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In Their Own Words:
What Happened?

“…Early 1967, I had planned to make an album entitled SMILE. I was working with a guy named Van Dyke Parks, who was collaborating with me on the tunes, and it the process, we came up with a song called ‘Surf’s Up’, and I performed that with just a piano on a documentary show made on rock music. The song ‘Surf’s Up’, that I sang on that documentary never came out on an album, and it was supposed to come out on the SMILE album, and that and a couple of other songs were junked…because…I don’t know why…for some reason didn’t want to put them on the album…and the group nearly broke up, actually split up for good after that…”.
-Brian Wilson (“Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile” Domenic Priore, editor. 1988)

“Well, when I first, when we did Smile, I was into hashish and we were all getting real stoned. And what happened was, I couldn’t go…I was so stoned out of my head that I couldn’t get one…one track, like a round of music…”
-Brian Wilson (BBC Radio 1 "Smile" special 8/13/95)

“When we first began Smile I had crazy ideas. I was smoking hashish and we were laying on the floor singing-from laying on the floor we put the microphones down on our heads. Doing crazy things and we got into a very strange bag.”
–Brian Wilson (mid ‘70s? film clip) (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“I think it was the drugs.”
-Dennis Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“I didn’t know how affected he was by the drugs in terms of paranoia and stuff…Otherwise I would have freaked out more.”
-Mike Love (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“I think the group felt that the visit of CBS-the ‘musical genius’ stuff-was ruining Brian…making him too worried that people wouldn’t like him.”
-Mike Vosse (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“We moved into the Bel-Air house about April 1967. We were in the first house about eighteen months. I think the move may have had something to do with what happened to Smile. You know, new house, new things. We had a studio in the house.”
-Marilyn Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“I think he got caught in a trap with ‘Good Vibrations.’ He became a prisoner instead of a poet. He had the plaudits, the accolades, and touched the masses. I know music is a very important thing to him, besides a vocation. It became cluttered in the last few years. Your attitude is in the grooves and it’s a very personal thing. But Brian thrived on competition.”
-Phil Spector (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“That Dumb Angel, we never finished it, because a lot of that shit bothered me-but half of the shit we didn’t finish anyway. Van Dyke Parks did a lot of it; we used a lot of fuzz tone. It was inspiring ‘cause Van Dyke is a very creative person, and it was a boost to me because he had a lot of energy and a lot of fresh ideas, so that energy has helped me. But a lot of the stuff was what I call little ‘segments’ of songs, and it was a period when I was getting stoned and so we never really got an album; we never finished anything! Why? Because we got off on bags that just fucking didn’t have any value for vocals! A lot of trakcs just weren’t made for vocals, so the group couldn’t do it! We really got stoned! We were too fucking high, you know, to complete the stuff! We were stoned! You know, stoned on hash ‘n’ shit!”
-Brian Wilson (“The Nearest Faraway Place” by Timothy White. 1994)

“I remember leaving with the sensation that I wouldn’t be asked back. Yet I somehow thought that Smile would be finished, and I didn’t want to do anything that would contravene it. It was like watching a balloon let loose from a child’s hand….”
– Van Dyke Parks (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“I don’t know how close it was to being finished because with Brian, you were almost overdubbing as you went to the lathe to cut the [mechanical] parts so you just don’t know until it’s out. I thought it was pretty close.”
– Bruce Johnston (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“If he can’t get it done like that [he snapped his fingers], if he can’t act upon it immediately and see it happening in front of his eyes, it’s not gonna work. If he has to wait until morning, it’s not gonna happen. That’s what happened to Smile.”
– David Anderle (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“[Brian] freaked out completely in the last stages of Smile and stepped back and said ‘I can’t handle that production race thing that was going on between the Beach Boys and the Beatles.’…Submliminally, it was a contention thing, and Brian just stepped back, and the production war collapsed, and we did a very light album. It was his withdrawal, a reflection of his withdrawal, and our withdrawal from that confronting thing on a production level…our music was one bass not in ‘Vegetables,’ and that’s how psychedelic it was, but it sure was in a freaky way….Brian was so out of it, though. He was taking acid and uppers.”
– Mike Love (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“the music was definetely so focused that I would have to say that drugs had nothing to do with anything…the drugs may have had something to do with his searching…I don’t know. I never thought of drugs in terms of the music with Brian, ever.”
-David Anderle (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“ I was able to get ahold of all these drugs and they messed me up, they messed up my mind.”
– Brian Wilson (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“I took the LSD and that just…totally tore my head off. Acid was like…everything I could ever be or everything I wouldn’t be – I came to grips with. You just come to grips with what you are, what you can do and what you can’t do. And you learn to face it.”
– Brian Wilson (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“The Smile album itself was creating an unconfortable situation…it just didn’t seem …um…proper at the time.”
- Brian Wilson (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“Time can be spent in the studio to the point where you get so next to it that you just don’t know where you are with it…you just decide to chuck it for awhile.”
– Brian Wilson (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“Brian ran into all sorts or problems on Smile. He just couldn’t find the right direction to finish it. Then, after all that hard work the album was abandoned. Brian withdrew from public life completely. We were supposed to headline the Monterrey Pop Festival, but at the last minute Brian backed out. Monterrey was the turning point in rock ‘n roll. Overnight, the whole scene changed and we felt as if we’d been passed by.”

“I didn’t resonate well with what was going on at that time. He was writing these songs under the influence of various substances and it didn’t make any sense to me.”
– Mike Love (ENDLESS HARMONY- VH1 TV special 1998)

“ A point was reached where Brian just kind of…all of us just kind of…just heaved a big sigh and kind of stopped.”
– Al Jardine (ENDLESS HARMONY- VH1 TV special 1998)

“I threw it away. I junked it. I thought it was inappropriate music for us to make.”
– Brian Wilson (ENDLESS HARMONY- VH1 TV special 1998)

“..and I think everything kind of went downhill from there because he just thought, ‘Why am I putting everything I have into this when no one is ready for it?’”
– Marylin Wilson (A&E BIO BRIAN WILSON- aired 6-20-99)

“In truth, every beautifully designed, finely wrought, inspirationally welded piece of music made these last months by Brian…has been SCRAPPED. Not destroyed, but scrapped. For what Wilson seals in a can and destroys is scrapped.”
-Derek Taylor (press release May, 1967?)


“it was destroying me.”
–Brian Wilson 1976 (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)


“We, you know did it [Smiley Smile] in 3 weeks. We had about 6 months before that we we're doing different things that we junked. And we ended up doing the whole thing here at the house with a sort of entirely different mood and approach than we originally started out.”
- Brian Wilson (1967 radio interview with Brian about Smiley Smile)


“…like a slap in the face to Brian. You have all these coat-and-tie people up at Capitol saying, ‘Hey, Brian, you’re breaking the mold of something you did really well.’ He’s a guy who did things very well, and he wants people to trust his judgement. And here you have people saying, ‘No’. He’s a very fragile person, he’s a special person, and he didn’t understand that kind of ‘no’”.
-Bruce Johnston (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)


“a little bit from Murray and a little bit from the record company.”
- Bruce Johnston (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)


“Do you think anybody has that answer? Do you think that I’m dumb enough to speculate with a question that important? I…uh, you know…Maybe if you could figure out the answer you could tell Brian so you could make it right.”
-Bruce Johnston (BBC Radio 1 "Smile" special 8/13/95)

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