More with The Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston about potential reunion, his role in group

I spoke with Bruce Johnston, longtime singer/songwriter of The Beach Boys, in December for a preview of the group’s New Year Eve’s performance in Temecula and there were additional comments he made about a possible full reunion that did not make my final story.

In my original story, I mentioned how The Beach Boys had a 50th anniversary tour in 2012. It featured a tour, the recording of the album “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and original members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks famously returning to the group.

Johnston said he enjoyed the tour but described it as a “tense” environment in putting it all together.

“There was just a lot of people tense about things we didn’t have to do like stage lighting,” Johnston said. “I thought it was great. But the thing I really liked about the tour that other people didn’t like was it ended. That was one of my favorite things. I’ll tell you why. We agreed for 50 shows and then we did 73. The British media and others spun it around that Mike Love fired his bandmates. In the meantime, we went 23 shows beyond our agreement. My personal feeling was how long do you want to do it? You don’t want to go into the 51st year celebrating the 50th. That’s my personal point of view.”

As far as another reunion with all the original members, Johnston said it hasn’t been discussed.

“It hasn’t come up,” Johnston said. “I will appear on any stage that Mike Love will appear on. My focus has always been to The Beach Boys in this way. If anything like that (a reunion) happens, it needs to be everybody. But I have no idea. Honest to God. No has said ‘hey, lets do The Beach Boys 2018.’ So who knows? It’s a flattering question to ask. But I would be very unprofessional to give you any hope of that because the question has not been asked among the band. If everyone wants to be up there again, well sure, why wouldn’t you? Yeah, sure I’ll do it (then). But I have to do it from Mike Love’s point of view to have it happen. If three guys said ‘lets do it’ and Mike declined then I would decline. But the other three guys might not ask me.” 

Additionally, Johnston (who joined the band in 1965) said he has never wanted to be the focus of the group and is more than happy with his sideman role.

“I am so lucky,” Johnston said. “Are you kidding? I’m not one of those center stage guys even though I stand next to Mike (Love, co-founder and lead singer). My favorite song I ever wrote was ‘Disney Girls (1957).’ Then the spotlight is on me. I’m not a frontman. I’m excited about life but Mike’s a frontman. That’s the frontman. I get my little 15 minutes of fame and about three minutes singing my song. My real thing I love is songwriting. I have a Grammy. So I’m kind of covered on the attention part you asked about. I always tell Mike he does so much stuff. Like ‘you go be famous I’d rather be right here.’ I’d rather talk about Mike’s achievements.”

Johnston said he feels Love doesn’t get enough credit for helping to write the group’s songs because they get overshadowed by Brian Wilson’s efforts similar to how people think of legendary composer Henry Mancini’s 1961 Grammy winning song “Moon River” but don’t remember the lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer.

“I feel like Mike got skipped over,” Johnston said, adding Love wrote the lyrics to 1965’s “California Girls.” “I’m happy to talk about Mike. I have an amazing supporting role but he’s our boy.”

— Wes Woods II

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