A charter member of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine deserves as much credit as anyone for steering their success. He met Brian Wilson soon after his family relocated to Hawthorne, California, and it was while the two were attending El Camino College that they first discussed the idea of creating a harmony-laden band. Although Jardine tried to convince the Wilson brothers that folk was the way to go, the idea of a rock 'n' roll band quickly took flight, and Jardine would not only embrace the concept but sang several of the songs that put them on pop turf.
He famously left the band in 1962 to pursue a white-collar career -- leaving an opening that guitarist David Marks soon filled -- but rejoined in the summer of 1963, making his most indelible impression when he took the lead on the band's number-one smash "Help Me Rhonda."
Jardine has also been a part of practically every Beach Boys incarnation, including, of course, last year's reunion tour. In the aftermath of singer Mike Love's decision to reclaim his ownership of the band's name, Jardine opted to continue on with Wilson and Marks, contributing to Wilson's album in progress and performing on the forthcoming tour featuring special guest Jeff Beck. We recently chatted with Jardine as he shared his thoughts on the state of the Beach Boys, past and present.
New Times: How did you guys hook up with Jeff Beck? It seems like a kind of unlikely combination.
Al Jardine: I asked the same question [laughs]. Jeff and Brian hooked up at a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp. It turned out that Jeff was a huge Beach Boys fan and Brian Wilson fan, and one thing led to another, and their two management groups got together and decided that it might make some good chemistry. And that maybe the audiences will be compatible... We hope laughs]. It's an unusual coupling, I think, but we'll be doing some songs together, songs he's learned on the guitar -- which is his specialty, obviously -- and he'll be doodling on a little tune called "Surf's Up." We'll be opening he second set with some songs from Smile, and he'll accompany us, or we with him. He'll do the melody on guitar, and we'll accompany it with some vocals.
Can you tell us anything about Brian's new album that you and Beck are a part of?
There are a couple of interesting things. I got to sing the lead on my first car song. Well, I shouldn't say my first car song. It's actually my second car song, although we won't be doing it on this tour to my great disappointment. We'll probably pull it out for the spring/summer period... It's about a little souped-up coupe, and it's so cute. It's got all that great Beach Boys energy. It's called "Run, James, Run."
That sounds like a Beach Boys song from the outset.
Yeah, doesn't it? And it's got Jeff's guitar on it, and I'm singing the lead, and it's got that Brian Wilson magic.