When Elton John and Brian Wilson shared the stage to perform The Beach Boys’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine Vault to bring you two of our favourite artists joining the stage together as the unstoppable Elton John joins The Beach Boys’ genius-in-residence Brian Wilson to perform ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ back in 2001.
The life and times of Brian Wilson, the mercurial artist behind one of the best albums ever composed, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, is certainly worth celebrating. That’s what television network TNT thought and in 2001 they brought to the public An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson.
The show, hosted on 29th March 2001 by acclaimed actor Chazz Palminteri, keeps true to its name and produced an evening full of some of the most iconic stars of the TIME as well as some glamourous guests from the past.
Taking place at New York City’s famed venue Radio City Music Hall, the show, which would run a few months later, would give us one of our favourite performances of The Beach Boys’ 1966 classic ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.
The night would see stars such as Rachel Hunter, Cameron Crowe, Dennis Hopper, and Sir George Martin all speak on behalf of Brian Wilson, celebrating his life and the huge musical successes which have littered his career.
With an all-star roster of guests and a setlist filled with the work of genius Brian Wilson, there were always going to be some very memorable moments. Among them Paul Simon delivers a wonderful cover of ‘Surfer Girl’, Billy Joel picks up ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, with Carly Simon, David Crosby and Jimmy Webb combining for a wonderful cover of ‘In My Room’.
When the next performance came up, however, it blew the others out of the water. A real treat would come when Elton John would take on the iconic Beach Boys’ song ‘God Only Knows’, which you can see below.
However, those who felt like they would’ve preferred to hear both Elton and Brian singing together, then you’re in luck. As soon enough Brian Wilson arrives at the stage to perform ‘Heroes and Villains’ to huge applause he then welcomes “the most famous and well-known pop singer in the world,” as Wilson puts it “Elton John!”
The pair begin to deliver a touching cover of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ with a heartfelt and vulnerable performance of the 1966 Pet Sounds song. Written by Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love, the song resembles a beautifully poignant moment in The Beach Boys career. Arguably one of the songs that saw the band invent their power-pop sound it remains a favourite to this day. Adding the happy tones of the music to the yearning in the lyrics would be influential in the band’s future success.
Something which Tony Asher credits to singularly to Wilson, “The innocence of the situation—being too young to get married—seemed to be immensely appealing to him.” There is something in this comment which is reflected still in the performance between Elton and Brian.
The pair’s chemistry is that of a caring and kind friendship. Elton John is, at the time, a resounding legend in pop, while Wilson is a little less comfortable on the stage. John does his best to share comforting glances and knowing nods, all the while both of the singers deliver a wonderful vocal.
It makes for a beautiful rendition of The Beach Boys song and is essential viewing. Watch below as Brian Wilson and Elton John share the stage to perform ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’