Murry Wilson

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Murry Wilson
Born Murry Gage Wilson
(1917-07-02)July 2, 1917
Hutchinson, Kansas, United States
Died June 4, 1973(1973-06-04) (aged 55)
Whittier, California, United States
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Inglewood Park Cemetery
Occupation Machine business owner, manager
Organization Sea of Tunes (1962–69)
Spouse(s) Audree Neva Korthof (m. 1938; div. 1966)
Musical career
Genres Pop, doo wop
Occupation(s) Songwriter, record producer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1952–1969
Labels Capitol
Associated acts The Beach Boys, the Hollywood Flames, the Sunrays

Murry Gage Wilson (July 2, 1917 – June 4, 1973) was an American musician and record producer, best remembered as the father of the Beach Boys members Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, and Carl Wilson, uncle of bandmate Mike Love and as a manager and music publisher for their band.

After the Beach Boys dismissed Murry as their manager in 1964, he produced the sound-alike group the Sunrays, and recorded a single solo album: The Many Moods of Murry Wilson (1967). In 1969, without any of the Beach Boys' consent, Murry sold off their publishing company Sea of Tunes for a paltry $700,000 (today $4,500,000). In 1974, he died aged 55 of a fatal heart attack.[1]

Early years[edit]

Murry Gage Wilson was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, the son of Edith Sophia (née Sthole) and William Coral Wilson.[2] His mother was of Swedish descent.[3] His family moved west to Los Angeles when he was five. The family was initially so impoverished that they camped in a tent on the beach when they arrived. He met his future wife, Audree Neva Korthof, while attending Washington High School; they were married on March 26, 1938.[4]

Wilson had a blue-collar background. As a young man, he worked at Southern California Gas Company until the birth of his first son Brian, after which he took a job as a foreman at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber factory, where he lost an eye in an industrial accident.[2] During this period he began writing songs. His biggest success came later with a dance song, "Two-Step Side-Step", which was featured by Lawrence Welk on his radio program in 1952[4] and covered on record by RCA Victor Western Swing artist Johnnie Lee Wills, as well as country music singer Bonnie Lou.[citation needed] He also wrote songs recorded in the early 1950s by doo-wop group the Hollywood Flames.[5][better source needed] Brian stated in 2005 that people often misapprehend Murry as an untalented songwriter, but "[he] had talent, he sure did. He was a talented man. He had some music in him ... My favorite song of his was one called 'His Little Darling and You'. It was a ballad."[6]

The Beach Boys[edit]

Main article: The Beach Boys

Wilson later founded a machining business, but maintained an active interest in music, which he passed along to his sons, encouraging them to learn to sing and play instruments, and becoming their business manager, co-producer, and publisher in the early part of their career as the Beach Boys. Known as a domineering and manipulative man, Wilson was a tough negotiator on behalf of the boys, earning them a contract with Capitol Records.[citation needed]

The Wilson brothers had a problematic relationship with their father. Many stories of abuse have surfaced,[7][8] including a supposed incident where the elder Wilson hit Brian in the head with a 2×4, resulting in the permanent loss of hearing in his right ear.[9][10][11] In 1964, his wife Audree left him and they separated.[12] The marriage ended in divorce in 1966.[13][1]

On the heels of the Beach Boys' early success, Murry devoted himself to music full-time. He produced and managed artists including the Sunrays, a group comprising five students who attended Hollywood Professional High School. The Sunrays earned some media attention and a bit of airplay for their initial singles, but they never broke into the national Top 40. Their two best-known singles, "I Live for the Sun" and "Andrea", were regional hits in California.[citation needed] Wilson also released one album of his own, The Many Moods of Murry Wilson, in 1967.[1]

In 1969, Murry sold the Beach Boys' publishing company, Sea of Tunes, against the group's wishes. Brian suggested that his signature was forged by his father on several related business documents, making the sale illegal.[14]

Even after Murry's formal business relationship with the Beach Boys ended, he continued to take an active interest in the group's career, and to give them advice (both solicited and unsolicited) until his death. With his son Brian, he co-wrote the song "Break Away", the last Beach Boys single of the 1960s, being credited as "Reggie Dunbar" on the record.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

Murry Wilson died on June 4, 1973 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 55.[1] In a 2004 interview with the UK newspaper, The Independent, Brian Wilson recalled his father:

He was the one who got us going. He didn't make us better artists or musicians, but he gave us ambition. I'm pleased he pushed us, because it was such a relief to know there was someone as strong as my dad to keep things going. He used to spank us, and it hurt too, but I loved him because he was a great musician.[citation needed]

Murry was portrayed in two television movies: in 1990's Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys, by Arlen Dean Snyder, and in 2000's The Beach Boys: An American Family, by Kevin Dunn.[citation needed] In the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy, Murry is portrayed by Bill Camp.[15]



  1. ^ a b c d Eidem, Steve (2008). "Murry Wilson Biography". 
  2. ^ a b "Ancestry of Gov. Bill Richardson". Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Badman 2004, p. 10.
  5. ^ Goldberg, Marv (2009). "The Hollywood Flames". Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks. 
  6. ^ Sharp, Ken (January 2006). "Christmas with Brian Wilson". Record Collector (United Kingdom): 72–76. 
  7. ^ Leopold, Todd, "The creative struggle of Brian Wilson, CNN Living, January 13, 2012
  8. ^ Cam Lyndsay, "The Mad Genius of Brain Wilson",
  9. ^ "Father's Day From Hell...", Ink Lake, July 17, 2012
  10. ^ Rae, Casey, Murry Wilson: An Asshole for the Ages January 8, 2010
  11. ^ Brian Wilson (April 24, 1999). Interview with Howard Stern. The Howard Stern Radio Show.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Badman 2004, p. 57.
  13. ^ Brian Wilson biography at Musician's
  14. ^ Letovski, Irv (September 19, 1989). "Brian Wilson Sues Music Publisher". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  15. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (November 14, 2014). "In movies this fall, all parents are bad parents". The Washington Post.