This, my fellow Beach Boys fans, is why we can’t have nice things sometimes.
Plenty of speculative analysis is to follow, but to report the latest, Al Jardine will NOT be appearing at Mike and Bruce’s July 5th “Beach Boys” show. He will, however, be playing the two July European gigs with Brian Wilson, including a gig that falls, depending on how you view timezones, on the same day as the July 5th Jones Beach gig. First, here’s Al’s Facebook statement on the matter:
Despite some reports to the contrary, I am not touring with Mike Love and the Beach Boys this summer. I will, however, be joining Brian Wilson on July 4th in Cork, Ireland and July 5th at the Hop Farm Music Festival in Kent, England. I'm also planning to go out with my own band later this year. Thanks for all your support, Al
First, let’s look at what this confirms. Curiously, this statement doesn’t speak specifically to the Jones Beach show, but rather indicates Al is not touring with Mike’s band this summer. This implies someone made the suggestion that he would be touring with Mike, which doesn’t seem to be the case. So I’m not sure if this is a way to speak to the Jones Beach situation without directly naming it, or if this means something else. We also know now that Al will be playing the two July gigs with Brian. Future plans aren’t clear, but the statement seems to imply Al may not be playing shows later this year with Brian (we only know of a few October bookings for Brian in the US so far), although that would depend on his and Brian’s schedules. The reference to Al touring with his own band is intriguing. Hopefully this isn’t a case of Al simply hoping he can get a half dozen street fair bookings for his “Endless Summer Band”, but perhaps that he’s making a more concerted effort to make solo bookings for interesting shows. We shall see. I won’t hold my breath. Remember that Christmas tour with Christopher Cross from like 2006 or so? You probably don’t, because it never happened!
Meanwhile, David Marks has apparently confirmed he will be playing the Jones Beach show with Mike, and is not appearing with Brian and Al. Make of that what you will. Marks doesn't seem to have an axe to grind with any of these guys, so I'm guessing he's simply playing the gig with the guy who asked him.
Internet fans are much more interested in an elaborate and speculative blame game on the Jones Beach issue. The argument is two-tiered: Personal blame as it pertains to letting fans down, and the possible legal consequences.
In the personal, non-legal blame realm, more damning for Al is the fact that he did apparently list the Jones Beach gig on one of his internet hubs at some point. Make no mistake, it’s pretty clear that at some point Al was planning on or considering playing the gig. How serious he was about it, or what if anything was signed, we don’t know. But there’s no way that a concert promoter, Ticketmaster, and Mike himself in an interview all just dreamed up the idea of Al playing the gig. It certainly was planned to some degree at some point.
Then there is the issue of the promotion of the show by other entities. Ticketmaster sent out flyers with Al’s name. Al’s name is not on the ticket stub as far as we know. But his name was used to advertise the show at some date well after tickets had gone on sale. Mike also mentioned in one interview that Al and Dave would be at the show. The question becomes, if Al was unsure about playing the gig, should he have quashed any of this promotion? It’s hard to say. We don’t know what was being said or done behind the scenes. The fact that Al didn’t make a big announcement may indicate it was always tentative. One would think if he was excited about a semi-reunion gig, he would have made a statement or given an interview on the topic. That didn’t happen. But he also didn’t make any statements indicating the advertising was false. The problem may have been, if he was still considering doing the show but unsure, he probably wouldn’t want to speak out against the advertisements. It would just confuse people even more to say “Recent promotions using my name for the Jones Beach show may be false, I don’t know yet.”
At the very least, having posted the date on one of his internet hubs, Al should have directly addressed the show and potential fans who bought tickets specifically because he was going to be there. Whether to disavow those advertisements or to apologize, either way it would have been nice to see him address this.
As concerns refunds to ticket buyers, a few things are worth speculatively noting. First, the venue may well allow refunds to those who ask. For those who bought tickets after the flyer with Al was mailed out, they could offer refunds to those who ask. We don’t know. Also, how many people truly bought tickets specifically because Al was going to be there? It doesn’t reflect that well on Al to point out that probably not that many people bought tickets just for him. The venue may well not even get many requests for refunds. I also find it a bit ironic that staunch pro-Mike fans would imply they would want a refund in this scenario, as it implies that Mike’s “regular” show is not enough of a draw to warrant buying a ticket. Odd. Nevertheless, there is no question that at least a small group of fans did buy tickets because Al was going to be there. If a Mike show with Al’s participation had been announced near me, I probably would have bought tickets, and I would indeed be very conflicted right now if that were the case. Hopefully fans can get a refund if they desire. Otherwise, I’m not sure what else they could ask for other than an apology from Al and/or any other entities for what we can all agree is a classic Beach Boys-style clusterf***.
In the legal realm, we have even less information to go on. All speculation, but it would probably mostly hinge on whether Al actually signed anything agreeing to do the show. The puzzling aspect, and again this is all speculation and really serves no purpose other than to amuse fans, is that neither scenario seems so likely. That is, on the one hand, it’s hard to imagine a venue/promoter putting Al’s name in ads without a signed deal, and hard to imagine Mike mentioning Al’s participation without something set in stone. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine Al being contractually obligated to do the show and simply bailing.
The even more interesting, and even more speculate area is, what happened? Specifically, that is. What could have been the sequence of events? Let’s break it down: As of late April or so, fans began to get e-mail notices of the Jones Beach show. It appears that, all along, the idea was for it to be a bit of a “oldies” revue with whatever versions of “The Lovin’ Spoonful” and “The Rascals” are currently touring.
Soon after, in an article that detailed Mike’s upcoming summer tour and the addition of Jeff Foskett to his band, Mike mentioned that Al and Dave would be at Jones Beach.
At some point around this time, one of Al’s internet hubs apparently listed the Jones Beach show.
After this, we heard nothing. Al never personally commented on it, which seemed odd. Then, as reported here a few weeks ago, one internet source over on the Beach Boys Britain board indicated that they had a source indicating that at that point Al had not “signed” anything agreeing to the show, and that he may not appear.
After that, nothing but speculation for a few more weeks until Al’s Facebook post.
Fans are speculating on what could have happened, and it is a classic Beach Boys mystery. We know everybody considered the possibility of Al doing the show, and now he isn't. That's about all we know. Did the terms of Al's involvement change or fall through?
A theory to which I would apply some serious consideration is the idea that Al would perhaps have a more long-term goal in mind. Perhaps he envisioned (or was given an indication?) that he might have a future with Mike's touring band. Perhaps he would like his idea, less due to being able to sing with Mike, and more due to the idea of keeping as much of the band together as possible. Perhaps once he saw that this was without question a one-off performance, the show became less interesting and more insulting.
Also, there's the question of how the Brian gigs fit into this. Did Al bail on Mike to play with Brian? Whether contractually obligated or not, it would be interesting to know if he bailed on the Mike show for a potentially more interesting and rewarding experience playing with Brian. When did Al agree to play with Brian? When was an offer made? Did the offer impact his involvement (or non-involvement) with Mike's show?
Lots to chew on, and hopefully more info to come. I would be concerned less with this particular Jones Beach show and more concerned with whether Al's non-appearance might end up being a cause or an effect of a more serious falling out with Mike. I want these guys to stay on good terms, if for no other reason than to keep lawsuits from happening and keep that slimmest of slim hopes alive for more full reunion activity.