Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)

Courtesy of Beach Boys Com


By Thomas Semioli


His legacy and influence as bass guitar innovator and pioneer stands equal to James Jamerson, Sir Paul, Jaco, Jack Bruce, Duck Dunn, and Chris Squire – to cite a select few legends.  Perhaps the one reason why Brian Douglas Wilson is not (often) considered among the instrument’s elite is that his parts were mostly cut by studio bassists rather than himself. Regardless, Brian wrote ‘em!


We’ll leave it to the history books to discuss Brian the songwriter, conceptualist, producer, arranger,  collaborator, recording artist, bandleader, studio maestro, visionary…


Listen to any Brian Beach Boys track and behold the bass passages as songs within the songs. If you consider every Wilson composition a “mini opera” – as I do, then Brian’s bass parts emerge as operas within the operas!


A student of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and all things Phil Spector – in short, Brian expanded the language of the instrument by combining its role as a harmonic and rhythmic foundation with that of melodic catalyst.


Volumes have been written dissecting and analyzing, Brian’s compositional methods, song forms, and influences. To fully appreciate Brian’s work as a bassist, it would certainly help if you have a working knowledge of music theory and harmony. If not, simply delve into the tracks and allow yourself to absorb the true genius of Brian Wilson the bass player.


Brian Wilson Sound & Vision:

“Good Vibrations”

“Sloop John B.”

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

“Surfer Moon”

“When I Grow Up to Be A Man”

“God Only Knows”


The Beach Boys pose for a portrait – Bruce Johnston, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Carl WilsonCredit: Capitol Photo Archives