The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine. Distinguished by their vocal harmonies and early surf songs, they are one of the most influential acts of the rock era. The band drew on the music of jazz-based vocal groups, 1950s rock and roll, and black R&B to create their unique sound, and with Brian as composer, arranger, producer, and de facto leader, they often incorporated classical or jazz elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways.
One of the first self-contained rock groups, the Beach Boys began as a garage band led by Brian and managed by the Wilsons' father Murry. In 1963, the group gained national prominence with a string of top-ten singles reflecting a southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance, dubbed the "California sound". They were one of the few American rock bands to sustain their commercial standing during the British Invasion. From 1965, they abandoned beachgoing themes for more personal lyrics and ambitious orchestrations. In 1966, the Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single raised the group's prestige as rock innovators. After scrapping the unfinished album Smile in 1967, Brian's contributions diminished due to his mental health issues.
In the late 1960s, the group's commercial momentum faltered in the US, and despite efforts to maintain an experimental sound, they were widely dismissed by the early rock music press. Carl also took over as the band's musical leader, with records from this period later enjoying a cult following among fans. Following the mid-1970s, as their concerts drew greater audience numbers, the band transitioned into an oldies act. Dennis drowned in 1983 and Brian soon became estranged from the group. Between the 1990s and 2000s, the members filed numerous lawsuits against each other. Following Carl's death from lung cancer in 1998, the group and its corporation (Brother Records Inc.) granted Love legal rights to tour as "the Beach Boys". As of 2020, Brian and Jardine do not perform with Love's Beach Boys, but remain official members of the band.
The Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide. Between the 1960s and 2010s, the group had over 80 songs chart worldwide, 36 of them in the US Top 40 (the most by a US rock band), and four topping the Billboard Hot 100. Their influence on other artists spans musical genres and movements such as psychedelia, power pop, progressive rock, punk, alternative, and lo-fi. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Beach Boys number 12 on its list of the greatest artists of all time. The core quintet of the three Wilsons, Love, and Jardine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.