Classic acts celebrate golden anniversaries

Once viewed as the disposable purview of youth, pop music like the Beach Boys and the Monkees are now celebrating the fiftieth anniversaries of their work.

Beach Boys members (clockwise from top left) Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, and Carl Wilson in London in 1966.

Fifty years is an impressive milestone in any context. But when golden anniversaries are being celebrated in popular music – once viewed as the disposable purview of youth – it’s even more impressive.

“Music up to that time had a life span of about ten years,” bass guitar legend Carol Kaye recently told journalist Phoebe Reilly in a New York Magazine profile. “We’re shocked those lived on.”

Kaye and her studio musician colleagues in the so-called Wrecking Crew were part of the marathon recording sessions for the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” which was released on May 16, 1966. Beach Boys architect Brian Wilson is marking the anniversary of “Pet Sounds” with an extensive world tour that includes North American legs in the summer and fall during which the seminal album (which included “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows”) will be performed in its entirety. The stops in Britain in particular are almost all sold out.

Co-founding Beach Boy Al Jardine and longtime member Blondie Chapman are taking part in what's being billed as "Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds: The 50th Anniversary celebration & final performance in its entirety along with rare cuts and greatest hits."

(Subsequent generations are honoring this rock & roll masterpiece album, too. On May 15, The Echo club in Los Angeles' Silver Lake neighborhood hosted a multi-artist 50th anniversary "Pet Sounds" tribute concert. )

About five months after the release of “Pet Sounds,” the Monkees debuted with a self-titled album that boasted “(Theme from) The Monkees” and “Last Train to Clarksville.” The surviving three members begin a North American tour on May 18 in Fort Myers, Fla. that runs through late October.

Later this month, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork are releasing the first new Monkees album in 20 years. “Good Times!” features recordings of new songs written by the likes of Rivers Cuomo (Weezer); Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie); Noel Gallagher (formerly of Oasis); Paul Weller of The Jam; and Andy Partridge (XTC).  

Golden anniversary celebrations also extend into popular international musical styles. Sérgio Mendes debuted his Brasil ’66 band 50 years ago with “Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66”. By combining Brazilian musical styles with hits such as “One-Note Samba/Spanish Flea” and the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” Mendes was able to further popularize bossa nova and samba in the Northern Hemisphere.

The pianist/bandleader/composer will bring his “A Celebration of 50 Years of Brasil ’66” show to various cities, including Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and Seattle over the next few months. The tour will include a pair of 2016 Summer Olympics tie-in shows this August at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles with Alpert and alumni of Mendes' bands, including vocalists Lani Hall and Dianne Reeves.

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