LOS ANGELES — For years, there have been the Beach Boys, and there has been Brian Wilson, and the two rarely intersected. The pioneering Southern California group was so influential to pop that it was, and still is, widely regarded as America's answer to the Beatles. But Wilson's involvement with the band waxed and waned over the decades, and more recently his role has been nonexistent while he resurrected such long-delayed projects as "Smile" (which the Beach Boys also revisited this year with the well-received box set, "The Smile Sessions") and a solo album "That Lucky Old Sun."
Until now. The band, which continued to tour and record as the Beach Boys for decades, confirmed speculation that all surviving members of the mid-'60s lineup — Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks — will reunite with Wilson for the band's 50th anniversary with a world tour and a new album on Capitol Records in 2012.
"This is not the same act that's been touring 365 days a year for decades," said Gary Bongiovanni, the president and editor in chief of Pollstar, the concert business trade journal. "Brian's return makes this much bigger than it otherwise would be."
The band, which formed in Hawthorne in 1961, rose to national prominence as the embodiment of an optimistic, youth-centric surf culture with singles including "Surfin' Safari" and "I Get Around." But by the middle of the decade, Brian Wilson had ceased touring, preferring to produce, write and arrange for the group (which famously arrived home from tour to find the group's experimental 1966 masterpiece, "Pet Sounds," essentially completed save for their vocals).
This, coupled with Wilson's use of psychedelic drugs and well-documented struggles with mental illness, led to a schism in the band that crested during the "Smile" sessions. A truncated version of the sessions, "Smiley Smile," was released in 1967 to poor reception. The Beach Boys continued to record and tour without Wilson's involvement, save for his brief return to produce and compose for the group in the mid-'70s.
The surviving members of the group appeared together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Pet Sounds" in 2006. Carl Wilson had died of cancer in 1998, and Dennis Wilson died in a drowning accident in 1983. This tour will mark their first performances together in decades.
In a statement, Roger Faxon, chief executive of EMI Group, said "it's no exaggeration to say that the Beach Boys are one of the greatest and most loved bands that the world has ever produced, and true American icons. We are incredibly proud to take this next step with them as our partnership enters its 50th year, and I can't wait to see the band back together doing what they do better than anyone else."
Wilson is producing the new album of originals, which is still being recorded. It will top a retrospective series that includes a new greatest-hits collection and a career-spanning box set, while the 50-date world tour (with dates to be announced) begins in April and includes a stop at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Beach Boys remain the bestselling American band in the history of Nielsen SoundScan for albums and singles.