From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Beach Boys are an American rock and roll band. One of the biggest rock and roll groups of all time, the Beach Boys recorded thirty-six U.S. Top 40 hits (including four #1 singles) and many best-selling albums. The group has sold the most Top 40 hits of any U.S. rock and roll band, with Chicago at a close second place. Performing since 1960, the Beach Boys are America's longest running continuous rock group. They have sold more singles and albums than any other American rock band.  The Beach Boys are especially well known for their distinctive vocal harmonies.
The act first gained popularity as the musical spokesmen for surfing, girls, and cars, but their chief composer Brian Wilson's growing creative ambitions transformed them into a more artistically innovative combo.
The primary group comprised singer-musician-composer Brian Wilson; his brothers, Carl and Dennis; their cousin Mike Love, and friend Alan Jardine. This core quintet, along with David Marks and Bruce Johnston, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Many changes in both musical style and personnel have occurred during their sometimes stormy career, notably Brian Wilson's mental illness, drug addiction, and eventual withdrawal from the group; the deaths of Dennis Wilson in 1983 and Carl Wilson in 1998; and continuing legal battles among surviving members of the group. After Carl Wilson's death, founding member Al Jardine was fired by Mike Love. However, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston leased the rights to the name from Brother Records and continue to officially tour as The Beach Boys.