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Music / Mike Love

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"For those who believe Brian walks on water, I will always be the Antichrist."
Mike Love acknowledging his polarising status.

Michael Edward Love (born March 15, 1941) is an American singer/songwriter who remains known for being part of The Beach Boys as one of its lead singers and lyricists. Contrasting with the falsetto vocals of Brian Wilson, his tenor/bass-baritone singing made his voice recognizable on classic songs such as "Surfin' USA" and "I Get Around".

The son of Milt Love and his wife Emily "Glee" Wilson Love, he often sang with with his cousins Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson (the sons of Glee's older brother Murry Wilson) as a child. Before considering a musical career with the Wilsons, Mike was expected to take over his father's sheet metal business. Along with Brian Wilson, he wrote songs which were key elements in the foundation of the Californian music scene with themes such as summer, hot-rod and love. He is also known for his stage presence where his banter antics made him the showman of the band. Compared to founding members who have been on and off the band, he is the most consistent Beach Boy and was rarely absent for a live show.

He is a controversial figure among Beach Boys fans for various reasons: being a member who wanted to take a leading postion in the band, not liking Pet Sounds and Smile, bringing Brian Wilson back on stage even though his mental health was at a low point, wanting The Beach Boys to become a concert machine fueled by nostalgia, making a hostile speech during The Beach Boys' induction into The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, suing Brian for songs he didn't get co-writing credits on, owning the Beach Boys license for touring for himself (despite also touring with Bruce Johnston) and being the executive producer and main writer of Summer in Paradise, The Beach Boys' most loathed album. Some of those claims were denied or proven wrong by the man himself while others are true yet sometimes exaggerated. Despite The Beach Boys being once affiliated with cult leader Charles Manson or manipulative psychiatrist Eugene Landy, Mike still has the reputation of being The Scrappy in the band's history. He is either seen as an iconic rock'n'roll singer (such is the comment Brian made about him) or as someone who was lucky enough to have talented people in his entourage.

Outside of his work with The Beach Boys, Mike Love has a solo career which is based on his experience and success as a Beach Boy. From the release of his first album Looking Back with Love from 1981 to 2019's 12 Sides of Summer, he also took part in other projects which involved Beach Boys sidemen (the band Celebration, the albums produced by Adrian Baker and the duo he formed with Dean Torrance).


WHEEEEEEEEEEEN some loud braggart tries to put me down and says his tropes are great:

  • Artist and the Band: In 1990, he toured as Mike Love Of The Beach Boys And The Endless Summer Beach Band, a backing band consisting of musicians who previously were touring members for The Beach Boys, including Adrian Baker.
  • Band of Relatives: He is the cousin of the three Wilson Brothers (the cover of The Beach Boys album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is interesting in how it only features the band members who are relatives).
    • His children are featured on his christmas album Reason For The Season and his son Christian acompanies him on stage.
  • Biopic: Mike has been depicted in three Beach Boys movies. He was portrayed by Casey Sander, Matt Letscher and Jake Abel.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: On some Beach Boys concert banters, Mike and Bruce Johnston would sometimes joke about the meaning of A Cappella and the fact that Bruce was the only Beach Boy to have a grammy.
  • The Cameo: Mike (and bandmate Bruce Johnston) appeared on the Jan and Dean's 1978 biopic "Deadman's Curve" in their own role.
  • Christmas Songs: He played and sang in a christmas special along with Dean Torrance and recently released the christmas album Reason for the Season.
    • Relying on the success of "Kokomo", he has also released the song "Santa's Goin' To Kokomo".
  • Cousin Rivalry: He had moments of tension with Dennis Wilson that sometimes descended into fisticuffs, most famously onstage once after a backstage argument where Dennis was allegedly kicked in the balls by either Mike or Mike's brother. The two of them were also known to have short fuses and Creative Differences in the kind of music that the band should perform.
    • While his relationship with Dennis was always fraught, he had periods where he was on the outs with Carl and to this day, he and Brian don't say very many nice things about each other, either.
  • Cover Album: Through the nineties, he has released two albums consisting of Beach Boys covers. The 2017 album Unleash The Love is a double album whose second disc only contains Beach Boys covers.
    • Rock 'n' Roll City only contains covers performed by various 60s bands, including Mike.
  • Cover Version: The Beach Boys song "Getcha Back" has been compared to Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" in terms of similarity. Mike acknowledged that by covering the song in 2007.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: In 1998, The Salute NASCAR album was released. It features Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and David Marks honoring the NASCAR brand by rerecording hot-rod songs of The Beach Boys' early career. However, despite those three Beach Boys presenting the album, it is actually a Mike Love project featuring some members of The Beach Boys touring band.
  • Free-Handed Performer: His tenure as a lead singer of the band on stage is a slight subversion of the trope. Early in the band's career, he provided (very limited) saxophone input on songs such as "Ten Little Indians" and "Shut Down" and would later play a simplified version of the theremin while performing "Good Vibrations" on stage. Following the mid-seventies, he would go back to being the regular tambourine-shaking lead singer (and he still does, 60 years in his career).
  • Large Ham: Mike's stage presence is notorious for his whacky banters but his personality reached its peak during the nineties.
  • Long Runner: The longest serving member of The Beach Boys and he rarely missed a live show outside of health reasons.
  • Meditation: Transcendental meditation played a big part in his life, to the point that he organized TM classes along with bandmate Al Jardine. This obsession inspired him to record a Beach Boys album at a meditation center.
  • Never Bareheaded: He's almost never seen without a hat.
  • Opulent Outfits: He especially sported those in the seventies before settling with a summer-themed hawaiian shirt.
  • Pimp Duds: an unique look he wore during the mid 70s.
  • Product Placement: Mike rerecorded the song "Be True To Your School" along with Dean Torrance and gave the lyrics a beer twist for the promotion of the Budweiser brand.
  • Prematurely Bald: Mike had already developed a noticeably receded hairline by the time he was a senior in high school, as this picture shows.
  • Pun-Based Title: Album titles such as Looking Back With Love or First Love prove that you better use your last name if it involves caring, peace or romance.
  • Solo Side Project: Mike releases his solo albums while still being a member of The Beach Boys.
  • Updated Re-release: "Rock 'n' Roll City" was first released to no commercial success until it got reissued with The Beach Boys' cover of "California Dreaming". It was also released under the title "Listen to the Air" with an additional track.
  • Vocal Evolution: While Mike's voice has always been known for being nasal, it reached a climax during the eighties and nineties. It weathered down after the 2000s.
  • Workaholic: 60 years after The Beach Boys released their first single, he is still touring along with bandmate Bruce Johnston.
  • Younger Than He Looks: Despite only being in his twenties during the band's most successful period, Mike Love had a receding hairline and a much more mature face than the baby faced Wilson brothers. As such, he looked much older than he actually was (hell, in some pictures he looked like he could've been the Wilson brothers' uncle rather than their cousin). When he grew his beard out in the late 60s, he could've passed for a man in his early to mid fifties. Once he lost the beard in the 80s, though, he actually looked much younger and has barely aged at all since then.