When SNL duo John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson go surfing again
The year 1976 was an odd time. While most of the world was suffering in an economic depression, in America a somewhat more bizarre situation was developing. A situation in which the late John Belushi and his SNL counterpart Dan Aykroyd were forcing The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson to go surfing.
We’ll come clean, the clip isn’t some grainy home footage but is instead a part of The Beach Boys TV show ‘It’s OK’ which welcomed the pair of comedians drafted in by Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels during a break between runs of the show.
Aired in the mid-1970s, the film aimed to reposition The Beach Boys to a younger audience and used the two jokers to add a gilded razor edge to the perceived softness of The Beach Boys. The two comedians had quickly become synonymous with the rock and roll lifestyle, with Belushi, in particular, arriving at the show with a hefty amount of street cred.
In the footage, the pair arrive at Brian Wilson’s door dressed as California Highway Patrolmen. The footage shows both John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd force Brian Wilson to get out of bed and on to his board after issuing him a ticket for failing to surf in one of the more iconic music-comedy crossovers.
Arriving at the bedroom of Wilson’s Bel Air pad, the pair force the reclusive musician to get up, embrace his legend and go surfing. “Brian,” says Aykroyd, “we have a citation here for you sir under Section 936A of the California Catch a Wave Statute. Brian, you’re in violation of Paragraph 12: failing to surf, neglecting to use a state beach for surfing purposes, and otherwise avoiding surfboards, surfing and surf.”
It was a particularly humorous moment as Wilson had been widely seen as a recluse following his departure from The Beach Boys. The show was designed as a celebration of his return as well as marking 15 years since the band’s inception.
Either way, it made for some brilliant TV at the time and makes for an interesting spectacle looking back some four decades on. “Okay, Mr. Wilson,” says Aykroyd. “Here’s your wave.”