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Sail on, Sailor: Mike Love Takes His Beach Boys Band Out to Sea

And you can still join the cruise (or catch them later on dry land)

spinner image Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Udo Spreitzenbarth


An astounding parade of classic rock stars are on tour this year — Dylan, McCartney, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, the Zombies — but only some of the members of the Beach Boys are doing shows at sea as well as on land. Mike Love, 81, tells AARP about his Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise (March 25 to 28), featuring Love, Bruce Johnston and John Cowsill (of the famous Cowsills), along with Mickey Dolenz Celebrates the Monkees, the Temptations, Joe Piscopo, Yacht Rock Revue and the Beatles cover band Hard Day’s Night. Then Love’s Beach Boys lineup (minus Brian Wilson, who has been publicly feuding with Love for years) will continue their tour for landlubbers.

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How long is the Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise?

Mike Love: We leave Miami Friday, go to the Bahamas, and come back Monday. Everybody’s got to be vaccinated and tested — a minor inconvenience. We’ve been rehearsing some songs that we haven’t done in a while. We’ll have about 50 songs in our set list. It’s our first cruise ever.

Are you going to play my favorite song — which Brian Wilson wrote for Three Dog Night, but you erased the vocals and had the Beach Boys sing it instead — “Darlin’ ”?

Yes! John Cowsill sings it while playing the drums. He’s multitasking.

Isn’t it kind of like a battle of the ’60s bands? The Beach Boys were rivalrous with Motown, and McCartney says they were the ones the Beatles tried to beat.

He had a little competition from the Beach Boys and Motown. You know, on the only station that plays all ’60s stuff, in San Diego, we got 21 plays a day, the Beatles got 20 — and Motown was about 45 plays a day. It’s fantastic the Temptations were able to come on the tour with us. Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees is coming on board, and Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. 

Is the cruise sold out? And how is it different from your shows on land?

We’ve sold over 1,000 cabins and there’s room for some more. We will spend a lot more time interacting with the people on board. I wrote a book called Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, and the cowriter, Jim Hirsch, and I will do a session. People who are interested can ask me questions.

Temptations Forever

“Mike Love and I have always had a wonderful rapport,” says the Temptations’ founding (and sole surviving) original member, Dr. Otis Williams, 80. “And by the grace of God, we’ve both hit that 60-year milestone. This year The Tempts debuted a new album of nearly all-original songs, Temptations 60. We're excited about featuring in our concert performance a new single from the album, “Is It Gonna Be Yes or No,” written and produced by Smokey Robinson. It’s great to have The Tempts and The Beach Boys back together again.

At your 2012 50th anniversary Hollywood Bowl concert, I saw three people cast aside their canes and dance for hours. Sixty years after Surfin' Safari, does rock ’n’ roll keep you young?

I think it does. I mean, music soothes the savage beast. It’s such a wonderful thing to see the audience respond to our music. So much joy, and an incentive for me to keep doing what we do. Capitol Records is putting out another Beach Boys The Sounds of Summer box set, and our tour is themed 60 Years of the Sounds of Summer. COVID halted us for a year, but things are getting back to normal. We’re doing the L.A. County Fair in May, Wolf Trap, Europe in June and July, then the U.S. It’s really special overseas. In Sweden they have the midsummer festivals that go just about all night. It’s nice to know we’re regarded so highly in Britain — in 1966 “Good Vibrations” went to number one and we were voted the number one group in Great Britain. Number two being the Beatles.

That did not likely hurt your feelings.

Not at all. And we are very blessed to be able to have people who still want to hear what we started doing 60 years ago.

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John Lennon’s voice got very ragged in his 30s, so he compensated with electronic effects. How come your voice sounds so strong?

It’s like musculature. If you use it, it stays strong. We tour a lot, and that keeps your voice strong. And we’re obsessed with recreating those harmonies, just like they were on the recordings. And fortunately, I learned Transcendental Meditation from the Maharishi Yogi in December ’67. I do it every day, and it gives me deeper rest and relaxation, energy and clarity. And when you don’t drink to excess or smoke, when you don’t do things to harm your voice, you’ll be able to stay in great shape and be able to do what you do.

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