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California sound at the Clay Center

WANT TO GO?

The Beach Boys

WHERE: The Clay Center

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: $48.50, $51.50 and $71.50 INFO: Call 304-561-3570 or visit www.theclaycenter.org

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Beach Boys' Mike Love doesn't expect to retire from the road anytime soon.

Love, who performs with the quintessential, classic California band Sunday night at the Clay Center, said, "I think as long as you're healthy, have the ability to perform and have an audience, I don't think there has to be a limit."

The singer and bandleader said he was in good health, and even though the band is in its 51st year, it still has a lot to offer.

Age, Love believes, isn't that big of a deal, as long as you can deliver the goods. He promises they can.

"If you close your eyes and we're doing 'California Girls,' it sounds like it's 1965 all over again," he said.

The singer credits the band's longevity to clean living. Love doesn't smoke cigarettes. He said he's never been much of a hard drinker.

"And I never did cocaine," he said. "These things can really take a toll on your voice."

He also said performing often helps.

"The voice is like a muscle. If you don't use it, it gets out of shape. We perform about 100 shows a year, and I find that we get stronger as time goes on. We sound stronger by August, when we do the most shows, than we first get started."

August, Love explained, is busiest because of county and state fairs.

The Beach Boys who perform Sunday at the Clay Center aren't the classic lineup, of course, but rather the band Love and early Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston have led for well over a decade.

Famously, the band has had a turbulent history. Originally formed by brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, along with their cousin Love and friend Al Jardine, the group shuffled members after various struggles with drugs, mental illness and failing health.

Brian Wilson stopped touring with The Beach Boys in the mid-1960s, though he returned again in the 1970s. Dennis drowned in 1983, and Carl succumbed to lung cancer in 1998.

The remaining members of the band spent years fighting over credit, control of the name and royalties, but the license to tour as The Beach Boys was eventually awarded to Love.

Despite the history, the group came together for a 50th Anniversary tour last year, which included Love, Johnston, Brian Wilson, Jardine and Marks. After the tour ended, Love was accused of firing Wilson, Jardine and Marks when he returned to the previous incarnation of the band.

Love said the tour "was cool to do," but difficult to maintain indefinitely.

"Originally, that [tour] was for 50 shows, but then it grew to 73 shows," he said. "The tour was a big production, the kind of thing you can't do every year.

"Besides that, it precluded us from doing some of the smaller venues, the theaters, I've always liked to do."

Smaller performing arts centers, he said, allow the band to do different kinds of things vocally, like an a cappella song, that might not work as well in a larger hall or outdoors.

Most of the current band members have been with the Love and Johnston-led version of The Beach Boys for 10 years or more. Several accompanied the reunited lineup on the anniversary tour.

Love acknowledged The Beach Boys name carries with it a certain amount of recognition. In the end, he thinks, The Beach Boys are less important than their music.

"I think the songs are iconic," he said.

Hit songs, including "Help Me Rhonda," "Surfin' Safari" and "Good Vibrations" are what people will remember long after The Beach Boys are gone. Still, he acknowledged that they've had an amazing run. After all, the band started out as just a hobby, something a family did for fun.

"We just had the good fortune that our musical talents were well received and appreciated," he said.

Love is proud of their accomplishments and proud of his part, but in the end, it's only rock n' roll.

"I don't think it's rocket science," he said. "You've got to look at it in perspective." Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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