Last December, a representative for the band, which since 2012 officially includes original member Mike Love and longtime member Bruce Johnston, told Billboard magazine that the group had been asked to perform but “no decision has been made at this point as to how or whether they will participate.”
That hesitation has become old hat in regards to this year’s inauguration. So far, the 2017 festivities have been a tough sell for those entertainers seeking to juggle an increasingly, er, opinionated fan base and any perceived political affiliations. Most recently Broadway star Jennifer Holliday backed out of singing at the official welcome concert due to swift backlash from her fans following the announcement that she’d be participating. And the B-Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band, backed out of performing at Thursday’s Garden State Inaugural Gala.
The Beach Boys, however, have a history of blending performances with politics.
In 1983 Secretary of the Interior James Watt banned the Californian band from performing at a free July Fourth concert on the Mall because, according to Watt, rock bands attracted “the wrong element” to the nation’s capital — you know druggies, alcoholics, thieves?
First lady Nancy Reagan, a Beach Boys fan, intervened, and a few months later they performed on the South Lawn at a Special Olympics benefit. Needless to say Watt wasn’t in the audience. At the time President Reagan said, “The Beach Boys’ music speaks for itself.” The next summer, in 1984, the Beach Boys performed at a fundraiser for Reagan during that summer’s Republican National Convention in Dallas. Since then they’ve sung for presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. President Obama added their 1966 hit “Good Vibrations” to his last summer playlist.
“They’re a fun band and people really like them,” said another individual heavily involved with the planning of this year’s “Black Ties and Boots,” an over-the-top tribute to all things Texas that reached its popularity peak during the George W. Bush years with nearly 12,000 tickets sold at the 2001 ball. For the last eight years, those numbers have been cut in half, but this year’s bash, which will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, is posed for a return to the gala’s original glory with almost 10,000 tickets sold thus far.
A few reasons for the renewed interest? Well for one Texas is a red state. But the person we spoke with didn’t tie the uptick in ticket sales, which run from $275 to $5,000, directly to the president-elect. “I don’t think it’s Trump the man that’s driving [interest], I think that this event has become the hottest ticket in town for inauguration. People are just talking about it more than they have in the past.” Though our tipster did admit that if Hillary Clinton was being sworn in on Jan. 20 the enthusiasm probably wouldn’t be as high.
In addition to the Beach Boys, the ball’s entertainment lineup will be unsurprisingly heavy on the country acts (it is Texas after all). On stage will be Bonnie Bishop, Jason Eady, Jason Boland, Kevin Fowler, Larry Gatlin, Gary P. Nunn, Kenny Maines, Dean Dillon and the Texas Jam Band, and Tanya Tucker.
Expected political VIPs include Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R); former Texas governor Rick Perry, who is Trump’s pick for energy secretary; and Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state nominee, who until recently ran Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil.