By Brad Dison
The Beach Boys are one of the most successful bands of all time with many top ten hits including, “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Surfer Girl,” “Be True To Your School,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “California Girls,” “Barbara Ann,” “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Good Vibrations,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Kokomo.” The original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Brian Wilson wrote or co-wrote the majority of the group’s hit songs, but the group also recorded other people’s songs on occasion.
In 1967, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter named Miles began recording an album of his own hoping it would lead to a recording contract. In the following year, Dennis Wilson, the group’s drummer, met Miles and they quickly became friends. Their common interest was music. Within a short while, Miles moved into Dennis’s house. He was just one of a large group of hangers-on who lived in Dennis’s house. Pretty soon the Beach Boys included Miles into their inner circle. Miles wrote a folk song called “Cease to Exist” specifically for the Beach Boys. Dennis liked the song and told Miles he was interested in the Beach Boys recording it. Rather than taking credit for the song and earning potential royalties, Miles, always in need of money, sold all of his rights to the song to Dennis for an undisclosed amount of money.
In September, 1968, the Beach Boys reworked the song and transformed it from a folk song into a pop song more fitting their style. The band changed the name of the song from “Cease to Exist” to “Never Learn Not to Love.” The Beach Boys used the single as the B-Side to their rendition of “Bluebirds Over the Mountain.” Sole writing credit went, not to Miles, but to Dennis Wilson.
The Beach Boys released “Never Learn Not to Love” in December, 1968. Miles, who had little luck getting recognition for his other recordings, was enraged when he learned about all of the changes the Beach Boys had made to his song. Even though the song was not as commercially successful as many of their other songs, it still earned a fair amount of money. Miles claimed Dennis had cheated him out of his rights to the song, and, therefore, money the song generated. Miles was also angry that he was not credited for writing the song.
Miles’s music career never took off. Major record companies were not interested in distributing his music. In March, 1970, a minor record company called Awareness Records released Miles’s debut album. The album contained fourteen songs, all of which were written and recorded by Miles. It was a commercial failure. Through the years, several artists have covered songs from the album including Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie, Redd Kross, The Lemonheads, Crispin Glover, and Marilyn Manson with varying degrees of success. In 2006, ESP-DISK, a small record company which specialized in jazz and underground rock, re-released the original album on compact disc with the addition of twelve previously unreleased tracks. Again, the album was a commercially failure.
Had the events of August 8-10, 1969, gone differently, we may all be celebrating Miles’s music. For on that weekend, Miles orchestrated the brutal murders of Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Sharon Tate and her unborn child, Leno LaBianca, and Rosemary LaBianca. Miles was the middle name of Charles Manson.
The Sacramento Bee, August 9, 1969, p.1.
The San Francisco Examiner, August 9, 1969, p.1.
The San Francisco Examiner, August 11, 1969, p.1.
The Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1969, p.1.
The Windsor Star, December 4, 1969, p.61.
Hartford Courant, December 30, 1983, p.43.
4 thoughts on “Miles with the Beach Boys”
Many books have been written about Charles Manson and the Family – The best one is Helter Skelter – If you are interested in Manson I recommend you read this book
Brad, my friend James Burton played on many Boys songs and told me a story of one recording session when one of the “hippies” who were always with Dennis, sat on the floor during a session and watched James play for hours. “He just stared and watched me play”, James said, “Kinda freaked me out.”
A few days later he saw the guy’s face on TV in a news report. It was Charles Manson.
Oh wow! That would be unsettling. I never got to jam with James. Maybe one day I can sit in with you guys.
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