The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson Begged a Radio Station to Play 1 of His Songs

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson envisioned one of his classic rock songs as the follow-up to “Good Vibrations.” He decided the song had to be released at a certain time. Subsequently, he begged a radio station to play the song. One of the other members of The Beach Boys was dismayed that Wilson was trying so hard to get airplay.

The Beach Boys with a car
The Beach Boys | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Beach Boys song Brian Wilson thought was the follow-up to ‘Good Vibrations’

Mike Love has been a member of The Beach Boys since the band’s founding. In his 2016 book Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, he said fellow band member Brian Wilson became interested in astrology.

Wilson felt the stars aligned near the end of July, so he wanted to release his song “Heroes and Villains” at that time. Wilson viewed “Heroes and Villains” as the successor to “Good Vibrations.”

Late at night, Wilson drove to a radio station with future Beach Boys producer Terry Melcher. Wilson asked the DJ at the station to play “Heroes and Villains.” The DJ initially refused because the song was not on his playlist.

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How Terry Melcher got the DJ to play the song

Melcher wasn’t pleased. “The DJ called the program director — Bill Drake — and handed the phone to Terry,” Love wrote. “‘Bill, I’m down here with Brian and Capitol,’ Terry said. ‘He wants to give you the exclusive for ‘Heroes and Villains.’ Tell him to put the f****** record on right now, please. Thank you very much.”

Love didn’t see this as much of a victory. “The record was played, but from where Brian was just a few months ago — heralded on national television as the apostle of pop — to where he was now, literally begging to have his song played in the dead of night, the drop-off was dismaying,” he opined.

Love didn’t see “Heroes and Villains” as a major hit. “The single did reasonably well … but for a track that Brian envisioned as the successor to ‘Good Vibrations,’ it was another disappointment,” he recalled. “That same month, July, Capital released Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 2, and even though it was packed with our hits (‘California Girls,’ ‘Help Me, Rhonda,’ etc.), it fizzled at No. 50.” Love felt The Beach Boys were on a downward spiral.

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How The Beach Boys’ ‘Heroes and Villains’ performed on the charts

“Heroes and Villains” reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on the charts for seven weeks. The Beach Boys released “Heroes and Villains” on the album Smiley Smile. The album reached No. 41 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 21 weeks.

“Heroes and Villains” was similarly popular in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song peaked at No. 8 in the U.K. and remained on the chart for nine weeks. Meanwhile, Smiley Smile reached No. 9 there and stayed on the chart for eight weeks.

“Heroes and Villains” was a modest hit but Love felt it represented a downgrade for The Beach Boys.

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