Brian Wilson, who wrote most of the top hit songs for the Beach Boys was a very intense person. His extreme concentration and motivation propelled him to incredible heights of stardom. According to some sources (including imdb.com) he was one of the greatest, if not the greatest musical geniuses in the world.
His incredible drive caused him to become the football quarterback (probably the most key player) of his high school team. He was also on the cross-country and baseball team. He played the piano obsessively after school.
Maybe one of the reasons he was so motivated was that he had been physically and psychologically abused by his father, and music was his way of coping with a difficult life.
In his school, his music theory teacher gave him an “F” for a composition he called Surfin.’ To an extremely sensitive child like Brian, that must have been a terrible blow because music was so incredibly important to him. But he didn’t let that failure ruin him. The song later became a huge hit.
Brian put intense pressure on himself to write the very best music he could. He idolized the Beatles, not knowing that they were keeping an eye on all of his music and respected him greatly. “ Within the first two years, Brian made himself the leader of the BeachBoys and was, uniquely, writer/producer/arranger/musician and lead vocalist of the band. It was clear from the very early years that Brian was the one destined to take The Beach Boys into the spotlight.”(IMDB.com) But the pressure of singing, song writing and his other duties took its toll on Brian and in two years of recording for Capitol records, he succumbed to a nervous breakdown.
Friends said that he did drugs as passionately as he did everything else in life, including marijuana and LSD, to the point that he was known to become so high at parties that he couldn’t find the door to leave. This didn’t help his psychological state and he began hearing voices and acting very erratic.
While on an airplane with his band he had serious problems and decided not to travel with the band after that.
It seems that few understand people whose drive takes them far beyond their peers. His band mates didn’t give him support at the time he needed it, in fact they resented him being in charge and because he was different than other people. They didn’t seem to realize that, while Brian was hard to get along with during that period, if they could just learn to live with him they would not only be helping him, they would be helping themselves because his incredible drive gave him the potential to do what no one had ever done before in the music industry.
IMDB.com says “After being inspired by The Beatles‘ “Rubber Soul”, Brian went on to create one of the greatest albums of all time, “Pet Sounds.” This album became a milestone in music and went on to influence many of the greatest artists of the next four decades. Brian’s next ambition was to top “Pet Sounds”. The album was to be called “Dumb Angel”, but he later changed it to “Smile”, an album made with the same amount of genius and ambition as that of The Beach Boys‘ greatest single, “Good Vibrations”. “Smile” was never completed and it has since been called the greatest album never released. After the destruction of “Smile”, Brian went into seclusion and spent most of his time in bed.”
Many wonder what would have happened if Brian Wilson had been able to continue his incredible output of music. How many people would have had the pleasure of hearing songs that went unwritten? So many lives would have been touched by his music, if only the people he worked with could have given him the support he needed. His troubled childhood left him without a foundation in life and he gave up for a long period of time.
I suppose we never hear of geniuses unless they have enormous drive and motivation. Too bad his was cut short.
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