Beach Boy Carl Wilson possessed the sweetest, purest voice in a band teeming with spectacular vocalists. Carl’s airy voice led many of The Beach Boys’ most enduring classics, including his signature lead vocal showcase “God Only Knows” from Pet Sounds. But there were other sides to Carl Wilson: a guitar playing rocker who could roar out vocals like “Darlin’”, and a producer/bandleader capable of steering The Beach Boys into more contemporary, progressive waters (Holland). All sides of Carl Wilson’s musical personality come to the fore on his solo albums. Taking a leave of absence from the Beach Boys in 1981, Carl Wilson recorded and released his self-titled solo debut, produced by James William Guercio (Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears). Amidst the hard rocking material, the ethereal ballad “Heaven” stands out as one of Carl’s greatest compositions and performances. Two years later, second solo album Youngblood teamed Carl with producer Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) for another set of rockers and ballads. While the remainder of his career would see Wilson renew his commitment to The Beach Boys, his early ’80s solo albums are an essential chapter in his artistic evolution.
Did you know?
- Carl is the youngest Wilson brother, arriving after first-born Brian and middle child Dennis
- He sang backing vocals on many hits, including Chicago’s hits “Baby, What a Big Surprise” and “Wishing You Were Here,” Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and David Lee Roth’s cover of “California Girls”
- He was married to Dean Martin’s daughter, Gina