“Failing to Surf”: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd take Brian Wilson surfing in 1976

By on June 5, 2015

In the summer of 1976, for a sketch for an NBC-TV special called “It’s OK,” John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd showed up at the Bel Air home of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson with a citation, citing that “under Section 936A of the California Catch a Wave Statute,” Brian was “in violation of Paragraph 12: failing to surf, neglecting to use a state beach for surfing purposes, and otherwise avoiding surfboards, surfing and surf.”


The special was produced by Saturday Night Live’s exec producer Lorne Michaels, in between SNL’s first and second seasons, and this comical little interlude was directed by the show’s resident filmmaker Gary Weis, who created short films for Saturday Night Live along with Albert Brooks and Tom Schiller.

The one-hour “It’s OK” special was organized to celebrate the Beach Boys’ 15th anniversary and to promote their album, 15 Big Ones. Wilson had just rejoined the group, and the special was part of the “Brian’s Back” publicity campaign.


The program, currently available on European-formatted DVD as The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations Tour, includes an interview of Wilson in bed, comedic scenes of band members doing offbeat things, and live footage from a July 3, 1976 Beach Boys concert at Anaheim Stadium.

In the two inter-cut scenes above, Mike Love leads the Beach Boys onstage in a performance of “Surfin’ USA” as Wilson is forced into the ocean in his bath robe.

“Okay, Mr. Wilson,” says Aykroyd. “Here’s your wave.”

Surf’s Up, Brian!


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.