The Beach Boys Documentary Details The Fate Of The Infamous ‘Smile’ Tapes


The Beach BoysSmile album of 1966 was never released due to Brian Wilson’s skepticism over public reaction; however, a watered-down version titled Smiley Smile came out in September 1967 featuring tracks like “Wind Chimes,” “Good Vibrations,” “Vegetables,” “With Me Tonight,” and some more songs.

A few tracks from the original were released as singles in subsequent years, but the highly anticipated Smile never materialized. Wilson later adapted a modified version—Brian Wilson Presents Smile—in 2004, which he noted was a contrast from the initial project. The recently released documentary The Beach Boys revealed the fate of Smile and the issues surrounding it.


What happened to ‘Smile?’

The Beach Boys, front from left: Mike Love, Carl Wilson, rear from left: Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, 1970s

After the release of Pet Sounds, which inspired The Beatles to create Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Wilson wanted to take things a step further by creating Smile Tapes. However, in a bid to duplicate the success of Pet Sounds, he delayed the project, which ended up in limbo.


RELATED: Why Mike Love Was Upset At The Beach Boys’ Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction

Wilson’s perfectionist nature got in the way of what might have come from their top albums, and the released breakout version was not up to standard. The band took a hit after a period of creative block, with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones leading the music scene then. They eventually returned with the “Greatest Hits” compilation album in 2012.

The Beach Boys, from left: Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, 1960s

Brian Wilson’s mental issues affected the group

Wilson was arguably the powerhouse of The Beach Boys, with a talent and ear for varying instruments that blended with the rest of the band’s strengths. In his 2016 memoir titled I Am Brian Wilson, he recalled listening to the radio growing up and easily taking apart the melodies of songs from Nat King Cole, The Chordettes and the like. He often undo the songs “like they were clocks” and rebuild them with his brothers Dennis and Carl.

Everett Collection

Sadly, Wilson began to experience a mental decline from years of drug and alcohol abuse, which affected his performance so badly that he quit touring in the late ‘60s and relegated himself to the background. He was recently diagnosed with a “major neurocognitive disorder” which has left him unable to carry out simple daily activities, however, bandmate Mike Love revealed plans for a musical intervention to awaken Wilson’s creativity once again.

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