- - Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The music of The Beach Boys has touched the lives of generations of music fans. Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson with childhood friend Al Jardine and Mike Love created a totally unique style and sound loved by generations of fans. No surprise that a group of Los Angeles based musicians called The Wild Honey Orchestra would lovingly recreate their music for a star studded benefit concert. The money raised goes to The Autism Think Tank, a collection of doctors striving to diagnose, treat and understand autism.

At the recent show I caught up with a Beach Boy Al Jardine, Monkee Micky Dolenz, Brian Wilson’s daughter Carnie Wilson, Susan Cowsill and a slew of other Beach Boys devotees, proteges and friends to ask them what the Beach Boys mean to them and how they got involved with Wild Honey.

Question: Paul how did Wild Honey start and what is the charity?

Paul Rock: It started as these community concerts that grew out of our shared fanaticism for the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. First one I did in my living room in 1993 with the Wondermints, who are now Brian’s band.

They played Beach Boys songs. We didn’t charge. The next year we decided to take it to a theater. Then we actually had Brian Wilson play at that show in a 200-seat theater. Then we started doing a series of them until 2003 and took 10 years off.

When I had my son Jake, he was diagnosed with autism — pretty severe. He needed specialists. We got a reference to the Autism Think Tank, an Internet conference you do with some of the biggest people on autism research and treatment in the country. In 2013 we did the show as a benefit. We raised money for Jake and three other kids. Then we did another one. Got bigger. Raised even more money.

Last year we did The Beatles “White Album.”  This year we decided to go back to our Beach Boys roots. The money goes to the Autism Think Tank and The Children’s Music Fund, which provides autistic children with music therapy.

Autism is changing very rapidly in regards to the research and the treatment, and the understanding is growing.

Q: How did you get involved with Wild Honey?

Al Jardine (Beach Boys): Brian’s musical director Darian asked if I would be part of the show this year. He explained a little bit about the charity. So I agreed to sing a couple of numbers [like] “Heroes and Villains,” a song I wrote called “California Saga” and a song I sang, “Honkin’ Down the Highway.”

Micky Dolenz (The Monkees): My friend [guitarist] Andrew Sandoval invited me. I do a lot of charity stuff. Glad to participate.

Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi & Billy): I had heard about the event over the years, and I have a lot of friends in the orchestra. I like the cause. They have built up a good brand and reputation. It was just an easy yes.

Debbi Peterson (The Bangles): I’ve done three or four of them. Such a great cause for autism. My son is on the spectrum. I’m here every year either with The Bangles or John Wicks [of The Records].

Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills): Most of the people here have been in the musical community since the ‘70s. I also have a godchild who is not severely autistic but he’s got a good dose. The cause is something close to my heart.

Syd Straw: Oh, they begged and pleaded. They had to really work me over so hard. [laughs] They are the greatest people I know. They treat me like a beloved first cousin.

Billy Mumy (Lost in Space): I’m friends with the guys in Brian’s band. I played last year for “The White Album” and luckily I guess I did OK. Wild Honey is doing very positive things to make the world better for people with autism. If I can make some great music with wonderful musicians in a beautiful theater, it’s a win-win.

Q: Favorite Beach Boys song/album?

AJ: My favorite song would be “Honkin’ Down the Highway.”

MD: Probably because I was born and raised in California, my favorite song is “California Girls.”

Carnie Wilson: My favorite Beach Boys album is “Friends.” I also love Beach Boys “Love You.” I love the song “Honkin’ Down the Highway.” I don’t know what it is but that song that makes me laugh. “God Only Knows” is my favorite song that has ever been written.

BH: Ever? “God Only Knows.”

DP: It’s just too hard! “Heroes & Villians.”

SC: I covered “Don’t Worry Baby,” so we’ll go with that as favorite song. Album? I can’t pick one.

Rumer: “Pet Sounds.” Songwise? “Warmth of the Sun,” which was the one that spoke to me. I covered it for my B-sides record.

SS: I remember dancing to “Little Surfer Girl” with Mormon boys when I was a teenager. Trying to get Mormon boys to make out with me.

Q: What does the music of The Beach Boys mean to you?

CW: My life — or rather, my upbringing — is wrapped in these songs. Thinking of my dad makes me very emotional.

Rumer: They are such a big part of everybody’s life. Amazing musicians and such a big influence on every songwriter that came after.

SS: My first concert, I was sneaked in, had to crawl under barb wire on my scrawny baby belly, was The Beach Boys.

For more info on Wild Honey check out their Facebook.com/WildHoneyEagleRock. For more on Autism Think Tank, visit AutismThinkTanknj.com.

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