Beach Boy Mike Love -- who turns 76 today -- is one of the most reviled figures in rock history, even among Beach Boys fans. So much hate has accumulated for Love over the years that he felt the need to address the issue during an interview with Rolling Stone last year.
"The fable is that I'm such an asshole, but a lot of that stuff is skewed by the crazies," Love told Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone last year. "I never said half the shit that's attributed to me. I mean, I must be pretty prolific in asshole-type things to say, like, I get up in the morning thinking, 'I've got a job to do. How can I be a total jerk today?'"
Love also rebutted a lot of allegations against him. So to help the Beach Boy set the record straight, here are 5 reasons why rock fans hate Mike Love and what he has to say about each one.
1. Bad Vibrations
Fan hatred of Mike Love dates back as early as 1966, when the singer allegedly got into an argument with bandleader Brian Wilson while recording 'Pet Sounds'. The album has since been listed by Rolling Stone as the second-best album of all time (after The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper').
But Love allegedly wasn't a fan of The Beach Boys' new, experimental sound. "Who's gonna hear this shit? The ears of a dog?" he supposedly said during a recording session.
However, he has since denied ever making that comment. "That's a bunch of bullshit," Love told Rolling Stone in 2016. "I never said anything like that. All of us worked our asses off on that [album]!"
Love has also received flack for criticizing Brian Wilson over the Beach Boys' even more experimental album 'Smile', which was supposed to be the follow-up to 'Pet Sounds.' But the negative feedback from Love allegedly led to Wilson's decision to shelve the project for decades.
That allegation has drawn the ire of fans - especially those who believe that 'Smile' might have rivalled The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper' as the best rock album of all time.
But Love denies getting in the way of 'Smile.' "I never said anything bad about any of the tracks. I admit to wanting to make a commercially successful pop record, so I might have complained about some of the lyrics," Love said in 2016.
He added that the recording sessions at the time were miserable and that drugs may have made Brian Wilson oversensitive to criticism. "Smile...that's a misnomer if I ever heard of one," Love said. "It was a crazy time, people fucked up out of their minds on stuff. You do a lot of pot, LSD, cocaine, you name it, paranoia runs rampant, so, yes, Brian could have become extra-, ultrasensitive to attitudes, you know, body language, or whatever."
Bad body language can't be blamed for the fiasco that occurred during The Beach Boys' induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Love's speech for the occasion quickly turned into a screed against his peers. He boasted that The Beach Boys were better than The Beatles, criticized Diana Ross for being absent, questioned Billy Joel's musical ability and called Mick Jagger too "chickenshit" to get on stage with The Beach Boys.
"Thank fuck he didn't mention me," Elton John said to the stunned audience afterward.
Since then, Love has blamed the incident on failing to meditate before taking the stage. "I regret that I didn't meditate," he said in 2016. "It helps you deal with whatever you're dealing with. I meditate in order to cope with things."
Shortly after bashing rock's biggest stars in public, Love began warring with his own band. In 1993, he successfully sued Brian Wilson over the authorship of the group's song catalog, which resulted in Love getting credit (and royalties) for writing some of The Beach Boys' biggest hits.
"I wrote every last syllable of the words to California Girls, and when the record came out, it said, 'Brian Wilson' — there was no 'Mike Love'," he said in 2016. "The only thing I didn't write was 'I wish they all could be California girls.'" In other words, he penned every syllable except the song's refrain.
That's not the only time he got shortchanged. "'Surfin' USA,' too, the big shaftola. Same thing with 'I Get Around.' I came up with 'Round, round, round, get around, I get around' and redid Brian's lyrics. And nowhere was my name mentioned on the record. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, [manager] Murry [Wilson]," he added.
So Love settled the issue in court, which inevitably caused backlash from fans.
"My only recourse was legal. But if I stick up for myself, Mike's an asshole. I mean, Brian wanted to settle, but he was in a conservatorship that wouldn't let him. I give him credit for that. But I was cheated and stolen from by my uncle and my cousin, and I don't think it's ever going to be resolved. I mean, how you gonna resolve it?"
One of the Beach Boys songs that Love didn't have to fight to get credit for was the 1988 hit 'Kokomo', which he co-wrote with John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, Scott McKenzie (who sang the 1967 hit 'San Francisco') and Terry Melcher (who produced 60s bands like The Byrds).
Of course, the other Beach Boys might not want credit for the song, which is often included in lists of the worst #1 hits of all time. Love didn't comment on 'Kokomo' in the 2016 interview -- maybe because the song truly is indefensible.
Banner image: wikipedia.org (Mike Love performing in 2012)