It will be fun, fun, fun under the California sun for many well-heeled attendees at today’s Donald Trump fundraiser in Newport Beach — but not for Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, who are chagrined that the touring version of the group currently headed up by Mike Love will be headlining the campaign benefit.
“We have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump benefit today in Newport Beach. Zero,” Wilson and Jardine said to Variety through a spokesperson. “We didn’t even know about it and were very surprised to read about it in the Los Angeles Times.”
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday morning that the Beach Boys would be the main attraction performing for the president and his supporters at the Orange Country campaign event, with tickets ranging from $2,800 per donor to $150,000 a couple for co-chair status. As hardcore Beach Boys fans know, the group booked for the tony fundraiser is a licensed touring edition led by Love, who has not been shy about appearing with Trump in the past.
Wilson and Jardine have toured together in recent years, also performing Beach Boys material but under Wilson’s name. The last time all the surviving members performed together as the Beach Boys was for a 50th anniversary tour in 2012. At the close of that, Love chose to continue touring with an un-reunited lineup under the Beach Boys’ name, for which he holds a license for concert purposes.
While some have been surprised that Trump would even visit as blue a state as California this close to the election, the Times’ article pointed to the huge potential cash haul that the president is expected to reel in from today’s benefit, badly needed as he trails Joe Biden badly in fundraising. “Everyone assumes he’s going to go to battleground states,” Jon Fleischman, a former state GOP official, told the Times. “No one really thinks about how Orange County, California, is an ATM machine. So people are pretty excited.”
This isn’t the first instance of Wilson and Jardine distancing themselves from a controversial or politically divisive gig booked by Love’s edition of the Beach Boys. In February, both Wilson and Jardine officially signed on to a Change.org petition urging a boycott of the touring Beach Boys, after Love and company booked a headlining gig at the Safari Club International Convention in Reno, Nevada, where noted safari hunting enthusiast Donald Trump Jr. was the keynote speaker. “This organization supports trophy hunting, which both Al and I are emphatically opposed to,” Wilson said in a statement at the time. “There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition.”
In the past, Love has defended his support for Trump, and once famously posed for a thumbs-up photo with him with the Washington Monument in the background.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about the president of the USA,” Love said in a 2017 interview, when Uncut magazine asked him if he had any points of disagreement with Trump. “We did attend the inauguration. [His version of the Beach Boys headlined one of Trump’s inaugural balls.] That was a moving experience. I understand there are so many factions and fractious things going on – the chips will fall where they may. But Donald Trump has never been anything but kind to us. We have known him for many a year. We’ve performed at some of his venues at fundraisers and so on.”
Love’s Beach Boys have recently been doing drive-in-style concerts with actor John Stamos as a special guest. Bruce Johnston, who joined the Beach Boys in 1965, has also been performing with Love and is the other veteran of the group’s early days to be part of the current touring lineup.