Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer who founded the Beach Boys. Often called a genius for his novel approaches to pop composition, extraordinary musical aptitude, and mastery of recording techniques, he is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and significant songwriters of the 20th century. Wilson is also known for his lifelong struggles with mental illness.
Raised in Hawthorne, California, Wilson's early influences included George Gershwin, the Four Freshmen, Phil Spector, and Burt Bacharach. In 1961, he began his professional career as a member of the Beach Boys, serving as the band's songwriter, producer, co-lead vocalist, bassist, keyboardist, and de facto leader. After signing with Capitol Records in 1962, he became the first pop artist credited for writing, arranging, producing, and performing his own material. He also produced other acts, most notably the Honeys. By the mid-1960s, he had written or co-written more than two dozen U.S. Top 40 hits, including the number-ones "Surf City" (1963), "I Get Around" (1964), "Help Me, Rhonda" (1965), and "Good Vibrations" (1966).
In 1964, Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown and resigned from regular concert touring, which led to more refined work, such as the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Wilson's first credited solo release, "Caroline, No" (both 1966). As his mental health deteriorated in the late 1960s, his contributions to the band diminished, and he became much-mythologized for his lifestyle of seclusion, overeating, and drug abuse. In the 1980s, he formed a controversial creative and business partnership with his psychologist, Eugene Landy, and relaunched his solo career with the album Brian Wilson (1988). Following his disassociation from Landy in 1991, Wilson started receiving conventional medical treatment. Since the late 1990s, he has recorded and performed consistently as a solo artist.
Wilson is considered the principal originator of the California sound, one of the first music producer auteurs, and among the first rock producers to use the studio as a discrete instrument. The zeitgeist of the early 1960s is commonly associated with his early songs, and he became an important figure in the development of art pop, chamber pop, punk, chillwave, and outsider music. Wilson's honors include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beach Boys) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as two Grammy Awards. His life was dramatized in the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy.