The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds on May 16, 1966, one of the most influential records ever released

A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys
A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys / Matt Winkelmeyer/GettyImages

The Beach Boys is an American rock band formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. They would become one of the most influential bands of the rock era for their harmonies, ingenuity, and feel-good lyrics. On May 16, 1966, the band released their eleventh album, Pet Sounds.

The band's original lineup included the Wilson brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. They used their love of R&B,‘50s rock, and older pop to create their sound, indicative of California Rock. Their image portrayed the culture of youth surfers, summertime, and cool cars. 

Brian Wilson is attributed to the success of The Beach Boys for his songwriting and production skills which are only rivaled in originality by The Beatles. 

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds 

Pet Sounds was recorded from January - April 1966 and was almost entirely composed by Brian Willson, who credits part of the inspiration to marijuana and spiritual enlightenment. Interestingly, Wilson was inspired by The Beatles’ Rubber Soul (1965) album in the creation of Pet Sounds, which The Beatles were then inspired to create Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1976). Willson would describe Rubber Soul as “probably the greatest record ever…where everything flows together, and everything works.” (Brian Wilson autobiography I am Brian Wilson).

The Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds is considered innovative as it was a work of art, unlike the conventional pop albums of the day. Brian Wilson began writing the album with a new lyricist Tony Asher while the rest of the band performed in Japan and Hawaii in January 1966.

Pet Sounds would reinvent the Beach Boys sound by adding elements from pop, classical music, folk, psychedelia, easy listening, and jazz with their signature layered vocals. While Brian Wilson receives much praise for his work on the album because of his vision, he has always been quick to point out that the whole band made significant contributions. 

Pet Sounds Song List

"Wouldn't It Be Nice"
"You Still Believe in Me'
"That's Not Me"
"Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)"
"I'm Waiting for the Day"
"Let's Go Away for Awhile"
"Sloop John B"
"God Only Knows"
"I Know There's An Answer"
"Here Today"
"I Just Wasn't Made or These Times"
"Pet Sounds"
"Caroline, No"

Pet Sounds had a profound impact on the music industry and popular culture, influencing a vast number of producers, engineers, songwriters, and musicians. In 2003 Rolling Stone ranked Pet Sounds at No. 2 among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came in at No. 1. Today, considered one of the greatest albums of all time, it was added to the National Recording Registry in 2004. CBS aired A Grammy Salute to The Beach Boys in 2023, a starred studded event honoring the band. 

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