Traveling with Brian was both hopeful and sobering. There were times when I’d see the Brian of old. During one sound check, our band director, Scott Totten, asked Brian if he’d like to perform “It’s OK,” which Brian and I wrote in 1976, but it’d probably been years since Brian had played it or even thought about it. Brian said, “Yeah great!” He turned to his keyboard and said, “This is what we gotta do!” He then began assigning everyone his part as if we had written the song yesterday.
His memory and wit could both be sharp. The Beach Boys’ drum, John Cowsill, used to play in his own family band in the late 1960s and ‘70s. (The Cowsills were the inspiration for the TV series The Partridge Family.) One of their hit songs, “Indian Lake,” included a war whoop. Way back in 1978, John was performing at a club in Los Angeles, and in the middle of the set, some bearded guy in the audience started banging his hand yelling, “Indian Lake! Indian Lake!” It was Brian, and he wanted to hear the song.
Now on the fiftieth tour, Brian often relaxed in the dressing room, his eyes closed, and one time John walked by, and Brian suddenly yelled out the war whoop from “Indian lake” – as if to say to John, I know you’re there, and I remember when I tried to get you to play that song long ago.
Why all the love? Because the shows have never been better. I’m surrounded by an exceptional crew and staff, and the performers – Bruce Johnston as well as guitarists Scott Totten, Jeff Foskett, and Brian Eichenberger,; keyboardist Tim Bonhomme, and drummer, John Cowsill – are extraordinary talents and completely dedicated to the music. But there’s more than that.