Synonymous with the concepts behind "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Good Vibrations" and "California Girls," the Beach Boys have made an indelible mark on the musical landscape. In various incarnations, they've entertained audiences for more than 40 years and have long been considered "America's Band." So they're a natural fit for PBS' A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, which marks its 25th anniversary on Monday.
natural was what happened in 1983, when they were scheduled for the concert, only to be banned by then Secretary of the Interior James Watt
, who decreed that rock bands "attract the wrong element" (Wayne Newton
replaced them). The public outcry included the voices of some very powerful people. Mike Love
, the only original member still performing under the group name, recalls how he found out.
"We were on tour, and I was awakened one morning by a radio station asking what I thought of [Watt's] comment that rock music wasn't appropriate for the Fourth of July. And I said something pretty flippant. Because rock and roll is an American invention. The incredible thing was the amount of calls the Department of the Interior got as a result of his remarks.
"A day later, we were about to go on stage and somebody said the White House [was] calling. [Then First Lady] Nancy Reagan
got on the phone, apologized and said, 'Ronnie
and I have always been fans of the Beach Boys.' She invited us to the White House, where we played a benefit for the Special Olympics. I talked to her for a while, and she was a really neat lady."
Love has been working on a solo project he plans to release this fall. "I'm going to call the album Mike Love Not War
," he says. "There's a lot of philosophically oriented songs on it. One's called 'Unleash the Love,' which is about appreciating the differences in people rather than despising them."
The original Beach Boys have had their internal differences in recent years, but Love notes that things are now "pretty cool" (in a good way). "I just saw Brian [Wilson
] a couple of weeks ago, and it was very nice. We compared songs we do on stage, and I played him a couple of tracks from my new CD."
Asked what his favorite Beach Boy song is, Love cites "Good Vibrations" and "Kokomo," two songs he cowrote that hit No. 1, albeit 22 years apart. He's also fond of "The Warmth of the Sun." "It was written in the early hours of the morning before we woke up to the news that President Kennedy
had been shot. So that song's always been charged with a lot of emotion."
By the way, Love touched base with TVGuide.com from Chicago, only a few days into a tour that will carry the group through mid-December, including stops in Toronto, Tokyo, Las Vegas and Lisbon, as well as a Today
show appearance August 13. In a wink to another of his fave Beach Boy tunes, he cracks: "We 'Get Around.'"