Brian Wilson Said He Wrote 1 of The Beach Boys’ Songs in Response to the JFK Assassination


  • Brian Wilson said one of The Beach Boys’ songs is about the John F. Kennedy assassination.
  • Wilson said he co-wrote the song the day JFK died.
  • The song appeared on a hit album.
The Beach Boys with a surf board
The Beach Boys | by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Beach Boys‘ songs were often lighthearted but the band dealt with serious topics as well. For example. The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson said one of the group’s songs was written in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On the other hand, The Beach Boys’ Mike Love had a conflicting memory about how the song came together.

Brian Wilson said he and Mike Love wrote a song together the day of the JFK assassination

During a 2011 interview with Goldmine, Wilson discussed The Beach Boys’ song “The Warmth of the Sun.” “That song was inspired by the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” he said. “The day he was killed Mike and I went into my office where I had a piano and wrote a song in his memory. That came quickly.”

During a 2013 interview with Rock Cellar Magazine, Love discussed the creation of the song. “I was writing melancholy lyrics in the midst of more up-tempo songs; think about Surfin’ U.S.A., in the midst of that I wrote the lyrics for ‘The Warmth of the Sun.’ The melody and mood of ‘The Warmth of the Sun’ was so melancholy.”

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Mike Love said the song was written before the JFK assassination

Notably, Love said the song was not written in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. “It was written the preceding day, words and music, and we got up to the news that President Kennedy had been taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and that he was dead,” Love said.

“It was shocking,” Love added. “We didn’t change the lyric to conform to the event. Within days of that event we went into the studio and recorded it. That session was even more charged with emotion.”

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How The Beach Boys’ ‘The Warmth of the Sun’ and its parent album performed on the charts in the United States

“The Warmth of the Sun” was never released as a single. As such, it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard’s rules are different these days, so modern songs don’t have to be singles to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

“The Warmth of the Sun” appeared on The Beach Boys’ album Shut Down Volume 2. The album became a modest hit, reaching No. 13 on the Billboard 200Shut Down Volume 2 stayed on the chart for 38 weeks.

“The Warmth of the Sun” is not one of The Beach Boys’ more famous songs. Despite this, it has an interesting connection to history — at least, according to Wilson.

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