MARILYN WILSON and her sister Diana Rovell, are American Spring, and their first album is very much a family affair, because her famous husband Brian (the well known invisible Beach Boy) produced, arranged and coaxed them through a selection of their favourite songs for Spring (U.A.).
The ‘Master”s touch is quite evident in listening to some of the backing and vocal supports, which were contributed by Carl Wilson and the other Beach men in the special studio which has been built into Brian’s Hollywood home.
Marilyn is currently traveling with the Beach Boys in Europe in order to promote her own album (sorry folks, no live appearances), and when I saw her at her London hotel she insisted that “this time” there was a strong likelihood that Brian would join the group in London or Holland, where they have now rented houses for a few months.
“He really is so enthusiastic about our album,” said Marilyn, “and talking to him on the phone last night, he said that he was definitely coming over to help as he felt there was a need for him in London.
“He says that this album is his favourite of all time and I know he must be genuine about it because he plays it all the time at home. The idea was to record all the songs that we have ever loved, like ‘Tennessee Waltz’.
“Originally I felt that it didn’t matter whether the album sold or not because of the personal satisfaction I got out of doing it, but now I feel differently. I think it would be nice to share with people the enjoyment we had from those songs.
“Brian really helped out in all departments — he sings, arranged most of the background, wrote some of the songs, and picked out the material. Sometimes he would cry at the sessions because he liked a song so much he couldn’t believe it. He’s very emotional.”
I asked Marilyn about some of the strange stories we had been getting in the British Press over the years concerning Brian’s apparently eccentric and retiring behavior. In this country at least he still something of a myth.
“Why is it that people over here think of Brian as such a freak?” asked Marilyn. “It really upsets me. He’s the most sensitive beautiful person I’ve ever known. He just wants to be treated like an ordinary human being, but everywhere he goes he is treated as something strange.
“Whatever comes out of Brian’s mouth — whether it is singing of talking — it comes out sincerely. For example, when it took me five hours to do a lead vocal he would go in there and do it in five minutes. When he sings he talks.
“To me, although he’s my husband, I think he’s the greatest singer I’ve ever seen in my life. For example, if he sang ‘the lamp is coming off the wall’ it would seem as if the lamp WAS coming off the wall. The only difference between Brian and other people is that he says what he means whereas other people keep it in.”
What about those amazing stories of Brian building a wigwam in his front room and having a box of sand under his piano in order to inspire his surfing songs?
“Haven’t you ever fancied playing in a sand box like a kid and having something that could actually be fun? He had a big concert grand piano in the middle of this sand box because it was fun to dig your toes in the sand. It was in my dining room and he had all these children’s drapes around it. He wrote some wonderful songs in these surroundings, like ‘Heroes and Villains’.”
Prior to becoming Mrs. Wilson, she and another girl were in a group called the Honeys. She met Brian during the days when the Beach Boys has their first hit single, ‘Surfin’ Safari’.
Brian met the girls and was sufficiently struck by them and Marilyn to produce their single, a little ditty entitled, ‘Surfin, Down The Swanee River’. Ten years later, they now have their first album — Spring — pleasant listening, with nostalgic echoes of some of Brian’s earlier work on Pet Sounds.
© Keith Altham, New Musical Express, 24 June 1972