10 Most Shocking Reveals From Disney+’s The Beach Boys Documentary

Warning! This article contains SPOILERS for The Beach Boys (2024) Disney+ documentary.




  • The Beach Boys documentary offers an intimate look at the ups and downs of the legendary band’s career.
  • Brian Wilson’s limited involvement due to his conservatorship sheds light on his struggles and creative journey.
  • The family dynamic and history of The Beach Boys, including a connection to the Manson murders, is explored in depth.

The Disney+ music documentary about the band by the same name, The Beach Boys, was released on May 24, directed by Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny. Marshall is best known for his work with fellow directors Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, M. Night Shyamalan, and more. However, he has recently switched lanes with a Bee Gees music documentary on Max, a Jazz Fest documentary, a film on Carole King and James Taylor, and now The Beach Boys. Zimny is famous for his many concert movies and documentaries about Bruce Springsteen.

Their expertise shines in The Beach Boys, with archival footage and interviews from the surviving band members, those who worked with them, critics, and even famous fans like Lindsey Buckingham. Only three of the original five members of The Beach Boys are still alive, with Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson both having passed. Their legacy lives on through the use of Beach Boys’ songs in movies and their many albums. The members, from those remaining to those who have come and hone, show their vulnerability and provide an in-depth look at the ups and downs of The Beach Boys.

10 Brian Wilson Had Limited Involvement In The Beach Boys Documentary

Brian Wilson’s Conservatorship Kept Him From Getting Fully Involved


Brian Wilson is undoubtedly the most famous member of The Beach Boys. The original five members were Brian, his younger brothers Dennis and Carl, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine. As a musician, singer, and songwriter, Brian Wilson was the genius behind much of The Beach Boys’ discography. Even his peers, such as Paul McCartney, look up to him, as The Beatles frontman shared in his Hulu music documentaryMcCartney 3,2,1.

Sadly, time hasn’t been the kindest to Wilson, who is now 81. The Beach Boys looks into his poor mental state at the height of the band’s success and touches on the recent reveal of his dementia diagnosis. Fortunately, this didn’t keep Wilson from being involved in The Beach Boys documentary. Unfortunately, Brian Wilson’s involvement in the documentary was limited by his dementia and the legal conservatorship his family placed him under following the death of his wife Melinda in January 2024.

The conversation around conservatorships gained popularity recently with Britney Spears, who was under her father’s 13-year-long conservatorship until 2021. Wilson was first placed under a conservatorship in the 1990s to keep him away from Eugene Landy, a controversial psychiatrist who misdiagnosed Wilson with schizophrenia. He was moved to Melinda’s care when they got married in 1995. Though his daughters told Entertainment Tonight Wilson is “doing great,” many fans, like X user music struggles & wins, were concerned when the news was first announced. Hopefully, seeing Wilson in The Beach Boys and at the premiere helped ease some concerns.

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9 The Story of The Beach Boys Is A Family Story

The Beach Boys Were A Family Band From The Start


As aforementioned, four of the five original members of The Beach Boys were family members. This is frequently emphasized by the family members, Jardine, and the other members who joined throughout the band’s tenure, including Blondie Chapman. South African Chapman was with the band from 1972 to 1973 and contributed to their albums “Carl and the Passions – ‘So Tough’” and “Holland” and sang lead vocals on “Sail On, Sailor.” In The Beach Boys, Chapman spoke about his nerves when joining the band, as it’s hard to enter into such a tight family unit like they were at the time.

Their first manager was Murry Wilson, the father of the Wilson brothers and Love’s uncle. He also founded their publishing company, Sea of Tunes. At the beginning of The Beach Boys, the main story is about their closeness as a family and the music they were able to make together. Heartbreakingly, it’s also about how that unit fell apart over time, with tensions between Murry and the band and Brian and Mike’s [personal and business issues. Regardless, at the heart of The Beach Boys is family, for better or worse.

8 Al Jardine’s Mom Helped Fund The Beach Boys

Al Jardine’s Mom Sacrificed Her Paycheck To Help The Beach Boys Get Started


Al Jardine, the only original non-family member, is just as big a part of The Beach Boys’ history and legacy. Brian and Al were football teammates in high school, and Al first took notice of what was then a family quartet during a school assembly performance. When Al, a guitarist, bumped into Brian after graduation, Brian introduced him to the rest of the band, and The Beach Boys went from a quartet to a quintet.

As Al put it in the documentary, We all just clicked. We were like notes on a keyboard.” The first time they got together as a band to rehearse, Murry and Audree Wilson went to Mexico City on business and left them $200. When the money immediately ran out, and they still hadn’t rented instruments, Al asked his mom, Virginia, to help them.

To convince her, The Beach Boys auditioned for her with one of their favorite songs, the Four Freshmen’s acapella arrangement of “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring.” Virginia Jardine gave them $300 for the instruments. When the Wilson parents returned about three weeks later, they were officially a band.

7 Murry Wilson Sold The Beach Boys’ Royalties Without Their Permission

Murry Wilson Betrayed His Family & The Band


Murry Wilson might have helped get The Beach Boys started, but The Beach Boys documentary is equally appreciative and resentful of him, as are the band members themselves. In 1964, he was dismissed as their manager for being overbearing and disruptive, but he retained their publishing rights until 1969. That year, Murry Wilson sold the extremely valuable Beach Boys’ catalog to Irving Almo Music for $700,000, about $5.82 million adjusted for inflation in 2023.

To make matters worse, he didn’t consult the band members, showing a lack of care for his family’s feelings. The Beach Boys felt betrayed by their father, uncle, and former manager. It also put them in a difficult position, as they didn’t want to sue their family member, but the sale led to numerous following his 1973 death and hurt the family’s bond deeply.

6 Brian Wilson Destroyed The Smile Tapes

Brian Wilson Had Creative Differences With His Bandmates


The story of “Smile Tapes” is one of The Beach Boys’ most infamous. The group reached a new level of success and recognition with the release of what’s commonly regarded as The Beach Boys’ best album, 1966’s “Pet Sounds.” Despite initial middling success in the United States, it was a big hit in the United Kingdom and has since inspired countless performers.

Thus, it was difficult to follow up. Between “Pet Sounds” and 1967’s “Smiley Smile,” their record label released two compilation albums. During that time, The Beach Boys recorded the “Smile Tapes” over a painstakingly long year. When Brian Wilson became overly obsessed with its production and developing a new sound, his bandmates outnumbered him with their desire to do something different quickly. Wilson scrapped most of the “Smile Tapes,” and the unsuccessful “Smiley Smile” was recorded over 6 weeks in his home studio.

5 The Beach Boys Influenced Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe Is Featured In The Beach Boys’ Documentary


One of the performers inspired by “Pet Sounds” and The Beach Boys’ music was Janelle Monáe. Monáe has often spoken about what it was like having Prince as a mentor, and she’s carried on his legacy through her own music and style. Yet, The Beach Boys revealed he wasn’t the only major influence on Monáe, who said she got into the band and their famous harmonies when she started songwriting.

Janelle Monáe was born on December 1, 1985, almost 20 years after “Pet Sounds” was released. Still, The Beach Boys’ music reached her and many others, including OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, who was born on June 26, 1979. The influence The Beach Boys had on Monáe and Tedder is further evidence of how powerful and enduring “Pet Sounds” and The Beach Boys’ music remains, decades after it was initially released.

4 The Beach Boys Were Connected To The Manson Murders

Dennis Wilson Worked With Charles Manson


One of the most shocking reveals in The Beach Boys documentary was related to Charles Manson, the former cult leader of the Manson Family. Though The Beach Boys’ connection to Manson isn’t a secret, many who weren’t around at the time of the murders may have been unaware before watching the documentary. Dennis Wilson had formed a friendship with Manson, whom he referred to as a “guru,” but the other members kept their distance.

Dennis and Manson even wrote a song together for The Beach Boys that Dennis reworked and renamed “Never Learn Not to Love.” Manson wanted Dennis to introduce him to Beach Boys’ producer Terry Melcher, but Melcher wouldn’t sign him. Eventually, Dennis and Melcher abandoned Manson. Looking for revenge, Manson went to Melcher’s house in August 1969, but Melcher had already sold it, and it was being leased to director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate.

When they didn’t find Melcher there, the Manson Family killed five people at the house, including Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant. This weighed heavily on Dennis Wilson for years, as he felt a sense of responsibility for the murders and began abusing substances even more. Though it wasn’t fully touched on in The Beach Boys, Dennis died by drowning while intoxicated in December 1983.

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3 The Beach Boys Wanted To Change Their Name

The Beach Boys Believed Their Name Was Holding Them Back


The 1960s counterculture movement growing in the United States quickly left The Beach Boys feeling out of place. They’d earned a name for themselves as the cute, wholesome California surfer boys next door. Unlike their British peer/rival The Beatles, who transitioned with the changing times thanks to songs like “Come Together” and “Revolution 1,” The Beach Boys had a harder time. This isn’t to say they didn’t eventually get there, with songs like “It’s About Time,” but they were far and few between.

In The Beach Boys documentary, members revealed they felt they’d outgrown their name. After all, they were grown men going by “boys.” They were teenagers when they first started recording in 1961, but as the times were changing, so were they. At one point, they wanted to change their name to just “Beach,” but they didn’t end up going through with it.

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2 Mike Love Barely Talks To Brian Wilson

The Cousins Had A Falling Out When Mike Sued Brian


For many, the reveal in The Beach Boys that Brian Wilson and Mike Love barely talk to each other wasn’t too surprising. Like many famous bands, The Beach Boys had their falling outs. They just had the unfortunate problem of that fallout occurring between family members. With their complicated family dynamic and Murry Wilson’s premature death at 55 in 1973, they were never able to sue him for selling their catalog without permission.

Much of the credit for The Beach Boys’ hits went to Brian Wilson, even when other members were involved. In the 1990s, Love sued Brian for writing credits on 35 songs, contributing to the bitter relationship between the cousins. Many Beach Boys fans resent Love for this and other conflicts. Yet, The Beach Boys saw Love break down into tears when he spoke about his love for his cousin and their lack of a relationship. The documentary’s ending saw the band reunite, with Love and Wilson finally together again.

1 The Beach Boys Weren’t About Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll

The Beach Boys Documentary Was About The Music & Family


Many music documentaries about bands, especially rock bands, are centered around “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Mötley Crüe, and more were famous for making this their image. Bands were thought to be so invested in this lifestyle that it was even the basis of films like Almost Famous and the biopic about Ian Dury, aptly titled Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Yet, this wasn’t what The Beach Boys, or The Beach Boys documentary, was about.

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That isn’t to say there wasn’t sex, drugs, and rock and roll involved in their history. Multiple members had addiction issues, but they weren’t living the lifestyle of flaunting their wealth, women, and drug use. While The Beach Boys may leave certain things out, the Disney+ documentary delves into their issues as a band without glorifying certain behaviors or focusing too much on their afflictions.

Sources: Entertainment Tonight, Katie Couric Media, Billboard

The Beach Boys (2024)

Director Frank Marshall , Thom Zimny Release Date May 24, 2024 Writers Mark Monroe Cast Brian Wilson , Mike Love , Al Jardine , David Marks , Bruce Johnston , Janelle Monae , Ryan Tedder , Don Was

See at Disney+

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