The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson listens to Rubber Soul

December 1965: Number 12 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of pop music

As Brian Wilson later recalled, the Beatles' sixth album was the first release he'd ever heard where every song "went together like no album ever made before". It proved a huge influence on the set of songs that then became the Beach Boys' next album, Pet Sounds, released in May 1966. Paul McCartney later called Pet Sounds his favourite album of all time; it also marked the end of an era – because no set of songs thereafter could ever summon such a sense of innocence.

Pet Sounds spurred the Fabs to ever greater heights on Revolver. This arms race between the two titans of pop on either side of the Atlantic was not one that the Beach Boys leader was equipped to handle, however. He set to work on new material, but just as the pressure mounted to pull the project together in February 1967, he heard Strawberry Fields Forever on the radio. Wilson felt he couldn't compete, his mental state not helped by the marijuana that he had been smoking, and he abandoned the new record, provisionally titled Smile. The Beatles were in a new head space, and the carefree era of songs such as Surfin' USA was gone.

Contributor

Caspar Llewellyn Smith

The GuardianTramp

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