A decade ago, when I was researching this website, I drove down to Hawthorne, California to see the original Wilson house where the Beach Boys grew up, and where they wrote and recorded many of their hit songs. When I got there, to my shock, there was no house to be found - just a wall separating 119th Street from the new 105 freeway. Short-sighted bureaucrats had demolished the original Wilson home and the musical history that went with it.
Well, in May of 2005, they finally made up for their blunder - at least somewhat.
They erected a monument on the former location of the Wilson home (near where the front lawn's curb would have been), declaring the spot a California Registered Historical Landmark.
It's a rather handsome monument,
made of bricks donated by fans, featuring a large, white stone carving
of the boys carrying a surfboard (inspired by the cover of their Surfer Girl
album) as well as a bronze plaque stating that this is the "Site of
the childhood home of the Beach Boys..." and giving a summary of the
history of the house.
The Beach Boys almost single-handedly created the California myth of the state as a land of gorgeous women, tanned surfers and eternal sunshine. They had dozens of Top 40 hits, ranging from the youthful glee of Surfin' USA to the soulful sound of God Only Knows. At the height of Beatlemania, the Beach Boys were the biggest American group on the charts. In fact, their album Pet Sounds inspired the Beatles to create Sgt. Pepper's. (And you can hear Paul lifting an obvious riff from the Beach Boys in Back in the USSR...)
On the day of the monument's dedication, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, the surviving members of the Beach Boys (minus Mike Love) showed up and performed two songs (In My Room & Surfer Girl) for the 800 fans waiting there on the side of the road to honor them. One group of 50 fans had flown in from England for the occasion!
The site is located in a simple, low-income neighborhood - not the best part of town, perhaps, but it doesn't appear to be dangerous for visitors.
The only problem is that the
address is hard to find. It's on 119th Street in Hawthorne (in the South
Bay section of L.A. County), but it turns out that 119th street is made
up of multiple dead ends. So if you simply get off the 405 freeway at El
Segundo Blvd and try to follow 119th Street, you'll get stuck. Here's how
to find the place:
[You can see additional photos of the monument at here.]
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