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Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys
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Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  416 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The Beach Boys have been rolling, like the tide their great songs evoke, for more than thirty years, reaching professional peaks and tragic personal depths. In this electrifying account Steven Gaines reveals the gothic tale of violence, addiction, greed, genius, madness, and rock 'n' roll behind the wholesome, surf-and-sun image. Through candid interviews with close friend ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 22nd 1995 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 1986)
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Carol Storm
Mar 11, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brian Wilson -- The Shy Teen's Elvis!!!!

How well I remember high school -- the cruel taunts in the hallways, the jeers about my weight, my breath, my Latino complexion, my excessively endowed phsyique. (YOU try being a Puerto Rican girl in upstate New York in the late Seventies!)

But it's okay -- at home I had the music of the boys. The Beach Boys. The liberators of my heart. The guardians of my soul. The golden, smiling blue-eyed boys -- my dream lovers -- the Beach Boys.

They told me I was beau
Sep 27, 2014 Jeanette rated it liked it
It's not edited well, nor are the transitions seamless. But if you want facts and context to this Beach Boys decades length saga, this is the book. I happened to read other material on them over the years and this one, although now dated itself, has most of the actual dish.

It always amazes me how celebs of this caliber, known far and wide for far more than the noted 5 minutes of fame, because they do one thing well- can still remain so muddled and inadequate within their own lives. Not to speak
One of the most interesting books on a band I have read. The Beach Boys seemed so sunny and happy and all about the good times. Not so. From the opening sequence of Dennis Wilson's death (which I remember that very day like it was Elvis), to the whole downfall of Brian Wilson's stability and sanity, this book is a roller coaster of drugs, drama, family squabbles, Manson Family connections, in-fighting, and wierd 'sixties groupies. Brian Wilson is, no doubt, a musical genius. Incredible sounds co ...more
Jan 04, 2016 Marti rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I'm not a huge fan of Beach Boys although I can appreciate their pre-1970 music in small doses. However, I will still read practically anything about bands from this time period; and this book, written in 1986, was given to me and has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now. Because I just finished Laurel Canyon (in which many of the events here were mentioned) I decided the time was now or never.

This might be one of the darkest group biographies I have ever read and almost no one comes off
Nov 08, 2014 Murray rated it it was amazing
A little background, first. While I am too young to remember listening to the Beach Boys music in the 60s, they were one of my favorite bands in the 70s, before I could even drive a car. I remember buying "Endless Summer" and fell hard for their music from that point on. I bought every one of their albums, saw them perform at least 4 or 5 times, and even went so far as to join their fan club. At a time when I contemplated becoming an artist, I redrew their album covers.

That said, while I thought

I attended a Beach Boys concert in about 1976, in Santa Barbara CA if memory serves correctly. I was not at all interested in the concert, sadly, I was more of Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd kind of music fan. Now I would love to go back and listen to that concert and observe the band. I really enjoyed this book and have spent quite a bit of time on YouTube listening to the band especially in their early years. My pleasure in listening to their music was greatly enhanced by reading this book and und
William Aicher
Sep 28, 2010 William Aicher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, biography
Great book - just wish it were more up-to-date. Would be great if it had a new edition released with info on Carl's death, Brian revisiting and releasing Smile, etc.
Shay Caroline
Dec 09, 2014 Shay Caroline rated it really liked it
Like so many others, I grew up listening to the Beach Boys on the radio. I liked their songs, but as a grade schooler, I had no idea what a Little Deuce Coupe might be. (Still not sure!) But, over time, I really came to love their famous hits. Again like so many others, I sort of thought of them as "surfing Doris Days", as Bruce Johnston summed up the public's view of the group, as quoted in this book. Guess again.

The Beach Boys were three brothers, Brian and the late Dennis and Carl Wilson, joi
Jul 07, 2015 Blakely rated it really liked it
Here are the best lines of the book:

Suddenly, Mike Love took off for Leysin, Switzerland, where the Maharishi was running a study center. Mike believed the Maharishi was going to teach him how to levitate. But it was a most inopportune time for Mike to learn how to float....

But really this is a very interesting biography (is that what it's called when it's about a group of people?). Some of the things the Beach Boys experienced are beyond belief: the three Wilson brothers had a very abusive Fath
Katherine Basto
Aug 11, 2012 Katherine Basto rated it really liked it
This was a perfect summer read! As a Beach Boys fan I enjoyed all the juicy, well written gossipy truths about the early life of the Wilson brothers. Steven Gaines has certainly done his research regarding the "true story" of the Surfer Band that changed the course of history with their unique blends and harmonies. The cast of characters is dazzling and they of course include Dennis Wilson's involvement with the Charles Manson gang as well as Brian's eccentric behavior and heavy drug use.
This bo
Owen Goldin
Flat, gossipy book. The author is clueless about Brian Wilson's musical accomplishments -- ok, I can understand why in the mid 80s before even the bootlegs came out he might have dismissed Smile as a bunch of incoherent fragments, but anyone so deaf to the artistic triumphs of Friends or Love You has no business writing this sort of book. The author focuses on commercial success to the exclusion of art . . . . The band and those around them don't really come alive as people -- everyone in the bo ...more
Bob Schnell
Steven Gaines' history of the Beach Boys, "Heroes & Villains", is a tell-all, gossipy affair and a lot of trashy fun. While the tales of rock-n-roll excess don't make me think more or less of their music, I now have plenty of reasons to dislike them as people. Mike Love comes off as the most detestable while Dennis and Brian Wilson battle it out for the most wasted. I had no idea they had released so many albums after "Pet Sounds" and now I know why, they were generally terrible. This is a c ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Hugh rated it liked it
Intense book about the effects a tyrannical father, teenage success, money, drugs, minimal business judgement, and personal jealousies can have. Fascinating and sad at the same time. Lots of characters in this book to keep straight and at times I lost track of which year the events were occurring, but this story of personal self destruction kept my attention. Amazingly, on stage they continued to thrill their fans who were mostly unaware of the dysfunctionality behind the scenes.
Mar 28, 2009 Stephanie rated it liked it
This book sometimes gets criticized for being salacious, but it really makes no claims to being anything else. Is it poorly edited and pretty clearly rushed onto shelves? Yes, and it's obvious. Was it difficult to tear my eyes away from the craziness unfolding on the printed page? Uh huh.
Sep 01, 2008 Jimi rated it liked it
The Beach Boys lives were a lot crazier than you might think.
Rebecca Bregman
Jun 21, 2009 Rebecca Bregman rated it liked it
Very depressing, but very interesting. Ending in mid-80's so no mention of Mr. John Stamos.
Rebecca Kovacs
Jul 31, 2008 Rebecca Kovacs rated it liked it
Read this during my Brian Wilson obsession. (Did it ever really end? No...)

Good stuff! He led a very interesting life.
Paul Bryant
Dec 05, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Anybody would think I cared about these creeps.
Lance Lasalle
Mar 11, 2015 Lance Lasalle rated it really liked it
All great rock bands and musicians have a good story behind them. A narrative arc. Most of them are familiar to us, from tv or cinema biopics. Typically, the RockStarHero, makes his first splash, rising from the rank and file of normal musicians due to some musical quality that sets him apart. As his fame grows, so grows his appetites for life and love as everything he can wish for is set before him on a silver platter. Women, money, fast cars, big houses. Drugs. And then it happens. What begins ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, america, 1960s
This was a great trashy read, a lively and well-researched account of the rise and semi-collapse of one of the great American pop music acts, starting with their early days under their disturbed, musical father in middle class Hawthorne, California. It describes all of their lives, but focuses mostly on the two most colorful characters: Brian and Dennis Wilson. Brian was clearly the most gifted member of the band - his songs and productions were what made them superstars. But Brian was a fairly ...more
Laura Beth
Jan 27, 2016 Laura Beth rated it really liked it
There is something superficial and somewhat off-putting about the tone of this tome; as if Gaines either could not or would not delve deeper into the subject matter, although there is a tremendous amount of detail throughout. The book is dated 1986, so there are thirty years of Beach Boy lawsuits and shenanigans that are not included, but what is recounted here is staggering, and certainly belies the band's wholesome image. Ah, well, it's rock n' roll, after all. I feel this book would have been ...more
Bob Breckwoldt
Oct 21, 2012 Bob Breckwoldt rated it really liked it
The first book on Beach Boys to tell the whole sorry account of the family that had a gift for harmony, and in Brian Wilson, an incredibly talented writer, composer and arranger.
This was the first, written in 1985, that detailed the dysfunctional state they were in, both personally and professionally of America's Band. It takes the the story to the death of Dennis Wilson and the subsequent aftermath, giving a tabloid exposure to their mismanagement, personality clashes and substance abuse. In pl
Feb 10, 2016 Jodell rated it liked it
Shelves: true-story
I found his book quite sad an complicated. Each of the Wilson boys probably should have had their own book. The saddest part? All the kids born to drug addicted, alcoholic womanizers. Some with mental illness, lots of "yes men". One even died homeless and what did his friends do, watch him dive into he water inebriated, and drown. There was some good friends there.

Mike Love had a daughter he never acknowledged because why? What a pig....

I guess times haven't changed much, look at all the people
Melanie Sveine
Totally reads like a gossip column, but still entertaining.
Chris Leib
Nov 22, 2013 Chris Leib rated it really liked it
How such a dysfunctional group of people could create such wonderful music lends itself to a fascinating read. And it's interesting to see that the recent developments surrounding the 50th Anniversary last year (a wonderful new album, a wildly successful tour), and the same old egos come into play to sabotage their success (Mike Love refusing to continue with Brian Wilson and keeping the Beach Boys name for himself) is just history repeating itself. My only concern is that when I now listen to t ...more
Jul 25, 2011 France rated it liked it
Les Beach Boys a été un groupe qui a marqué son époque par sa musique qui évoquait tous les plaisirs du surfing, de la plage et de la Californie. Au-delà de l'image dorée se cache une histoire tragique. L’auteur s’attarde moins au côté musical mais parle surtout de l’enfance des trois enfants Wilson qui ont souffert de la "discipline" de leur père – discipline qui serait aujourd’hui qualifiée d’abus physique et psychologique – et de leur vie d’adulte tumultueuse marquée par la dépression profond ...more
D Lyons
Jan 04, 2017 D Lyons rated it it was amazing
Great, impossible-to-put-down history of the Beach Boys which covers the early 60's up until the mid 80's, when it was written. Sort of weird that it concludes with Brian in Landy's care, and doesn't end in the smoothest way, but the rest of the ride is a delight. Is it messy and tabloidy and trashy? YES. But the story is fascinating, and it's obvious that Gaines is fixated on the darkness that enshrouds, and later consumes, a band often thought as good-time innocent California music. Heavily re ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Mona rated it it was amazing
I saw the Beach Boys in concert on January 30th. I was impressed with the fact that Mike Love is close to 75 years old and still rocking on. I went home and pulled this book off my book shelf and started in. What an amazing journey for them and for me as well as the past came rushing back. I may have been 10 years old, but still remember the music as a background to my teen years. This book was written in 1983, so do not expect anything to do with the later years.
Jul 19, 2014 Mel rated it really liked it
This was trashy and delightful. At first, after I finished, I was disgusted -- I think mostly by the lives of excess detailed in this book. Eventually, I integrated that disgust with a deeper appreciation for the music (at least the early stuff, which I already liked) and now I get a kick out of listening to it?
Apr 08, 2007 Keith rated it liked it
I don't know why I was surprised by the band's shenanigans. I must have been snookered by their glossy image as much of the populace. At least I now have a very good understanding of that Bare Naked Ladies song line.
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