(LENOX, Mass.) – A grand slam of superstar artists from country, pop, R&B, and folk-rock, including Dolly Parton (June 17), Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys (June 19), Jackson Browne (June 21), and Earth, Wind & Fire (June 18), kick off the 2016 summer popular artists series at Tanglewood in back-to-back shows in the Shed this coming weekend.
Brian Wilson, the creative mastermind behind legendary American rock group the Beach Boys, will perform the landmark 1966 album “Pet Sounds” – which includes hit singles “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “God Only Knows”; is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential recordings of the rock era; and is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year – in its entirety at Tanglewood on Sunday, June 19, at 2:30 pm in the Shed. Wilson’s 2016 “Pet Sounds” tour is being called “The 50th Anniversary Celebration & Final Performance in its Entirety.”
Wilson’s band will include Beach Boys co-founder Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, a longtime touring member of the group, backed by the Boston Pops. The concert is expected to include other Beach Boys hits besides those on “Pet Sounds.”
As leader of his family group, the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson created some of the most beloved records ever, including nine consecutive gold albums that featured such classics as “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “California Girls,” to name just a handful of the dozens of hits Wilson co-wrote, arranged, produced and performed on.
By the time he recorded “Pet Sounds,” Wilson was no longer touring with the Beach Boys, but instead ensconced at home and in the recording studio working on creating “Pet Sounds,” which was a Beach Boys album in name only. It was really a Brian Wilson solo album recorded with dozens of studio and orchestral musicians, the making of which was documented in the recent, critically acclaimed feature film, “Love & Mercy.”
“Pet Sounds” was an unprecedented album, both thematically and musically, building upon the trademark Beach Boys sound yet combining it with experimental elements to make for an orchestral, avant-garde soundtrack to a nervous breakdown, which Wilson was undergoing at the time. Read more about the album in my article, “‘Pet Sounds’ On The Road: Revisiting The Sad Genius Of Brian Wilson” in WBUR’s online arts magazine, The ARTery.
Among Dolly Parton’s greatest musical accomplishments are penning the song, “I Will Always Love You,” which in addition to being her own #1 country hit in 1974, became Whitney Houston’s signature ballad, recorded for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” and spending 14 weeks at the top of Billboard’s pop singles chart to become one of the best-selling singles of all time.
With a voice instantly recognizable for its distinctive highly pitched, pinched vibrato, Parton’s greatest crossover pop-country successes were the eponymous theme song to the movie “9 to 5” (1980, and in which she co-starred) and a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Islands in the Stream,” in a duet version with Kenny Rogers (1983). Her 1987 “Trio” album, recorded with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, was also a huge hit.
The late-1990s and early oughts saw Parton returning to her hard-country roots with a series of bluegrass-based albums, including a string-band version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
An internationally renowned superstar, the iconic and irrepressible Dolly Parton, who turned 70 this past January, has made a tremendous mark in country and pop music, film, TV, and other entertainment platforms. She even has her own theme park called Dollywood. Making her film debut in the 1980 hit comedy “9 to 5,” Parton earned rave reviews for her performance and an Oscar nomination for writing the title tune, along with her second and third Grammy Awards. Roles in “Steel Magnolias,” “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Rhinestone,” and “Straight Talk” followed.
Parton saw a cherished dream become a reality in 1986 with the opening of her own theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. In 1999, Dolly was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and, in 2004, the U.S. Library of Congress presented her with their Living Legend Award for her contribution to the cultural heritage of the United States.
Jackson Browne is best known for his quintessential 1970s singer-songwriter albums including “Late for the Sky” and “The Pretender.” Like fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor, he was a consistent presence on radio and the singles chart, too, with hit records including “These Days,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “Lawyers in Love,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “Somebody’s Baby,” and his live medley, “The Load-Out/Stay.” He wrote the early Eagle’s hit, “Take It Easy,” and is also known for his political activism. Browne is an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Accompanying Browne on the road this summer are longtime bandmates Val McCallum (guitar), Mauricio Lewak (Drums), Jeff Young (keyboards), Bob Glaub (bass), Alethea Mills (vocals) and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz (guitar, lap steel, pedal steel).
Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the most popular and successful bands of all time, straddling the R&B, soul, funk, pop, Latin and disco worlds with its upbeat dance music. The group, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a string of hits in the 1970s and early-1980s that remain party standards, including “Shining Star,” “That’s the Way of the World,” “Devotion,” “September,” and “After the Love Has Gone.”
The group is still led by cofounder and vocalist Philip Bailey; cofounder and vocalist/drummer Maurice White bowed out of touring with the band in the mid-1990s due to Parkinson’s Disease, and White died earlier this year. Verdine White and Ralph Johnson, also long-running members, continue to perform with the group, which was founded in Chicago in 1971.