FLASHBACK: The Beach Boys' 'It's O.K.' Comeback Special Airs On NBC
It was 37 years ago tonight (August 5th, 1976) that the Beach Boys' NBC prime time special The Beach Boys: It's O.K. premiered. The show, which was produced by Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels, was based around the group's 15th anniversary, their new 15 Big Ones album, and the full time return of Brian Wilson to the group, kicking off the legendary "Brian's Back" publicity campaign.
The special included live performances filmed on July 3rd, 1976 at California's Anaheim Stadium in front of 55,000 fans, featuring the group's classic lineup, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Al Jardine, with the long reclusive Brian behind the keyboards, playing only his second full concert in over six years.
The show's sketch in which Saturday Night Live's John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd pose as California Highway Patrolmen and force an overweight Brian out of bed to go surfing after issuing him a citation for failing to surf, has gone on to be one of rock n' roll's greatest comedic moments. Later that year, photographer Annie Leibovitz used a photo of the bathrobed Brian holding a surfboard for an iconic cover of Rolling Stone.
Highlights in the special include Dennis Wilson acting as one of the judges of the Miss California beauty pageant, Dennis singing his signature "You Are So Beautiful" encore at the Anaheim show, and all three Wilson brothers harmonizing around the piano singing group chestnuts such as "I'm Bugged At My Old Man" and "Surfer Girl."
It's O.K. also featured footage shot at Brian Wilson's 34th birthday party (June 20th, 1976) held at brother Carl's Malibu home, with Paul and Linda McCartney and their kids all helping to present Wilson with his birthday cake.
The title of the show was chosen to tie-in with the band's then-current single, "It's O.K." It was the follow up to their recent Top Five hit, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Rock And Roll Music," which earned the group their first Top Ten hit in nearly a decade.
The footage from the It's O.K. special has gone on to be featured in nearly every Beach Boys documentary since its network premiere.
The special was recently re-released on DVD by Eagle Rock as The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations Tour.
Photo Courtesy of Annie Liebovitz