The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine. Distinguished by their vocal harmonies and early surf songs, they are one of the most influential acts of the rock era. The band drew on the music of jazz-based vocal groups, 1950s rock and roll, and black R&B to create their unique sound, and with Brian as composer, arranger, producer, and de facto leader, they often incorporated classical elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways.
The Beach Boys began as a garage band led by Brian and managed by the Wilsons' father Murry. In 1963, the band gained national prominence with a string of top-ten singles reflecting a southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance, dubbed the "California Sound". From 1964, they abandoned beachgoing themes for more personal lyrics and ambitious orchestrations. In 1966, the Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single raised the group's prestige as rock innovators and established the band as symbols of the nascent counterculture era. After scrapping the album Smile in 1967, Brian's contributions diminished due to his mental health issues. The group's commercial momentum faltered, and despite efforts to maintain an experimental sound, they were dismissed by early rock critics as the archetypal "pop music cop-outs".
Carl took over as the band's musical leader until the late 1970s, during which they rebounded with successful worldwide concert tours. Personal struggles, creative disagreements, and the overshadowing success of the band's greatest hits albums precipitated their transition into an oldies act. Dennis drowned in 1983 and Brian soon estranged from the group. Between the 1990s and 2000s, the members filed numerous lawsuits over royalties, defamation, songwriting credits, and use of the band's name. Following Carl's death from lung cancer in 1998, the group and its corporation (Brother Records Inc.) granted Love legal rights to tour as "the Beach Boys". As of 2019, Brian and Jardine do not perform with Love's Beach Boys, but remain official members of the band.
The Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful, and influential bands of all time. They were one of the earliest self-contained rock bands and one of the few US bands who maintained their success before, during, and after the 1964 British Invasion. Between the 1960s and 2010s, they had over 80 songs chart worldwide, 36 of them in the US Top 40 (the most by a US rock band), and four reaching number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. They have sold over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, and are ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Their influence spans many genres and decades, inspiring the development of movements such as psychedelia, power pop, progressive rock, punk, alternative, and lo-fi. The core quintet of the three Wilsons, Love, and Jardine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.