Today Capitol Records releases one of the greatest lost albums of all time — the Beach Boys' Smile. Brian Wilson intended this “teenage symphony to God” as a follow-up to Pet Sounds and countless tapes were recorded. But owing to a hazy blitz of paranoia and group in-fighting, the work has never seen official release until now. (Although Wilson re-recorded a solo version of Smile five years ago, this new box set features the rest of the group, and the original recordings.)
But allow us to go back in time. Before they broke big, the Beach Boys were just a clean-cut bunch of boys from the tiny suburb of Hawthorne, California, a tract home community that connects the South Bay, South Central and the Westside. Brian Wilson and his brothers, Carl and Dennis, lived there until their teens, shaping many of the suburban fantasies that would make them a household name. On the occasion of the unearthing of their lost classic, here's our tour of spots in the town that loom large in Beach Boys lore.
Hawthorne High School
4859 West El Segundo Boulevard
Long before they recorded songs by Charles Manson, the Beach Boys stressed the importance of being “true to your school.” Hawthorne High educated all three Wilson brothers as well as Al Jardine. The band lived up to their commitment by returning to perform for the school prom in 1969.
11969 Hawthorne Boulevard
This small hamburger stand on Hawthorne Boulevard was a regular hang-out for the Wilson family. It was amid the ketchup-stained picnic tables that the boys saw the T-bird they would lust over in “Fun, Fun, Fun.” It is unclear though where they first heard the Chuck Berry riff they would marry it to.
13344 Hawthorne Boulevard
It is unlikely that Pizza Show has changed a single fixture since opening 55 years ago. With murals of Italian villas, cozy booths and a walk-up window, the restaurant has been one of the few constants in an evolving town. Brian often ate here.
Beach Boys Historical Landmark
3701 West 119th Street
Out of the nearly 1050 historical landmarks scattered across California, only one of them was erected in the name of rock n' roll. California historical landmark #1041 roughly marks the spot where the Wilson brothers grew up. (Their house was demolished to make way for the 105 freeway.) The spot is six miles from the ocean, and it commemorates hardship as much as success because the three brothers spent most of their time their cowering from their tyrant father. Still, it is where, on Labor Day weekend 1961, the boys recorded their first song, “Surfin',” along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine.
The sculpture on the landmark is an homage to the band's Surfer Girl album. It depicts both original member David Marks and Al Jardine, even though Jardine is not in the original photo. Although the Beach Boys famously declared “everybody's going surfing” only Dennis had any interest in even putting a toe into the Pacific.
The landmark was erected in 2005 with help from public donations and the extended Beach Boys family. Brian Wilson not only attended the unveiling but also performed. Mike Love was noticeably absent.
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