Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963, published June 9, 2015, by McFarland Books.  Eight years in the making, writing Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963 (BBB) was a labor of love about the music that has accompanied me throughout most of my life.  Born out of frustration in reading narratives about the band’s early years that often were contradictory or did not fit together, this book attempts to bring understanding to their origin story and to prompt discussion among the vibrant community of Beach Boys fans and historians.

I look forward to hearing from those who have read the book and have comments and questions.

In writing BBB, publisher constraints and the need to rein in a first-time author meant sticking to the spine of the story which meant omitting many conversations, events, and facts, some of which detail the era in which the boys grew up.  How many great scenes are deleted from movies that make us wonder why they didn’t make the final cut.  This website exists to share the stories that didn’t make the cut, but deserve telling, or further expand on stories in the book. I hope they are enjoyable and further add to the narrative.

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Jim Murphy


  1. Robert Campbell says

    Rockford, IL 4/26/63: Minor detail but, the appendix lists the venue as the YWCA Teen Canteen located at 4990 East St. Street. This is the current address of the YWCA. In 1963 The YWCA was located at 220 S. Madison, St., Rockford IL. The YWCA did not move to their current address until sometime in the 90s. The old Y was a classic Y facility with a residence hall, gym, pool and activity rooms. One of these rooms was where the show was held. For a brief period I actually worked in that room while I was in college. As I was only 13 at the time of the show we did not find out about it until around 1964 – 65. At that time there was a rumor circulating that The Beach Boys were coming back for another show in Rockford. As there was a huge snowstorm we shoveled walks and drives for 2 days to earn money for the show. Unfortunately it was just a rumor. I enjoyed the detailed research on the rare 45s referenced in the book.


  2. I absolutely love this book, and I’m about halfway through reading it so far. One little thing – the book says that Pacific Ocean Park where The Beach Boys performed was on the “Santa Monica pier” – but that might be confused with the official “Santa Monica Pier” which currently contains a recently built amusement park, and is north of where the POP pier was. POP was actually built on a pier at Pier Avenue in the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica, which was halfway between the official Santa Monica Pier and the Venice Beach pier. When POP closed in 1967, you could see the dilapidated buildings, including the tall Roller Coaster of the closed pier from the other beaches until it was demolished in 1974. During the 1960s, the Santa Monica Pier was only for fishing, and I used to fish from the end of the pier, or rent rowboats to fish from.


    • Hi Bob,

      Thank you so much for your support of the book. I am glad you are enjoying it! Thanks also for the clarification about the pier. I’m keeping track of “things to add or fix” for a second edition, and your feedback is extremely helpful.

      All the best,



  3. Kevin Barr says

    Loved the book. Several questions: When did Brian Wilson fully lose his falsetto? What was the cause? Are their examples where he uses it in later years as a solo artist?


    • Hi Kevin,

      As with many singers, Brian’s falsetto became a bit rougher with age, smoking, and other general health issues. While he never recaptured its 1960s beauty, there are glimpses of it throughout the band’s later output (think “She’s Got Rhythm” on MIU in 1978) and his solo career.

      I am very glad you enjoyed the book. Thanks for checking it out!

      All the best



  4. Hi Jim,

    I came across mentions of your book both in JAVMA and Veterinary Practice News (Oct 2016). I’m a vet and writer in central Maryland with a monthly blog called VetWrite which features veterinarians who explore their creative outlets, whether via writing, painting, singing, etc. I am reaching out to see if you’d be interested in an interview for my blog.

    Thanks for your time and consideration,
    Anna O’Brien


  5. Hi Jim–

    I reviewed your book for my website, The Recoup. Recently, I was saddened to learn about the murder of Betty Willis, and I wrote an entry sharing the two sides from that fine, rare single. But upon posting it, I received a few messages stating that Betty Willis was NOT the vocalist for the sessions that produced Rachel & The Revolvers. Considering her relationship with Leon Russell and the work she did at Gold Star, it certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable that she crossed path with Wilson–or that she used said connections later on to get an entree with Russell and a record deal. Plus, the voice on the R&R single sounds like a dead ringer to the woman on the solo Betty Willis recordings.

    Here is my piece, and in the comment section is one of the refutations that it was not her. I know your work was quite diligent, so I’d like some input into the matter, if at all possible?



  6. MARC BIELER says

    Hi Jim,

    just finished the book, and I have to say I was blown away by the new facts and incredible detail about the Beach Boys early days. I have 19 other Beach Boy books, and none of them really delve into the “roots’ like you did. There were so many people involved in the boy’s success. I feel bad for Hite Morgan after seeing what he missed out on earning. Nick Venet history is fascinating. The old photos you dug up are pretty cool. What a labor of love, this book. I really appreciate what you have done here. I have seen the Beach Boys countless times over 55 years living in Philly, NYC, Chicago and now Arizona. I have a feeling you and I may have been at the same concerts in my New York phase in the early 70’s in looking at your list.
    In 1986, while in SoCal, being the Beach Boy geek I am, I went to Hawthrone to see the Wilson house on Kornbluth Av. It was demolished at the point for the construction of the 105, but the house footprint was still there. Hollowed ground! In two weeks, we are driving out to L.A. to visit our daughter, and will be going back to that spot again to see the Beach Boys Memorial.
    This website looks fun, so I am going to dig in now, see what other BB treats await!


  7. Hi Marc,

    First and foremost, thank you for reading the book! And thank you for taking the time to visit the website and share your comments. The true reward for writing this book, as I suspect it is for any book, is simply knowing that people enjoyed reading it. As you know, the book appeals primarily to long-time fans of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys (not that casual fans couldn’t enjoy it, but I might lose them somewhere among the matrix numbers on the dead wax in the run out grooves of Candix 331). So, to hear from knowledgeable fans like you who appreciate the music and are interested in the band’s origin story, makes the research and writing all worthwhile. I basically wrote the book I wanted to read myself, after years of frustration at the convoluted and conflicting origin stories. There are still questions, some I fear may never be resolved, but I hope my book brings us a little closer. I made that same pilgrimage to Hawthorne in the early 1990s, but the house and the footprint were long gone. Hey, by any chance did you snap a photograph of the home’s footprint (how’s that for obsessive?) It is such a shame the city leaders did not have the foresight to preserve that home and have it moved. It would not have been that difficult. It would have made a great museum filled with 1961-1963 memorabilia. Imagine the voices you’d hear just walking through those rooms. Sharing the Morgans story and Judy Bowles’ story were among the many highlights for me, personally. In 2016, Omnivore Recordings released the entire Hite and Dorinda Morgan recordings on a 2 CD set which I was privileged to title and pen the liner notes. It makes a fascinating soundtrack to the book. I bet you are correct and we were at many of the same concerts in the New York area. Small world, heh? I hope you enjoy the supplemental articles on the website. I have a list of future articles for which I need to set aside some time and post. Well, thanks again Marc for reaching out with your comments. It always makes my week when I hear from a fellow Beach Boys fan who enjoyed the book!

    Surf’s Up!



    • Marc Bieler says

      Hi Jim,

      thanks for the detailed reply. I celebrated Brian Wilson’s birthday yesterday by listening to his solo stuff. Anyway, I do have some pix from that visit and will try to dig them out of our picture tub. Pre-digital, of course, so its a “real” photo. Will send along what I find. I agree, too bad they didn’t have the foresight to save the house, move it somewhere. Could have been a money-maker for the city of Hawthorne.
      Marc B.


  8. MARC BIELER says


    finally dug up that photo from 1986 of when I visited the BB’s home. Of course it was just a plot! Not sure how I can attach it here in this blog. Let me know best way to send to you.


  9. Paul Marshall says

    Hi Jim – a longtime admirer of the band and, for my sins, a statistical geek as much as the stories and history of the guys themselves and the music. In particular, I focus on what things sold – not supposedly but actually. There is, as I’m sure you’re aware, a big difference between the hyperbole and the truth!

    Anyhow, I have in the past uncovered some record sales related paperwork pertaining to the Beach Boys at EMI in London that largely focuses, naturally enough I guess, on the UK. In reading your book I see some references to the Capitol contract and so forth which leads me to wonder if, during your researches, you ever came across similar sales documents for the States, or elsewhere? Royalty statements, record company letters to management, etc.? I’m forever curious!

    Probably not your forté but I thought I’d ask. If nothing else your work has kinda inspired me to maybe make some use of the thousands of items I have collected into some sort of narrative about sixties record sales. As Otis Blackwell once said, “it’s not what they say, it’s what they pay”…gotta do something constructive while in retirement in France before I slip of this mortal coil 😦

    Many thanks for your time,

    Paul Marshall (France)


  10. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for visiting the site and for taking time to leave a comment. I would have liked to have included domestic sales figures for the band’s 1961 through 1963 releases in the book, but I never unearthed anything comprehensive and definitive so I didn’t pursue it. I encourage you to pursue your project of documenting the information you have amassed pertaining to 1960s record sales in the UK. A website or blog featuring narrative summaries and the actual documents scanned will give you a sense of creating order and an achievement that will provide current and future music writers and historians access to valuable, perhaps even one-of-a-kind, information. Best of luck!

    All the best,



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