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 Dennis Wilson

Dennis Wilson

Hawthorne, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death 28 Dec 1983 (aged 39)
Marina del Rey, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Body buried at sea, Specifically: Buried at sea off of Los Angeles
Memorial ID 2011 · View Source
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Rock Musician, Singer, and Songwriter. He is best remembered as a founding member, drummer, and occasional lead vocalist of classic California-based rock group The Beach Boys. He was the younger and older brother of fellow Beach Boys Brian and Carl Wilson respectively and cousin of Beach Boy's Mike Love. As a boy, he was possessed with an abundance of physical energy and a combative nature, and often refused to participate in family sing-along's, and likewise avoided vocalizing on the early recordings made by Brian on a portable tape recorder. His mother forced older brother Brian to include him in the band and The Beach Boys formed in August 1961 and became an immediate success. Though they were were named for, and developed, an image based on the California surfing culture, he was the only actual surfer in the band. During the first few years of the Beach Boys, he was given the role of the drummer. He quickly learned the basics of drumming at school lessons, and like the other members, he picked up more on the job. As leader of the group, Brian took note of his limited drumming technique early on and as the mid-60s approached, he often hired session drummers such as Hal Blaine to perform on studio recordings. Though given few important lead vocals on the early Beach Boys recordings, like "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" and "This Car of Mine" as well as the bridge verse on "Girls on the Beach," he sang lead on "Do You Wanna Dance?", the group's February 1965 hit. Later that year on the "Beach Boys' Party!" album, he sang an impressive, faithful rendition of The Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." He accompanied himself on guitar and like the other Beach Boys became a multi-instrumentalist. His piano playing and composing in particular was praised by Daryl Dragon, his frequent collaborator in the late '60s and early '70s and was showcased on his "Pacific Ocean Blue" album. His first major released composition was "Little Bird," the B-side of the "Friends" single, coupled with "Be Still." In 1968 he met criminal cultist and aspiring musician Charles Manson, becoming fascinated with him and his followers, and they lived with him at his home for a time. Initially impressed by Manson's songwriting talent, he introduced him to a few friends in the music business, including Terry Melcher (the son of Doris Day). However, as he became increasingly aware of Manson's volatile nature and growing tendency to violence, he finally made a break from the friendship by simply moving out of the house and leaving Manson there. The Beach Boys released a Manson song, originally titled "Cease To Exist" but reworked as "Never Learn Not to Love", as a single B-side and on the album "20/20." From 1968 until 1973, as Brian withdrew more and more from active participation with his group, he stepped up as the major creative force of The Beach Boys. He starred alongside James Taylor and Warren Oates in the critically acclaimed film "Two-Lane Blacktop" (1971) as 'The Mechanic'. The film depicts 'The Driver' (Taylor) and 'The Mechanic' driving aimlessly across the US in their 1955 Chevy, surviving on money earned from street drag racing. In 1971 he injured his hand badly enough to prevent him from playing drums for some time, and Ricky Fataar took over as the group's drummer between 1972 and 1974. During this period he acted as a co-front man alongside Mike Love, as well as playing keyboards and singing. In 1974 he returned to his role behind the drums and co-wrote the lyrics and modified part of the melody of "You Are So Beautiful" at a party with Billy Preston. In 1977 he released his debut solo album "Pacific Ocean Blue" which performed well critically, selling around 300,000 copies and continues to maintain a cult following. The following year he began working on his second solo album "Bambu" but it was initially scrapped due to lack of financing and distractions of simultaneous Beach Boy projects. It would be officially released in 2008 along with the reissue of "Pacific Ocean Blue." In his later years, he suffered from alcohol abuse and years of smoking had taken a toll on his voice. Shortly after his 39th birthday, he drowned at Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, California after drinking all day and diving in the afternoon to recover items he had thrown overboard at the marina from his yacht three years prior. He was buried at sea off the California coast. As non-veterans of the Coast Guard and Navy are not allowed to be buried at sea unless cremated, his burial was possible due to the intervention of President Ronald Reagan.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2011
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dennis Wilson (4 Dec 1944–28 Dec 1983), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2011, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body buried at sea, who reports a Buried at sea off of Los Angeles.