Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for being the multi-tasking leader and co-founder of the Beach Boys. After signing with Capitol Records in 1962, Wilson wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits for the group. Because of his unorthodox approaches to song composition and arrangement and mastery of recording techniques, he is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and influential creative forces in popular music by critics and musicians alike.
In the mid-1960s, Wilson composed, arranged and produced Pet Sounds (1966), considered one of the greatest albums ever made. The intended follow-up to Pet Sounds, Smile, was cancelled for various reasons, which included Wilson's deteriorating mental health. As he suffered repeated nervous breakdowns, Wilson's contributions to the Beach Boys diminished, and his erratic behavior led to tensions with the band.
Wilson is considered a major innovator in the field of music production, the principal originator of the California Sound, one of the first music producer auteurs, and one of the most famous examples of the outsider musician. According to Erik Davis, "Not only did he write a soundtrack to the early '60s, but Brian let loose a delicate and joyful art pop unique in music history and presaged the mellowness so fundamental to '70s California pop."
Wilson effectively set a precedent that allowed bands and artists to enter a recording studio and act as their own producers or co-producers.