Author: Jim Murphy

Chronicling the Beach Boys

Posted by the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association on April 13, 2016 As with veterinary medicine, Dr. Jim Murphy approached a new venture in his life, chronicling the early days of  one of America’s enduring bands, as both an art and a science. The lifelong fan wrote “Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963” because other books gave conflicting facts and short shrift to the band’s early days. He also created a companion website. Dr. Murphy spent eight years researching, doing interviews, and writing his book, weathering rejections until it was published in summer 2015, three days after a new movie about the band was released and a month before the group headlined at the AVMA Annual Convention in Boston. “It is an academic look at the band’s origin and not always a light read for a day at the beach,” he says of the 436-page book with its 12 appendices, 1,100 end notes, bibliography, and index. Fifty of the photos had never before been published, except some in yearbooks. His scientific approach also drew on his right brain. As an undergrad, he …

The Beach Boys Beginnings Examined Through Book

Goldmine Magazine Interview by Ken Sharp All images courtesy of James B. Murphy From performing in school cafeterias to tearing it up on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, James B. Murphy’s book, “Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-1963” chronicles the back story behind how it all happened in exhaustive detail. Culling original and archival interviews, newly discovered documents and illustrated with scores of previously unseen photographs and ephemera, the book is a marvel of research teeming with revelatory information about the group’s formative years, puncturing myths and setting the record straight about this seminal period in the group’s history. Goldmine: Hite and Dorinda Morgan are key movers and shakers in the band’s early career. Tell us about them and their importance to the group’s career arc. James B. Murphy: Hite and Dorinda Morgan, a husband and wife songwriting team in their late 40s, were friends of Audree and Murry Wilson for a decade before the Wilson brothers decided they wanted to make a record. The Morgans recorded aspiring artists in a make-shift recording studio in …

The Beach Boys at Rainbow Gardens in 1962 – A Research Challenge

In the 1991 film JFK, Joe Pesci portrayed David Ferrie who famously describes President Kennedy’s assassination as “a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.” The quote was borrowed from a radio address Winston Churchill delivered over the British Broadcasting Company October 1, 1939, to bolster Britons’ concerns about an impending war with Germany. In that stirring address, Churchill described Russia as “a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” But what does Churchill, JFK, or Joe Pesci have to do with researching Beach Boys concerts in 1962? Well, that quote aptly describes what it felt like trying to document the band’s appearances at Rainbow Gardens—a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. Only there was no key. Until now. Maybe. Rainbow Gardens was a nightclub and dance hall located at 150 East Monterey in Pomona, California, thirty miles east of Los Angeles. It held about 800 people. By early 1962, it was owned by LA record promoter Eddie Davis …

ARSC Journal Book Review

Reviewed by Robert Iannapollo Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal, p. 307-309, Vol. 46, No. 2 Fall 2015 Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963. By James B, Murphy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. 422pp, including multiple appendices, extensive footnotes, photos, bibliography and index. ISBN= 978-0-7864-7365-69  Knowing I was quite the Beach Boys maven, my editor presented me with Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963 by James B. Murphy for review. He wondered what a veterinarian could add to the vast Beach Boys bibliography, as did I. Quite a bit, as it turns out. The years from the band’s formation in 1961 until the initial banner year of 1963 (the year of three top 10 hits, with their “B” sides also scoring well), has been covered in most bios in a cursory manner at best. Yet it was a very important time for the group in getting their act together (so to speak). The story is a confusing jumble of memories, facts, recording session credits, and concerts. Having occurred over 50 years ago, it gets murkier with every passing …

Brian Wilson, Roger Christian, and Ice Cream Sundaes — A Research Challenge

One of the legendary stories of Brian Wilson’s early songwriting career is how he met occasionally with disc jockey Roger Christian after Christian’s shift on KFWB ended at midnight.  Huddled over ice cream sundaes, they talked about music, girls, cars, and songwriting.  The twenty-eight-year-old Christian, a hot rod enthusiast later known as the “Poet of the Strip,” kept a notebook of original poems about cars he had been writing since high school.  The Beach Boys recorded at least ten songs written by Brian and Christian, including “Shut Down,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Ballad of Ole’ Betsy,” “Car Crazy Cutie, “Cherry, Cherry Coupe,” “Spirit of America,” “No Go Showboat,” “I Do,” “In the Parking Lot,” and “Don’t Worry Baby.”  Brian found a wealth of inspiration in Christian’s notebook.  Together, they would solidify the Beach Boys’ reputation as America’s premier hot rod vocal group. It has never been entirely clear when Brian first met Christian, when they began meeting over ice cream sundaes, and, to some extent, where these late night songwriting sessions took place.  So, let’s examine …

beachboys.com Book Review

Review by beachboys.com 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 …

Veterinarian Alumnus and Lifelong Beach Boys Fan Hears Pet Sounds

  Article written by Manhattan College News staff Jim Murphy ’79 not only used his liberal arts education to attend and graduate from veterinary school many years after college, but his fascination with the Beach Boys enticed him to write a book on the true story of how the band formed and went on to become one of America’s most popular rock groups. Jim Murphy’s love of the Beach Boys began at the age of 10, when he accompanied his brother on a quest to locate the newly released Good Vibrations single. The Bronx resident was hooked after hearing the song, which was released in October 1966. Earlier that year, the Beach Boys released their landmark album, “Pet Sounds,” of which Murphy is still fond, particularly in his work life. Today Murphy is a veterinarian in Washington, D.C., and hears pet sounds daily in the exam room. His science degree from Manhattan College and the lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian enticed Murphy to make a career change and graduate from veterinary school 17 years after college.Another …

Catch a Wave: a Chat with Beach Boys Author James B. Murphy

Written by Ken Sharp November 6, 2015 From performing in school cafeterias to tearing it up on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, James B. Murphy’s new book, Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-1963 chronicles the back story behind how it all happened in exhaustive detail. Culling original and archival interviews, newly discovered documents and illustrated with scores of previously unseen photographs and ephemera, the book is a marvel of research teeming with revelatory information about the group’s formative years, puncturing myths and setting the record straight about this seminal period in the group’s history. Essential reading for Beach Boys fans or rock music aficionados, Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-1963 is the definitive portrait of their launch demonstrating in detail how a bunch of kids from Hawthorne, California caught a musical wave and were soon sitting on top of the world. Highly recommended. Rock Cellar Magazine: What prompted you to write Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963? Jim Murphy: I was introduced to the music of the Beach Boys when my older brother, Rich, first heard Good …

Presenting the Book to the Beach Boys

On August 20, 2015, my wife, Bernadette, and I saw the Beach Boys at Maryland Live Casino in Hanover, Maryland, and presented a copy of Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963, to Mike Love and Bruce Johnston.  Not realizing he would be there, I offered to send a copy to David Marks.  They thumbed through it, commenting on some of the photos and the early days.  They could not have been more gracious.  It was a bit surreal when Mike asked me to autograph his copy of the book.  Mike, Bruce, and David also signed the cover of my personal copy of the book. On August 30, on the Beach Boys Britain message board, Bruce commented, “Until now, the only book about the Beach Boys I thought was worth reading was The Nearest Faraway Place by Timothy White.  I am finding Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963, looks like it will be a great worthwhile read, too!  Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963, is a must read and I could not put it down.  There are a lot …