Stuck firmly in the middle of the famous Wilson brothers, Dennis was a contrast to his older and younger brother. Dubbed by his neighbors as "Dennis the Menace" he was unlike Brian who was serious and quiet and his younger brother Carl who was so very sweet.
Dennis was the rebel. Often at odds with his father, who couldn't understand his rebel nature, he was very often in trouble.
Dennis had troubles with his father early in life. Audree was once quoted as saying that the simularities between Dennis and his father were uncanny. Dennis and Murry often butted heads, with Dennis being so strong spirited. Both men were strong and stubborn and it was the cause of their problems through most of their lives together. Dennis would spend most of his life hurting over the love that he so badly needed from his father. Murry was an enigma all his own, and never knew how to communicate with his sons in a positive way. At the end of Murry's life however, Dennis and he would mend their tumultuous friendship and would become quite close. The damage had been done in childhood, but they enjoyed a kinship with Dennis visiting with him often later on in Murry's life.
Dennis had an unquenchable spirit that would keep him busy his whole 39 years with us. Dennis had to be doing things. The things that most of us would be afraid to try Dennis did. Dennis had an intense curiousity and had to know and experience everything. He was the ultimate rebel who could win your forgiveness with a smile.
Dennis is the inspiration for the early music that big brother wrote about. Brian used his brothers experiences, life as a surfer to make some of the most cherished music in history.
When the Beach Boys were being born, Audree Wilson went to Brian to tell him that she wanted him to include Dennis in the band. Brian and the other boys were skeptical to include him, but on Brian's promise to his mother, Dennis Wilson became the drummer of the Beach Boys. History was made. Dennis would always be the real Beach Boy. He was the true supporter of Brian's visions of the music. When Brian was growing creatively he was met with apprehension of changing the formula of the music by all of the band members, except for Dennis. Dennis would never stop supporting Brian.
Dennis was often not taken seriously in his status of being a musician. But when the burden became to heavy for Brian to handle, and he pulled away from the band, a very special thing began to happen. As the other band members had to take control to keep the band going, Dennis began to shine.
Dennis began to show them all, that Brian and Carl were not the only Wilson brothers who were musically gifted.
In 1969 admidst the inner turmoil going on in the band, the in-fighting and the loss of Brian's influence, Dennis began to write and compose songs. For two years he would become the most productive Beach Boy. Dennis had also become involved with one of the most well known murderers of our time. Charles Manson. One of the most controversial songs done by by the Beach Boys is called: "Never Learn Not To Love". Dennis wrote that song with Manson.
The majority of the music that Dennis wrote and performed where the most beautiful tracks that have ever been done. A tenderness in Dennis came out. Dennis wrote four of the twelve tracks for one of the most beloved Beach Boys albums, "Sunflower". Most fans when asked will tell you that "Sunflower" is one of their top favorite albums. He wrote, "Slip On Through", "Got To Know The Woman", "It's About Time", and "Forever".
In 1977 Dennis released his solo album, "Pacific Ocean Blue".
His performances always gave charisma to the band. He was the most animated of the group, being the center of attention at live performances. His vitality never ceased to be the hit of the show.
His personal life was not as ideal. Dennis loved the rock star life. He loved the women, and was intense in everything he did. He lived it to the fullest. Because of it he had several unsuccessful marriages. Dennis loved his wives and his children but couldn't stay still for long. He had to be out there and doing something, and that something was not always appropriate for his family. With Dennis having such a zest for life, he often crossed boundaries of what could be called appropriate behavior. He attacked life with a faith and child like innocence.
All that ever mattered was the moment of now for Dennis. He never looked back and never saw forward. There is no one who lived a more intense life than Dennis Wilson. Dennis approached life as a challenge.
As with big brother Brian, drugs would eventually find Dennis. As with everything else in life Dennis approached drugs with an intensity. But hard and fast living would eventually catch up and take its toll on Dennis. The creator of beautiful ballads such as, "Forever" and "Barbara" would begin to break down. A long time lover of the ocean and proud owner of his pride, "The Harmony" Dennis lost his charming good looks, and began to appear bloated. His voice became hardly more than a whisper and those who knew him knew that something was terribly wrong. Dennis became bankrupt and lost his precious boat "The Harmony". Several attempts were made to get Dennis into rehab but often they failed because Dennis would walk out. His brother Carl was even attempting to get Dennis help in the form of the controversial Dr. Eugene Landy. Plans were made to set it up after the holidays in December of 1983.
On the last day of Dennis Wilson's life, he was staying with a friend on the same dock that had held his precious boat. The spot where his boat had sat remained empty, haunting and intimadating. Dennis, buzzing from Alcohol decided that he would hunt for buried treasure. He dove into the empty space and came up with various items, including a picture of himself and his ex wife Karen Lamm, that in a fit of anger he had thrown over board. The last time after being begged by friends to come out of the water, he went down and never resurfaced. A lost soul, lost at sea.
One can look at the loss of Dennis as a tragedy. It is indeed. He lived, breathed, and epitamized intensity. Nothing was untried in his life, no stone left uncovered. For many of us the loss of Dennis Wilson represents great sadness and regret, but Dennis lives on in his legendary music. His life need not be looked on with regret but with the sense of knowing that Dennis lived and died, doing what he wanted to do.
Tammy Stinnett and Adrian Cork
Return to Web Page for Brian Wilson page.