Today (December 21st) marks what would have been Beach Boys co-founder and guitarist Carl Wilson‘s 66th birthday. Carl, who was known for his peaceful nature and flawless tenor vocals, died of cancer on February 6th, 1998 at the age of 51.
Although the Beach Boys story is said to start with the Wilson brothers — Brian, Dennis and Carl — harmonizing with cousin Mike Love at family gatherings, it was Carl’s love for guitar-based R&B that separated him from his family. While barely a teen, Carl and fellow Beach Boys co-founder David Marks were taking lessons from local guitarist John Maus — later of the Walker Brothers — who himself had learned directly from Ritchie Valens.
It was Carl and Marks’ dual-guitar combo that took the Beach Boys beyond the intricate Four Freshman-style harmonies which enthralled brother Brian, the casual doo-wop favored by Love, and the acoustic folk stylings of Al Jardine.