Brian Wilson Says He Had ‘Absolutely Nothing to Do’ With Beach Boys Performance at Trump Fundraiser

Brian Wilson is distancing himself from Mike Love’s decision to have the current version of the Beach Boys perform at a Donald Trump fundraiser. The touring lineup of the iconic band behind songs such as “God Only Knows” and “California Girls” took the stage at the Oct. 18 campaign event in Newport Beach, Calif. But Wilson and fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine weren’t present. And they’re making it clear they weren’t on board with the choice to have the band at the event. 

Brian Wilson says he was ‘surprised’ to hear the Beach Boys would be performing for Donald Trump  

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson | Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

The president was in California over the weekend to raise money for his reelection campaign. Supporters paid between $2,800 and $150,000 to attend the exclusive gathering, which was held at the home of Palmer Luckey, founder of virtual reality company Oculus, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Beach Boys performed — without Wilson and Jardine — as did Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, formerly of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. 

The two missing Beach Boys were quick to reject any connection between themselves and Trump. 

“We have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump benefit today in Newport Beach. Zero,” Wilson and Jardine said in a statement to Variety. “We didn’t even know about it and were very surprised to read about it in the Los Angeles Times.”

Why Brian Wilson wasn’t performing with The Beach Boys 

The Beach Boys pose with a Corvette
Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys in 1963 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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So why were the Beach Boys performing without founding members Wilson and Jardine? It’s because Love actually has the rights to use the band’s name for touring purposes. The last time all the surviving members of the Beach Boys performed together was in 2012, Variety noted. (Dennis Wilson died in 1983 and Carl Wilson died in 1998.)   

Wilson and Jardine no longer perform as part of the Beach Boys. However, they do benefit financially when the current band tours. In his 2016 autobiography, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, Love claimed that since assuming the exclusive touring license in 1999, he’d paid Brother Records (which own the Beach Boys trademark and other intellectual property) $23.8 million in fees. That money was split between Jardine, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson’s heirs, and himself, Love wrote.

This isn’t the first time Wilson and Jardine have objected to Love’s decisions 

The Trump fundraiser wasn’t the first Beach Boys gig to which Wilson and Jardine have voiced objections. In February 2020, they signed a petition urging fans to boycott the band’s shows after Love and the group headlined the Safari Club International Convention. Donald Trump Jr. was the keynote speaker at that event for the group that supports trophy hunting, the New York Times reported. 

“This organization supports trophy hunting, which Both Al and I are emphatically opposed to,” Wilson tweeted. “There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition.”

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