Becoming the Beach Boys, Published, Reviews
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Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963
By James B. Murphy
McFarland Publishing, 436p.
Published June 8, 2015

REVIEW:  Author James B. Murphy has done a brave, and difficult thing in writing what, is essentially a densely-packed microcosmic look at the formative forces that created “The Beach Boys”.  Echoing Timothy White’s similarly dense, but wider-ranging The Nearest Faraway Place, which traced The Beach Boys within the scope of California history and mythos, Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 takes a much narrower view, examining social, economic, cultural and familial tidal forces which helped shape the band’s work ethic, musical approach, and ambition.  What’s truly impressive about this book is how much detail Dr. Murphy has included – everything from interviews and newly-discovered documents trace how an essentially untrained group of musicians, raw and undeveloped, wrote, played and sang their way from a local hit single on an independent label, into a nationally-recognized phenomenon, all within the space of just a few months.  He delves into recording label practices of the time, which allowed for young artists to be discovered, developed, and nurtured past what might only have been a flash-in-the-pan “one-hit wonder”.  But for all the swirling detail that’s packed into this four-hundred-plus book, the author impressively never loses sight of the human struggle at its core; all of the fears, hopes, and insecurities of the band are laid bare – along with their amazement of how everything broke their way.  This is an important book for Beach Boys fans; it chronicles the band’s quintessential reality of the American Dream, which in turn became part of the American story.  Personally, I would be very interested in seeing a sequel or two which looks at later milestones in the band’s career.  Absolutely essential.

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    • Peter Vontobel says

      Dear James,
      I have been a Beach Boys fan almost from the beginning about 60 years ago and I have almost all of their officially released records.
      For me they are by far the best Pop/Rock group of all times and concerning the singing even better than the Beatles. They have a very
      interesting biography which has never been better described their beginnings than in your book “Becoming the Beach Boys 1961 – 1963.
      I have been reading it about three or four times but it is always great fun
      to read it again and again !
      Congratulations on your marvellous job you did by writing this book !
      Thanks so much for your great job and many good vibrations and
      Fun, Fun, Fun
      Yours truly
      Peter Vontobel Switzerland


      • Jim Murphy says

        Thank you so much! The singular reward from researching and writing the book is to hear from people such as yourself who, like me, appreciate Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys — perhaps the most satisfying musical journey in the pop/rock era, and certainly the greatest band in American popular music. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment! ~ Jim


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