Did the Beach Boys get banned from the zoo after the 1966 ‘Pet Sounds’ cover shoot?
SAN DIEGO — On February 13, 1966, the Beach Boys visited the San Diego Zoo and what happened that day is still being discussed 55 years later. In this Zevely Zone, we discovered some lost footage from that day and found out if the band was really banned from visiting the zoo for life.
In 1966, Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys committed himself to creating the greatest rock album ever made. Songs like ‘Wouldn’t it be Nice’, ‘Sloop John B’ and ‘God Only Knows’ were just some of the biggest hits on the album titled Pet Sounds.
In order to shoot the album cover for Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys visited the San Diego Zoo where Ron Garrison was a photographer for 38 years. Ron remembers the photo shoot as if it were yesterday.
“Yes, I do remember. That was a very special day,” said Ron. “Would you like to see a picture that I have that was actually on the album cover?” Ron showed me how similar his photographs were compared to the picture the band used on the album cover. “Here was the album cover and this is what their photographer was setting up. Then I could do my picture. So that was the picture that I took,” said Ron.
News 8 was also at the zoo that day and shot footage that was recently discovered in film archives. We showed the lost footage to Mike Love from the Beach Boys who had never seen it before. “I remember it well. We went to the petting zoo,” said Love.
I asked Love what he remembered from that day. “Just that it was really strange because the animals. We were feeding them, and it was bizarre, it was a bizarre situation,” said Love.
Newspaper articles from that event reported the Beach Boys would never be welcomed back to the zoo again. I asked Love if he remembered any sort of mayhem?
“Hey now, wait a minute let’s let bygones be bygones,” Love said. “I have no idea why they said that. Maybe something rude was said or done but I comported myself as a perfect gentleman,” said Love.
Newspaper reports that alleged band members got rowdy and were banned for life. One band member was accused of bouncing a carrot off of a tiger’s nose.
“Now that I don’t know because they were in the Children’s Zoo and there were no tigers,” said Ron, who doesn’t remember any mischief. “You got to remember they were kids, they were in their early 20s.”
Despite their young age, the Beach Boys were about to make rock music history. Dan Del Fiorentino, a music historian with NAMM, told us the album Pet Sounds changed music. “Pet Sounds, what an amazing album. It came out at the right time for the Beach Boys, in their career but also for America. You know it took them nine months to create that album in 27 different sessions and in four different studios,” said Del Fiorentino.
It’s been reported that Paul McCartney from the Beatles once said that the song ‘God Only Knows’ is one of his favorite songs.
“Yeah, the influence of this album is really extraordinary,” said Del Fiorentino. “What’s really cool is one of the guys that I interviewed was Bruce Johnston the guy who actually took two copies and played them for Paul and John and so they were extremely influenced by that album and of course their Sgt. Pepper’s album came out about a year later.”
I asked Mike Love about the influence Pet Sounds made on music. “I remember maybe 10 years ago Rolling Stone Magazine did the 500 Top Albums and they had Sgt. Pepper’s at number one and Pet Sounds at number two so that’s pretty good company. Of course, I demanded a recount,” said Love.
As for just how wild the Beach Boys got at the zoo? “I think there are some people who thought they were a little rude but, like I said, they were kids,” said Ron. “I would say that they didn’t do anything obnoxious. I would agree that bygones should be bygones for whatever they were doing at that point in their life.”
For the record, the San Diego Zoo tell us the Beach Boys are welcome to visit the zoo anytime.