A few weeks ago, in my article about my first (Le Clic) camera, I mentioned that the camera had been purchased for my fourth grade field trip to Rock Eagle.
When I returned home from Rock Eagle, I found out that we had another first: our first VCR!
My friend/neighbor/classmate Lora was on the same field trip and it was her mom’s turn to pick us up from the school. We carpooled often.
When I came into the house with my bags from my trip, my parents were downstairs on our recliners watching something on television. My brother was on the floor playing with his toy cars. I recognized the song the man on television (Mike Love) was singing as a Beach Boys song. Love was wearing a baseball hat, several leis over his bare chest, and a sarong. He was also barefoot.
I recently rewatched the special and made notes on the performances of not only the Beach Boys but also their guests.
Our local oldies station (Fox 97) played The Beach Boys all year long. From mid-March to September, it seemed like there was at least one Beach Boys (or their soundalikes, Jan and Dean) song every hour, so I knew most of their big hits.
As it turned out, what my family was watching was a concert taped from ABC. The Beach Boys’ 25 Years Together: A Celebration in Waikiki.
Let’s back up a minute though. When I left for Rock Eagle, we did not have a VCR. We wanted one. We had begged for one so we could rent movies and record things that aired on television to watch over and over again.
The concert started with a song every ALF fan should know by heart, “Help Me, Rhonda” before going into “Fun, Fun, Fun”. Then an impressive roster of guests’ names flash onto the screen while the announcer reads them off: Glen Campbell, Belinda Carlisle, Ray Charles, Patrick Duffy, The Everly Brothers, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Gloria Loring, Jeffrey Osborne, Joe Piscopo, Paul Shaffer, and Three Dog Night. John Stamos also shows up to discuss the history of the band and Don Ho has a surprise cameo.
“California Girls”- Women holding leis come up throughout the song and put leis around the band members’ necks and kisses them on the cheek.
“California Dreamin’”- This is actually a Mamas and the Papas song. A few years later, Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s daughters (along with the daughter of Michelle Phillips from The Mamas and the Papas) would hit the charts themselves, but that song/album is a topic for another article for another time.
Patrick Duffy and John Stamos do what appear to be pre-recorded pieces where they trace the history of the Beach Boys. Those segments are followed by one from Joe Piscopo.
Piscopo’s segment is bizarre and what today would be considered an ecological nightmare. He drops a bunch of garbage on the beach, has a woman spray aerosol hairspray into the air and then has someone pour motor oil onto a surfboard.
I was glad when the music came back with the late great Ray Charles singing “Sail On Sailor”.
Then Al Jardine starts “Sloop Jon B”. Yeah, if my vacation was that bad, I would want to go home too.
“Do It Again”- I heard this one on 60’s Gold on Sirius XM today. This was an old song, but somehow it fit the nostalgic tone of the special.
Patrick Duffy returns to do a segment about the fads the Beach Boys sang about, surfing and hot rodding.
Barbara Ann- They only sing a little bit of the chorus here, but since I love close harmony, I don’t mind.
Gloria Loring and Carl Wilson sing “Friends and Lovers”. As a nine year old, that one went right over my head. I knew Gloria Loring as the wife of the dad from Growing Pains. The next song Carl and Gloria led, “I Can Hear Music”, made a lot more sense to me.
Glen Campbell comes up next and they talk about his time with The Beach Boys before going into “Little Deuce Coupe” and then “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” followed by “I Get Around”. My brother and I knew “I Get Around” from Flight of the Navigator.
By the way, Mike Love has now put on a pair of white pants and has a shirt on. His shirt is unbuttoned, but its still a massive improvement because Love shirtless resembled a blond version of Robin Williams.
The Beach Boys sing a longer version of Barbara Ann before The Fabulous Thunderbirds come onstage to sing “Rock n’Roll Music”.
There’s some more banter about high schools and then Mike Love introduces a cheerleading squad local to Hawaii to do some cheerleading moves for “Be True to Your School”.
There’s cheesy rehearsed sounding banter throughout the special, but I don’t mind it too much.
The Beach Boys discuss where they started singing. Al Jardine mentions that he was in dental school before joining the band and jokes that performing with the guys is “A lot more fun than being crouched over some lady’s bridgework”.
Brian and Mike talk about singing together after church and then The Everly Brothers join them onstage to sing “Don’t Worry, Baby” and “Wake Up, Little Susie.”
One thing that really keeps hitting me about this special is how many of the featured musicians are no longer with us. Phil Everly passed away in 2014. Don Everly passed away in 2021. From what I remember, Carl Wilson passed away in 1998.
“Come Go With Me” was originally by the Del Vikings, but I remember it from Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials. I think it was used in the Chicken Littles ad campaign. Once a song is used in advertisements for food, it’s really difficult for me not to associate the song with a particular food and then when I hear the song, I crave the food from the ad campaign.
Jeffrey Osborne joins them for “God Only Knows”. Come the following year, this will be known as “The Kevin and Winnie Song”. I was a big Wonder Years fan and had a massive crush on Fred Savage.
Joe Piscopo comes back and does a “Born in the U.S.A.” parody, complete with tied bandanna. I would have preferred the actual Boss. I do wonder why there’s never been a Beach Boys-Jimmy Buffett collaboration. It seems to me there would have been a shared audience.
Paul Shaffer jumps networks to play organ for “Surfer Girl” then “Surf City” and “Surfin’ USA”.
Now we come to my one of my favorite guest performances in this special, Belinda Carlisle. I was still really young when the Go-Go’s hit, so my first exposure to Ms. Carlisle was in this special where she sings “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold”. She had a really pretty green dress, hoop earrings, and shoulder length hair.
She reminded me of a real life version of the cartoon character Jem and later that year, I taped “Heaven is a Place on Earth off the radio and watched the video every time it was on MTV or VH-1.
Three Dog Night is another band I knew from Fox 97, mostly from songs like party staples like “Joy to the World” and “Celebrate”, but I was also familiar with songs like “One” and “Mama Told Me Not to Come”. Here they sing a song Brian Wilson wrote for them called “Darlin’”.
Carl talks about his other brother Dennis and sings a song called “Heaven.” I don’t remember hearing this one on the radio or in any movies or television shows. My only memory of it is from this concert.
The upload I watched has a jump, I think from where the commercials were cut out of it and then all the guests come onto the stage to sing “Good Vibrations” while fans on the beach wish the Beach Boys happy anniversary.
They conclude with Brian and Carl dedicating the special to their brother, Dennis. Then The Beach Boys and guests all sing what Brian announces his new song called “The Spirit of Rock and Roll”.
As much as I would have loved to have seen this special with its original commercials, I already pushed it past my bedtime watching all the performances, but it was worth it to get to relive one of my favorite television specials from childhood.