Longtime Chautauqua favorites surf back onto Amp stage

ILLUSTRATION BY MAURICE DUNN

ILLUSTRATION BY MAURICE DUNN

The Beach Boys, the band that embodies the theme of “fun under the sun,” is making its return to Chautauqua.

The group last played at the Institution in 2013; for nearly every two years since 1999, the Beach Boys have played the Amphitheater stage, said Vice President and Director of Programming Marty Merkley. At 8:15 p.m. tonight, the Beach Boys will surf into the Amp with their greatest hits.

For Merkley, booking the Beach Boys has usually been a “no-brainer” because of their intergenerational popularity among Chautauquans.

“The deal about the Beach Boys is that it’s hard to find an act or ensemble that appeals to such an age range,” Merkley said. “From small children to their grandparents — 1) People enjoy, and 2) People know all the words [to and] recognize all the songs.”

In 2011, Mike Love, the co-founder and current frontman of the group, talked about the Beach Boys’ previous experiences in Chautauqua.

“The audience always seems to enjoy the heck out of it,” Love said in The Chautauquan Daily. “It seems like the most fun they could have with their clothes on.”

Beginning in 1961, the Beach Boys took the country by storm in a time rivaled by other such artists as The Who, The Beatles, and The Jackson 5. They became known as America’s band, defining generations of teens and young adults who just wanted to have fun.

Over time, young fans aged, and each new generation took up the mantle. Decade after decade, more Americans who grew up with the upbeat songs still keep their love of the band with them.

Their first hit “Surfin’ U.S.A.” in 1961 launched a string of chart-topping songs that spanned more than half a century. The band moved even more fans with “Surfer Girl,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” “Barbara Ann” and “Kokomo,” just to name a few. Nearly every hit has been featured in movies and TV shows — and the subjects of endless parodies.

Not only a defining voice of American youthfulness, the band is a part of American life, and provides the anthemic soundtrack to the season of summer.