All posts tagged: Brian Wilson

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 …

Be True to Your School: the ’59 Cinderella Season

This article commemorates the 56th anniversary of the start of the 1959 football season for the Hawthorne High Cougars.  In this Cinderella season, the Cougars went undefeated in eight regular season games, two post-season play-off games, and squared off against the mighty Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championship in front of 14,906 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Friday, December 11, 1959.  In a happy coincidence, dates and days of the week are the same this year as they were in 1959.   The night before Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev landed in Los Angeles to begin his historic visit to the United States, Hawthorne High students had a decidedly less global event on their minds.  The traditional Kick-Off Dance was held in the boys’ gymnasium Friday, September 18, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  The dress code was dressy cottons for girls and slacks and sport coats for boys.  It was the first social event of the new school year and was designed to get the student body pumped …

The Four Freshmen

O n March 21, 1950, bandleader Stan Kenton, touring with his Innovations in Modern Music, was playing a jazz club in downtown Dayton, Ohio, when someone told him there was a terrific vocal quartet playing across town in the Esquire Lounge. After Kenton finished his show, he went over to the Esquire to see what all the fuss was about. Kenton was impressed. The guys harmonized beautifully and sang complicated five-note jazz chords with four voices. As a major Capitol artist and stockholder in the company, Kenton had considerable clout. He called a producer at Capitol and arranged an audition for the group in New York City. Pete Rugolo, Kenton’s former arranger, produced the session at which the quartet recorded five tunes—“Laura,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Dry Bones,” and two others. Capitol president Glenn Wallichs liked what he heard and gave Kenton the green light to invite the band to Los Angeles. Kenton arranged for a one week engagement at Jerry Wald’s on Sunset Boulevard. When public demand stretched one week into eight, Capitol knew they …