I CAN CLEARLY remember getting my hands and eyes on my first Beach Boys LP cover. It was in the summer of 1963 and I was a six-year old California boy who closely watched my two older sisters every fascinating teenage move. They’d excitedly come home and slapped this very electric sounding record on our parent’s hi-fi. As the soaring voices, driving guitar and thumping drums filled the room, I fondled the shiny new album cover. On it, under the words “Surfin’ U.S.A.” there was a guy barely balanced on a slippery surfboard that was literally free-falling down the side of a gargantuan wall of water. I felt sorry for him. He looked to be seconds away from certain death. But somehow that shocking image perfectly matched the dramatic, burbling, Fender guitar sound pouring out of our ten-inch speakers. A shocking image, a sensational sound, my sisters were dancing around like maniacs … this was rock and roll.
That day, in the midst of one of my life’s most blissful moments, I turned the cover over and saw those faces for the very first time. Brian, Dennis, Carl, Mike and David … even then they seemed familiar. I would come to admire all of them, idolize some of them, meet all of them … and even become friends with a couple of them. But that day in 1963 I just listened and looked at that essential piece of cardboard … the LP cover. Through the years the Beach Boys LP covers became something of a sacrament to me. While the incredible music created the soundscape of youth, it was those covers that held the secrets. The covers had the color, the vibes, the names, the dates, the facts, the smiles, the fashion, the intensity, and most of all they reflected the FUN!!! Surfer Girl, All Summer Long, Concert, Party!, Pet Sounds and all the others … classics … treasures … old friends … new discoveries. I love to look them over, now, as I did as a six-year old with two wild teenage sisters dancing away nearby. All the fun, and all the timeless energy is still in these covers … and on this site.
What Malcolm has done here is fantastic. I keep telling him he should turn it into a book. I’d be first in line to buy it. The way he’s researched and broken down the various elements of each cover, each era, and each chapter tells an incredibly compelling story. This site is a gift to the Beach Boys fans, and an important document of the Beach Boys history. Every time I see these images I fall into the sounds, the moment, the memories, and the discovery. Each time I look at them I learn something new. I would never have guessed that I might someday travel the Beach Boys related path I have from that moment in 1963 to now … but this site is one stop along the way I’m very happy make.
To Malcolm … Thanks for the memories, and for the new perspective!! I’ll be waiting patiently for the hardback version.