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Is Beach Boy Mike Love Music’s Biggest Villain?

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Kevin Winter/Getty

Kevin Winter/Getty

The latest in a long line of questionable behavior for Beach Boys singer Mike Love involves him kicking out original members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. Wilson, of course, is the musical genius whose presence gives the band’s 50th anniversary reunion its real validity.

Per Love, Jardine, Marks and Wilson are no longer a part of the “Beach Boys” that will be touring the world in the coming months, despite a desire to do so. “I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he [Love] doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me,” Wilson told CNN in frustration. “We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.” Months ago, Wilson told us that he’s already thinking about the Beach Boys’ next album, a follow-up to June’s That’s Why God Made The Radio. Love, on the other hand, explained in a tersely-worded release that the Beach Boys reunion was always “designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end.”

In the wake of Love coldly giving the boot to his bandmates, we have to wonder: Is Mike Love the biggest villain in the music world? We explore Love’s legacy of indiscretions and less-than-favorable attributes that suggest as much.

1. He’s unabashedly greedy.

Love’s concerts have been billed as the Beach Boys since 1998, when he acquired the sole licensing rights to the name following Carl Wilson’s death. This is why he even has the ability to tour sans Jardine, Marks and Wilson. He, along with member Bruce Johnston and hired musicians including his son Christian, have set out on numerous “Beach Boys” tours through the years, often doing it on the cheap and performing the band’s biggest hits almost exclusively. In an interview with Billboard published this summer, Love called the Beach Boys’ reunion tour “ridiculously expensive and intense.”

Regarding the end of the reunion, he revealed himself once more in his press statements (according to the UK’s Telegraph): “You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed. There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited line-up], but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year’. The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5.”

2. He has sued Brian Wilson, his cousin, numerous times. Al Jardine, too.

Love sued Wilson for millions in 1992, claiming that Wilson’s father had not properly credited him on songs he helped write during the band’s early career. Love won and was awarded $13 million, more than half of what Wilson was awarded in an earlier case involving his father and uncredited songwriting royalties.

Then, in 2004, Love filed another lawsuit against Wilson, accusing him of promoting his album SMiLE in a manner that “shamelessly misappropriated Mike Love’s songs, likeness and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the ‘SMiLE’ album itself.” The case was dismissed. This was on top of years of bullying, as chronicled in Wilson’s autobiography, Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

Love also sued founding member Jardine in 2001 for touring under the following names: “Beach Boys Family & Friends,” “Al Jardine, Beach Boy” and “Al Jardine of the Beach Boys.”

3. He made fun of Pet Sounds, now considered one of the greatest albums of all-time.

As Rolling Stone points out in their praise of Pet Sounds as the second-greatest album of all-time, Wilson essentially wrote the album all by himself. Then Love had the nerve to criticize him over his choices, reportedly asking Wilson when he played him his new songs, “Who’s gonna hear this s***? The ears of a dog?” And thus, the name Pet Sounds was born. Even in the liner notes of the album’s re-release, Love calls Wilson a “slave driver” during recording sessions. Yet Love likes to bring up the genius of the album now that it’s become as undeniably successful both commercially and critically.

4. He thinks the reason people perceive him as a villain is because he didn’t do drugs, thus proving his delusion.

From an interview he gave to Atlanta’s Creative Loafing last year, when asked directly why he’s been pegged as “the bad guy”: “Back in the ’60s, there were two camps in the Beach Boys: the Wilson Brothers, who were into drugs, and [Al] Jardine, Love and [Bruce] Johnston, who were not. I never appreciated the effects that LSD and other drugs had on our cousins. Dennis went to an early grave because of his excesses and I’d be full of s*** if I said I had a fond opinion of the people who brought drugs around and the effects that those drugs had on Brian, Dennis and, to a certain extent, Carl. I’m an outspoken person and I called people out. I can be a very spiritual, loving guy, but if I see someone destroying people’s minds by plying them with drugs because it’s cool — well, I don’t think it’s cool.”

5. He dissed both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

He called Mick Jagger a “chicken s***,” chided Paul McCartney over his legal feuds with bandmates (like he’s never done that), and challenged Billy Joel. Bob Dylan spoke for everyone in expressing his lack of amusement over the speech. Watch below.

6. He’s into the idea of censoring music.

As The Guardian points out, Love donated “seed money” to Tipper Gore’s mid-’80s campaign to censor music and label albums with parental advisory stickers, otherwise known as the Parent’s Music Resource Center. The cheese stands alone: Love was only rock star to lend his support to that side of the debate on music censorship.

- Jillian Mapes, CBS Local

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