Wish You Were Here, Carl Wilson
Today marks 16 years since Beach Boys guitarist and vocalist Carl Wilson, the man who sang lead on Paul McCartney’s favorite song of all time (that’d be “God Only Knows,” of course), went silent.
There’s no denying that Dennis Wilson’s death in 1983 hit Beach Boys fans hard – not only did he die, but Dennis was the only real surfer in the band, and he drowned, for God’s sake – but the loss of Carl, the realization that his sweet, haunting voice was gone for good…well, that’s a tough pill to swallow even now.
Carl’s vocal legacy extended well beyond the Beach Boys: over the years, he accumulated a significant number of credits as a backing vocalist as well. Granted, sometimes he was asked to chime in on a Beach Boys cover, as with David Lee Roth’s take on “California Girls,” while other times it was just to help add a general California-type vibe to a track, like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Hung Up and Overdue.” Mostly, though, it was just because he had a great voice…and even after 16 years, that voice is still missed.
Like the Chicago song you sang on, Carl, we wish you were here. But at least we’ve still got the music.