Today marks the release of The Beach Boys’ 30th studio album, That’s Why God Made the Radio. The band is currently playing their 50th anniversary reunion tour, which will bring them to BYU’s July 4 Stadium of Fire show in Provo. Since I’ve got The Beach Boys on my mind, and since I’ve always got Saltair on my mind, it’s high time I address the Beach Boys – Saltair connection.
What do Saltair and The Beach Boys have in common? The answer may surprise you. Sure, one was a long-vanished resort in Utah, the other a rock band from California. But think about it. Both spark thoughts of sun, sand, and saltwater. Both were arguably products of genius, their legacies unmistakable. Both have rocky—even tragic—histories. Both have persisted through the years in some incarnation or another.
Oh, and one other thing: these icons of music and culture met each other one summer day in the late 1960’s.
If you’ve done much research into Saltair history, you may have come across a photo or two of the Boys posing and goofing around at the old Saltair site. The most ubiquitous is a shot of the band standing alongside a Toyota Land Cruiser with the dilapidated Saltair pavilion in the distance. This photo appeared on two separate album covers—a European EMI repackage of Today! and a bootleg album titled “Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 19.”
Here’s the EMI album cover:
The back features the same photo and a blurb by the late Dick Clark. Saltair is instantly recognizable, as are The Beach Boys. There’s Dennis with the beard, Carl in the denim shirt, Mike with the Newsie cap, Al with the wild red hair, and there’s Bruce on the right. But Beach Boys fans and Saltair buffs alike continue to debate one question:
Who’s the guy standing with them?
It’s no secret; it’s not well-known. The online speculation is amusing. He might be the Wilsons’ father, Murry. Or Bruce’s father, or the band’s Mexican bus driver, or a Brazilian cabbie. The truth makes a lot more sense and is actually quite interesting. So who is that guy, and what brought The Beach Boys to Saltair in the first place?
Check back early next week for the answers to these questions and several other nice tidbits on The Beach Boys’ connection to Utah.
Or, since it’s already posted, just click here.