In June, ace pop-music architect and Beach Boys talisman Brian Wilson turned 69. In his nearly 50-year pop music career, he has helped give rise to generations of shameless copycats and other reverent rockers who find inspiration in his musical style.
The artists who immediately followed Wilson's initial Beach Boys splash in 1962 and put his lessons to good use are legion. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Lindsey Buckingham, and Carole King were the first to show glimmers of Wilson's touch. The garage bands of the mid-'60s also snagged his spirit, if not his grasp of studio wizardry or devastating way with a melody.
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In 2011, he remains an influence on almost every pop artist, especially those producing the indie rock and Americana that's now topping the charts. Even in the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons, you can spy Wilson under all the rootsy trappings. And in the case of a band like the Flaming Lips and frontman Wayne Coyne, they are doing for live shows what Wilson did for the pop song.