HEROES AND VILLAINS: THE DAY I MET BRIAN WILSON

Times are hard in the music game and even the biggest names in the business are having to offer more to make big ends meet (and greet). VIP packages… what do you think? Living legend Brian Wilson played the Phil recently and got more than he bargained for when there was a movement on his shoulder that he didn’t need… here’s what happened. By Joseph McEwan.

“Never meet your idols,” they say. Would this be true in the case of Brian Wilson? That depends on which Brian Wilson you are meeting: the musical innovator who gave us classic albums like ‘Pet Sounds’, the troubled genius who suffers from depression, due to drug use and shocking psychiatric advice and treatment, or the grandad who sits in front of the sofa watching TV?

Last week, on Hope Street here in Liverpool, I met all three of those faces of The Beach Boys hero. I’ve loved ‘Pet Sounds’ since I first heard it, over 25 years ago. It was an honour, then, to be in the presence of the greatness of its creator and refreshing to be a part of something so sixties-centric that didn’t involve a Beatle!

However, I was apprehensive as I walked into the Phil… just what I was going to get and what sort of mood would Mr Wilson be in? What would us acolytes get as part of our expensive VIP experience? We were issued with VIP passes and various memorabilia (of which, we were informed, Brian would only sign two) and ushered into the sound check. There was a clamour for the front row and I managed to get centre stage – ten yards away from Al Jardine on his blue Fender Stratocaster, with Brian Wilson’s piano to the left. Without Brian.

Then, after a few bars of a few songs, out shuffled the great man. There was a quick hello, ten minutes of tinkling the ivories and he was off again. Not to worry, though, we were then escorted to the rear of the building where the ‘Meet and Greet’ part of the VIP experience was due to take place. Disappointingly, for some, Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin joined our hero at a table and the signing of pieces of memorabilia and photo opportunities began. That’s when it happened: I gave my camera to an official and prepared for my promised (and paid for) picture with my hero… and put my hand on Brian’s right shoulder. Bad move! He shuddered, shouted as if a tarantula had landed on him from a great height and informed the next person in line behind me, in no uncertain terms, not to touch him. I took this as my cue to leave, as I had obviously upset him.

With my photo and signed memorabilia in my back pocket, I started to ponder the person I met and reflected on the money spent (up to £275 for some): was it all worth it? I spent just a few minutes in the company of my hero and turned myself into a villain within seconds! My melancholic mood changed about three hours later, though, as I left the great hall having witnessed the greatest concert I have seen in a long time.

It was worthwhile, then. Because the concert reminded me, however momentarily it was in the grand scheme of things, that I had been in the presence of greatness… and there are not many musicians of Brian Wilson’s genius and vintage left. I will treasure the memories, then, for the rest of my life. Thanks, Brian! You are, indeed, a genius and an original of the species.

If slightly grumpy sometimes…

Pic courtesy Joe Mac

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2 comments

Shaun
July 6, 2016 Reply
That's a shame. I was lucky enough to bump into Brian as he was checking into the titanic hotel - unbelievable timing and a one in a billion chance! despite being 2am, he was warm and friendly. We shook hands, chatted for a while (by "chatted", I mean I thanked him continuously for about 2 minutes) and he even let me take a quick selfie, which I rarely do, but it was brian wilson, y'know.
Yacon Root
September 6, 2017 Reply
Amazing Site. Really enjoyed reading. https://www.yaconroot.com.au

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