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Heroes and Villains

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This electrifying book reveals the truth behind the legend of the Beach Boys--a gothic tale of sex, drugs and greed behind the musical genius and wholesome facade. Packed with interviews with family, friends and wives and over 65 vivid photographs.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 3rd 1987 by Signet (first published January 1st 1986)
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(showing 1-30 of 585)
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Carol Storm
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
...more
Jeanette
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
...more
Tiffany
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
Chana

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
...more
Murray
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
...more
Blakely
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
...more
William Aicher
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.
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
Lance Lasalle
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
Tim
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
Stephanie
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.
Shay Caroline
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Anybody would think I cared about these creeps.
Kathy Spada
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
...more
Bob Breckwoldt
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
...more
Mel
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?
Chris Leib
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
France
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
Hugh
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.
Kimberlyluisi
Fairly dated, but an interesting read. I didn't really know anything about the Beach Boys and made me think about them in a different way.
HNGC Library
Good biography of the group - seeing that this is the 50th anniversary year - it would be nice to have a current epilogue for the book.
Will Yates
If you're only a casual fan of The Beach Boys and not too familiar with their history, you will be blown away by the insanity of their story. Lots of drug use and general craziness. The opening chapter, an account of the final days of Dennis Wilson before his drowning death, is, as they say, worth the price of admission alone.
Susan
Written much in the voice of a "VH1's Behind the Music" transcription, it's trashy, it's drama, but a fun read, nonetheless. So many incredible things I did not know about the Beach Boys. Listening to their songs with new ears alone makes this a worthwhile read. Brian Wilson makes my heart hurt.
Keith
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.
Kirk Kiefer
A bit on the sensationalistic side, this book focuses more on the tabloid side of the group's history than their music. The chronicling of Dennis's last days is excellent, if heartbreaking however.
Sepe27
The sad true story of the Beach Boys is about 5 spoiled kids. There like 5 Britney Spears but they were boys. They didnt know what to do in there life.I was a good book i enjoyed it.
Nate
Decent overview of the darker, more bizarre aspects of the band's story. The author is strangely fixated on the houses they bought, though. Brian's a genius, Mike is a dick, and Carl rules.
Jojono
This one is pretty interesting!
The best part is a chapter inwhich it states
Dennis Wilson had a fantasy about being raped by another man!
captain america
kinda dry but i'm a junkie for music trivia and facts so i like it. next on my list beach boys list is brain wilson's autobio...
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