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No classic rock band is completely original. The Beach Boys’ sound was inspired by the vocal harmonies of another band. The Beach Boys’ Mike Love also revealed that the riff from “Fun, Fun, Fun” was inspired by one of the quintessential 1950s artists.

Mike Love said The Beach Boys were inspired by a college-themed band

During a 2020 interview with American Songwriter, Love discussed The Beach Boys’ famous harmonies. “I never took any voice lessons, per se,” he revealed. “But we always got together and sang harmonies. I would gravitate to the bass part and Carl [Wilson] would be above me and then Brian [Wilson] would be on the top.”

A certain barbershop group inspired the band. “We emulated The Four Freshmen,” Love said. “In fact, we learned a few of their arrangements. The Four Freshmen are just amazing artists and singers.” The Four Freshmen are mostly remembered for the college-themed hit “Graduation Day.” They were never anywhere near as popular as The Beach Boys were during their peak. On top of that, The Four Freshmen are mostly forgotten today.

A member of Mike Love’s band was in The Four Freshmen

The connection between The Beach Boys and The Four Freshmen extends beyond influence. “We have a fellow in our group nowadays who was 18 years with the more modern incarnation of The Four Freshmen,” Love explained. “We actually do one of their songs called, ‘Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring’ a capella.” 

Love also remembered another band with a similar style. “We also loved The Everly Brothers and their blend and their harmonies and their great songs,” he added. “But The Four Freshmen really influenced us and really distinguished The Beach Boys’ harmonies with those four parts. That distinguishes our sound from so many other groups, I believe.” 

That distinguishing sound wouldn’t be the same without the talents of The Four Freshmen. On the same token, if The Beach Boys were merely a barbershop group without any influences from rock or psychedelia, it’s doubtful they would have become an international phenomenon in the 1960s.


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How Chuck Berry and church inspired The Beach Boys

The Four Freshmen were far from the only group to impact The Beach Boys. During a 2019 interview with Keys Weekly, Love said The Beach Boys were inspired by the music they heard as youths. When they were young, they listened to doo-wop, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. Love said Berry was the inspiration for the guitar riff that begins The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

Love also said there was a religious influence in his band’s music. The rocker and his cousin, Brian, used to attend a youth group at Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church. There, they would sing religious songs. The Beach Boys are far from being a Christian band. In fact, they did a lot to make the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu guru, into an international celebrity, and Love promoted the Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation techniques. However, The Beach Boys did record a musical setting of The Lord’s Prayer. In addition, they reference the divine in songs like “God Only Knows” and “That’s Why God Made the Radio.”

The Four Freshmen helped make The Beach Boys into the group we know today — and so did many other artists.