All posts filed under: Research

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 …

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 …

Murry Promotes the Beach Boys in Sweden in ’62, Writes the Morgans

In late November to mid December 1962, Murry Wilson traveled to Europe for a trip combining promotional efforts on behalf of the Beach Boys and personal medical reasons. On Wednesday, November 21, 1962, the day before Thanksgiving, Murry completed Department of State Form DSP-17, Passport Renewal Application, at the Los Angeles Passport Agency on Wilshire Boulevard.  Two days later, at 3:00 p.m., he paid five dollars and picked up his renewed passport in person. Murry had to renew his passport because the last time he had used a passport was for a business trip to England and France (Paris) from September 4 through September 19, 1959. He was under a tight deadline now as he stated on his application he planned to depart LA November 28 aboard Scandinavian Airlines to Denmark.  He indicated over the next seventeen days he would travel to West Germany, where the stated purpose of his visit was for medical reasons, Switzerland, and England.  It is unclear what medical reasons took Murry to West Germany or how many days he spent …

Seattle’s Spanish Castle and Party Line — A Research Challenge

This is the first in a series of articles in which I will discuss researching Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963. The topics will include locating and interviewing people connected to the story; searching for newspaper articles, advertisements, handbills, posters, programs, telegrams, tickets, records, and rare memorabilia; finding photographs that had not been published in other books about the band; unearthing heretofore unknown personal appearances and attempting to place dates on appearances for which dates were unknown. First, a little bit about the mystery of human memory. When I interviewed people for the book we discussed events that happened nearly half a century ago. I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them to recall exact dates. I tried to gently jog their memories by asking if they could associate the event with something specific—the season, the weather, a national holiday, songs on the radio, national or world news, events in their own lives—anything that might spark an additional clue. I found with many people the simple act of strolling down memory lane and …