‘Best Of The Beach Boys’: In 1966, The Story So Far

When exactly were the group first deemed worthy of a compilation album? We pinpoint the date.

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Beach Boys artwork: UMG
Beach Boys artwork: UMG

We know about the timeless musical legacy of the Beach Boys, and how their recordings have endured across so many decades. But when exactly were they first deemed worthy of a compilation album? The answer is within the Billboard album chart of October 8, 1966, when the first Beach Boys Best Of peaked at No.9.

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Capitol released the 12-track collection in early July that year, just two months after the Pet Sounds album and just as that future classic was, incredibly, spending its only week in the US Top 10 at No.10. Best of the Beach Boys, in its American edition, contained all the group’s early single successes such as “Surfin’ USA,” “Surfer Girl,” and “Little Deuce Coupe,” as well as “In My Room,” “You’re So Good To Me,” and “Wendy.”

But because the label rushed the album out, and in a marked contrast from industry practice these days, it didn’t include anything from Pet Sounds, and therefore didn’t feature either “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” or “God Only Knows.” Those two tracks were released on a US single from Pet Sounds at the same time of the best-of album, with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” reaching No.8 as the A-side and “God Only Knows” listed separately at a modest No.39 peak.

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Internationally, “God Only Knows” became the top side, going on to reach No.2 in the UK, where a different version of the Best Of album then came out in the November. It had an alternative track listing that allowed for the inclusion of “God Only Knows” as well as the two previous UK singles of 1966, both of them Top 3 hits, “Barbara Ann” and “Sloop John B.”

The US album, after reaching No.8, went gold six months later and, by the early 1990s, was double platinum. The UK version was a huge success, peaking at No.2 and mounting a 139-week run on the charts. Brian Wilson may not been best pleased that his and the group’s creativity was being interrupted by such retrospective attention, and the first compilation was superseded by more recent ones such as 50 Big Ones. But in 1966, the first wave of Beach Boys nostalgia had well and truly arrived.

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



  1. ron edgington

    October 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    the first time I heard I was in elementary school in early 60s and they became (and still are) my all time favorite band. The greatest band that every came out of the states…50+ years and Still sound great….

  2. Mick DeLeon

    October 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Has any other band had as many top 40 hits as the Beach Boys? I think that because of their longevity, they might have more than the Beatles and maybe the Stones. Any takers?

  3. Phil Miglioratti

    October 14, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Won this album by calling in to Chicago’s WCFL top 40 radio – my friend and I called the DJ’s so often bragging on the Beach Boys that when I identified our BB fan club, DJ Joel Sebastian said on the air he was taking us backstage – got to talk with newst BB, Bruce Johnston … Great fun!

  4. Joe

    October 14, 2014 at 7:06 am

    This article closes by saying, “But in 1966, the first wave of Beach Boys nostalgia had well and truly arrived.” … meaning through this album That is not true at all. Most of the songs on this album were still being played regularly on AM radio in 1966, even if some of them were a couple of years old. It was hardly a matter of nostalgia to buy an album of songs we were still hearing on the air in 1966. It was more a matter of finally having those songs in a collection, on an album that we could play in STEREO. And this album was in true STEREO and was amazing to hear when you’d only heard these songs, previously, on a little transistor radio. You’ll note that the album photo is from 1966. Nothing to do with nostalgia.

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