The Beach Boys' early days are well documented, but Jardine's role in the band has rarely been the focus of the band's story. Some biographies on the band call Al Jardine the "lost Beach Boy." After all, he was the only member of the band who was not a Wilson, or related to a Wilson. But it was Jardine's mom who helped pay for instruments when the group recorded "Surfin'" and Jardine who played bass on the track. "Surfin'" went to number 75 on the Billboard Charts. However, in a Stewart Sutcliff moment, Jardine quit the band when the first royalty check did not even amount to 1000 dollars. For a year, future rock star Al Jardine pursued dentistry. How the rock world would have been different had he not accepted Brian Wilson's invitation to rejoin the Beach Boys. Al Jardine encountered legal problems many years later possibly because the band had scored several hit albums and singles in his absence. Defining who was a Beach Boy became an issue, ironically, when the band was no longer a recording powerhouse but remained a touring juggernaut.
Al Jardine's contribution to the band was neither insignificant, nor peripheral. First of all, he sang lead on one of the band's most famous songs, the number one hit "Help Me Rhonda." He can also be heard on "Then I Kissed Her," "Vega-Tables," "I Know There's an Answer," "Heroes and Villains," and "Cotton Fields," among others. (A bit of trivia: Al Jardine's first lead vocal on a Beach Boys album was "Christmas Day" from 1965's Christmas Album.) Jardine also co-wrote a good number of the band's songs (though in the post-Brian, 1970s phase), especially on Holland, Carl and the Passions-So Tough, Surf's Up, and Sunflower. (Jardine did not receive his fair share of the arrangement credit for "Sloop John B" until 1996 when the Pet Sounds 30th Anniversary Box Set was released.) He also co-produced M.I.U. (for what that is worth).
The Behind the Music drama of the Beach Boys is also well documented, with Brian's mental challenges and Dennis' drug addiction attracting much of the headlines. Throughout those years, Al Jardine remained a consummate professional with his music, the band's business and a family man. He was even named the president of the band's record label and studio, Brother Records. His last writing credit was in 1985 but toured with the band until Carl Wilson's death in 1998.
Al Jardine left the Beach Boys after years of infighting, out of a disagreement with the direction the band was choosing. Mike Love had maintained a controlling interest in the band and its corporation, Brother Records, as a result of the early deaths of founding members Dennis and Carl Wilson and the absence of Brian. Love's legal action prevented Jardine from using any name vaguely resembling the Hall of Fame act he helped found (i.e., the use of the word "beach"). He therefore named his group "Al Jardine's Family & Friends," with a lineup including sons Matt Jardine and Adam Jardine (who appeared in the DVD Nashville Sounds) and Wendy Wilson and Carnie Wilson (of Wilson Phillips and Brian's daughters).
Alan Jardine is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Grammy in 2001 as a member of the Beach Boys. In 2001, Jardine released a live album called Live in Las Vegas, available through www.Aljardine.com. The disc included classic Beach Boys songs like "Surfer Girl," "Little Deuce Coupe," "I Get Around," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "In My Room," and "Good Vibrations" and also some rarities like "Wild Honey" and "Heroes & Villains." In 2012, Jardine released the guest-studded A Postcard from California, a concept album of sorts, and at its best points, an album that's probably as close as anyone is going to see to a new Beach Boys set in the 21st century. ~ JT Griffith & Steve Leggett, Rovi