On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “California Girls” by The Beach Boys is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the fourteenth single release by the legendary pop/rock band from Hawthorne, CA. Following his retirement from The Beach Boys grueling touring schedule, Brian Wilson uses the time to explore and expand his creative genius, moving into one of the most prolific periods of his life. After taking LSD for the first time in early 1965, Wilson comes up with a chromatic run of chords while sitting at the piano, drawing inspiration from classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Quickly coming up with a melody, it evolves into what comes “California Girls”. Brian’s cousin and band mate Mike Love helps him complete the lyrics. The basic track featuring members of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine (drums), Al de Lory (organ), Leon Russell (piano) and Billy Strange (tambourine), is recorded at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 6, 1965. The songs orchestral prelude, initially discouraged by Brian’s father Murry as being “excessively complex” becomes one the most distinctive and most instantly recognizable parts of the composition. Another stand out feature of “California Girls” is its bass line, played by musician Carol Kaye on the session. The rest of The Beach Boys overdub their vocals on to the finished track, two months later on June 4, 1965 at CBS Columbia Square. Released in the mid-Summer of 1965, the song is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #72 on July 24, 1965, and peaking at #3 on August 28, 1965. “California Girls” breaks new musical ground for The Beach Boys, becoming one of their best loved and popular songs, as well as becoming an early marker for Brian Wilson’s work on the landmark albums “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and the single masterpiece “Good Vibrations”. Nearly twenty years after the original recording, a cover version by Van Halen front man David Lee Roth (also featuring Carl Wilson on backing vocals), matches the peak position of The Beach Boys original, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on March 2, 1985. The Beach Boys recording of “California Girls” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2010.