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DENNIS WILSON: THE REAL BEACH BOY

A Critically Acclaimed Bestseller

“A terrific read… written with great love and passion… an engrossing tale of his too short life.” -Goldmine

“Jon Stebbins has captured the essence of both Dennis Wilson the musician and Dennis the human being...” - Endless Summer Quarterly

“This book finally brings forth Dennis’ contributions to the Beach Boys like no book ever has…this is definitely one book you won’t be able to put down.” - Manifesto

“…Pioneering…essential reading.” #3 Bestseller! - Ben Edmonds, MOJO

“…The Real Beach Boy neatly encapsulates the fervent ethos of Dennis Snobs” -Vanity Fair

“Illuminating tour of the reckless Beach Boy’s dark places.” -Uncut

“The writing is far above the level I’d come to expect from people writing in this field…It’s actually driven me to listen to Dennis’ music again.” -Gene Sculatti, Billboard

“Dennis Wilson leaps from the pages of this remarkable book.” -Alan Boyd, Director – Endless Harmony

“An essential purchase for any right–minded Beach Boy fan.” -Andrew G.Doe, Beach Boys Britain News

"This is a candid, indepth, personal and great book." -On The Box Book Reviews

Dennis Wilson, The Real Beach Boy coverIn Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy, Jon Stebbins candidly and passionately tells the first in-depth story about one of rock and roll's most intriguing figures - the drummer and founding member of a legendary band. A sunkissed surfer on the beaches of California, with an insatiable sexual appetite and dare-devil approach to life, Dennis Wilson was the wild and reckless brother who fired Brian Wilson's imagination and helped spark a cultural tidal wave in the form of the Beach Boys. His life was a short, brilliant, intoxicating ride that ended in addiction, despair, and finally self-destruction at age 39.

When asked in a recent interview about his brother's musical talents, Brian - always known as the truly gifted Beach Boy - admitted that Dennis "was a genius in his own right." With a keen eye for detail, Jon Stebbins plunges into the manic and melodic life of the man to create a splendid harmony of his own.
© Dennis Wilson, The Real Beach Boy 2000

Endless Summer Quarterly Review (excerpt), May 10, 2000
Reviewer: Lee E Dempsey, from Charlotte, NC USA
John Stebbins has captured the essence of both Dennis Wilson the musician and Dennis the human being in Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy. Stebbins relied on his personal interviews with Dennis, as well as the first-hand accounts of friends (such as Ed Roach, Fred Vail, and Stephen Kalinich), lovers (including Barbara Wilson and Karen Lamm), and other acquaintances to craft this biography. The author achieves the delicate balance of portraying Dennis honestly - warts and all - without resorting to tabloid style oversensationalization.

There's something for every Beach Boys fan in this book. For the younger fans - the ones who may have come to know the band long after Dennis passed away - the book is educational, and serves to remind us just who was the real "Beach Boy" of the group. However, there are enough new revelations and interesting trivia to maintain the attention of even the most hard-core of fans. The book also contains a fine assortment of previously unpublished black and white and color photos - many courtesy of Dennis' close friend Ed Roach.

The Real Beach Boy is advertised as a Dennis Wilson biography, but it really tells a broader story about America's band. There are at least two sides to every story, and Stebbins' book tells yet another fascinating side of the Beach Boys' multi-faceted saga. Lee Dempsey, Endless Summer Quarterly Magazine

Memorable TV, The Book Review

Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy by Jon Stebbins
Publishers: Wakefield Press
Reviewer: PJ

Always the interesting one of the group and the only one who actually surfed, this biography by Jon Stebbins tells the real story of Dennis Wilson, not only the Beach Boys drummer but a great composer responsible for one of the most beautiful Beach Boys songs (Forever) and also one of the best albums of the seventies, Pacific Ocean Blue, (his only solo LP release).

Beginning of course with The Beach Boys early days and the oft told tales of how Murray Wilson (father to Brian, Dennis and Carl) would beat the boys at the drop of a hat and covers in great detail the Beach Boys classic 60's hits and subsequent break down of Brian. Much of this early material has been covered in lots of other Beach Boy book but from here on in is where the book becomes a must read.

When Brian retired into seclusion the rest of the group had to start coming up with the hits (Brian had been chief songwriter), Dennis's previously unheard talents began to flourish coming up with tunes like the gorgeous Little Bird, Be With Me, Sound of Free, the aforementioned gorgeousness of Forever and more.

The late 1960's also gave rise to one of the strangest periods in Dennis's life when he allowed Charles Manson and his "family" to move into his luxery home (even allowing Manson the opportunity to record some demos at the Beach Boys studios), it seems Dennis's main motivation in allowing Manson into his home was sex - Manson had a large collection of young female followers and Dennis slept his way through most of them.

Dennis was a well known lothario, married several times and certainly not afraid of using illegal substances to have a good time, the book obviously covers this in detail but also pays as much attention to the music.
For me the best parts of the book are the ones dealing with Dennis's solo album Pacific Ocean Blue, recorded in the mid 1970's and containing some of the best music ever committed to vinyl. Thanks to his ever growing "out of it" periods Dennis was never able to come up with a full blown follow up to this record although he did record several more songs.

On 28 December 1983 Dennis Wilson drowned off the coast of California whilst swimming off a friend's boat. This is a candid, indepth, personal and great book.


Reader Reviews

Get this book back in print!!!, April 8, 2004
Reviewer: tod3 (see more about me) from Scranton, PA USA
This is an important book for the rock music scene as it highlights the life of Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Not only does the book do a stunning job laying out the life and times of Dennis Wilson but it dives head first into the world of 60's and 70's rock and determines his role in these crazy years for the music scene.

This book does what many rock books fail to do which is to tell an honest to God story saying both the good and the bad but putting it all out on the table so that the tale is properly told.

For example, this book examines Dennis Wilson's role within the Beach Boy hierarchy and finds that he was treated poorly by people like Mike Love who didn't have half his talent. The author mourns the loss to the world of music that Love and others in the Beach Boys caused by constantly thwarting Dennis as he tried to get his music out in the public.

The book also honestly finds that Dennis was his own worst enemy by using drugs and booze which effectively short circuited his talent causing yet another loss for music lovers as we never got to hear the complete catalogue of his real creativity.

Finally, the book looks at what Dennis Wilson did do musicially and finds it amazing. His epic 70's solo LP "Pacific Ocean Blue" will rank as one of the real rock gems as time goes on. The author reviews this LP and tells how incredible it was and how it continues to grow in popularity with rock fans as the years move on.

This book is out of print which is sad as there are precious few publications like it. Buy it used and read one of the best rock tales ever but more importantly read it to learn just how profound Dennis Wilson was in his talent and his times.

Get this book back in print!

Loved Every Minute of This Book!, November 28, 2001
Reviewer: Steve Nakamoto from Huntington Beach, California USA
I was only a casual fan of the Beach Boys...more of a Beatle, Byrd, CSN, Eagles-type musically, but as of late have become very appreciative of the middle era of the Beach Boys. I picked up this book because I like the "Real Beach Boy" title and because a friend of mine had meet Dennis one year while skiing up in Utah and said what a nice guy he was. Of all the Beach Boys, Dennis was the most colorful and the one who would make for the most interesting story. The author did a fabulous job making this such an enjoyable and well-researched read. I wish there was a way to hear some of the music that Dennis recorded, but I don't think they are on CD. Anyways, if you are a fan of surfing, music, or the California sound, then this is a book worth reading. The Beatle and the Stones got so much more adultation, when here underneath our noses in Southern California was a band (especially creatively) that was a near equal.

A Book of Heart and Substance, 18 September, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from U.S.
Dennis Wilson needed someone like author Jon Stebbins to write his biography. Stebbins is obviously a fan of Wilson's underrated music. He also finds a unique way of showing us WHO Dennis was. By highlighting the surfer/drummer's coming of age as a composer and artist the author illustrates the frustration and neglect the Beach Boys eventually saddled him with. The author also somehow finds the proper balance in describing Wilson's drug, alcohol, and womanizing exploits while still revealing the basic goodness that resided within his being. The only thing wrong with Dennis Wilson:The Real Beach Boy is that it had to end. A fascinating read that is nearly impossible to put down. This book is an essential purchase.

The Real Beach Boy, May 29, 2000
Reviewer: dreiermom from California
Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy is an honest view of a man who, for most of his life, was unappreciated and extremely underrated both in his personal and professional lives. It is not just a chronology of his life or a list of his exploits. Other books and magazines did that years ago. This book is an insight into the man himself and the music within him. Jon Stebbins's style of writing drew me into the story, sent me back to my youth and reminded me why Dennis Wilson and his music meant so much to me. Dennis has been gone for over 16 years. It's about time everyone knew who he really was. Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy has the blessings of those who knew Denny best and loved him most, his friends, his family and his fans. It is a "must read" if you think you knew the Beach Boys. Especially if you think Dennis was just the drummer.

Dennis Wilson's life is certainly an interesting study., May 4, 2000
Reviewer: Rob Foss from Santa Rosa, California
Stebbins does an excellent job of painting a realistic picture of Dennis. Too often, authors either slam the subject or build him/her into the second coming. Stebbins walks a fine line and seems to equally present the postive and negative components of Wilson's personality. As you read on, you do clamour for more. This feeling helps reflect the thought that Denny's life was cut prematurely short; sadly though, the book reveals Dennis did not die during his prime. The events described made me picture Dennis in an adult body but with adolescent desires and a huge heart. Talented, but not taken seriously as a talent until it was too late. After reading the book, one can relate to some of the facts presented. I now understand why Dennis was the only member of the group to "no-show" at an autograph session I attended back in May 1979 (obviously he had tied one on). Secondly, I always wondered why the drumsticks I obtained from Dennis that evening were beat to hell; Stebbins accurately describes his style of drumming to a tee. This serves as a strong reminder as to how Dennis lived his life-- all out. Despite his weaknesses, Dennis comes across as a sympathetic figure, someone you feel for and most importantly, a person one would seem fortunate to have called a geniune friend.

Dennis Wilson Forever, April 19, 2000
Reviewer: Donna from California
I have waited so long for this book. Finally somebody has given Dennis Wilson the kind of in depth treatment he deserves. The photos are glorious and the writing is fascinating. I think any fan of rock music will adore this book. Its one of the best I've read. Great job Mr. Stebbins!

Read more reviews at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com