Brian Wilson ‘right-hand’ man explains switch to Beach Boys.
Jeffrey Foskett has sung and played guitar with the Beach Boys for more than 30 years. He recorded their last No. 1 hit, “Kokomo,” when Brian Wilson wasn’t with them. He was discovered by Beach Boys frontman Mike Love in 1979 when Love booked Foskett’s college surf band to open for his solo act. In 1981, Foskett was asked to join the Beach Boys’ touring band.
But when Wilson and Love went their separate ways in the late 1990s, after years of legal battles, Foskett followed Wilson. Some described Foskett as Wilson’s music director. Others called him his “right-hand man.”
Wilson said last month Paul Mertens was his music director and Foskett had been his right-hand man. “The right-hand man,” he told me, “helps you with the medication, watches you and makes sure (things get done).”
Foskett, 58, said last week, “However he viewed me is fine with me.
“A lot of it is semantics,” he said over the phone, “and that’s why I don’t really care how I’m viewed. As long as Brian knows that I love him and as long as Brian knows I had the time of my life working with him, I really don’t care about anything else.”
Something happened in the past year that Foskett really hasn’t wanted to talk about. When we last spoke in 2013, he was excited about working on an album with Wilson and British guitar great Jeff Beck, and going on tour with the two rock legends.
Then I read a real estate notice saying Foskett was selling his Rancho Mirage home. Suddenly, he wasn’t returning my phone calls or emails. Then it was announced he had left the Wilson band. Soon after that, it was announced he had joined Love’s Beach Boys. In August, Wilson said he had sold his Indian Wells home and the album with Beck would be released “not soon.”
So, what happened?
Foskett sent me an email two weeks ago saying things had been moving so fast since May, he simply forgot to reply.
Breaking the silence
“After the Jeff Beck tour, I was completely stressed and burned out,” he said. “That whole year, recording that album and that tour — because I knew Jeff so well — a lot of things fell on me to get done that normally would have been other people’s responsibilities. They asked me to do certain things and it was a lot of pressure. So, at the end of that tour, I kind of snapped — literally — and just said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ ”
Foskett never stopped appreciating his privileged position with Wilson. As someone who has interviewed Wilson — in person and over the phone — I can say he’s not easy to talk to. But Wilson opened up to Foskett. He told him stories about his life and music. Considering that not many of his contemporaries have survived his kind of life, and that his career is the American equivalent of Lennon & McCartney, that type of access must be savored.
“I loved hanging out with Brian,” Foskett said. “I loved every minute talking with him and being with him because nobody has that kind of an audience with him. No one. I could have asked any question, he would answer it.
“He trusted me so much because I spent so much time with him. We would live together every day on tour. We shared a suite and did everything together. Literally everything — rode the bus together, went to the show together, shared a dressing room, shared a hotel suite. We were living together, basically.”
But, for a married man whose wife often remained in the desert while he went on tour, living with Wilson without the balance of a life partner was difficult. Remember, Wilson’s therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy, controlled his life through much of the 1970s and ’80s, and Wilson mourned his 2006 death.
“I realized I probably couldn’t do the Brian thing by myself,” Foskett said. “Then I realized I probably couldn’t do the Brian tours anymore because I didn’t want to have a different role; I didn’t want to just be ‘a guy.’ So I just decided to leave.”
Foskett has long been in demand as a studio musician with a chameleon voice. He always had that to fall back on. But when Gerry Beckley, co-leader of America, called him the day after his split, Beckley asked if he’d substitute for him on a six-week tour with America. Foskett said yes.
“I did several America shows in that six-week period and it was very fun and very different,” he said. “I realized at that point what I had missed about all the touring I’ve done. With those guys, I could walk around the cities freely and do things differently than when I was in the Brian organization. Like I said, I’m not painting anything about Brian or his organization in a negative light. It’s just that I didn’t realize how much I had missed doing other things. Then I thought, ‘This is what I used to do: Go to breakfast with the guys, take walks, go visit castles.’ ”
It wasn’t long before it got around the Beach Boys grapevine that Foskett was no longer with Wilson. Love called and asked if he’d consider playing with the Beach Boys, a name to which he held the license.
“We talked for several weeks and did several social things together,” Foskett said. “It wasn’t just, ‘Hey, will you join the band?’ We had to get together and figure some things out and go through some things we had in our past. But it all worked out.”
Pacifying the fans
Beach Boys fans tend to either be in the Wilson or the Love camp. Foskett knew that. But he thought he could dodge whatever enmity the fans might feel.
“I don’t read either website — Brian’s website or Mike’s,” he said. “I don’t read Facebook stuff about the bands. I completely stay out of that because, quite frankly, I know I get hammered in there a lot and I think it’s just unproductive.
“The sad thing is, I don’t think Michael and Brian have a problem with each other. Other people might have problems with those two, but I don’t think Michael and Brian personally have a problem with each other.”
Wilson flat-out told me he thinks his band is better than the Beach Boys. Foskett, on the eve of the Beach Boys concert Oct. 3 at the Agua Caliente casino, won’t make a statement like that. He’ll say Wilson’s band has more members and they play parts with acoustic instruments that the Beach Boys synthesize. But while the Wilson vocalists trade vocal parts, the Beach Boys have a consistent vocal stack featuring Foskett on top followed by music director Scott Totten, veteran harmonist Randell Kirsh, 50-year Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston and Love.
And with Love, the Beach Boys have an adept entertainer as a frontman. Foskett said he’s also a very hands-on leader.
“He does all of his own set lists,” he said. “The set we’re doing at the Agua Caliente, they only want 90 minutes. But Mike doesn’t see it that way. He sees it like, ‘I really can’t play the show without doing these songs.’ The shortest show we do is 105 minutes. He thinks it’s important for the legacy of the band to play certain songs every night.”
Foskett has found a way to reduce the stress in his life. His wife joins him on tour every couple weeks and they do normal, social things. He had a good relationship with Wilson’s management, he said, but they didn’t get along with Beck’s management and he got caught in the middle. Now, he said, he never has to talk to Love’s manager.
His dream is for the Beach Boys to one day get together and do it again. But until then, he’s happy with the Beach Boys and the memory of Wilson calling him, “My only living brother.”
gefunden in der Desert Sun.( scheint ein älterer Beitrag zu sein)
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