The Beach Boys – I Get Around
Carl Wilson was the lead guitarist and backing vocalist for The Beach Boys, which he founded with his brothers. Brian Wilson is often considered to be the brains behind the operation, but Carl had some key roles to play in the band, including singing some of their famous songs. But how did the Beach Boys member die, and what happened to him?
How did Carl Wilson die?
Carl Wilson died aged 51, after a battle with lung cancer.
In 1997, Carl became ill and shortly after was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He continued to play and sing with the Beach Boys on their 1997 tour, despite going through chemotherapy and suffering from ill-health.
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Around a year after his diagnosis, Carl died in Los Angeles on February 6, 1998.
At that time the Wilson’s middle brother, Dennis, had died in 1983, while their mother, Audree, died two weeks before Carl.
Dennis died on December 28, 1983, after drowning in the Marina Del Rey in California.
According to claims made in Michael Goldberg’s article in the rock magazine, Dennis was attempting to recover items he had thrown from his yacht sometime before, which belonged to his estranged wife, Shawn Love.
A few days later, on January 4, Dennis was given a burial at sea, after President Ronald Reagan intervened to allow for a civilian to receive this honour, which had been reserved for those who had served in the US Navy or Coast Guard.
At the time of his death, The Beach Boys released the following statement about their fallen comrade: “We know Dennis would have wanted to continue in the tradition of the Beach Boys. His spirit will remain in our music.”
Before Dennis’ death, his life was one which many have called “excess,” where he was taking many drugs, drinking and had five failed marriages.
The deaths of his brother was a devastating time for Brian, who spent years battling his own mental health struggles.
Speaking on Sunday Night in Australia in 2018, Brian said of their deaths: “It was very difficult, very very difficult. I still to this day mourn their death.”
Carl was the youngest brother and was reluctant to join the group, but like his oldest brother Brian, had perfect pitch and an amazing ear for songwriting, as well as good guitar skills.
As Brian’s mental health deteriorated, and he was forced to step away from The Beach Boys, Carl’s input in the band grew.
He began to write a number of songs and produced many of their albums in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, though it was often credited to the band as a whole.
He toured with the band but left in 1981 to record his own album, however, he rejoined after the death of his brother Dennis.
Their last Number One single in the USA, Kokomo, was released the same year they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – 1988 – and Carl provided the lead vocals on that song.
In fact, Carl sang lead vocals on a number of the band’s most popular songs, including God Only Knows and Good Vibrations.
After his death, his voice was heard on a number of Beach Boys songs which were released posthumously.
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