‘Fun Fun Fun’: When The Beach Boys Captured The California Dream
The Beach Boys ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ is one of their best-loved numbers, and a highlight of their live shows since it was released.
The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” is one of their best-loved numbers, and a highlight of their live shows for the past 50 years. Released on February 3, 1964, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 on February 15 at No.69 and on the week of March 21, it climbed to No.5 on the charts. It was kept from climbing any higher by three Beatles singles, “She Loves You,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” and “Please Please Me,” with the Four Seasons, “Dawn (Go Away)” holding down the fourth spot. Perhaps most surprising of all, given its popularity, is that “Fun Fun Fun” never made the UK chart.
It’s a great example of the way things were done back in the 60s. The Beach Boys recorded “Fun, Fun, Fun” only six weeks earlier on New Year’s Day 1964. Beginning at shortly after mid-day at Western Recorders in Hollywood, the Beach Boys were all there, along with drummer Hal Blaine, saxophonists, Steve Douglas, Ed Migliori, and bass player Ray Pohlman. As Brian Wilson would later tell Newsweek magazine, “I could go into the studio and cut a record in three hours. I’d say, ‘Hey we’ll make the best record ever tonight.’ I had that kind of spirit – and goddamn if it didn’t work!”
This was the start of The Beach Boys recording their new album, Shut Down Vol.2 and “Fun Fun Fun” was first attempted by the group working on a slower version of the song. Mike Love’s lead vocals were added to the backing track, followed by percussion and guitar parts inserted. There then followed 19 takes of recording the backing vocals that completed work on what is for many a masterpiece of the California sound.
What is it that makes the song work so well? Well, there’s the driving beat and the underpinning of everything by the fabulous bass line and the honking saxes of Douglas and Migliori giving it a fuller sound than many other records at the time. The song is written by Mike Love and Brian Wilson, Love the lyricist, Wilson the music. It is Mike’s brilliant evocation of what people around the world imagined to be the American dream– or the California dream of living in the Sunshine State. To round it all off, there are the great harmony vocals.
Both the stereo and mono versions were done at the New Year’s Day session; the difference between the two is that the stereo mix fades out early, with the instruments fading away before the vocals. The mono mix, on the single release as well as mono copies of Shut Down Vol. 2 features an extended outro.
Listen to The Beach Boys’ “Fun Fun Fun” on Apple Music and Spotify.
February 23, 2017 at 12:31 am
I love the beach boys music.Brian in the 60’s especially was a genius..putting this beautifulmusic together.
February 15, 2019 at 1:54 pm
Thanks you for writing a positive Beach Boys article giving credit to both Brian and Mike who together gave us this beautiful music.
February 15, 2021 at 5:32 pm
I will always remember in the mid 1970’s (after mega popular Endless Summer album released) seeing the Beach Boys in Vancouver Canada, at their first of two $old out concerts.
They closed the gig with “Fun Fun Fun”, and extended the “outro” for what seemed like forever. 15,000+ fans all screaming, dancing, & singing along…beyond AWESOME!