Al Jardine was on the ground floor when brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, along with their cousin Mike Love and David Marks, formed The Beach Boys in 1961 in Hawthorne.
Jardine had originally met Brian Wilson when they were on the football team at Hawthorne High School. While they were high school, the Beach Boys had such names as Kenny & the Cadets, Carl & the Passions and, lastly, The Pendletones. Jardine and Brian Wilson were later students at El Camino College in Torrance as well.
“I thought we were going to do folk music,” recalled Jardine in a recent interview. “Brian thought we were going do Four Freshman music, but we did songs about his (Dennis Wilson) favorite sport, surfing. That’s how it all started.”
Jardine brings his show to Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on Sunday, Oct. 27, where he shares stories of his nearly six decades with The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson.
“Each song tells a story about the making of the song or the era it was made,” Jardine said.
Jardine said he will share the stage with son Matt, who tours with him in Brian Wilson’s band, which made a stop at the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach in May, as well as musician Jeff Alan Ross.
“The three of us sound like 10,” Jardine said.
Jardine was around 7 or 8 years old when he family moved from Rochester New York, where he was recently inducted in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame to San Francisco. They eventually moved to Hawthorne.
“It was a small South Bay area,” said Jardine at the time. “Most of our parents worked in the aircraft industry. Murry (the Wilson’s’ father) had a machine shop.”
The release of “Surfin’ Safari in 1962 helped launched the career of The Beach Boys. Over the years, Jardine wrote numerous songs for the band and sang lead on No 1 hits such as “Help Me Rhonda.”
Inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the Beach Boys had 15 top-10 singles including four No. 1 songs - "I Get Around," "Help Me, Rhonda," "Good Vibrations" and "Kokomo" from a later incarnation of the band in 1988.
“Brian would pretty much write a song and would tailor make it almost to the individual,” Jardine said. “For instance, Mike would sing those early surfing, car songs because he had that kind of voice, kind of almost comedic voice. The rest of us had more pure tone… we were excellent background singers. Then it evolved where Carl would sing some of the leads and then I began to sing some leads…. It was much better that way because it spread the vocals around.”
In his shows, Jardine performs on acoustic bass the first songs The Beach Boys ever recorded.
“It's really fun when the audience is attentive and can listen to the stories,” Jardine said.
Jardine released his first solo album, “A Postcard from California,” in 2012. The environmentally-conscious album was released on Manhattan Beach resident Rob Christie's Waterfront Ent. Group/Robo Records music production company, and featured appearances by Neil Young, David Crosby, America, Glen Campbell, Steve Miller and bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
South Bay connection
In his early years, Jardine lived in Hermosa Beach, while Mike Love made his home in the El Porto section of Manhattan Beach.
In the early 1990s, the band owned the Beach Boys Cafe, on Pacific Coast Highway near Artesia Boulevard in Hermosa Beach. It's now a RoundTable Pizza restaurant.
“There was a shooting and I don't think it ever recovered from that,” recalled Jardine.
The event Jardine refers to, according to the LA Times, occurred in December 1992. Though no one was hurt, two white supremacist gang members shot up the cafe's front windows with a semiautomatic pistol. They had been searching for a rival gang member at the cafe which was holding a benefit youth concert.
Al Jardine's Endless Summer opens at 7 p.m. at Saint Rocke, located at 142 Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach. Tickets are $45 for general admission, which does not guarantee seating.
“We dig deep in our show,” Jardine said. “We go to the 'Smile' album period or the post Capitol years. We just have fun with it.”