The spot may be part of a boring Southern California freeway now, but here, down the bank from “the 105” in Hawthorne, once stood the modest tract house that spawned a thousand harmonies: the childhood home of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, better known as the Beach Boys.
The three sons grew up at the corner of W 119th Street and Kornblum Avenue in Hawthorne, California, about five miles from the surf and sand they sang about. Together, with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardin, their very first single, “Surfin’,” was laid down right here. It was 1961, and they were all still kids—the oldest (cousin Mike), barely cracking 20 and the youngest (Carl) only 15. Countless other early songs were written in big brother Brian’s bedroom, and multi-part harmonies perfected in the living room.
Although the house is gone, torn down in the 1980s for construction of the freeway, the site itself is a California Historic Landmark, with a monument added to the streetscape in 2004. Declaring the non-house a landmark required a vote of the California State Historic Resources Commission, and with the support of the community (to say nothing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and perpetual teenager Dick Clark), it passed unanimously.
Twenty years after the home was demolished, the brick and tile marker was unveiled, with some of the Beach Boys in attendance (Mike Love didn’t show). To augment the design, there is a bas relief of the classic album cover, Surfer Girl from 1963.
Know Before You Go
It's in the middle of a neighborhood, so please be considerate. There is zoned parking for tour buses.