David Leaf was the first author to write extensively, and honestly, about the Beach Boys. Before his The Beach Boys and the California Myth appeared in 1978, the group were sometimes written off as corny or musical lightweights, and relatively little was known about their extremely troubled internal tensions and family background. Leaf wrote about the music with reverence and detail, and also examined the behind-the-scenes friction that dogged the group even at the height of their success: the use of session players on mid-'60s hits, the abandonment of the Smile project, the mental problems of Brian Wilson from the late '60s onwards, the involvement of Dennis Wilson with the Charles Manson family, the struggles for power between Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson's father, and more. If there is a flaw to Leaf's writing, it's that its praise of Brian Wilson is often unabashed, and his dominant creative role in the group arguably overstated. Mike Love was so annoyed with the book, as Leaf writes in an appendix to the 1985 edition (retitled simply The Beach Boys), that at a Beach Boys fan convention he "tried to burn a hole in my head with an endless, icy stare, and began his speech with acerbic remarks so obviously aimed at me that all heads in the room turned to see my reaction." Leaf has also worked as a television writer and producer, and did a biography of the Bee Gees. He's maintained his involvement with the Beach Boys by writing liner notes to several of the group's reissues, including their Good Vibrations box set, and CD reissues of their '60s Capitol albums.
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