Ben Selvin. Harry Richman. Ruth Etting. Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra. Conduct a random survey among your average person on the street, and chances are slim that you’ll find anyone who can say who they are or why they were famous.
Yet they were the top four pop music hitmakers of 1930, a mere 91 years ago. Granted, mass media communications was nowhere near what today’s world of streaming, satellite radio, and digital playback provides as far as exposure. But fame is fame, and for that moment in time, they were at the top of the mountain.
That’s relevant because of a deal that was announced this week. The legendary Beach Boys have entered into a partnership with music and management entrepreneur Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists, which purchased an interest in the group’s future. The goal is to preserve and grow the group’s legacy even after the last of the group has passed.
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The group’s Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and the Carl Wilson estate issued a statement explaining their rationale for the deal.
“As we look towards the upcoming 60th anniversary of The Beach Boys, we wanted a partner to help expand opportunities for our brand, while continuing to preserve our tradition as a band whose music transcends the test of time. We are confident that Irving and Iconic are the ideal partners and are confident that The Beach Boys’ ongoing legacy is in the best possible hands. We are very proud of what we have achieved as The Beach Boys and how our songs continue to resonate with our fans.”
Azoff called the band “an American treasure. I am honored that the Beach Boys have entrusted Iconic to preserve and grow their legacy. And I’m thrilled that the Beach Boys want to stay invested in the growth of the incredible cultural brand they created.”
Now comes the hard part. While the Beach Boys have produced some of the most memorable music of the last seven decades, will the power of their music and image stand the test of time? On the plus side, the ability to reach a large audience is ever-expanding, and Azoff is a proven genius at development.
But pop culture is fickle and moves on ever more quickly, particularly in the age of social media.
Don’t believe me? Ask a random 13-year-old to name three Beach Boys hits. The answer may be as difficult for them as identifying Ben Selvin is for most adults.
Check back in 91 years for the definitive answer.