FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) — David Beard is no stranger to the Beach Boys — and not just because the Fort Mill, S.C., resident has been the editor and publisher of the Beach Boys fan magazine Endless Summer Quarterly since 1993.
In fact, his rapport with members of the band is so strong that, over the years, Beard has been tapped to work on projects the average fan could only dream of being involved with.
Among other gigs: He served as the archival image assistant on the Beach Boys’ 2006 live album “Songs from Here & Back”; he helped out with the liner notes for the 30th anniversary edition of late band member Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue,” which came out in 2008; and in 2015 and 2016, he was invited by Beach Boy Mike Love and his wife Jacquelyne to design the band’s tour programs.
But those jobs pale in comparison to the one he took on last year.
During the pandemic, Beard hatched a plan that wound up putting him at the center of one of recent history’s most significant Beach Boys reunions.
The collaboration, which he co-produced with Rob Bonfiglio (a member of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s band and husband of Wilson’s daughter, Carnie Wilson), involved several Beach Boys — as well as a slew of children of band members. The result, an updated version of the 1970 song “Add Some Music to Your Day,” is the lead single off of a new LP, due April 23, that also was co-produced by Beard.
And the experience of working on both provided the self-described fanboy, who is now 56 years old, with pinch-me moments.
“To be able to be in that producer’s chair of developing the arrangement, of (deciding) who’s gonna sing where and all that, with the Beach Boys and their children, was ... pretty cool,” Beard says.
“When I got Al’s (Beach Boy Al Jardine’s) lead vocal to kind of begin work — to get the other voices on, to send out to everybody — that was a moment where I called my wife into my office and said, ‘I’m producing a Beach Boys record!’ ... I kind of allowed myself to be a little kid in the candy store and get a little excited. But then I just got right back down to earth and got right back to the task.”
It was no simple task.
‘THE WORLD COULD COME TOGETHER AS ONE’
The concept first started forming in his head last March, not long after the world started shutting everything down due to COVID-19.
At the time, Beard was working on Endless Summer Quarterly’s summer 2020 edition, which was to focus on the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ “Sunflower” album. More than ever, the magazine became a respite for him, in this case from the flood of bad news coming out of his TV. And as he immersed himself in “Sunflower” he found himself buoyed by two key aspects of it.
One was the third track on Side 1 of the record, “Add Some Music to Your Day,” a lesser-known song that serves as an ode to the joyous power of music, with a single line that got happily stuck in Beard’s head: “The world could come together as one.”
“Music always has made me feel good,” Beard says. The more he thought about that song and the more he thought about what was going on in the world, the more he “wanted to do something that made people feel good.”
The other inspiration for the idea, meanwhile, was the album cover art: a photo of the group hanging out on the green of a golf course with their children.
“At that time in their lives, the kids are very, very young,” Beard says. “So, like, a little tiny baby Carnie Wilson is sitting on her dad Brian’s lap. Matt Jardine, Al’s son, is standing next to Al. Mike’s children Hayleigh and Christian are sitting on his lap. These kids ... they all went on to become musical. I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great — if we’re taking a song from the ‘Sunflower’ album — if everybody who’s on this album cover who’s still with us could sing on the recording?’”
It would be great, he decided. And if they could get it done for a good cause, even better, he thought.
So he got his plan in order and began to pitch it.
GETTING THE BOYS BACK TOGETHER
Beard has interviewed members of the Beach Boys numerous times for the magazine he runs.
But for the “Sunflower” edition, he says, “it was unusual. Normally they’re touring. Because everything had shut down, though, I had access to them in a way that I normally wouldn’t have access to them. They’re all just kind of sitting around doing nothing. And so that actually opened it up in a weird way — in a good way.”
He ended up having several conversations with longtime member Bruce Johnston about the album, which he’s said publicly is his favorite in the Beach Boys’ canon. That made Johnston the first and easiest sell.
Then he hooked Al Jardine, multiple Beach Boys children, and Bonfiglio.
Beard, a former morning producer for the defunct Magic Oldies 96 radio station in Charlotte, had never attempted anything like this before. Instead, he relied on the trust he’d built with the Beach Boys and those in their orbit over the past three decades, and his already-proven track record for skillfully executing projects like the ones previously mentioned.
Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love, however, still took some convincing.
“I think he just had to wrap his mind around what we were doing,” Beard says. “When you’re a professional musician ... and somebody just says to you, ‘Do you want to do this?’ I mean, they’re being approached with ideas like that all the time. Non-stop. So even if it’s somebody they know and they like and they trust, it could just be a fleeting idea.”
With Love, Beard realized, it couldn’t just be a fleeting idea.
So he set out to prove that it wasn’t, starting by asking Bonfiglio to try to assemble an early working version of the song. In short order, Bonfiglio got Jardine to record a lead vocal track and sent that to the children who had signed on, so they could use it as a reference point to record their backing vocals.
Bonfiglio mixed the vocals together and added instrumentation, then gave the draft to Beard, who took it to Love.
“Once Mike heard that,” Beard says, “he was like, ‘This is a very good recording. This is professionally done, and I’m on board.’ ”
Soon after, Beard settled on Feeding America as the beneficiary and struck a deal with Omnivore Recordings, which specializes in releasing and curating previously unissued or long out-of-print music, to release the single. Beard also took the suggestion of Brad Rosenberger, Omnivore’s owner, and started gathering additional songs so they could put out a full album.
But one thing was missing: Brian Wilson.
‘THEY JUST SAID, HE’S NOT AVAILABLE’
The original version of “Add Some Music to Your Day” was mainly written by Wilson (the Beach Boys’ founding songwriter, co-lead vocalist and former bandleader) and Love.
Vocals on the song were sung by Wilson, Love, Johnston, Jardine and Wilson’s brothers Carl and Dennis. Dennis Wilson died in 1983; Carl Wilson died in 1998. Beard wanted Brian Wilson to be involved in the new version of the song. Badly.
It wasn’t meant to be, however.
“I was told Brian wasn’t available. I asked twice. Just was told he wasn’t available,” Beard says.
“I’m assuming because of the pandemic. I’m assuming that. I don’t know. I’m not going to pry. It’s not my business. If it’s my business then they would say, ‘He’s not available because of this.’ They didn’t say that to me. They just said, ‘He’s not available.’ ... I just — you hear no twice ... you don’t want to upset anybody, because if you’re either upsetting somebody or manipulating somebody, you’ve lost your intention.”
Despite the fact that he wasn’t able to secure Wilson’s involvement, Beard kept Wilson on his mind throughout the process. In a deliberate effort to honor Wilson’s original arrangement on “Add Some Music to Your Day,” Beard pushed hard to have a cellist and a violinist record on the new version.
“Real string players gave it that greater authenticity,” he says, “that deeper quality that just made it truer to Brian’s composition all those years ago.”
Beard also says he incorporated images of Dennis and Carl Wilson into the song’s music video (which Beard directed) because he wanted the video to be a love letter to Brian Wilson.
“This project needed to be about whatever fell into place naturally,” Beard says. “The fanboy in me wanted Brian Wilson on that recording. But I was not about to let my individual fanboy — in quotes, ‘want’ — to get in the way of helping others. I was not gonna let that happen.”
THE FINISHED PROJECT ... AND ONE REGRET
In the end, the updated version of “Add Some Music to Your Day” features Love, Jardine and Johnston doing lead vocals, with additional vocals by Matt Jardine; Christian Love; Hayleigh Love; Carnie Wilson; Ambha Love (Love’s daughter); Justyn Wilson (son of the late Carl Wilson); Wendy Wilson (Brian Wilson’s daughter); and Lola Bonfiglio (Brian’s granddaughter).
Mike Love and Al Jardine both have recording studios in their homes. But with everyone working remotely in different parts of the country, in some cases, vocals had to be recorded on iPhones.
Early Beach Boys member David Marks and later-years Beach Boys touring musician Jeffrey Foskett also played guitar on the track.
The song dropped Feb. 26.
The album — out this month and titled “California Music Presents Add Some Music” — will also feature songs donated by Love, Jardine, Johnston, Marks, Foskett and Bonfiglio, along with a cappella and instrumental versions of “Add Some Music to Your Day.”
Beard is still pinching himself periodically. Anytime he considers the fact that, almost single-handedly, he set the stage for the first new recording in many years with key surviving members of the Beach Boys.
But while he’s at peace with Brian Wilson being conspicuously absent from the project, he does have just one regret.
“The only thing I kind of wish that I thought about in hindsight, once the video got out,” Beard says, “was I wish that at the very beginning — the very, very, very beginning (of the music video), like the very first thing you see — I kind of wished in my mind that I had put, ‘Dedicated to Brian Wilson.’ Or something like that. Because that’s how I feel.
“That’s not some sort of after-the-fact thought, or afterthought. The video really is for Brian. The song is for Feeding America. But the video — for me, personally — is for Brian. It just is. That’s why his brothers are in there.
“And if the fans like it, then all the better.”