On Dec. 10, 1966, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was released in late October and had taken about ten months to create. Brian Wilson wrote the music and collaborated with band mate Mike Love on the final lyrics.
The lore about the production of “Good Vibrations” is vast. Brian Wilson began writing the song for the Pet Sounds LP, but he knew the song would not be done by the album’s May release date. For the next four months, Wilson is said to have recorded variations of the song during 17 different recording sessions at four different studios in Los Angeles.
Costs for the song’s production are estimated from $16,000 to $50,000. Regardless, it was the most expensive single to be produced at the time, but its payback was huge for Capitol Records. The song steadily climbed to #1, reportedly selling 100,000 copies a day during its first week of release, and eventually selling more than a million copies.
The single featured the famed studio musicians The Wrecking Crew (including Glen Campbell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on Hammond organ) and Paul Tanner, trombonist for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, on the theremin.
“Good Vibrations” was nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, but the award was given to The New Vaudeville Band’s “Winchester Cathedral.”
Side Note: The original 45 rpm of “Good Vibrations” had the instrumental “Let’s Go Away for Awhile,” from Pet Sounds, as its B-side. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.