The Beach Boys bootleg recordings

The Beach Boys' bootleg recordings are recordings of performances by the Beach Boys that attained some level of public circulation without being available as a legal release. Many albums by the band were fully assembled or near completion before being shelved, rejected, or revised as an entirely new project. In recent years, new rarities compilations and reissues of studio albums have been released with studio outtakes included as bonus tracks.

Bootleg recordings arise from a multitude of sources, including broadcast performances, recordings of live shows, test discs, privately distributed copies of demos, and covertly copied studio session tapes. Some recordings have never seen wide public circulation. Others are only rumored to exist, were misapprehended to tangentially related projects, or have yet to surface in the hands of archivists or record collectors. This article includes commonly bootlegged material and unreleased recordings which are reported to exist.

Some of the largest sources of Beach Boys bootleg material has derived from the Pet Sounds and Smile sessions; their underground circulation eventually resulted in the officially issued compilations The Pet Sounds Sessions (1997) and The Smile Sessions (2011). In 2013, the latter won the Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. In 2011, Uncut voted Smile the number one "greatest bootleg recording of all time".[1] In 2003, Stylus Magazine named the Beach Boys' Smile, Landlocked, Adult Child, and Dennis Wilson's Bambu "A Lost Album Category Unto Themselves".[2]

Historical overviewEdit

Existence of tapesEdit

The current existence of most of the Beach Boys' tape masters was made possible by the fact that the band were in control of their own material. Typically, record labels at the time would possess the multi-tracks, then wipe them once a final master was mixed down.[3] However, a myriad of original multi-track masters have been lost due to various circumstances.[3] Some reported currently missing are:

In the last few decades, reels of tape that were thought to be lost have been intermittently rediscovered.

  • 1990 – CBS Columbia Square delivered a reel of 1965-era tapes sourced from the album Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) which were thought to be lost.[3] When the studio closed, a major number of tapes were left behind. Ten years later, they were all destroyed without checking for inventory.[3]
  • 2009 – Beach Boys biographer Jon Stebbins was contacted by a man living in central California who possessed a box of multi-track tapes deriving from the Shut Down Volume 2 album that had been lost for decades.[3]
  • 2010 – Twenty-eight tapes that were stolen from the Beach Boys and Capitol archives in 1980 were retrieved; this included the original multi-track masters to "Do It Again", "We're Together Again", Adult Child, and a version of California Feeling.[3]
  • 2010s – A piano demo of "Surf's Up" was found hidden within a reel of the Wild Honey track "Country Air". It was soon included on The Smile Sessions (2011).[6]
  • 2013 – Acetates were unearthed that showed "I'm in Great Shape" as part of the projected "Heroes and Villains" single.[7][8] Before the release of Made in California (2013), a reel of tapes sourced from November 1964 live performances broadcast on BBC were retrieved.[3]
  • 2014 – Writer Brian Chidester reported that additional Brian Wilson recordings dated from the late 1960s and early 1970s were recently found.[5]


In 1993, the bootleg label Vigotone released a 2 CD edition of Smile (VT-110 &111), including a "complete" version of the album as well as other outtakes.[9] 1998, the label Vigotone followed up with Heroes and Vibrations (VT-163), a forty-minute disc culling working tapes from "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villains".[10]

Sea of TunesEdit

Beginning in 1997, the Luxembourg-based[10] bootleg label Sea of Tunes (named after the Beach Boys' original publishing company) began releasing a series of CDs featuring high quality outtakes, session tracks and alternate recordings that spanned the group's entire career. Among these was a three-CD set featuring over three hours of sessions for "Good Vibrations", and several multi-CD sets containing a significant number of the tracking, overdubbing and mixing sessions for Smile.[11] Those involved with releasing these bootlegs were later apprehended by authorities, and it was reported that nearly 10,000 discs were seized.[12]


Provided by the Allmusic database[13] and Bret Wheadon.[11]

  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 1 (1962) The Alternate Surfin' Safari Album (1997)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 2 (1963) The Alternate Surfin' USA Album (1997)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 3 (1963) The Alternate Surfer Girl Album (1997)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 4 (1963) Miscellaneous Trax (1997)
  • The Beach Boys Live In Sacramento, 1964 (1997)
  • The Beach Boys Live In Sacramento, 1964 Second Show! (1997)
  • The Beach Boys Christmas Sessions (1997)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 5 (1964) Miscellaneous Trax Vol. 2 (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 6 (1964) The Alternate "All Summer Long" Album (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 7 (1964) The Alternate "Today" Album, Vol. 1 (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 8 (1965) The Alternate "Today" Album, Vol. 2 (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 9 (1965) The Alternate "Summer Days (and Summer Nights!)" Album (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 10 (1965) The Alternate "Beach Boys Party!" Album (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 11 (1965) Miscellaneous Trax Vol. 3 (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 12 (1965) "Sloop John B" Sessions and Radio Spots (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 13 (1965-66) The Alternate "Pet Sound" Album, Vol. 1 (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 14 (1966) The Alternate "Pet Sound" Album, Vol. 2 (1998)
  • The Live Box (1965–1968) The Complete Michigan Concert Tapes and More... (1998)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 15 (1966) Good Vibrations (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 16 (1966–1967) Smile (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 17 (1966–1967) Smile Sessions (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 18 (1967) The Alternate "Smiley Smile" Album (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 19 (1967) The Alternate "Wild Honey" Album (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 20 (1968–69) "Friends, 20/20 and Odds & Ends" (1999)
  • Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 21 "Today/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)" [STEREO] (1999)
  • In The Beginning/The Garage Tapes (2007)
  • All This Is That (2007)

Official archival releasesEdit

The following compilations contain previously unreleased archival material by the Beach Boys.

2012 copyright extensionEdit

In 2012, a new European Union copyright law was passed which extended the copyright of songs to 70 years, but only for recordings that were published within 50 years after they were made.[14] In order to prevent recordings made by 1960s artists from legally entering the public domain, many new rarities compilations were issued by record labels.[14] For the Beach Boys, this began with the digitally exclusive release The Big Beat 1963 (2013).[15][16]

Unreleased albumsEdit

Smile (1966–67)Edit

After a year of recording, what would have been the Beach Boys' twelfth studio album Smile was scrapped. Because many of its tracks were left incomplete, an album could not be fully assembled. In 2011, an approximate reconstruction of the album was eventually released in the form of the compilation The Smile Sessions.[17]

Lei'd in Hawaii (1967)Edit

A live album recorded in August–September 1967 that ran into numerous difficulties.[17]

Early Sunflower revisions (1969–70)Edit

The Sunflower albums underwent several different assemblies prior to its final running order. Throughout its recording, the project was entitled (in chronological order) Reverberation or The Fading Rock Group Revival, Sun Flower, and then Add Some Music before finally reverting to the name Sunflower.[17]

1975 Beach Boys/Chicago tour live albumEdit

In 1974, the Beach Boys provided guest vocals on Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here". A year later, James William Guercio was the manager for both groups. They performed together on a joint 1975 summer tour, sometimes providing accompaniment for the other band's songs, with the intention of later releasing recordings from the tour. As of 2015, Andrew Doe states that it is unclear why the album was never released.[17]

Adult Child (1977)Edit

Adult Child was recorded mostly by Brian and intended to follow up The Beach Boys Love You (1977).[17] It was rejected by the record label.[2]

California Feeling (1977)Edit

California Feeling – projected for release in mid-1978 once Adult Child was rejected – consisted mostly of the tracks that would later appear on M.I.U. Album, released late in the year. It was named after the Brian Wilson composition "California Feelin'" written and recorded four years earlier during the Caribou Ranch sessions.[17] Kalinich considered the song white gospel and added "I think it frightened him a little to let his defenses down and give the vocal all he had."[4] Even though the album had been named for the song, Brian insisted that it be left off the album's track list. California Feeling was assembled in December 1977, revised as Winds of Change in 1978, and then renamed M.I.U. Album for release in October 1978.[17]

Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys (1977)Edit

Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys was worked on in tandem with California Feeling.[17] Many of its tracks later appeared on the 1998 compilation Ultimate Christmas.[17]

Summer's Gone (2011–12)Edit

The original title for the group's 2012 reunion album That's Why God Made the Radio was Summer's Gone and an album-length suite was written in the theme. Only four of five tracks from the suite's closing half were included, with the fifth being named "I'd Go Anywhere", and would have fit between "Strange World" and "From There to Back Again". Both "I'd Go Anywhere" and the suite's opening half remain incomplete. Producer Joe Thomas has indicated a desire to finish the suite,[18] which had its origins in 1998 as cassette demos before Wilson began working on them again in 2008. A total of 28 songs were written and recorded for the album.[19] In 2013, it was announced that Wilson was working on finishing the thematic tracks (now dubbed "The Suite") for a new solo project.[20]

Other materialEdit

Attempted Smile reconstructions (1967–2011)Edit

Many attempts were made to reconstruct the Smile album following Brian's disowning the project. When the Beach Boys signed with Reprise Records in 1970, a stipulation was made to deliver a form of the Smile album by January 1, 1973, which was not met. Rough compilations were subsequently assembled in 1989 (compiled by Mark Linett), 1993 (as The Smile Era), and 1997. The bulk of Linett's 1989 assembly was quickly leaked in the autumn of that year and sold as the second ever Smile CD bootleg.[17]

Landlocked (1970s)Edit

Landlocked was a provisional title for Surf's Up.[21] Bootlegs under this name feature work that spans recording sessions from the early 1970s.[2][22][23]

Bedroom Tapes (1960s–70s)Edit

Throughout the early 1970s, Brian amassed a myriad of home demo recordings which later became informally known as the "Bedroom Tapes".[4] The moniker was the invention of writer Brian Chidester, who maintains that the material which comprises the Bedroom Tapes is "superfluous" and roughly covers the period between 1968 and 1974.[5]

Caribou Ranch sessions (1974)Edit

Recording sessions for an album projected for release in early 1975 were conducted in late 1974 at band manager James William Guercio's Caribou Ranch studio in Colorado and later at Brother Studios in Santa Monica. Brian was said to be actively involved in these sessions before a studio fire was purported to have destroyed many of the original master tapes. This was proven untrue when many of the tapes later surfaced in public circulation. Songs worked on for this album included the originals "Good Timin'", "California Feelin'", "Don't Let Me Go", "You're Riding High On the Music", "Barnyard Blues", "It's OK", "Ding Dang", "Our Life, Our Love, Our Land", "Lucy Jones", the traditional "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the season-themed "Child of Winter", which was released as a single.[17]

Studio reunion and Paley sessions (1990s)Edit

The day after California courts issued a restraining order on therapist Eugene Landy from contacting Brian, Brian phoned record producer, songwriter, and previous collaborator Andy Paley to work on an assortment of recordings destined for a potential album which could have featured some involvement with the Beach Boys.[24] Paley remembered that Brian would speak of each song's vocal arrangement in terms of which parts the Beach Boys would sing.[25] Brian called it "some of the best material I've done in a real long time."[26]

Solo Beach Boys and sideprojectsEdit

Untitled Charles Manson project (1968)Edit

According to Charles Manson, the musician later convicted in a murder conspiracy, "[I] was at Dennis' brother's home studio, which was larger than most commercial studios. ... we did a pretty fair session, putting down about ten songs."[27] While the group denied that tapes of these sessions exist – with co-productions by Carl and Brian (not Dennis as had often been stated) – engineer Stephen Desper concurred that they do, believing at the time that Manson's material was "pretty good... he had musical talent."[17] The recordings were not demos as is often believed, but complete studio productions of songs which may have later appeared as rerecordings on his album Lie: The Love and Terror Cult (1970).[17] Music historian Andrew Doe has written that the chance of these recordings seeing an official release have "not a hope in hell."[17]

In December 1968, the Beach Boys released the Manson-composed "Never Learn Not to Love" as a single. Manson's involvement was omitted while Dennis was officially credited as the song's sole author.[28]

A World of Peace Must Come (1969)Edit

A collaboration between Brian Wilson and poet Stephen Kalinich dating from August and September 1969.[29] It contains spoken word passages by Kalinich recorded in Brian's Los Angeles bedroom with some instrumental accompaniment tracked at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco.[5] The album was five-years-old before its recordings were assembled, though a record deal could not be found for it.[5] It was finally given an official release on October 6, 2008.[29]

Friends remake (1970s)Edit

Rewritten and rerecorded cuts from the Beach Boys' Friends album.[30]Sessions|Friends]] outtakes.

Cows in the Pasture (1970s)Edit

The provisional title for a country and western Brian Wilson and Fred Vail collaboration recorded in April 1970. Fifteen songs were recorded at Wally Heider Studios, California. Of the musicians present were James Burton (guitar), Buddy Emmons (steel guitar), Glen D. Hardin (piano), and Red Rhodes (steel guitar). Brian, who was not interested in the country genre, left the project abandoned.[31]

Poops/Hubba Hubba (1970s)Edit

A solo album by Dennis worked on in 1971–72. It was produced with Daryl Dragon.[17]

Bambu (1970s–80s)Edit

Dennis Wilson attempted to follow up his 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue with Bambu. He died before the album could be completed.[2]

The Cocaine Sessions (1982)Edit

"The Cocaine Sessions" (or "The Hamburger Sessions")[32] refer to a sporadic, collaborative recording session conducted between Brian and Dennis Wilson in November 1982 at Garby Leon's home studio. Recordings were made for songs entitled "Oh Yeah"', "Oh Lord", "City Blues", "You've Been", "I Feel So Fine", "Stevie", and "Heroes and Villains".[33] According to lore, Brian would compose songs in exchange for McDonald's hamburgers bought by Dennis.[34] Musicologist Philip Lambert called the sessions a "heartbreaking testament to their conditions in the early 1980s."[35]

The Wilson Project (1986–87)Edit

The Wilson Project refers to sessions conducted between Brian and Gary Usher from June 1986 to July 1987 prior to the recording of Brian's debut solo album. The name derives from Stephen McParland's book The Wilson Project, drawn from journals and tape diaries kept by Usher from the period.[17]

Sweet Insanity (1991)Edit

Brian recorded a follow up to his 1988 eponymous solo album entitled Sweet Insanity. It was rejected by record labels.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Beach Boys' 'Smile' named as the greatest ever bootleg by Uncut". NME. October 21, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Stylus Magazine Non-Definitive Guide: The Lost Album". Stylus Magazine. September 2, 2003. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Beach Boys Producers Alan Boyd, Dennis Wolfe, Mark Linett Discuss 'Made in California' (Q&A)". Rock Cellar Magazine. September 4, 2013. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Chidester, Brian (January 30, 2014). "Brian Wilson's Secret Bedroom Tapes". LA Weekly. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Chidester, Brian (March 7, 2014). "Busy Doin' Somethin': Uncovering Brian Wilson's Lost Bedroom Tapes". Paste. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Peters, Tony (October 17, 2011). "Show #120 - Mark Linett - part 2 - Beach Boys SMiLE Sessions (10/17/11)". Iconfetch. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  7. ^ "Beach Boys – 8 Original "Smile" Acetates from the collection of Van Dyke Parks". Record Mecca. 2013.
  8. ^ "Durrie Parks Smile acetates up for sale for $10,000". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Vigotone 110 & 111". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  10. ^ a b Heylin 2010.
  11. ^ a b Wheadon, Bret D. "RARITIES II: SEA OF TUNES I". Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  12. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (December 23, 1999). "The Forever Frown". Phoenix New Times Music. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  13. ^ "The Beach Boys / Discography / Others". Allmusic. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Kozinn, Allan (11 December 2013). "European Copyright Laws Lead to Rare Music Releases". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  15. ^ Kozinn, Allan (December 5, 2014). "Rare Dylan Recordings Set for Release in Copyright-Extension Bid". New York: ArtsBeat.
  16. ^ "The Beach Boys Party! Uncovered And Unplugged / Expanded 2CD set - superdeluxeedition". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Doe, Andrew Grayham. "Unreleased Albums". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  18. ^ Wyckoff, Mark (May 24, 2012). "The Beach Boys are making 'Radio' waves". VCStar.
  19. ^ Fine, Jason (June 21, 2012). "The Beach Boys' Last Wave". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "Rolling Stone: Brian Wilson Rocks With Jeff Beck, Plans New LPs". June 20, 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  21. ^ Badman 2004, p. 291.
  22. ^ Griffth, JT. "Landlocked". AllMusic.
  23. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Landlocked: The Unreleased 1970 Album and More". AllMusic.
  24. ^ Carlin 2006, pp. 273, 281.
  25. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 281.
  26. ^ Fine, Jason (July 8, 1999). "Brian Wilson's Summer Plans". Rolling Stone.
  27. ^ Manson 1994, p. 167.
  28. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 138.
  29. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "A World of Peace Must Come". AllMusic.
  30. ^ Carlin 2006, pp. 172–173.
  31. ^ Badman 2004, p. 266.
  32. ^ Stebbins 2011, p. 221.
  33. ^ Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS82". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  34. ^ Goldberg, Michael (August 11, 1988). "God Only Knows" (PDF). Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 30, 1998.
  35. ^ Lambert 2007, p. 318.


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