DECEMBER 31: Introducing the Beach Boys

BeachBoys_studioABOVE: The Beach Boys during an early recording session. Brian Wilson, the group’s leader, is the middle.

ON THIS DATE in 1961, the Beach Boys played their first paying gig at the Long Beach Municipal Stadium, earning $300. The band consisted of four teenagers — Brian Wilson (nineteen), Dennis Wilson (seventeen), Carl Wilson (fifteen),  and Al Jardine (nineteen) — plus twenty-year-old Mike Love.

Formed in Hawthorne, California, the Beach Boys made their chart debut a month and a half later with a single called “Surfin.” “Surfin” peaked at number 75 and set the theme for the group’s next three chart-climbers: “Surfin’ Safari” (peaked at number 14 in 1962), “Surfin’ USA” (number 3 in 1963), and “Surfer Girl” (number 7 in 1963).

The Beach Boys weren’t all about surfing. They would top the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “I Get Around” (1964), “Help Me, Rhonda” (1965), “Good Vibrations” (1966), and “Kokomo” (1988). Other top-five Beach Boys classics include “Fun, Fun, Fun” (1964), “California Girls” and “Barbara Ann” (1965), and “Sloop John B” (1966). In the 1960s, only the Beatles made a bigger splash on top-40 radio.

The Beach boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

For more about this legendary band, check out

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