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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wesley Britton's Hot-Off-The-Press Review of "Beach Boys"

Endless Summer: My Life with the Beach Boys
By Jack Lloyd
Bear Manor Media
ISBN-10: 1-59393-xxx-x (alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 973-1-59393-xxx-x (alk. paper)
(Release scheduled for Late July 2010)


Reviewed by Wesley Britton originally for “Wesley Britton’s Entertainment Scrapbook"



Of all the rock memoirs I’ve read this year, Jack Lloyd’s slice of the ‘60s is one of my favorites. For one matter, Lloyd knows readers want to know about the subject of his book’s title, so Endless Summer isn’t a full-blown autobiography. Lloyd doesn’t bog the early chapters down with his upbringing and his book ends when his tenure with the Beach Boys was over. So readers will quickly realize Lloyd is acting as a narrator of what he saw during some important years in rock history with a minimum of details about his own personal life. As a result, Lloyd says his account is a “tell some,” not “all” book.

More importantly, Lloyd provides a perspective into the music of the ‘60s very different from the usual memories of musicians or their girlfriends or wives. His role was, depending on what hat he was wearing, as a personal manager/promoter/producer who got into the entertainment business selling programs, watching the box office, arranging concert dates, and sitting in the office writing publicity and paying bills. In his early days, he got to know folks involved with the Smothers Brothers before he began spending considerable time on the road. Lloyd’s duties expanded to keeping a careful eye on the Beach Boys in general and drummer Dennis Wilson in particular, especially in the after-hours bars and speakeasys. It was a life in planes, hotels, getting the boys to the gig on time and finding food when the show was over. It was a life with unusual lessons. For example, Lloyd learned it’s better to hire prostitutes on the road—professionals don’t blackmail or come back with paternity suits. Check ages on driver’s licenses before letting the girls in the room. Be wary of girls who sleep with rock stars or their entourage in hopes of getting a record contract. And be more careful still with the locals who don’t always want to pay their bills.

The Beach Boys weren’t the only band Lloyd worked with, and much of his book is anecdotes about Sonny and Cher, Jim Morrison, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Buffalo Springfield, and others. It’s the story of an era when road managers and producers had a viable role in entertainment. Often using the band’s own funds, they made money from percentages and selling souvenir books. They had to be creative when ticket sales were low and invent publicity on the spot. Lloyd had to put out fires like fighting Canadian tax collectors dogging the band for cuts of concert revenues. Some of all these stories can be skimmed—not every stopover, drunken evening, or sexual encounter is entertaining. As Lloyd was mainly involved with the Beach Boys on tour, he has little to say about Brian Wilson as his time was spent with Bruce Johnson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson and, again, the wild drummer, Dennis Wilson. So there are no studio insights nor discussions of song composition or production. As other books cover this ground, this isn’t a criticism—merely a clarification of Lloyd’s scope. He was the guy who traveled ahead of the band to make sure the gigs ran smoothly and hopefully lucratively and he was the man calling radio stations to fill in where the record label failed. Remember, there was a time when Beach Boys LPs weren’t selling and the late ‘60s was an era when the group seemed out of step with current trends. In short, Lloyd was the guy who looked after the band’s interests while they were engaged in orgies, binges, performing, or preparing for tours. Whether he became a friend of the group remains an open question. When he moved on to greener pastures, no one seemed to notice. That’s rock ‘n roll.

If all this sounds like stories for a select audience, Lloyd has an engaging style and keeps the anecdotes coming at a fast clip. There’s plenty of humor and surprising twists. Whether you’re a Beach Boys fan or not, Endless Summer offers a perspective into rock history new to me, at least. The Stones had fun with their “Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”—Lloyd demonstrates such bands wouldn’t have gotten very far without him.

Details and ordering information.

~ Dr. Wesley Britton has written four books on espionage in the media and is co-host of online radio’s “Dave White Presents.” Many of his reviews are posted at www.spywise.net and his radio interviews are archived at www.audioentertainment.org/dwp.

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