Born Michael Edward Love, "Mike" was an original member of the Beach Boys along with his cousins Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, and their friend Al Jardine. (Both Carl and Dennis Wilson are deceased.)
Although Love played the saxophone in the early days, he was mainly the co-lead singer, along with Brian Wilson. He has stated his R&B-styled singing technique was heavily influenced by classmates at the predominantly black high school, Dorsey High, and the songs he listened to on two of Los Angeles' R&B radio stations.
While Brian Wilson handled the early ballads - as Carl did later on - Love sang lead on many of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, mainly fast-paced rock'n'rollers, including "Surfin' Safari," "Surfin' USA," "Shut Down," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Be True to Your School," "Little Saint Nick," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "I Get Around," "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)," "Little Honda," "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "California Girls."
His lead vocal roles later diminished as other members' voices began to be heard more, but he remained one of the most recognized voices in the group, due in part to his nasal sound, on songs such as "Do It Again." He is also known for his bass vocals, such as the vocal break in "I Can Hear Music" and the bass line in "Good Vibrations." Onstage, Love has always served as the Beach Boys' MC, introducing songs and band members.
Love is also credited with contributing lyrics to many of the Beach Boys songs, mostly with the themes of surfing, cars or love, but also memorable ballads such as "The Warmth of the Sun." In the 1990s, Love initiated and won a legal proceeding to gain co-authorship credit for many of the Beach Boys hits.
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Love later received training in advanced techniques, including Yogic Flying, and became a "Governor of the Age of Enlightenment" at a reported cost of up to $1 million.
In 1988, the Beach Boys had a US number-one hit with "Kokomo," the only number-one song the band had without Brian Wilson's involvement. Mike Love - along with "Kokomo" co-writers Scott McKenzie, Terry Melcher, and John Phillips - was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1988 in the Original Song category, and was also nominated for a Grammy Award.
Love has attempted several times to have a career outside the Beach Boys. In the mid 1970s, he recorded and released two albums with side band Celebration, including the top 30 hit single "Almost Summer" (co-written with Brian Wilson and Jardine), along with further songwriting contributions to the band's third (unreleased) album Disco Celebration.
In the late 1970s, he also recorded two unreleased solo albums, First Love and Country Love. Some tracks from First Love were used on later Beach Boys releases.
In 1981, he released a solo album, Looking Back With Love. Consisting mostly of cover versions, the album was neither critically nor commercially successful.
As of 2010, Love continues to tour with The Beach Boys, along with Bruce Johnston and a supporting band of new musicians. He leases the right to tour under the Beach Boys name. Love is the only original member in the current lineup.