Michael Edward "Mike" Love (born March 15, 1941) is an American musician, singer and songwriter who garnered worldwide fame as a member of the Beach Boys. He is an original member of the band and continues to write, record and perform with the band to the present day.
For most of the Beach Boys' career Love has been one of the band's primary lyricists, contributing to each of the band's studio albums and number one Billboard singles. In the early 1960s, Love collaborated with Brian Wilson and was chief lyricist on singles including "Fun, Fun, Fun", "California Girls" and "Good Vibrations". During this period, his lyrics primarily reflected the youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance, which has been described by writers as having helped fashion pop culture's perception of the "Californian Dream". Love's work during this period also assumed elements of melancholy with noted examples being "The Warmth of the Sun"--written the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination--and "I'm Waiting for the Day" from Pet Sounds.
In early 1968, Love under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. The experience influenced his lyrics to take on themes of astrology, meditation, politics and ecology. It was around this period Love began submitting solo compositions to the band including "Big Sur" in 1969. Following a bout of nostalgia in the mid-1970s toward the Beach Boys' earlier material, Love's lyrical direction shifted to attempt to capture the joie de vivre of earlier efforts. "It's O.K." by the Beach Boys and "Almost Summer" by his side-project Celebration followed this template and became modest hits. Around this period, Love began working on solo albums, releasing his first in 1981. In 1988, he, along with the other founding members of the Beach Boys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The same year, the Love co-written "Kokomo" reached number one in the United States and was nominated for a Grammy.
In 1998, following the death of cousin Carl Wilson, Love and longtime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston licensed the Beach Boys name and continued touring as surviving Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine embarked on solo endeavours. In 2011, Love reunited with the other remaining Beach Boys to produce a new album and embark on a tour for their 50th anniversary. Following the 50th anniversary reunion shows, Love resumed touring with Beach Boy Bruce Johnston.
1940s-50s: Early life:
Mike Love's mother, Emily (known as "Glee") Wilson was the sister of Mary and Murry Wilson, a family resident in Los Angeles since the early 1920s. Glee married Edward Milton Love, the son of the founder of the Love Sheet Metal Company, in 1938. Michael Edward, the first of six children, was born in the Baldwin Hills district of Los Angeles, in 1941; thereafter the family moved to the upmarket View Park area. Mike attended Dorsey High School, graduating in 1959. Unsure of a career direction, he pumped gas and briefly joined his father's company, whose fortunes dramatically declined in the late 1950s. Both Milt and Glee Love were active in sports, and Glee was distinctively artistically-orientated, taking an interest in painting and the arts. Like her brother, Murry, however, she was also strong-willed and, according to her husband, a dominant personality. The family was close-knit and regularly socialized with Murry and Audree Wilson and their sons. Murry Wilson was a part-time songwriter whose main achievement was placing a song on the Lawrence Welk radio show in 1952. Mike Love befriended the Wilson sons and often sang at family get-togethers, especially at Christmas, at the Wilson's home in nearby Hawthorne. It was here, under the vocal harmony guidance of Brian Wilson, that the root of the Beach Boys' sound was established, predominantly influenced by Brian's devotion to the Four Freshmen's arrangements. Musical accompaniment during this formative phase was solely Brian's self-taught piano, but this was quickly expanded by the guitar contributions of Brian's college friend Al Jardine (whose fundamental interest was folk music) and Carl Wilson (whose idol was Chuck Berry). With the failure of Love Sheet Metal and the family's enforced move to a modest two-bedroom house in Inglewood, closer to the Wilsons, Mike Love turned his ambitions toward forming a pop band in emulation of local acts like Jan and Dean, whose music he admired.
Though Mike Love played rudimentary saxophone in the first years of the fledgling garage band that evolved from the Pendletones to the Beach Boys, he quickly established himself as co-lead singer with Brian Wilson, trademarking the band's vocal sound with a strong baritone counterpoint to Wilson's falsetto. He also established himself, along with neighbor Gary Usher, local DJ Roger Christian and others, as a collaborator with Brian Wilson in the band's original compositions. Mike Love went on to sing lead vocal on many of the Beach Boys' template hits, specializing in fast-paced rock'n'rollers, while Brian's voice dominated moodier tracks and the major ballads, like "Surfer Girl". Love's notable leads in the early to mid-1960s include "Surfin' U.S.A.", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Be True to Your School", "Little Saint Nick", "Fun, Fun, Fun", "I Get Around", "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)", "California Girls" and "That's Not Me". As the Beach Boys' career developed, all members contributed lead vocals to hit songs; but Mike Love remained the central vocal focus on songs like "Do It Again". On stage and on tour over five decades with the Beach Boys, Mike Love has served as the Beach Boys' MC, introducing songs and band members and bantering with the audience.
As a writer, Love's lyrical growth is evident from "The Warmth of the Sun", a song written on November 22, 1963, in response to the assassination of President John F Kennedy. His consistent partnership with Wilson stalled over Christmas 1965 when the Beach Boys' intense touring schedule clashed with the pressure on Brian Wilson to keep writing and producing new records for the band. Love's absence was largely (though not entirely) filled by Tony Asher for Pet Sounds, and then by Van Dyke Parks for the Smile project. After the Wilson/Parks partnership ended, Love quickly returned to writing with Wilson on Smiley Smile, Wild Honey and subsequent Beach Boys' albums.
I know how I live, my values, and my philosophies. So, personally, I'm comfortable with it all. It does get annoying because it's an inaccurate picture of what actually happened. When it's left to people who've written books about Brian, it gets distorted. I don't blame people for coming to that conclusion, but it's based on inaccurate statements made by people who weren't there, or if they were, they obviously had an axe to grind because somewhere along the way, I told them to take a hike... I had nothing--zero, nothing, no input--nothing to say with Smile not coming out at that time. That was Brian withdrawing.
--Mike Love on being portrayed as Smile's villain, 2004
Love has been reported as having resistance to Brian Wilson's shift in songwriting style during the Pet Sounds and Smile sessions, a claim which Love has repeatedly dismissed as hyperbole. Though Love has admitted to having doubts about Van Dyke Parks' oblique lyrics for Smile, he has repeatedly asserted these claims are overstated. During an alleged argument in December 1966 during the recording of the song "Cabin Essence", Love asked Parks to explain the meaning of the line, "Over and over the crow cries uncover the cornfields"; Parks demurred, walking out of the recording session. Though Parks continued to work on the project until March 1967, it has been hypothesised that his partnership with Wilson ended in part due to Love's reservations. Love has since stated he appreciates Parks' "brilliant" lyricism on an artistic level, though he had feared the lyrics were too abstract for a relatable Beach Boys record.
In director-writer Michael Feeney Callan's 1993 documentary The Beach Boys Today, Love emphasised his fondness for Pet Sounds. He states that his concerns about the Smile project refer only to the more obscure lyrics. Van Dyke Parks countered Love's recollection. In a letter to UK music magazine Mojo, Parks described Love's views as "revisionism", and stated his belief that Love's hostility to Smile was one of the factors in Brian's decision to abandon the project.
Mike Love was among the first pop musicians to become involved in the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, through his meeting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Having commenced Transcendental Meditation studies in December 1967, he accompanied the Beatles, Donovan, Prudence Farrow, and Mia Farrow on their famous trip to the guru's ashram at Rishikesh in India in early 1968. The 1968 Beach Boys album Friends has some of the first Mike Love lyric compositions relating to his experiences in India and Transcendental Meditation; themes he continues to write about in his lyrics to the current day.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, as Brian Wilson's health declined and revived, Mike Love continued to tour, effectively leading the Beach Boys on stage, with Carl Wilson as de facto musical director of the band. Love's songs became increasingly solo compositions (words and music) such as "Big Sur" (1973), "Everyone's in Love With You" (1976) and "Sumahama" (1978).
Mike Love has released a number of recordings independent of the Beach Boys. In the mid-1970s, he fronted the band Celebration, which achieved the top 30 hit single Almost Summer (co-written with Brian Wilson and Jardine). In the late 1970s he also recorded two unreleased solo albums, First Love and Country Love.
In 1981, Love's first and only official-release solo album, Looking Back With Love included versions of pop standards like Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" as well as self-penned numbers like the moody idyll, "Paradise Found".
Love worked with Dean Torrence in the early '80s and worked on singles and on the compilation Rock 'n' Roll City .
In 1988, the Beach Boys had a US number 1 hit with "Kokomo", the only Number 1 the band achieved 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 also nominated for a Grammy Award for "Kokomo".
Also in 1988, he, along with the other founding members of the Beach Boys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he made an infamous hostile speech, calling out, among others, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney. He was, however, happy that Muhammed Ali was in attendance.
In what was established to have been a fraudulent action, Murry Wilson avoided crediting Love with his early lyrical contributions to Brian's songs, denying Love accrued royalties. In 1994 Love won a legal proceeding to establish what he considered to be proper authorship credit for many of the Beach Boys songs he co-wrote.
After the death of Carl Wilson in 1998, Mike Love continued to tour with the Beach Boys, along with Bruce Johnston and a supporting band of new musicians, occasionally including actor John Stamos. He legally leased exclusive rights to tour under the Beach Boys name, in a boardroom settlement with Brother Records, the Beach Boys' company.
In 1998, Love and his closest ally in the Beach Boys, Bruce Johnston, recorded the album Symphonic Sounds: Music of the Beach Boys, with London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London. Featured on the disc were newly arranged versions of songs like Johnston's "Disney Girls (1957)" and "Darlin'" featuring Matt Jardine. More recently Love contributed one track to the 2003 Bruce Springsteen tribute CD (singing "Hungry Heart"), and also lent his voice to a Bruce Johnston-produced album for the Kings Singers. He also re-recorded a number of classic Beach Boys' hits, released on the collections Catch a Wave, Salute NASCAR, and Summertime Cruisin'.
In 2003, Love announced plans for a new solo album, variously reported as Unleash The Love and Mike Love, Not War (not to be confused with the Beach Boys bootleg of the same name). Two conspicuous tracks off the work-in-progress are "Cool Head, Warm Heart", which appeared on an official Beach Boys-related collection, and "Pisces Brothers", a reminiscence of his time in India with George Harrison.
On November 3, 2005 Love sued Brian Wilson and the Mail On Sunday newspaper, as the Beach Boys' name and Love's image in a promotional CD that was given free with the paper to promote the 2004 Brian Wilson presents Smile release. Love's case argued that the unauthorised (by Brother Records Inc.) free CD resulted in loss of income for the band. The lawsuit was dismissed on May 16, 2007 on the grounds that it was without merit.
On December 16, 2011, it was announced that Love would reunite with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks for a new Beach Boys album and 50th anniversary tour in 2012. The group appeared at the 2012 Grammy Awards on February 12, followed by a 50-date tour that began in Tucson, AZ in April. Love commented on working with Marks once again, stating, "David rocks. ... When he does those leads on "Surfin'," "Surfin' Safari" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" it's so authentic. He and Carl committed on playing guitar since they were ten years old and ... neighbors with each other from across the street in Hawthorne. He's a fantastic musician and a really fantastic guy. ... It's going to be really great to be with him."
On June 5, 2012, That's Why God Made the Radio, the first new all-original Beach Boys album to feature the core Brian Wilson-Mike Love-Al Jardine reunion since 1985's Steve Levine-produced work, was released. Time magazine in its celebratory review likened it to the two-tone 1965 album, Today!, with one side of upbeat songs and one of mellow, reflective numbers. Eleven tracks were co-written by Brian Wilson (mostly with Joe Thomas). The Love-composed track "Daybreak Over the Ocean" features Love's children Christian and Hayleigh on backing vocals, augmented by Jeff Foskett and the remaining original Beach Boys.
In September 2012, Love and Bruce Johnston announced via a press release that following the end of the reunion tour The Beach Boys would revert to the Love/Johnston lineup, without Wilson, Jardine or Marks, all of whom expressed surprise despite such dates having been noted in a late June issue of Rolling Stone. In the ensuing media fallout, it was widely, if inaccurately, reported that the three had been 'fired' by Love.
In 2013, while discussing his unreleased solo albums, Mike Love Not War and First Love, Love noted, "I've stockpiled these things for decades now, but we finally have a team to get my music out. There's a song called "Going to the Beach", a Beach Boys summertime classic. Mike Love Not War is about the hopes and aspirations of those on the planet who like to see more positivity and harmony. I want to get a couple of people to sing with me on it, including Neil Young. He's as anti-war as he might be. It all goes back to John and Yoko saying "Give Peace a Chance" and Marvin Gaye singing "What's Going On".
Love has been married to Jacqueline Piesen since 1994 and has nine children: two with Piesen, six from his four previous marriages, and one from another relationship. Love is a vegetarian who practises and teaches transcendental meditation, wears Indian Ayurveda rings and partakes in traditional Hindu ceremonies.
In addition to being cousin to the Wilson brothers, Love is the brother of former NBA basketball player Stan Love and of Pink Martini harpist Maureen Love, and is the uncle of Minnesota Timberwolves basketball player Kevin Love. Love's son, Christian, has toured with the Beach Boys in their backing band since 2008.
Mike Love has been a longtime supporter of environmental causes and was among speakers at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Earth Day 2000 on the Mall in Washington, DC. Love was instrumental in forming StarServe ("Students Taking Action and Responsibility to Serve") which enlisted high profile celebrities to inspire America's youth to help serve their communities. He also created the Love Foundation, which supports national environmental and educational initiatives. Love personally donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina and helped the foundation raise an additional $250,000. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lake Tahoe School in Incline Village, Nevada, and was responsible for raising over $1 million to benefit the school. In 2010, Mike Love contributed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's More Hope For The Holidays album with vocals on "Closing of the Year" as well as contributing his self-penned "Santa's Goin' To Kokomo". On the album he appears alongside Weezer, Brandi Carlile, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He performed a benefit concert for the foundation for the Children of the Californias which raised one million dollars to support the expansion of three new surgical suites. During the 50th Reunion Tour Love alongside the Beach Boys partnered with Operation Smile to raise funds for those in need of cleft lip and palate repair surgeries. In May 2013, Love was recognised for his decades of investment in education and national service by being awarded City Year's "Seven Generations Award".