Beach Boys Founder Brian Wilson Wants People to Learn From His Life: ‘Drugs Can Be Very Detrimental’

Brian Wilson elaborated on his drug use, sharing that he wants fans to learn from his “bad experiences.” Here’s what we learned about the founding Beach Boy member.

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has the mental illness Schizoaffective disorder

Photographer Harry Langdon poses for a portrait with the Beach Boys members Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, and Bruce Johnston
Photographer Harry Langdon poses for a portrait with the Beach Boys members Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, and Bruce Johnston | Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Formed in the 1960s, The Beach Boys released songs “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Good Vibrations,” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” earning thousands of fans in the process. This stardom wasn’t without its struggles, as member Brian Wilson was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder.

According to Mayo Clinic, Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness “marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.” As a result, this artist explained, he turned to drug and alcohol abuse. 

Brian Wilson says drugs can be ‘very detrimental and dangerous’

According to Biography.com, as the Beach Boys grew in popularity, Wilson experimented with more drugs, including cocaine and LSD. Addiction issues followed him into adulthood, with the artist eventually getting help and advocating against psychedelics. 

“I want people to realize that drugs can be very detrimental and dangerous,” Wilson said during an interview with Rolling Stone. “I talk a lot about my bad experiences on drugs in the book for that reason… I’ve told a lot of people don’t take psychedelic drugs. It’s mentally dangerous to take. I regret having taken LSD. It’s a bad drug.”

The artist also shared his thoughts on the relationship between mental illness and drug use, saying the mental health struggle is “the result of bad drugs.” However, this wouldn’t be the first (or last) time this artist elaborated on his drug experience and mental health journey. 

The memoir I Am Brian Wilson gave an inside look at Wilson’s tumultuous childhood with his father, his rise to stardom with The Beach Boys, and his current relationship with drugs and alcohol. At the time of the Rolling Stone interview, the artist was three years sober.  

“There’s a ‘Serenity Prayer’ for Alcoholics Anonymous,” Wilson said during the Rolling Stone interview. “‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I [can].’ I’ve been sober now for three-and-a-half years. My doctor told me to knock off the alcohol. ‘You’ve got to stop drinking alcohol.’ And I did; I stopped. I feel a lot better, too.”

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is touring with Chicago in 2022

This group released music for several years sometimes performing live and even visiting the sitcom Full House. However, touring member Billy Hinsche died in 2021 of cancer. Founding member, drummer, and brother of Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson died of drowning at 39 years old. 

The remaining members of the group, including Mike Love, continue to host concerts across the globe. Wilson will perform in conjunction with Chicago for their 2022 tour. Music by the Beach Boys is available on most major streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. 

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

How to get help: In the U.S. and Canada, contact the National Council on Problem Gambling helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

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