Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brian Wilson was a huge... of the Four Freshmen -- huge.

And you can tell from this faithful Beach Boys remake of that Four Freshmen classic, "Graduation Day." (Coincidentally, the song was on the B-side of "Be True To Your School.")

But it begs the question, What did Brian do immediately after graduating from Hawthorne High School? We know he went on to form the Beach Boys, but they didn't release their first single, "Surfin'," until almost 1962. What did he do in the meantime?

And the answer is, he enrolled for exactly one year at El Camino Community College in nearby Torrance.

Interestingly, so did Chris Montez -- was he stalking him? -- and another Hawthorne High alum, Al Jardine. (As well as Bo Derek, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Frank Zappa.)

In fact, it was at El Camino that the two former members of the Hawthorne Cougars backfield reunited after that disastrous lateral that resulted in Jardine's broken leg.

I can just imagine Brian walking to class in the fall of 1960 and spotting Al, limping, on the other side of the quad:

"Hey Al! Al Jardine! It's me -- Brian, Brian Wilson!"


"You know, from Hawthorne High. We were on the football team together! Well, you were a star halfback and I was only a third-string quarterback..."

"Oh, I remember this guy," Al mutters under his breath. "What does he want?"

"I was just wondering if you'd like to see some of the songs I've written."

"Uh, I'm kind of late for my part-time job. Ever since I lost my football scholarship..."

"Come on, it'll only take a minute. I was hoping to form a rock 'n' roll band!"

Al must have relented, because the two began practicing some of Brian's songs in a room on campus and the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm sure the El Camino of today looks nothing like the one Brian and Al attended in 1960-61.

But, as you can see, it's really a beautiful campus. And I wonder, was it free when Brian Wilson went there?

(By the way, if you see a guy tooling around town in a khaki EL CAMINO COLLEGE baseball cap, that's probably me; who else in Chicago would have a hat like that?)

But that was enough sightseeing for one day -- or two, I can't remember. It was time to hit the beach!

Before I take you down Redondo Beach Boulevard to the sea, however, here are just a few pictures of Mike Love's alma mater, Susan Miller Dorsey High School, near Baldwin Village in Los Angeles. (He didn't grow up in Hawthorne, remember?)

Dorsey was founded in 1937 and is now a predominantly African-American school. Besides Mike Love, Dorsey counts among its graduates "Sparky" Anderson, Marilyn McCoo (a founding member of The Fifth Dimension) and none other than Robert Kardashian, Kim's father, who helped defend O.J. Simpson in that famous 1995 murder trial.

Next: A little-known fact about Brian Wilson. And then let's head back to Hawthorne and drive around the town some.

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