The Beach Boys
Despite a troubled history and the mental problems of their main creative talent Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys are an American institution. Formed by Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson with friends at Hawthorne High School, their distinctive, close harmony vocal style was dubbed "surf sound" after their first single Surfin'. More upbeat surf-related records followed - California Girls was a huge summer hit - before the Beatles galvanised Brian Wilson into experimenting with visionary overdubs and complex arrangements, climaxing in the epic Good Vibrations single - described by Brian Wilson as a "pocket symphony" - and the groundbreaking 1966 album Pet Sounds. Happier masterminding their sound in the studio than playing live, Brian Wilson stopped touring and then withdrew from music completely as he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. The band continued without him, but were plagued by illness, internal disputes and, ultimately, the deaths of both Dennis and Carl Wilson. Brian Wilson, however, recovered and eventually returned to meaningful action.