The man who is, to many, the unsung hero of the Beach Boys is Al Jardine, the friend and former schoolmate of the Wilson brothers and a crucial part of their story.

Born on September 3, 1942, Jardine has been a member of the Beach Boys for almost their entire recording history, apart from one year in the early 1960s. He was part of the emotional 2012 reunion that produced the album That’s Why God Made The Radio and the ensuing tour, and has continued to play with Brian on the road since. But Al has always tended to get less recognition for his wonderful vocal dexterity, mid-range harmonies and rhythm guitar work than other members of the group.

So we’re turning the spotlight on Alan Charles Jardine with a specially-compiled playlist of 20 tracks (mostly, but not exclusively, by the Beach Boys) on which he had a starring role as vocalist and, often, co-writer or arranger. On many other occasions, he shared lead vocals, was a key part of the instrumentation, or indeed was in the co-production chair, as happened increasingly during the 1970s, especially while Brian Wilson was incapacitated.

The selection includes such major Beach Boys hits as “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Then I Kissed Her,” and “Cotton Fields” and, coming more up to date, the beautiful song from That’s Why God Made The Radio on which Al shares lead vocals with Brian, “From There To Back Again.”

Listen to the best of the Beach Boys on Apple Music and Spotify.

We’ve included the title track from the album with which he made his solo debut in 2010 (at the age of 68), A Postcard From California. It features a lovely cameo by his and the band’s old friend Glen Campbell. To mark Jardine’s 80th birthday, the album was released digitally for the first time in September 2022. The playlist also contains two of his vocal contributions to Brian’s 2015 solo album No Pier Pressure, in the form of “The Right Time” and the poignant “Whatever Happened.”

Jardine also turned back the years by touring with Wilson’s band, including on the Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour and with further dates in 2018-19 and again in 2021 and 2022. Also in 2019, he was on the road again with Brian for the Something Great From ’68 double-header with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Zombies, before embarking on his own Storytelling Show tour.

Never one to seek the limelight, Al Jardine has been happy to have an intrinsic role in perhaps the greatest vocal sound in American pop history.

Buy or stream Al Jardine’s A Postcard From California.

By mrtrv