Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys)
Dennis Carl Wilson (December 4, 1944 – December 28, 1983) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys. He is best remembered as their drummer and as the middle brother of bandmates Brian and Carl Wilson. Dennis was the only true surfer in the Beach Boys, and his personal life exemplified the "California Myth" that the band's early songs often celebrated. He was also known for his brief association with then-aspiring songwriter Charles Manson, who was later convicted of murder conspiracy.
Dennis served mainly on drums and backing vocals for the Beach Boys from its formation until his death in 1983. While he was allowed few lead vocals in the 1960s, his prominence as a singer-songwriter increased into the 1970s. His original songs for the group included "Little Bird" (1968), "Forever" (1970), and "Slip On Through" (1970). Although uncredited, he also helped pen "You Are So Beautiful", a hit for Joe Cocker in 1974. His only solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue (1977), was released to warm reviews, but a moderate commercial reception. Written and recorded over a span of several years, the album peaked on US record charts at number 96 during a 12-week stay. Sessions for a follow-up, Bambu, disintegrated before Wilson's death.
In 1988, Dennis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously as a member of the Beach Boys. Author Tony Sclafani summarized Dennis' legacy: "By all appearances the happy-go-lucky Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson lived out the proverbial live-fast-die-young motto. ... His wild side masked an underside that was, by turns, brooding, self-loathing, sensitive, and anxious. Dennis’s music reflected his edginess and exhibited little of his happy charm, setting it apart from Brian’s music. Dennis never sang about fun, and no images of surfboards or surfer girls ever appear in a Dennis Wilson song."