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Reflections: Mike Love

Mike Greenhaus | July 05, 2018
CJ Rivera

Mike Love is well aware of his reputation. As the only original member of The Beach Boys still touring under that name— and the outspoken alpha-yang to his cousin Brian Wilson’s introspective-yin—the tall, tan, 77-year-old singer knows that he has come to personify the family-friendly showmanship that often eclipses the band’s ‘60s artistic critical peak. But, as Love’s never-ending sum- mer tour with The Beach Boys nears its 60th year, he prefers to focus on those enduring harmonies.

“There’s been a lot written about The Beach Boys and the imperfections that we all have on this lavatory of planet earth,” Love says. “Too much has been made out of that kind of thing. I do everything I can to think positively and, in other words, regenerate and recreate good vibrations rather than negative ones. I leave it to other people to dissect who did what to whom because that misses the overarching, overruling positivity, happiness, comfort and joy that our music has given so many millions of people all over the world.”

It’s been 20 years since the band’s longtime lynchpin Carl Wilson succumbed to cancer and the surviving original Beach Boys split into their own camps. With the exception of a high-profile 2012 anniversary run that reunited the band’s classic members for a new album and tour, Love has been the sole founding member to tour under The Beach Boys name through a licensing agreement with the band’s Brothers Records.

As he explains in his candid 2016 memoir Good Vibrations, his tours—which also include longtime core member Bruce Johnston—have helped the label stay afloat while bringing The Beach Boys’ name to new generations, thanks to hit-filled shows in theaters, fairgrounds and casinos around the world. (In 2017, the group’s schedule topped the staggering 175-show mark.) His later years haven’t been without their controversies either—from legal scuffles to the 2012 tour’s acrimonious end to conflicting thoughts on the current band’s nostalgic setlists.

“I’m not the type of person to do all the songs from our new album and forget all our hits when we do a show,” Love says. “I love our classic songs. I love the way they sound on the records as well as our live performances of them and how much energy and good vibrations they generate with people. There’s nothing wrong with what we’re known for. We’re focused on recreating the songs as authentically as possible.”