
Despite selling more than 100 million records worldwide, topping the pop charts and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Beach Boys haven't always been as harmonious as their music. Their reunion tour is one that many people, including Wilson, didn't think was possible as recently as last fall. But after years of lawsuits and bitter exchanges between band members, Wilson is "very much" relieved that the legendary band seems to have set aside their differences to kick off a nationwide tour this month.
Living with schizoaffective disorder, which can result in complicated mood shifts and hallucinations, Wilson is brief but not unkind when taking questions by phone.
He considers "the day we cut 'California Girls'" as his crowning musical achievement, adding that the tune -- one of many hits he co-wrote with Love -- best represents his life. "I don't know [why]," he says. "It's just California, y'know?"
One of the reasons for the song's success is the use of the group's signature harmonies, which Wilson says is the reason the group's sound is so timeless, yet his explanation for how he helped create them is a simple one: "You just have to play it on the piano first to hear [them], then you go record it."
That's not to say the songwriting process has come easily to Wilson, who wrote or co-wrote the hits "Surfin' USA," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "I Get Around" and "Help Me Rhonda," among many others. Wilson produced and wrote or co-wrote every track on the deeply influential album, "Pet Sounds," yet he battled resistance from Capitol Records, reacted to slow initial album sales and endured some criticism from fans who weren't used to psychedelic sounds from the band.
Wilson later would have the last laugh: "Pet Sounds" is near or at the top of many critics' lists for the best rock album of all time.
"I think ["Pet Sounds"] is more and more appreciated every year," he says.
These days, Wilson is focusing on rehearsing, recording a new album and touring with the group. So far, he says, "it's going good." And although the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Beacon Theatre in New York City, and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., are among the tour stops to tout some serious music history, Westchester ticket-holders may take solace: He says he's equally excited for every stop on the Beach Boys' tour.
He concludes the interview with a simple message to fans: "Come to see us when we come to your town."
IF YOU GO
What: The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert Tour
When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 15
Info: Westchester County Center, 198 Central Ave., White Plains, 914-995-4050, www.countycenter.biz; $59.50-$500