More Carl Tributes from Family and Friends

This page is dedicated to the memory of our beloved Carl Wilson.


Carl Wilson was a blessing in my life. No one has ever meant so much to me and no one has ever done so much for me, both personally and professionally. He was my best friend, bandmate, employer, confidant, mentor and the brother I never had.

Carl was my trusted counselor. I could always go to him when I had a personal problem that I needed advice on. He was wise and would gently guide me in the right direction.

Carl was my champion. He would go to bat for me and stand up for me when others turned their backs. Carl fought the good fight because he stood for Truth, Honesty and Integrity. He was always there for "the little guy."

Carl was constantly striving for spiritual growth. His was a real spirituality. It wasn't store-bought. He walked the walk. He didn't strut his stuff, he simply and humbly lived it.

Carl was a very loving person and if you ever met him, you'd never forget him. He was a kind man. Sensitive to the needs of others, soft-spoken and polite. He went out of his way to avoid hurting anyone's feelings. He was charismatic, charming and handsome. He carried himself with dignity and grace.

His speaking voice was soothing and comforting. His singing voice was incomparable. He had perfect pitch to match his flawless delivery and phrasing. The timbre in his voice was often imitated but never duplicated.

He had a keen sense of humor and loved a good joke. I often went to great lengths to make him laugh, even if it was at my own expense. I was willing to risk everything just to see him crack up and to hear his wonderful laughter.

His guitar playing inspired a young generation of kids, like me, to pick up an instrument and learn how to play -- and he could rock with the best of them. He had a very personal style of playing the piano. It was intuitive and inspired. His own music reflected the depth and breadth of his soul and creativity.

He was the leader of the band. No one knew the vocal and instrumental parts like Carl did. His attention to detail and his knowledge of every nuance of every song was astounding. He insisted that the group not only play and sing the parts accurately but that they do so with feeling. He was a total professional.

Finally, Carl was so good to my family -- Pop, Mom and my sister, Annie. He was so loved by them. My nephews, Jonah and Justyn, are the wonderful result of that union and they both embody so many of the best qualities of their father.

As you can see, my life has been so enriched for having known Carl Wilson.

The Angels, Archangels and the rest of the celestial hierarchy took Carl, I'm sure, and accompanied him on his journey back to God, his mother and brother. I have no doubt that he has taken his rightful place among the Heavenly Hosts and Saints that have gone before him.


It is extremely hard for me to write this even now because of the tears in my eyes. Carl Wilson was a great many things. Above all he was an exceptional human being. A man whose integrity was beyond reproach. A loving, generous, soulful husband and father. A wonderful, joyful son. A fun-loving, spirited brother. The best friend anyone ever had. Being the youngest of three boys is the hardest. (I speak with total authority on this, you can ask my two older brothers.) Being the youngest Wilson brother must have been next to impossible. I think that Carl's sweet temperament was forged out of being the younger brother of Brian and Dennis.

Between the accolades pouring in about Brian's music and girls screaming Dennis' name in concert, Carl concentrated on making sense of his life. A big part of his life was The Beach Boys. Although I count myself among their most avid fans, this is not about the Beach Boys, rather "their soul"; which now sadly, has been lost. I remember when Dennis died in 1983 people close to him described him as "the Spirit" of the Beach Boys. He was. Brian was the writer, the leader, "the genius". He was. Part of his genius was to realize his youngest brother's extraordinary talents. Be it leading the group live on stage or singing Brian's most fruitful and touching pieces of music. Carl Wilson was an extraordinary talent in every sense of the word. Although he may be remembered professionally by most as the lead guitar player of the Beach Boys, that would not begin to describe him accurately. He was a first class guitar player. Standing on stage with him, I would marvel at his rhythm playing. Then he would break into one of those signature solos that he created.

That is only a fraction of what he meant to the band musically. It was his voice! That beautifully, angelic, crystalline God-given instrument that he possessed. The voice that touched everyone's heart. Not even I realized how many songs he sang until I joined the band. It was Carl's voice and presence of spirit that made people fall in love with the music. Although each individual member played an integral part in "the Beach Boys sound", it was Carl to whom even Brian deferred vocally. He was the catalyst for Brian to showcase his most intricate productions. Most people will recognize the big hits that he sang lead on: "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows". For me it's the treasure trove of gems that I used to fall asleep to in my dorm room, thinking it was Brian singing and later realizing it was Carl. "All This Is That", "This Whole World", "Our Sweet Love", and "Long Promised Road" or one of his first productions, "I Can Hear Music" are all brilliant examples of Carl's voice softening the soul.

His leadership at the live concerts was essential to the band. (I played with and without Carl in the Beach Boys.) The greatest tribute ever paid to me was when a reviewer mistook me for Carl at a performance. I knew that I didn't come close to deserving the comparison but what a feeling to see it in print.

I loved Carl Wilson as a father, brother, mentor and friend. My wife said it best on our walk this morning: "I feel so sorry for Gina, Justyn and Jonah. It's one thing to lose a husband and father, but how do you replace Carl Wilson?" (February 20, 1998)


Follow this link to read Brad Elliott's liner notes for Carl's Long Promised Road promo CD (to benefit the American Cancer Society) a well-written, concise overview of Carl's career, plus comments from colleagues.

Updated on June 10, 1999
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