'98's Best: Beach Boy Carl Wilson Dead At 51

Sang lead on 'Good Vibrations' and 'God Only Knows.'

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at

1998's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Monday, Feb. 9.]

Carl Wilson, a founding member of the Beach Boys and the lead singer on

such hits as "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows," died Friday in Los

Angeles from complications of lung cancer. Mr. Wilson, who also played guitar in the group, was 51.

Along with his brothers Brian and Dennis, plus cousin Mike Love and friend

Al Jardine, Carl Dean Wilson helped form the Beach Boys in 1961 when he was

just 14. The band's early hits such as "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin'

U.S.A." were defined by Mr. Wilson's Chuck Berry-inspired guitar riffs and

Brian's lush vocal arrangements. In 1966, the band released what is

considered to be their finest album, Pet Sounds, which contained Mr.

Wilson's lead vocals on the tender "God Only Knows." Later that year, he

assumed lead again for the semi-psychedelic "Good Vibrations," which many

consider the Beach Boys' best single.

According to those close to the group, Mr. Wilson often served as a

foundation of stability through tumultuous periods, including during

Brian's bouts with neuroses and drug use and the 1983 drowning death of

Dennis.

"All the guys looked to Carl as a steady force," the band's publicist

Alyson Dutch told the Associated Press. "He was also a peaceful

force. Despite everything negative and the media stories that focused on

dissension, when they got onstage or in the studio -- the magic, the love,

the brotherhood that existed between them never failed."

In the early 1980s, Mr. Wilson became unhappy that the Beach Boys had become a nostalgia act and left the group. He released his first solo

album, Carl Wilson, that year, followed by What You Do To Me

in 1983. Soon after leaving, however, Mr. Wilson returned to the group and

their active touring schedule.

Although he was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer last year, Mr. Wilson

refused to take a break from the road and completed a rigorous annual

tour with the Beach Boys last summer.

A private burial service will be held for Mr. Wilson later this week. He

is survived by his wife, Gina; and sons, Jonah, 28, and Justyn, 26. [Mon., Feb. 9, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]