It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to;
You would cry, too, if it happened to you.

—Lesley Gore, 1963

Mike Love’s churlish behavior at the third Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies should not have come as a surprise to anyone. His outlash against everyone from Paul McCartney to Diana Ross could have been predicted by Nancy Reagan’s astrologer.

First of all, consider Mike Love. He alone among The Beach Boys has had a problem since the mid-1960’s. If you look at early Beach Boys album covers (circa 1963), you’ll see the Boys in identical striped shirts and white cotton pants. It’s that clean California look—or what was once the look. Love, unlike the others, has a short haircut. His curly hair hugs the head; the others are more flaxen. As time goes on, the hair of the other Boys lengthens; Love’s falls out. Imagine the strain of going through the 60’s and 70’s as a balding middle-aged “boy,” condemned to sing “Ba-ba-ba, Ba-ba-er-ran”) in a castrato range.

The Beach Boys have had a chip as big as a surfboard on their collective shoulder for the past 20 years. Brian Wilson, the “eccentric genius” of the group, made some comments in his interview for the 20th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone that are illustrative in this regard. Brian says that when he made “Good Vibrations,” now wellknown as a soda pop commercial, he thought, “This is gonna be better than ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’.'” But the Righteous Brothers were small time. The Beach Boys had—and continue to have, according to Love—bigger targets. Brian continues:

When the Beatles first hit, we were real jealous, of course, I couldn’t handle the fact that there were these four handsome guys from England coming over here to America to invade our territory, you know? When we saw how loud everybody was screaming for the Beatles, it was like “Whoa!” We couldn’t believe it. . . . The Beatles beat us, in a way. Their songs were more original. I think as a songwriting idea, the Beatles beat us. But as an overall, versatile group sound, I think we tied ’em. You know? I think we tied.

Given that Brian is/was the brains of the group, is it any wonder that Love ripped into Paul McCartney for not showing up at the awards ceremony? What astonishes me is that he didn’t take John Lennon to task for not being there.

The last time The Beach Boys were most in the news was in 1983, when Secretary of the Interior James Watt supposedly banned them from a July 4 concert on the mall. Watt, according to his retelling in The Courage of a Conservative, had issued a memo stating that the July 4, 1983, performances on the mall in Washington, DC, be those that “point to the glories of America in a patriotic and inspirational way that will attract the family.” It seems that during the previous year’s event, at which the Grass Roots (a band that in 1982 must have been on about its 12th revival tour in an unmemorable career) played, drugs were in evidence. Instead of announcing a drug crackdown. Watt seems to have figured that an appeal to the flag would be more satisfactory. Euphemisms can get you into trouble. Watt remembers: “Newspapers and media flashed across America the ‘news’ that I had cancelled The Beach Boys concert. I had, in fact, done no such thing. I had not used their name, nor had any reference been made to them either directly or indirectly by me or anyone else. I learned later that they had not even been booked in the first place.”

For Watt it was a fiasco, made worse by the appearance of Wayne Newton as the paragon of family entertainment. Let’s face it: Las Vegas isn’t exactly the mecca of family values. Even in Sodom it had a bad name. By those standards, The Beach Boys were paragons of apple pie virtue. They couldn’t have bought better publicity. A few years later, the Boys have added Vegas to their schedule.

The Beach Boys seem to thrive on martyrdom. Why else would they sing backup vocals for The Fat Boys? Then there’s the reaction to David Lee Roth, perennial bad boy who did a cover of “California Girls”—a version that doesn’t smell of Ivory soap. “California Girls” became a hit, and since The Beach Boys seem to be incapable of performing any songs that they didn’t do 20 years ago. Mike Love now has to introduce the song with remarks like “Now we’ll show you how it’s really done.”

In 1966, The Who was big on the charts with “My Generation,” the song with that nefarious line, “Hope I die before I get old.” It was all the more outrageous then—though we now look at it while we cluck our tongues knowingly—because 1966 was the year that we were singing along with the feel-good “Barbara Ann,” “Good Vibrations,” and “Sloop John B.”

A few years ago, The Who had its farewell tour. Recently, the word was out that too high life-styles of now-older band members were going to result in a return of the quartet. The group was confident that a few appearances would get their creditors off their doorsteps. But before the tour was realized, Roger Daltry announced that he was retiring; he observed that he thought it ridiculous for a man who could be a grandfather to try to do pop songs for an audience that consists, for the most part, of allowance-clutching 10-year-olds.

Daltry is certainly one of the best vocalists of my generation; he is, perhaps, our Tony Bennett. I hope that he continues to sing, rather than concentrate entirely on movies, as he has threatened to do. Pete Townshend will undoubtedly continue to take breaks from his editorial duties in London. In any case, Daltry has learned something that Mike Love will never figure out. Surf’s up, Mike. Why don’t you hang it up and go try to hang ten?