When dad is a rock star: A Beach Boys tale

Matt Jardine's dad Al is an original member of the Beach Boys. (Photo by Tim O'Shei.)

Matt Jardine’s dad Al is an original member of the Beach Boys.
(Photo by Tim O’Shei.)

Today is Father’s Day, the day when we all treat our dads like rock stars.

But what if your dad is a rock star? How does the day-to-day dynamic differ from your dad being a teacher, lawyer, laborer or chef?

Not much, it turns out.

A couple of years ago, in what is easily one of my favorite interviews ever, LSY reporter Lauren Kirchmyer and I chatted with a rock star dad and his accomplished musician son while they were on tour in Toronto.

The dad was Al Jardine, one of the founding members of the Beach Boys and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The son was Matt Jardine, an accomplished musician himself who, with his brother Adam, has toured and performed for decades with his dad’s bands, including the Beach Boys.

When I asked Matt what it was like having a rock star dad, his answer was simple.

"Fame is a very hair-raising and challenging ordeal," Beach Boy Al Jardine told LSY founder Tim O'Shei during this interview in Toronto. (Photo by Lauren Kirchmyer)

“Fame is a very hair-raising and challenging ordeal,” Beach Boy Al Jardine told LSY founder Tim O’Shei during this interview in Toronto.
(Photo by Lauren Kirchmyer)

“It was normal,” he said. “It was all I knew.”

Much of Matt’s upbringing was normal, too. The Jardines lived in the Big Sur region of Central California, a mountainous and sparsely populated place. It wasn’t Hollywood. It wasn’t Bel Air or Beverly Hills.

Don’t misunderstand: It was nice, but in a spacious and calm kind of way. Along with being a Beach Boy, Al raised horses and had the family live on the ranch. Matt’s day-to-day life was one of fun play and hard work. He built forts, stacked firewood, and helped tend the horses.

Home wasn’t glamorous.

“I cleaned stalls after I came home from school,” he said. “Even my friends didn’t do that!”

But on the weekends and over the summer, Matt did something else his friends didn’t do: Hop on a private plane and jet to Hawaii, where he’d be hanging backstage at a major rock concert, or maybe to a big city like Atlanta, where he’d be staying in a hotel and enjoying room service. People would fuss over his dad and the other guys in the band, and at first, Matt didn’t know what to make of it.

“I didn’t know what everybody was making such a big deal about,” he said.

But soon enough, Matt became accustomed to all the craziness he’d see on the road. He also got used to living at the opposite extreme, returning to the calm and predictability of being back in Big Sur, doing his chores and going to public school.

"Normal" for Matt Jardine, left, was both living on a horse ranch and traveling to rock shows with his dad Al, center, the father-son pair told Lauren Kirchmyer. (Photo by Tim O'Shei)

“Normal” for Matt Jardine, left, was both living on a horse ranch and traveling to rock shows with his dad Al, center, the father-son pair told Lauren Kirchmyer.
(Photo by Tim O’Shei)

“There was nothing normal whatsoever about it,” Matt told us, “but it’s what I know.”

Al, sitting to Matt’s left, interjected: “It was his normal.”

As Matt grew older, he began touring with the Beach Boys, working as a member of the stage crew as a way to earn some extra money. At the same time, he was developing as a musician, and would occasionally get called on to join the band and provide backup vocals or play drums.

“It was trial by fire,” Matt told Lauren during our interview. “I didn’t start in a garage, or in a club. I started onstage in front of 10,000 people, and I don’t mind saying it was terrifying. It really was!”

But it was also a bit magical, especially when Matt’s voice was blending with his father’s. When Al Jardine left the touring Beach Boys band in 1998 and started his own groups, Matt and brother Adam became prominent performers onstage. Matt says their longtime sound man, Jeff Peters, has told them, “You can’t buy the blend that you guys have. When you sing together on a really good night, it’s money.”

Al added, “Music is a tremendous unifier. If you can play as a family unit, boy, that’s really strong. It’s big time.”

What struck me most during our interview, and especially today on Father’s Day, was the incredibly tangible love between father and son. On a couple of occasions, Al gave short answers to our questions, and Matt jumped in to elaborate. Al smiled, one time grabbing his son’s shoulders and saying, “This is my smart son,” and other time saying, “Matt is right – he always is!”

It’s a dynamic we can only hope to see more between more fathers and sons, whether they’re literal rock stars or simply superstars in our heart.

Tim O’Shei, LSY founder

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s