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I Get Around

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One year after the Beach Boys released the legendary Pet Sounds album, a then 5-year-old Scott Wilson attended his first real concert of that supergroup famous for its surfer music and party hits. But unlike all of the other fans at the Salt Lake City show, Wilson got to experience the "Good Vibrations" while sitting right up on stage, just a few quick skips from the band -- and his famous drummer dad, Dennis Wilson.

"I always wanted to sit behind my dad and the drums on stage and watch him, and then I'd go run around and do what I wanted to do like a typical kid," recalls the eldest son of founding Beach Boys member -- and only true surfer -- Dennis Wilson. "That time, my dad brought me out at the end of the show and was like, 'I want everybody to meet my son.' I'll never forget that."

Dennis Wilson's son gives us a look beyond the bad times and bad press about his famous father to the loving dad he remembers. - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Dennis Wilson's son gives us a look beyond the bad times and bad press about his famous father to the loving dad he remembers.

Growing up around his famous Wilson family members, Scott quickly grew accustomed to extraordinary experiences like this, witnessing the wild and crazy rock star lifestyle in the '60s and '70s, up close and personal. And in his recently published book titled Son of a Beach Boy, the 53-year-old discusses many of his memories in detail, harkening back to the adventures he enjoyed with his father.

Since Dennis' drowning death in 1983, much has been reported about the former Beach Boy, with most of it revolving around the vocalist, songwriter and drummer's drug addictions, multiple marriages and association with the infamous Charles Manson. But after tolerating years of the negative press regarding his late father, Scott penned his own account of Dennis Wilson he knew, in hopes of shedding a different light on the younger brother of Brian Wilson, the band's lead songwriter.

"Many people were writing so many bad things about my dad. And they really didn't even know who he was or what he was all about or what kind of father he was, and how much he loved his kids," Scott says. "Nothing was mentioned except the fact that he was a drug addict and alcoholic and was married five times."

Not that Scott shies away from certain truths about his dad's shortcomings in the book. He dedicates a chapter to Dennis' relationship with Manson, who Scott recalls being pretty afraid of even as a youngster.

Scott sits with his dad, Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson and young sister. - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Scott sits with his dad, Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson and young sister.

"I remember being at the Sunset [Boulevard] house with a lot of strange people coming over, and he threatened to kill me," he recollects. "We had a bunch of police come and finally escort my dad out of the house while Charlie wasn't there. So that was kind of scary."

For a while, Scott and his father also lived with Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, with whom Dennis had a two-year relationship. During that time, Scott witnessed firsthand the making of Fleetwood Mac's 1979 Tusk album.

"They'd lock themselves in the recording studio for like, a week and just write music," he says.

Although he's personally never pursued a music career of his own, Scott believes his life has mirrored his father's in many other ways, from their struggles with substance abuse and addictions to their more endearing qualities -- the genuine love for people.

"I understood where he was coming from. I understood why he did drugs," he says. "I think the only thing that really made my dad happy was to just try to be of service to other people and do what he could for somebody who might need help."

Scott Wilson is currently considering a Kindle edition of his biography. - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Scott Wilson is currently considering a Kindle edition of his biography.

And while Scott's book may have its darker moments, he wants readers to come away with a sense of hope, knowing that just as he has faced his demons and struggles, as everyone does in life in one way or another. He shares that he is a recovered addict who has overcome heartache and sadness, but he's on the other side of all that, where life is good.

"The good thing is that at the end of the book I came through all that, and I'm a different person today," he says. "We can recover."

On Wednesday, July 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Scott Wilson will be signing copies of his Son of a Beach Boy book at Barnes & Nobel Booksellers at River Crossing Boulevard, near Keystone at the Crossing. For more information on the event, visit the bookstore's website.

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