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Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys: The Biography

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No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens. The proud owner of one of the greatest voices in popular music--one that graced some of the most impor No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens. The proud owner of one of the greatest voices in popular music--one that graced some of the most important records of the pop era, including 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations'--Wilson was also one of the first musicians to bring the electric guitar to the forefront of rock'n'roll. His musical skills provided The Beach Boys' entree into the music business, from which he then stewarded their onstage journey through the ups and downs of the 60s to their comeback in the 70s and into the role of 'America's band' in the 80s. Along the way, Carl quietly endured his own battles with obesity, divorce, substance abuse, and ultimately terminal cancer, all the while working to protect his family's business and legacy. This major new biography reveals the true story of modern rock'n'roll, lived from the center of the most important decades of popular music.


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No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens. The proud owner of one of the greatest voices in popular music--one that graced some of the most impor No life in popular music touched on as many major musical milestones as that of The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson. While he is often unjustly overlooked as a mere adjunct to his more famous brothers Brian and Dennis, Carl was a major international rock star from his early teens. The proud owner of one of the greatest voices in popular music--one that graced some of the most important records of the pop era, including 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations'--Wilson was also one of the first musicians to bring the electric guitar to the forefront of rock'n'roll. His musical skills provided The Beach Boys' entree into the music business, from which he then stewarded their onstage journey through the ups and downs of the 60s to their comeback in the 70s and into the role of 'America's band' in the 80s. Along the way, Carl quietly endured his own battles with obesity, divorce, substance abuse, and ultimately terminal cancer, all the while working to protect his family's business and legacy. This major new biography reveals the true story of modern rock'n'roll, lived from the center of the most important decades of popular music.

30 review for Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys: The Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe Nicholl

    At the start of the 'Plan'-demic, Mar 11-ish, 2020, I knew I was gonna need some Happy music to get me through the latest psy-op/False-Flag...and of course The Beach Boys came to mind immediately...Now, the first lp I ever bought with my saved allowance money back in '64 was Surfin' USA...so now this 'ol grey beard picked-up where I last left off, Beach Boys that is...and thud! that lasted an hour-&-half...surf, surf, surf, shut-down, 409, 409...Hey! Brian, Brian, Brian!!!...Gag! Enough already! At the start of the 'Plan'-demic, Mar 11-ish, 2020, I knew I was gonna need some Happy music to get me through the latest psy-op/False-Flag...and of course The Beach Boys came to mind immediately...Now, the first lp I ever bought with my saved allowance money back in '64 was Surfin' USA...so now this 'ol grey beard picked-up where I last left off, Beach Boys that is...and thud! that lasted an hour-&-half...surf, surf, surf, shut-down, 409, 409...Hey! Brian, Brian, Brian!!!...Gag! Enough already! Soooooooooo, I went the other direction...Pet Sounds > God Only Knows...who's singing that beautiful song...Oh, little brother Carl...oh yeah, right on! He's the pudgy one who sang the most groove Don't Tell Me No Lies on Summer Nights...I could feel the embers starting to glow...Wild Honey! Wow! What a cool album! Lead by Carl from beginning to end...ditto 20/20 (I Can Hear Music!)...the Hippie Dream Sunflower, a hidden Classic!!!...Surf's Up! with Carl's and The Beach Boys best songs ever Long Promised Road & Feel Flows...the coolest songs ever, light & Heavy Man!!! On to Holland and The Trader! -So, I learned over Q-time that Carl Wilson RULED The Beach Boys from Wild Honey through Holland, or '67 through '74...meanwhile Brian was eating a chicken-sandwhich and filling up the bong...-Back to the future...I checked out The Beach Boys books and what-do-ya-know, I found Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys: The Biography by Kent Crowley...cut to the chase...it's a good book, I gave it a 3.0 but it's a STRONG 3.0...maybe 3.5...on the negative side, too many Carl stories that lean on Brian (I'm Shocked!)...and, Carl's last 15 years wrapped in the final 10% (Kindle percentage...Yuck!)...But, overall a good book, it does it's subject matter, Carl Wilson, fair & square, mostly Happy All the Time!...the author Crowley is a guitar nerd (so am I) and talks a bit about Carl's rig & set-up over the years, which I found cool...AND, I didn't know Carl's 2nd marriage (though to his passing) was to Dean Martin's beautiful daughter Gina! What do ya know!...Soooo, it's a good book on Carl Wilson, but not great...it's a fairly easy read and you'll learn a few things about Carl, like, he was the Capt. of the ship '67-'74, and a lot of Great Beach Boys music went down during that time period...if you like Carl Wilson buy this book and read it...ya can't go wrong!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian O'Leary

    Not good at all. It does more to highlight the lows of the beach boys and all of the individuals involved with them than anything else. I used to like the beach boys before I read this book. Now I am not so sure. Also, the writing was very disjointed and never stayed on task, switching time frames, switching from talking about music equipment (there was way too much of this) to people.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    The Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson in the Spotlight and in the Shadows left Carl Wilson too much in the shadows. I enjoyed the book and the info on the Beach Boys, however it was a book mostly about the Beach Boys and not about Carl Wilson specifically. In fairness there was more personal info on Carl than anyone else in the book, however there was a lot said about Brian, Dennis and other members of the group and not always in regard to how Carl interacted with them. I was expecting a book that The Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson in the Spotlight and in the Shadows left Carl Wilson too much in the shadows. I enjoyed the book and the info on the Beach Boys, however it was a book mostly about the Beach Boys and not about Carl Wilson specifically. In fairness there was more personal info on Carl than anyone else in the book, however there was a lot said about Brian, Dennis and other members of the group and not always in regard to how Carl interacted with them. I was expecting a book that delved into the life of Carl Wilson, not glossed over that life. There was very little info regarding his first marriage and almost nothing regarding his second. The bulk of the book dealt with the 1960s and 1970s with very little said about the 1980s and 1990s. I would like to see a book about Carl Wilson someday, however, as stated at the beginning I did enjoy the book on the Beach Boys.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was very disappointed in this book. It's basically a biography of the Beach Boys, focusing primarily on their recordings and musical techniques. Which was fine, but there was very little information about Carl Wilson specifically, other than in conjunction with playing guitar and producing records. His first wife's name is mentioned twice, his second wife's name mentioned once. He has two children with his first wife. I know nothing more about his life outside the recording studio than I did p I was very disappointed in this book. It's basically a biography of the Beach Boys, focusing primarily on their recordings and musical techniques. Which was fine, but there was very little information about Carl Wilson specifically, other than in conjunction with playing guitar and producing records. His first wife's name is mentioned twice, his second wife's name mentioned once. He has two children with his first wife. I know nothing more about his life outside the recording studio than I did prior to reading the book. The book's extended title is misleading, in my opinion. **#110 of 120 books pledged to read/review during 2016**

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leila Kern

    I enjoyed this book, however, it was not what I expected. I would have liked to read more about Carl Wilson, the boy, the man, what made him “tick”! I did learn that Carl seemed to be the glue that held The Beach Boys together but I would have like to know more about Carl as a person. This book would be wonderful for someone who is a musician and could understand all the terms used, plus the types of equipment and how Carl could “make” the instruments “sing”.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Baker

    It was a very good experience to read a book dedicated to the life of Carl Wilson. Unfortunately, the book was solely focused on music and there were gaping holes regarding Carl's personal life. Yes, I'm one of the few who truly appreciates Carl's contribution to the Beach Boys and it was great to read about all of the albums that just sort of disappeared, but I really truly would have loved to learn about his personal life. It was a very good experience to read a book dedicated to the life of Carl Wilson. Unfortunately, the book was solely focused on music and there were gaping holes regarding Carl's personal life. Yes, I'm one of the few who truly appreciates Carl's contribution to the Beach Boys and it was great to read about all of the albums that just sort of disappeared, but I really truly would have loved to learn about his personal life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    An interesting enough book but this is less a biography of Carl than an overview of the Beach Boys career from his perspective. Is there a better book to be written about Carl's life? Time will tell. An interesting enough book but this is less a biography of Carl than an overview of the Beach Boys career from his perspective. Is there a better book to be written about Carl's life? Time will tell.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I enjoyed it, a lot of people haven't been kind to it but it was an interesting read about a wonderful interesting guy! I enjoyed it, a lot of people haven't been kind to it but it was an interesting read about a wonderful interesting guy!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Frazier

    As a writer/Journalism major, I cannot look past the lackluster amd oftentimes lazy writing style of Crowley. The Beach Boys were America's answer to the Beatles in the 60s. From 1961 through today, they remain one of music's biggest soap operas as the book describes. While many insist that Brian Wilson was and remains the brains and genius behind the Beach Boys' success, Carl truly was the very soul and glue that held them together through so much adversity. My parents LOVE this band and I grew As a writer/Journalism major, I cannot look past the lackluster amd oftentimes lazy writing style of Crowley. The Beach Boys were America's answer to the Beatles in the 60s. From 1961 through today, they remain one of music's biggest soap operas as the book describes. While many insist that Brian Wilson was and remains the brains and genius behind the Beach Boys' success, Carl truly was the very soul and glue that held them together through so much adversity. My parents LOVE this band and I grew up occasionally hearing the dulcet sounds of "Kokomo" or other later hits of the band. It is only within the last few years that I myself have developed an affinity for this band, sans Mike Love whom I could very much do without. "I am Brian Wilson" is another highly recommended read for BB fans as well as the biopic "Love and Mercy." If you need one reminder of the legacy the Beach Boys created and that Carl and Dennis Wilson left behind, look no further than Sir Paul Mccartney himself. On the song "God Only Knows": It's one of the most beautiful songs ever composed and best pop songs ever written."

  10. 5 out of 5

    William J. Pringle

    Great Read on an important Age and Singer Hardly able to put this biography of Carl Wilson down, page after page affords insight into an age of music that transformed the American Culture. Carl Wilson was the vehicle that gives insight into the technological developments inaugurated by The Beach Boys. The instrumental ability Carl Wilson developed emerges out of a history of guitar, studio development, and the brilliance of Brian Wilson, who brought his youngest brother into the limelight of The Great Read on an important Age and Singer Hardly able to put this biography of Carl Wilson down, page after page affords insight into an age of music that transformed the American Culture. Carl Wilson was the vehicle that gives insight into the technological developments inaugurated by The Beach Boys. The instrumental ability Carl Wilson developed emerges out of a history of guitar, studio development, and the brilliance of Brian Wilson, who brought his youngest brother into the limelight of The Beach Boys. There are many books on the band, it’s trials and tribulations as well as magnificent success. This particular biography of Carl Wilson affords the reader a valuable insight into a lesser known variable in the equation that equals an amazing band, and one of its critical members. Do yourself a favor and read this book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Of all the bios about the Beach Boys or their individual members, this is the first one I've encountered that give details about how the band did what they did in the studio and also on stage. Carl's playing technique is discussed in a manner thorough enough for fellow musicians to understand but clear enough for non-musicians to follow. A well-written and engaging quick read! Of all the bios about the Beach Boys or their individual members, this is the first one I've encountered that give details about how the band did what they did in the studio and also on stage. Carl's playing technique is discussed in a manner thorough enough for fellow musicians to understand but clear enough for non-musicians to follow. A well-written and engaging quick read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    More of a biography of the Beach Boys with a focus on Carl than a bio of Carl. Nevertheless, interesting

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    As a child of the 60s the Beach Boys were a big part of the musical background of my life. In college it was not cool to admit liking their music, and yet I found myself at a concert of theirs more than once. While this book told me little I didn't already know, or suspect, it was still an enjoyable read. Every song mentioned had me trying to recall the lyrics; the ones I didn't know I looked up on YouTube. It did give me more respect for Carl as a person. As a child of the 60s the Beach Boys were a big part of the musical background of my life. In college it was not cool to admit liking their music, and yet I found myself at a concert of theirs more than once. While this book told me little I didn't already know, or suspect, it was still an enjoyable read. Every song mentioned had me trying to recall the lyrics; the ones I didn't know I looked up on YouTube. It did give me more respect for Carl as a person.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This book is a well-meaning paean to Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. Certainly, Carl deserves a full length biography as he is in my estimation the most underrated member of the band. Unfortunately, this book is very uneven, both in quality of writing and depth of research. But, Crowley does get out the message of the importance and quality of Wilson's musical talents to the general fan base of this iconic band. A highly competent editor of the book would improve it greatly. Perhaps, there will b This book is a well-meaning paean to Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. Certainly, Carl deserves a full length biography as he is in my estimation the most underrated member of the band. Unfortunately, this book is very uneven, both in quality of writing and depth of research. But, Crowley does get out the message of the importance and quality of Wilson's musical talents to the general fan base of this iconic band. A highly competent editor of the book would improve it greatly. Perhaps, there will be a 2nd edition. Maybe, Crowley was rushed to meet a deadline with his publisher. I am a long-standing BB fan, and I did learn quite a bit about Carl as a great musician, especially his singing. When I listen to his lead singing songs, I have a new greater appreciation of him––esp. on his iconic version of "I Can Hear Music."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan Csoke

    Long Promised Road is the story of Carl Wilson and the Beach Boys. Its about their lives on the road and on tours and their ups and downs. In the late sixties they toured in Czechoslovakia to become the first American rock n roll band to appear behind the Iron Curtain. Lots of photos. THANK YOU GOODREADS FIRSTREADS FOR THIS FREE BOOK!!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Fascinating subject but averagely written. Makes a few factual errors, including getting the year of Carl's death wrong at the start. Completely fails to mention Melinda Wilson's role in getting Brian away from Eugene Landy. Fascinating subject but averagely written. Makes a few factual errors, including getting the year of Carl's death wrong at the start. Completely fails to mention Melinda Wilson's role in getting Brian away from Eugene Landy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zapple100

    This book isn't really a Carl Wilso bio. It's more of a Beach Boy book and it shows where Carl Wilson fits in with the group. If you like the Beach Boys, this is a good book to read. This book isn't really a Carl Wilso bio. It's more of a Beach Boy book and it shows where Carl Wilson fits in with the group. If you like the Beach Boys, this is a good book to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liam Murphy

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  23. 4 out of 5

    Will Curley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Ledner

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex J Browning

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  27. 5 out of 5

    CK

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve Ledoux

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Kiefer

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Dimoia

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