PORTSMOUTH — If you live in Portsmouth, you may want to cue up “Good Vibrations,” “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” on your iPod when Sept. 22 rolls around.
That’s because the Town Council recently proclaimed that date as “Beach Boys Day” in Portsmouth.
Confused? Don’t worry, baby — we’ll explain.
The proclamation was requested by Al Gomes, a Providence music producer and music historian whose company, Big Noise, has worked with The Beach Boys for the past decade.
Just before a recent Beach Boys concert in East Providence, Mr. Gomes and his partner, Connie Watrous, coordinated a ceremony honoring the band for the 40th anniversary of performing for the largest music audience ever in Rhode Island: more than 40,000 fans at the Narragansett Park Race Track in Pawtucket on Sept. 2, 1977.
In lieu of that tribute, Big Noise asked Roger Williams University (RWU) to pay tribute to The Beach Boys for another historical career event that took place on Sept. 22, 1971, right here in Portsmouth.
On that date, the band performed at the Ramada Inn, which is now RWU’s Baypoint Inn & Conference Center.
“Guess what?” interjected council member Elizabeth Pedro. “I was at that concert.”
“I was there also,” chimed in local resident Peter Roberts, who was videotaping the meeting from the back of the room.
The 1971 Portsmouth show marked a significant change for the band, Mr. Gomes explained, because it featured the first-ever appearance of Ricky Fataar and Billy Hinsche in the touring band.
The switch essentially changed “The Beach Boys’ live act’s lineup into a multiracial group and shifted the band into an important creative period, of which shortly thereafter Rolling Stone magazine would name them Band of the Year,” he said.
RWU will honor The Beach Boys at the Baypoint Inn & Conference Center, 144 Anthony Road, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The university will unveil plaques in honor of the band's 1971 concert, and the ceremony will include a special Beach Boys-themed dinner in the dining hall, a DJ and Grammy Award-winning Beach Boys producer Rob Fraboni as one of the guests of honor.
Beach Boys vs. Beatles
After the council voted unanimously to approve the proclamation, Ray Davis of the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition approached the podium to present an update on his group’s activities.
“That was a hard act to follow — The Beach Boys,” he said.
“And that’s coming from a Beatles guy,” responded Council President Keith Hamilton, referring to Mr. Davis’ prior membership in a Beatles tribute band, Abbey Rhode.
“I’ll have you know that it was ‘Pet Sounds’ that went on to influence ‘Sgt. Pepper,’” replied Mr. Davis.