Before tragic drownings, mental breakdowns, terrible literary decisions, and that insufferable 'Kokomo' song defined the group, this is the exact location where the legendary Wilson boys broke their bread. That's right, this primo spot-- located directly next to the "gorgeous" Century freeway in Hawthorne-- is where the former home of the Beach Boys core once sat...and there's a lovely monument to commemorate it.
But before we dive into the actual landmark, let's wrap our brains around the Beach Boys and their influence. For you kiddies that don't know, the brothers Wilson would go on to form one of the most influential and creative bands of all time.
With smooth harmonies and hits like 'Surfin USA', 'Good Vibrations', and 'I get around' they created a sound that still resonates today. In all, these guys are gods of California culture, impossible to miss on the radio and I give them props for introducing me to the concept of the 'California Girl', even if it's a little degrading to my beloved East coast lady preference. Also, there was 'Pet Sounds' which has changed a few lives along the way. But enough of that history lesson, let's get back to the monument...
Large and decorative, it's one of those rare times that feels like the person who made it actually gave a shit about the subject at hand, which is refreshing and much better than the goons behind this or this. There's some integrity here and at least the Boys don't look much like Sloth from the goonies.
Commemorative bricks-- which I assume came via hefty donations from the Beach Boys uber-fans-- make up a majority of the base. Each one is etched with words, so you've got the usual goofy quotes, waspy sounding last names and "We love you!" stuff going on here
And who could forget the boys of summer themselves, who are engraved in the stone centerpiece and looking quite dapper. Smiling demonically, and clutching their trademark surfboard by the side, one could easily forget that the Beach Boys were actually dysfunctional, drug-addled and had deep ties to Charles Manson. But hey, it was the 60s' and they wrote some pretty rockin' tunes! which forgives all in our world. And it wouldn't be official without a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
As for the location next to the highway...while it's funny to think that the Wilson brothers spent their formative years listening to the heavy traffic of the freeway woosh by, that simply wasn't the case when they actually lived here back in the 40s. You see, it was simpler time back then, a time when our lovable Century Freeway didn't exist in these parts. In fact, the Boys home was bulldozed in the 80s to make way for this beast, leaving passersby's to hear and smell all of the goods when visiting the monument.
With that said, the current surroundings-- monument aside-- leave much to be desired. The charred grass, random garbage, and dead plants make it feel more like you're celebrating a wonderful day in BumTown USA than paying homage to one of music's most beloved acts.
But ya know what, I'm not going to rain on the parade here; this is a pretty damned cool tribute. Nothing screams SoCal like these lovable scamps and their girl-chasing, surfs up, "California is the greatest place ever" ways. Come by and soak up those good vibrations.
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
The monument went up on May 20, 2005, after a unanimous vote-- and some help from music bigwigs like Dick Clark and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame-- by the California State Historic Resources Commission. Although the house was had long been demolished to make way for the Century Freeway in the mid-80s it felt right to build at the exact site.
As the plaque reads, this was not only the place where the brothers were raised and developed their trademark sound but also the location where the OG gang got together to write their breakout song 'Surfin'. Lot of history in these in these parts.
Fun fact: Construction of this thing was undertaken by Scott Wilson, Dennis's adopted son. How's that for a Father's Day gift?