Al Jardine has been playing and singing the same songs for 40 years, but he never gets tired of performing them – and the fans never get tired of hearing them.
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That's because Jardine is an original member of The Beach Boys, and the tunes, etched in gold into the American music fabric, are among the most enduring ever recorded.
He will bring Al Jardine's Endless Summer Band, comprised of many of The Beach Boys' original unit, to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Saturday night for what promises to be a night of fun and poignancy.
"They are timeless," Jardine said of the songs, most conceived and written by Brian Wilson. "Brian is a bona fide genius, the greatest composer of the 20th century. He wrote great songs, but we all contributed a lot."
Jardine authored some of them, including "California Saga: California" off the Holland album. He sings lead on "Help me Rhonda" and several other classics.
It wasn't all surfing, fast cars and hot babes, he recalled. "My cousin Dennis [Wilson] was having all the fun. Brian and I were students. We were studying, not partying. Dennis was the quintessential Beach Boy – he explored all those avenues."
Jardine played bass for the group initially, went off to college, and returned to the band in 1963. Since then, it has been, off and on, an endless summer of sorts.
Jardine has toured with his own band and with Brian Wilson of late. Another original member, Mike Love, played in East Hampton last year and has, for the moment, wrestled the official "Beach Boys" name from his former band mates. "Mike is an equal opportunity suer," said Jardine of the legal battles between the group members. His band, he said, is the real deal.
"My band has a little more integrity," he said. "Collectively, we've been doing it for 100 years. These are great songs but you have to play them right and believe me I know the difference." Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi and Billy) on keyboards, Ed Carter on bass and Bobby Figueroa on drums are among The Beach Boys' alumni who will play with Jardine, whose band often includes his sons, Matt and Adam.
"We do the tried and true stuff along with a few lesser known ones like `Honkin' Down The Highway', which we never recorded. People prefer to live in the past. These are memories – these powerful songs evoke incredible feelings," Jardine said.
But change is in the air. He is working on A Postcard From California, an album of new material, his first solo project ever – the single by the same name is available for listening on his website and it has the feel of an instant classic.
"My father got tired of scraping ice off the windshields," he related. "He got a job in San Francisco. Wanderlust got him, and he started writing letters." The vignette became the basis of his new album. "It's the story of his exodus," he said of his father.
Jardine himself moved from Ohio to Hawthorne, California to attend high school, where he met Brian Wilson. The pair worked together as recently as last year, touring behind the re-release of Pet Sounds, generally considered to be among the top rock albums ever made. In fact, it was Jardine who suggested the band cover "Sloop John B," which shot to the top of the charts within weeks of its release and became one of the band's top-selling singles.
He said he never gets tired of touring. "I love getting out and seeing people," he said, though he doesn't recall playing in the Hamptons. Brian Wilson, however, played a Back To The Sea concert at Southampton College in 2001.
Jardine's resume is impressive. The Beach Boys have had 40 Top Ten hits, more than any other American band in history, and Jardine has played and sang on virtually every one. The band has sold hundreds of millions of records, and sales are still strong. The songs continue to dominate the airwaves, even some that date back 40 or more years. The Beach Boys phenomenon has never abated.
Unfortunately, Jardine said, the chances of a true reunion are being thwarted by Love. "We would have made up a long time ago except Mike ended up with The Beach Boys' license."
Nevertheless, life is good for Jardine, a Grammy winner and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, he is an original member of The Beach Boys – America's band.
Al Jardine's Endless Summer Band will play at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Saturday. Call 288-1500 for details.