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Brian Wilson Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at the life of Brian Wilson, musician, producer, composer and co-founder of the Beach Boys.


Birth date: June 20, 1942

Birth place: Inglewood, California

Birth name: Brian Douglas Wilson

Father: Murry Gage Wilson, machinist

Mother: Audree Neva (Korthof), pianist

Marriages: Melinda Ledbetter (1995-present); Marilyn Rovell (1964-1979, divorced)

Children: with Melinda Ledbetter: adopted five children; with Marilyn Rovell: Carnie and Wendy

Education: Attended El Camino Junior College

Other Facts

Creative force behind the Beach Boys’ “California surf sound.”

Has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards and won twice as a solo artist. Three nominations were with the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys also received an honorary Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Beach Boys have never won a Grammy Award.

Wilson has suffered from fame-induced stress, depression, drug addiction and has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

Wilson has claimed his father was both mentally and physically abusive to him as a child.


Summer 1961 – Brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine form The Pendletones.

December 8, 1961 – Now known as the Beach Boys, the group releases their first hit single, “Surfin'” on Candix Records, a local label.

July 16, 1962 – The Beach Boys sign with Capitol Records.

October 1, 1962 – The Beach Boys release their first studio album, “Surfin’ Safari.” Wilson writes or co-writes nine of the 12 tracks.

December 1964 – After suffering a nervous breakdown, Wilson decides to quit touring with the Beach Boys but continues to write, arrange, produce and record Beach Boys’ music. Glen Campbell initially fills in for Wilson while the band tours through the 1960s.

May 16, 1966 – The Beach Boys release their landmark album, “Pet Sounds.”

1966-1967 – Wilson begins writing and recording “Smile,” his thematic concept album to follow “Pet Sounds.” The Beach Boys abandon the project.

1974 – Rolling Stone names the Beach Boys its “Band of the Year.”

1975 – Wilson begins a rehabilitation program with psychotherapist Eugene Landy.

August 5, 1976 – Wilson performs for the first time in years at the Beach Boys 15th anniversary concert.

January 1983 – Landy is rehired to help Wilson get off drugs and return to music. Landry administers a 24-hour a day treatment plan and a controlled environment process known as “milieu therapy.”

1987 – Landy and Wilson form “Brains and Genius,” becoming business partners in addition to their therapist-patient relationship.

January 20, 1988 – Wilson and the Beach Boys are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

May 1990 – Wilson’s cousin, Stan Love, files a conservatorship suit over Wilson’s affairs, claiming Landy has too much control over Wilson’s life.

October 1991 – Wilson’s autobiography, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice: My Own Story,” written with Todd Gold, is published.

December 1991 – As part of a settlement, Landy is banned from having any contact with Wilson.

1992 – Wilson receives a $10-million out-of-court settlement after he argues that his father, the late Murry Wilson, fraudulently sold the Beach Boys’ song catalog in 1969.

1992 – Wilson’s cousin, Mike Love, files a lawsuit for libel and defamation for claims in Wilson’s autobiography, but settles the dispute out of court.

December 12, 1994 – A federal jury finds in favor of Love for songwriting credits on 35 of the band’s songs, as well as 30% of the settlement Wilson received in 1992 over the catalog sale.

August 1995 – “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” a documentary about Wilson’s life, premieres.

1999 – Wilson begins his first solo tour.

February 21, 2001 – The Beach Boys receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

March 2001 – Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, David Crosby, Carly Simon and others induct Wilson into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

February 20, 2004 – Thirty-seven years after stopping production on “Smile,” Wilson performs the album in its entirety at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Rolling Stone magazine has called “Smile” the “most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history.”

August 20, 2004 – In an interview with CNN’s Larry King, Wilson explains that he “wasn’t allowed to call family or friends at all for nine years” while he was under the care of Landy.

September 2004 – “Brian Wilson Presents Smile” is released.

February 8, 2005 – Wins a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, for “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.”

2012 – Reunites with the Beach Boys to release “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” for the band’s 50th anniversary tour.

February 12, 2013 – Wins a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album for “The Smile Sessions (Deluxe Box Set).”

April 2015 – Wilson releases “No Pier Pressure,” which features duets with modern music voices like Zooey Deschanel.

January 25, 2016 – Announces the Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour that will include the final performances of the famed album in its entirety.

October 11, 2016 – Wilson’s autobiography, “I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir,” written with Ben Greenman, is published.

May 1, 2018 – Wilson postpones part of his tour in order to have emergency back surgery.

June 6, 2019 – Wilson postpones his June tour dates due to mental health issues. The singer publishes a letter on his website explaining feeling strange and needing time to recover before getting back on the road.

June 15, 2021 – “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” a documentary about the life and career of Wilson, premieres at Tribeca Film Festival. Wilson serves as executive producer.

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