Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford

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This article is about the singer best known as Marilyn Wilson. For the Australian swimmer, see Marilyn Wilson (athlete).
Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford
Birth name Marilyn Rovell
Also known as Marilyn Wilson
Born 1947
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Surf rock, psychedelic pop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1961–present
Labels Capitol Records, Warner Brothers, Rhino Records, United Artists Records, Columbia Records
Associated acts American Spring, The Honeys, Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford (née Rovell; born 1947) is an American singer. In the 1960s she founded the Honeys and after their dissolution in 1969, she founded American Spring with her sister Diane Rovell. She was also the first wife of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, and is the mother of singers Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson of Wilson Phillips.



Marilyn and Brian met when she, sister Diane and cousin Ginger Blake (who was dating Brian's then collaborator Gary Usher) went to see the Beach Boys perform at Pandora's Box, a Hollywood nightclub, in October 1962.[1] Talking during an interval between sets, Brian asked for a sip of Marilyn's hot chocolate. He nervously spilled the drink on her blouse a moment later, but the incident broke the ice between the two, and they began dating, despite their relative age difference (he was 20 and a professional musician; she was 14 and still in high school).

Brian became the producer of the Honeys, a girl group consisting of Marilyn, Diane and Ginger; Marilyn was Brian Wilson's muse during the Beach Boys' peak days in the mid-1960s. They married on December 7, 1964, as the Honeys' career came and went with the surf/car craze.[1] Marilyn stood by Brian during his descent into schizoaffective disorder. Even while raising their daughters, Carnie and Wendy, she stubbornly attempted to protect him from others and himself as she chased off the hangers-on, dopers and freeloaders that had become Brian's social centre. At one point, she even padlocked the refrigerator to stop him from bingeing on desserts.


In 1971, Marilyn re-teamed with sister Diane to form Spring (later renamed American Spring) and together they recorded a few singles and an album. In 1974, due to Brian's growing seclusion from the outside world, following his father's death, Marilyn had to place her career on hold.[2] In 1976, Marilyn persuaded Brian to begin psychotherapy[3] by pretending to go herself (and returning home delightedly happy, in contrast to Brian's dark moods). He recovered to a point, but after members of his family (including members of the Beach Boys) insisted he cease therapy and return to making music full-time, Wilson's mental health worsened.

Marilyn and Brian amicably divorced in 1979.[3] In a Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1990s, Marilyn recounted that Brian's increasingly erratic behavior was affecting their two daughters, and that she told him, "I love you, but the girls have got to have a normal home life". She also recalled that she told the girls that their father was "a genius", but also mentally ill. Brian was likewise supportive of Marilyn, and though estranged from the girls during his recovery, was finally able to connect with them as adults.


Marilyn and the Honeys reunited for a comeback record in 1983 called Ecstasy and they again reformed in the 1990s and performed at occasional venues in southern California. Marilyn has appeared in numerous documentaries and other programs about the Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips, and the music of the 1960s and 1970s. She was portrayed in The Beach Boys: An American Family, and in the earlier Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys. In 2012 she also made appearances in her daughters' reality TV series Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On.

She has since remarried and is now known as Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford. She now works as a real estate agent in Los Angeles, California.


  1. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford at AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  2. ^ Eder, Bruce. Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford at AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Carlin, Peter Ames (1998). "Love and Mercy". People Magazine 50 (1): 69–73. 

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