Murry Wilson / Brian Wilson / The Beach Boys -- I Am Speechless

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by EdogawaRampo, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In going through stuff from a storage lot I haven't looked at in almost 20 years I came across this little paperback on surf music I didn't even remember I had. In it, there's a section titled "Sea of Tunes Publishing," which Beach Boys fans will recognize as the company that published the Beach Boys early catalog.

    I knew a few tidbits of the trouble Brian Wilson had with his father Murray Wilson, but I don't remember ever reading the details contained here. If they are only even half true -- it is astonishing. I have always loved the voice and music of Brian Wilson, despaired over his travails, but this really puts things in sharper focus.

    And it leaves me speechless each time I review it.

    Mere cursing doesn't even come close to expressing what I feel about how Brian Wilson was victimized.

    If you weren't aware of these details, prepare to be appalled:


    From “Sea of Tunes Publishing” in “Surf City – The California Sound” by Jack Wood, 1995, pp. 26~27

    "Murray Wilson organized Sea of Tunes Publishing in 1962, primarily to protect the songs his son Brian was writing, but also to provide a means by which he could prevent Gary Usher from receiving his rightful compensation for songs he had written with Brian. Originally, Brian was the sole owner of both the publishing company and the song copyrights. Once the Beach Boys had amassed a few hits, Murray began pressuring Brian into giving up his publishing income. Murray told him that he would still make money as a songwriter, but that because Murray was the band’s manager as well as Brian’s father, he was entitled to the publishing company. After months of being constantly harangued, Brian relinquished 50% of the publishing income to Murray, who was also given responsibility for administering the catalog. The arrangement lasted only a few months, until Murray decided he should be given the other 50%. His first ploy was to tell Brian that he had promised to hand over the remainder to Murray; when that didn’t work, Murray withheld Brian’s share of the income (the latest check – and this was in late 1964 – was for approximately $280,000). Murray told Brian that he was free to take his songs out of the catalog at any time, but he was still obligated to relinquish his share of the publishing company. Brian finally broke, and verbally agreed to give his father 100% of the publishing rights. Although no contract was signed, Murray began taking 100% of all publishing income.

    On June 9, 1965, Brian received a letter from Murray reminding him that he had promised to sign over all publishing rights to his father. Murray repeatedly reminded Brian of this, even going so far as to say that Audree had witnessed the agreement, which, Murray said, had been sealed with a handshake. Brian refused to sign a contract, but Murray would not take no for an answer. He continued his verbal assault for months but eventually backed off, and Brian turned to drugs, which he had been experimenting with for some time, for solace.

    In November 1969, Brian was told that Murray was going to sell Sea of Tunes to Irving Almo Publishing, a division of A&M Records. Murray believed that the Beach Boys’ career was coming to an end and that the material didn’t have a future outside the group’s live performances. Brian confronted Murray at the Wilson home, and Murray insisted that Brian had signed over the rights. A were violent argument ensued – glasses, plates, and pots were broken – but in the end Murray sold the catalog for $700,000 (Today, the songs in the catalog have an estimated worth of over $20,000,000). Murray received the money in one lump sum and no member of the band ever saw a penny. Brian was devastated; this was akin to selling his children. He was distraught for months – the sale increased his paranoia and fueled his desire to escape into drugs and alcohol.

    On September 19, 1989, Brian filed a lawsuit against A&M, Irving Almo Publishing, and the law firm that negotiated the sale of the catalog. A year before, during an audit of Almo’s books, Brian’s attorney had discovered some inconsistencies in the paperwork and decided to investigate. The contracts and signatures necessary for the sale of Sea of Tunes were questionable, the law firm that handled the sale for Irving Almo had also represented the Beach Boys at the time of the sale, and Brian Wilson’s signature on the 1969 letter of transfer was a forgery. One month prior to Brian’s filing of the lawsuit, the principals produced contracts that they said proved that all indeed was in order. These contracts were also problematic: some of the signatures were forgeries, and in the contracts some of the songs were stated as being transferred to Sea of Tunes before they were actually written (“Caroline, No,” for instance, was written in early 1966, not in May 1962 as stated in the contract). The lawsuit was settled in 1994; Irving Almo settled with Brian Wilson for an undisclosed amount, but that company retains administration duties."

    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  2. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
  3. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Mobile, AL USA
    Par for the course in the history of The Beach Boys. Just shameful.
  4. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    For perspective, the $280,000 Murray Wilson withheld from his son Brian in 1964 is equivalent to $2, 283, 581.09 today. Brian was already an adult -- 22 -- at the time.
  5. Grunge Master

    Grunge Master 8 Bit Enthusiast

    And now you can (sort of ) understand just why Brian went off the deep end. This wasn't the only reason, but it was a contributing factor.
    All Brian ever wanted to do was please Murray, really. I mean he did fire him, but that was only when Murray really became unbearable. So the person that you most want to please turns around and does this. I mean, WTF.
  6. edenofflowers

    edenofflowers A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular!

    But he was a genius too!

    Yep, Murray Wilson was an absolute s*** of a man. Nothing else to add really.
    Aftermath, bekayne, Comet01 and 7 others like this.
  7. tman53

    tman53 Vinyl is an Addiction

    I think most Beach Boy fans understand that Murray was not only a bad father but also a pr**k.
  8. There's a current thread about how fathers have influenced their children' s musical tastes and likes.
    One member posted something along the lines of : ' You should always listen to your father '
    And that's true and good advice. But not in this case.
    Murray Wilson was a horrible father.
  9. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes indeed. Thief. It's just incredible.
    longdist01 likes this.
  10. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Lotus Land
    On the other hand, he pushed hard for the group when they otherwise would have been content hanging out at the hamburger stand. Ya gotta take the good with the bad.
  11. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Sounds about right.
    One messed up band.
    Murry, was one messed up unit.
    MortSahlFan likes this.
  12. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not just that -- he was a thief that used his role as father to manipulate and deceive his son. Despicable doesn't really do the story justice.
  13. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    There wouldn't be a Beach Boys without him.
    Junkstar, Spazaru, BRODNATION and 6 others like this.
  14. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Take the good with the bad? Sure. Accept lying, psychological manipulation and thievery? Hmm...not so sure.
  15. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    and..... Mike Love.
  16. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Lotus Land
    If Murry had not been the driving force early on, we may not be having this conversation now.

    Gotta take the good with the bad. :righton:
  17. Psychedelic Good Trip

    Psychedelic Good Trip Forum Resident

    New York
    Murry Wilson " I'm a genius too Brian" :laugh:
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
    MortSahlFan likes this.
  18. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    Brian turned his pain into some amazingly beautiful music. Thats the only, buy by far the most, positive note.
    tedg65 and Junkstar like this.
  19. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Murry, I thought wrote some beautiful tunes.
    A Brian Wilson, he is Not.
  20. Francisx

    Francisx Forum Resident

    He was a jealous son of a bitch. He had no talent and took advantage of his sons vulnerabilities. Brian Wilson was and still is a musical genius! My question is where was Mrs. Wilson, his mother! Sometimes families just suck!
  21. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Still I don't see the justification there that would allow Murray Wilson to lie and steal, ya know? What we see here is unadulterated greed, avarice...50% wasn't enough and finally forging signatures to get the whole chunk? Perhaps some people think there's allowance for that kind of thing. I'm not one of them.
  22. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Mrs. Wilson, probably was getting some abuse herself.
    She stood it back, and buried herself into drinking for a period.
  23. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

  24. Autotune Sucks

    Autotune Sucks Forum Resident

    Little Rock, AR
    Might have been an informative book, but apparently they couldn't get the spelling of the man's name right. It's "Murry".
  25. TheDailyBuzzherd

    TheDailyBuzzherd Forum Resident

    Northeast USA

    In my book, THE #1 reason. Is there a word that goes beyond betrayal?
    MortSahlFan likes this.

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