Memories of Carl Wilson, solo & otherwise

Have a memory of Carl to share with the world? Email JT and he'll add it to the collection below.

Leading off with a special memory (others following are in order from when I received them), Billy Hinsche wrote back in response to my question about whether Carl was a "words first" or "music first" composer:

-----Original Message----- From: PPlayer Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 1999 10:54 AM Subject: Re: Question for Billy Hinsche re: Carl's songwriting Hello all, It has been my observation that Carl was a music writing *first* songwriter. He wrote on both piano and guitar. He first dabbled at the piano in the early years while coming up with the musical ideas for "Trader" and "Long Promised Road". He also seemed to have melodies already developing in his head. He never wrote anything down as far as chords or chord charts. He usually left that to me once we got to the actual recording session, or to the other players who could write/read chord charts. His chord choices on piano were highly unique, specific and personal. Likewise, is bass progressions were always a bit unexpected (like Brian), often using notes which were "inversions" (noted other than the root of the chord). This gave his songs a more aural interesting aspect---very intelligent and challenging to play. Carl wrote songs on his acoustic guitar too. Like "Heaven". During the making of his solo albums he became fond of using different guitar tunings (D modal especially) and employing a "capo" on his guitar which changed the key and the finger position used. It also lent a different "timbre" to the sound of the guitar/chords. Obviously he enjoyed working with lyricists. I can't tell you how proud I am that he chose to do a song that I had written for his second album---"One More Night Alone". Hope this answers your question sufficiently. Regards, Billy Hinsche

From: vr daub Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2005 2:42 PM Subject: Carl Wilson I attended a concert of Carl Wilson's in the midst of the Beach Boy concerts. It was in 1983 and it was at the Irvine Meadows in Irvine, CA. He also was there, alone, with a group of musicians which included Chuck Berry (very late and not courteous) and BB King (who was very gracious). I don't know why but it was being recorded for tv use. Carl was in the back. I don't know why I am getting so nostalgic but if you know when these were would you email me. I went to a lot of the BB concerts in 1982 and 1983 and cannot remember the dates but it was during the summer.
Thank-you for your time and help, I appreciate it.

From: Karen Carlson Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 1:45 PM Subject: Memories of Carl Wilson My name is Karen Carlson and I met Carl and the Beach Boys in Jackson, Michigan on August 13, 1988 - two days before my 17th birthday. I had started listening to the Beach Boys music when I got ahold of my older brother's Endless Summer album. That album got me searching for any of their music I could get my hands on. I had gone to several of their concerts, but one in particular will ring in my mind and heart forever. The concert was on a track and I was in the front row. I was standing and singing along with every song, as was everyone else. Then, they started to play 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring' and everyone sat down - but me. I stood there singing with them, word for word. I think that surprised Carl that someone of my age would know that song, of all songs at my age. He asked me if I would like an autograph and I didn't hear him, so he mimed 'autograph' - acting like he was signing the air so I said 'of course!'. He went to get a song sheet to sign for me. He came down to the base of the stage to hand it right to me when the air blew it from his hands and underneath Bruce Johnston's feet. Carl didn't miss a beat, he went right over and got down on his hands and knees to get my autograph while Bruce was playing and trying to figure out what he was doing. He finally got it, came over and handed it to me. He also gave me a guitar pick that day with his name on it (both the autographed song sheet and the pick are framed on my wall). From that time on, he began singing to me, knowing somehow that it was him that I was there to see. At the end of the concert, he told me to come backstage so I leapt over the track wall (mind you, I'm no track star and I still to this day have no idea how I did that!) and ran backstage. When I got back there, he was nothing of what I expected. He was so funny and down to Earth - and SO personable. He was nothing like what one would expect a legend to be like - he made an impression on me that day that I have carried with me to this day. I did not know of is solo career at that time, but today I own all of his solo and collaberated works and listen to them often. I played "Heaven" at my wedding as I wanted him to be there with me in some capacity on that day - and he was. I truly feel that Carl is still with us, and now knows just how important he was and will always be to those of us in the background who never really got the chance to get to know him as well as we would have liked. In just those few hours, he really touched a part of my heart, and to this day I still think of him as an uncle that I've always looked up to. Everyone - keep playing his music, often, as if we never forget him - he will never be apart from us. Thank you, Karen A. Carlson Kalamazoo, Michigan
Webmaster's Note: Karen & I traded a few emails, and she had another great memory to share....
From: Karen Carlson Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 8:54 PM Subject: Re: Memories of Carl Wilson .... I suppose the reason I think so highly of Carl is that he never had a problem with not being in the spotlight, his modesty was overwhelming. He was just a genuinely good person who would do anything for anyone. I remember what he said to me when I got back stage word for word, and it was the least of what I had expected from Carl Wilson. I walked in, and he said 'How the hell are ya? Grab yourself a beer, make a sandwich, take a shower!' in a completely jovial tone. He had always come across as the gentle silent type on stage but he really did have a great sense of humor. He never let the fame turn him into an egomaniac, and with the fame that he endured, that is quite a feat. I have a guitar pick of his that says 'Clem Howdy Wilson' on it somewhere, it's not one that you'll find very often. As a matter of fact, with all of the picks I've seen on Ebay, I've never seen the one I have with his funny nickname. He gave that one to me in Charlevoix, Michigan two years after I had met him in Jackson.... I'm not sure if he remembered me or not, but I like to think he did.....
Regards, Karen A. Carlson
From: MARY JANE E QUINTON Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2004 12:49 PM Subject: Memphis,Tn 1981 I attended this show. It was the Bombay Club(not real sure). Willie Weeks was playing bass guitar. The girl back up singer was Carl's co-song writer at that time. She was from Memphis also.....

-----Original Message----- From: Jim Gillespie Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002 3:00 AM Subject: Carl Wilson I have loved the music of the Beach Boys since I was a child back in the
1960's and had the great fortune of seeing them three times in concert. While
so much praise and attention has been given to Brian over the years
(and rightly so) I've always had the strong sense that Carl was
truly the calm spiritual center of the Beach Boys who held them all together.
And his voice has always affected me so profoundly whenever I've
heard him sing. His singing and songwriting capabilities were so
incredible and yet he always seemed completely at ease in not being the one
showered with all the attention by the media. I think this in itself
speaks volumes about the quality of who this man truly was.

Jim Gillespie Southern California

-----Original Message----- From: DOUGLAS PIKE Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2002 6:19 PM Subject: He was my mentor I'm 55 yrs old and began playing BB music at a very early age. I had a
band from Jacksonville Beach, Fla. We called our group The Jacksonville Beach Boys and tried to copy that west coast "surfing" sound.
(Carl and I had something special in common. We were 2 days apart in age. I'm Dec. 19th. He was Dec. 21st.)
I felt very close to him.....saw the BB in concert 7 or 8 time over the years........and was very emotionally upset at his passing.
I copied his style of music....that hard driving reverb filled Fender Guitar. Today, I still play his lead licks (note for note) on most of the earlier songs.
Last night, I performed a Mike Love and BB tribute at a dinner theater, and gave mention of Carl's writings...his contributions to music....and his untimly passing.
Hope to hear from another guitar player who loved the man and his music as much as I do. Thank you
Doug Pike
-----Original Message----- From: Orick1110 Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 4:38 PM To: Subject: carl I was at the show at the paradise club in boston in 1981, and although my
memories are vague, i do remember the show as being awesome, except for a
certain person who kept requesting popular beach boy tunes. I remember
"Grammy" as a highlight. Also i remember trading some hospital scrubs for a
t-shirt with a band member. Carl is missed , but remembered in a special way.
What a voice!!!

-----Original Message----- From: Msnicco21 Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2000 7:44 PM Subject: memories of carl hi, my name is felicia.i have been a beach boys fan since the late 60s and i
just want to share something many young teenage girls i had a crush
on carl wilson from the beach boys and john lennon from the beatles,i could
not decide which one i wanted to marry.

From: Jeff Shumar Sent: Friday, November 17, 2000 1:53 AM Subject: carl... I lived in houston during the late 70s and early to mid 80s.
Have been a beach boy fan since seeing them in 1969 when i was a freshman in college at va tech.
Easily became a fanatic thru out the seventies and the vietnam years...
Surfs up, holland and CARL & the passions are my all time favorites along with the two solo albums by carl. I always thought brian was the genius but carl's voice was and always be the beach boys.
Yes,... unbelievably; carl came to houston to a very small club and i luckily found out and perched my ass right up front.
It was amazing. Here..i'd seen the beach boys a dozen or so times over the years live ... pretty difficult for someone growing up in n.carolina later living in baltimore, then houston. Saw them in the astrodome and even at mile high stadium in denver.
BUT; the event that i'll always remember was that small venue in houston with carl wailing away at his best! He kept belting them out... some pauses with light conversation and that captive smile.
He was truly having fun,fun,fun..... Didnt want the nite to end. I still have the lp's of his solo albums but hope beyond hope they'll be re-released on cd. Like your website. AS i sit here and reminisce while listening to and the california saga radio station..............
I now live in phoenix...even got to live the ca dream for awhile until the 94 earthquake which bounced me into arizona...Going out tomorrow to get like a brother and the holland/carl&the passions rereleases...
My wife and i wanted to go to the carl walk this past october but coudnt make it. Upcoming holidays add a touch of sadness...
carl was a capricorn (as I) and dennis died on the 28th birthday. Damn, its midnite... & im so pumped...could write about the inspiration good vibes passion of the beachboys and carl all nite long. Take care.
-----Original Message----- From: Antoon van Osch Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2000 4:51 PM Subject: memories of carlwilson i am a beachboys fan since 1972,i saw thebeachboys first in 1980 in holland in june and since that time. carl is my favorite beachboy and since that time saw i the beachboys more than 15 times . the last time that i saw thebeachboys was in 1994 in berlin. i am going this year to the carl wilson walk against cancer. i arrive on october 7 on los angeles airport. my name is antoon i come from the netherlands -----Original Message----- From: Aaetward Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2000 8:47 PM Subject: Carl's Incredible Inspiration I first saw Carl play live with the BB's in the summer of 1962 at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds. The crowd was unrulely with fights breaking out, etc. Carl managed to calm the crowd down and proceeded to captivate us all with his stunning vocals and fantastic guitar playing. The next day I took my first guitar lesson. 38 years later I'm still at it! Carl was my major inspiration and I'll be forever grateful. Bill -----Original Message----- From: Laffranchi, Anthony J Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 9:32 AM Subject: The tour Hi, I will never forget that concert... There was one date in San Francisco, we went with another couple. It was at the Kabukey in S.F. It was a smaller crowd the second show so he said, (CARL) If you aren't in a hurry to get home stay for the second show. My friends and I did not hesitate for a minute since we were in the front row. His drummer broke a drumstick that night,which my friend still has stored away somewhere. Carl was a very cool dude that night... shook hands with us that night after his curtain call back on stage. It was a night to remember... when we get together,the four of us, we still talk about that night we saw Carl Wilson in concert. Now that we are older...God only knows that Carl Wilson's voice will always be remembered. -----Original Message----- From: ANNE CHADWICK Sent: Thursday, April 09, 1998 8:25 PM Subject: carl wilson band tour 81 Importance: High Saw him in Toronto at the El Mocombo, I met him and sat with his wife Gina. The show was great! I then saw him again that year in Toronto, Ontario Place Pavilion. The capacity of this venue was roughly 7500 and approx. 35 people turned out for his show. To his credit Carl performed one of the most intimate and crowd pleasing shows I have ever seen. I will never forget that show! -----Original Message----- From: Elyse Demayo Sent: Thursday, August 19, 1999 3:10 PM Subject: Carl Wilson solo show I am not sure if this would be of interest to you, but I saw Carl back in 1981(?) in Rochester, New York, at the Community War Memorial, opening for the Doobie Brothers. I managed to get second row center seats, and was able to hand him a big bouquet of daisies. It was a concert I won't forget! -----Original Message----- From: Twbutch912 Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 9:43 AM Subject: Carl Wilson Dear Sir, I can only tell you about 1 performance here in Indianapolis. We had some promoters without a lot of common sense. They had an outdoor concert at a minor league baseball park that was well attended. Unfortunately, the crowd was OUTSIDE the park and heard a great show for free! Carl Wilson was among the headliners and by all acounts he blew them away! It was also said that he took a lot oftime to help the young musicians there on their first gig. Nice man. From: Twbutch912 Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 10:53 PM Subject: Re: Carl Wilson Dear John I know it was in the summer of 1980 or 81. It was at Bush Stadium on West 16th Street in Indianapolis, a minor league ballpark that now is a racetrack! Also, I was fortunate enough to see the Beach Boys at Deer Creek in summer 1997. It was pretty obvious that Carl was in distress, and he had to sit down a couple of times. But he was a trouper and did the show and rocked like crazy on Darlin and doing the chorus line thing on Barbara Ann. It was even better because I had just got back from Bosnia and really made my day. -----Original Message----- From: BCHarber Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 8:24 PM Subject: Carl Wilson Memphis concert I attended the concert here in Memphis. Carl played at P.O.E.T.S. Music Hall (I have no idea what it stands for, but that was the name of the place).

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This page last updated February 29, 2004.