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So much for good vibrations.
Beach Boys member Mike Love has filed a lawsuit against former band mate Brian Wilson over Smile–the famously unfinished Beach Boys opus that Wilson completed and released on his own last year to much acclaim, and at Love’s expense.
The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that the promotional blitz by Wilson “shamelessly misappropriated Mike Love’s songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the Smile album itself,” per court papers obtained by City News Service.
Wilson, the Beach Boys’ principal songwriter and general mastermind, scrapped Smile at the height of the seminal surf band’s popularity in 1967, a few weeks before the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The lost sessions became the stuff of music legend; based on the surviving songs and snippets, some music aficionados argued Smile would have rivaled Sgt. Pepper’s in the pop pantheon. Per rock history, it was Love who fought against the release of Smile because it differed dramatically from the Beach Boys’ standard surf sound.
Love, who cowrote and sang lead on many early Beach Boys classics, alleges that the publicity campaign for Wilson’s solo Smile negatively affected sales of Beach Boys albums. Particularly aggrieving Love was Wilson’s decision to give away more than 2.6 million copies of a Beach Boys’ compilation disc in an edition of Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Love’s suit seeks damages amounting to “millions of dollars in illicit profits,” claiming the campaign diluted the Beach Boys’ brand name, and addition $1 million-plus for international advertising “designed to correct the effects of its unfair competition and infringing uses.” Other defendants include the Mail on Sunday and Sanctuary Records Group.
Reps for Wilson and Love could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Smile, which features the classic “Good Vibrations,” was among the most critically hailed albums of 2004. It also earned Wilson his first competitive Grammy.
Love, who cofounded the band with cousins Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, and friend Al Jardine, is the only member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame quintet to continue using the Beach Boys moniker.
As Brian Wilson, the most talented and reclusive of the bunch, managed to overcome decades-long depression and launched a successful solo career, both his brothers have died. Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983, while Carl Wilson succumbed to cancer in 1998.
The three surviving members–Love, Wilson and Jardine–each own a share of the Beach Boys corporation, Brother Records. However, due to legal wrangling through the years, Love is the only member allowed to use Beach Boys name for touring purposes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they all just got along? Jardine tried touring under the name “Beach Boys Family and Friends” with Brian Wilson’s daughters Wendy and Carnie, but an appeals court barred him from doing so.
Despite the infighting, the Beach Boys are in synch on one legal matter.
Brother Records notified London auctioneer CooperOwen last week that 28 memorabilia items about to be put up for bid, including original sheet music by Brian Wilson and Love, were actually stolen, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
No suspect has been publicly named in the theft of the mementos, but Brother Records says it will file a civil suit on behalf of the Beach Boys against CooperOwen and the individual seller of the memorabilia, as well as anyone who purchases the items.
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