On this day in 1968, The Beach Boys embarked on an ill-fated tour with one of the biggest ticket-selling celebrities of the age. No, not an artist or a band, not even really a celebrity. But The Beach Boys welcomed none other than Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
He was not only The Beach Boys meditation advisers but also The Beatles and members of The Rolling Stones al called the man a spiritual guide, of sorts. However, the tour was cancelled after three nights as ticket sales dwindled and members of the audience who did attend did not take kindly to the guru’s segment.
Go back to 1967 and you will find one man that The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys own Mike Love adored more than anybody else, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A famed guru in India the spiritual guide soon became the talk of the entire world after he became the “spiritual advisor to the Beatles”
Along with his Beach Boys bandmates Dennis Wilson and Al Jardine, Love was one of the many musicians who discovered the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi following the Beatles’ public endorsement of his TM technique in August 1967. In December that year, Love and the rest of the group attended a lecture by the Maharishi in Paris. They were moved by his simplicity.
After The Beach Boys turned down the opportunity to finance a documentary about the guru, Love and Charles Lutes, the president of the guru’s organisation, the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, decided to create a co-headline tour between The Beach Boys and the guru.
Love once said of the show, refusing to Melody Maker at the time: “We’re going to use a lighting system to project the Maharishi on screens above the stage so everybody will be able to see him. We’ll perform with a band for 45 minutes followed by an intermission with a TV documentary. Then he’ll come out and lecture the audience with time for questions and answers.”
It did not go as well as hoped.
The program, which consisted of a set form The Beach Boys followed by a lecture would see the 29-date run cut down to three and Love’s idea quickly evaporated into the ether. Or as Al Jardine’s put it, the tour “completely fell on its ass” since the two acts “had distinct paths, neither of which belonged on the same stage together.”
It’s hard to argue. Mike Love had seemingly tried to align the band, who were struggling to stay in-step with the day’s trends, with the Eastern mysticism which was taking over the Western world. It was a move that highlighted the inner turmoil of the group.
On one hand, they were driven by creativity and innate genius with Brian Wilson and on the other, they had a financial obligation to keep the group running. It would effect The Beach Boys from 1967 until there comparative disbandment and on still.
In his autobiography, Love writes: “I take responsibility for an idea that didn’t work. But I don’t regret it. I thought I could do some good for people who were lost, confused, or troubled, particularly those who were young and idealistic but also vulnerable, and I thought that was true for a whole bunch of us.”
It will remain as one of The Beach Boys biggest artistic missteps.