Richest CelebritiesRock Stars
Net Worth:
$100 Million
Date of Birth:
Jun 20, 1942 (81 years old)
Place of Birth:
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Record producer, Composer, Bassist, Organist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Music Arranger, Pianist, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Brian Wilson's Net Worth

What is Brian Wilson's net worth?

Brian Wilson is an American musician who has a net worth of $100 million. Brian Wilson earned his fame and fortune as a singer and the primary songwriter for The Beach Boys. He also served as the band's manager and producer. Brian should be much, much wealthier today but unfortunately in 1969 his father Murry made the horrendous decision to sell the publishing company they co-owned, which controlled the rights to most of Brian's biggest hits, to Irving Alamo Music for just $700,000. Even though that was worth the same as around $5 million in today's dollars, those rights would grow to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars decades later. More on the catalog sale later in this article in the section about "Sea of Tunes." Brian Wilson is considered one of the most innovative songwriters of all time, writing over two dozen of the band's Top 40 hits. By the time he was 22, Brian had written seven top 10 Billboard hits. His writing and composition style has had a massive influence on indie, pop, and punk rock music, among other genres.

Early Life

Wilson was born on June 20, 1942 in Inglewood, California to mother Audree Neva and Murry Wilson. He is the eldest of three sons, along with brothers Dennis and Carl, and has a mixed Western European ancestry. His parents noticed and encouraged his musical ability from an early age, realizing he was able to remember song melodies as early as the age of one. He got involved with the local church choir at the age of seven and continued singing for various functions once he started school. He also started singing with this two brothers, teaching them harmony parts, and took great interest in mimicking harmonic sounds on the keyboard.

Wilson began performing publicly while in high school, joining forces with cousin Mike Love, and continuing his interest in music more formally by studying music at El Camino College in Los Angeles in 1960, along with psychology. The next year, he wrote his first song which would later become "Surfer Girl" a future top-ten hit in 1963.

Musical Career

The first time the group that would later be known as the Beach Boys performed together was in 1961 under the name of the Pendletones. The group consisted of five men: Wilson, his brothers Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and college friend Al Jardine.

Their first local hit was "Surfin," written by Wilson and Love. The song was released by Candix Records, who quickly changed the band's name to the Beach Boys. The group's time with Candix Records was short-lived however, as Wilson's father, acting as band manager, terminated the contract and helped the band score a deal with Capitol Records. The label released the songs "409 and "Surfin Safari," both of which became national hits.

Wilson and the Beach Boys started recording new music under the Capitol Records label and earned their first top-ten hit, "Surfin' U.S.A.," in 1963. Wilson was heavily involved with the recording process, bargaining to take charge of production for their first LP and making the decision to use double tracking for all of the band's vocals, which resulted in the deep sound that the Beach Boys are famous for.

Wilson continued acting as producer for the album Surfer Girl, released in 1963, as well as Little Deuce Coupe, released only a few months later. Additionally, Wilson began working with other artists as well in a producer capacity, including Jan and Dean, the Castells, and the Honeys. He found himself much more suited to the producer role, for other artists as well as for the Beach Boys, and resigned from the Beach Boys' touring schedule in 1964 after suffering a panic attack aboard a flight. Glen Campbell, and later Bruce Johnston, stepped in for Wilson during live performances.

In 1965, Wilson began experimenting with cannabis and psychedelic drugs, which had a profound effect on his music. Wilson continued challenging himself with his exploration into new styles and sounds of music, perhaps most notably with the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds, which has become widely critically acclaimed since its released and is often thought of as a Brian Wilson solo album. Soon after, another of Wilson's songs for the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, was released and became hugely popular as the band's third U.S. number one hit.

Brian Wilson

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Wilson's commercial success hit a roadblock with his next project, Smile, due to band conflict and some of Wilson's own personal problems. The project was ultimately cancelled, as Wilson's own interest in the Beach Boys also began to decline. While he stayed involved with the band over the next few years, his drug use and increased eccentricities created a reputation that preceded him and record labels became wary of working with him.

After his father's death in 1973, Wilson became even more reclusive and his voice started deteriorating rapidly thanks to his frequent tobacco and cocaine use. This period of reclusiveness lasted until his family and wife enlisted the help of therapist Eugene Landy, who helped Wilson become more stable, though Landy's techniques were radical and his treatment expensive. He thereafter become more involved with the Beach Boys again, and began releasing solo material, much of which has been met with critical success.

Sea of Tunes

In 1962, Brian and his father Murry formed a music publishing company to control the music created by Brian and his brothers. They named the company "Sea of Tunes." Brian owned 90% of Sea of Tunes and Murry owned 10%. Murry was fired from being manager of The Beach Boys in 1964, but through Sea of Music he continued to act as the face of their publishing business.

In late 1969, Murry sold Sea of Tunes to Irving Alamo Music for $700,000, a relative pittance even thought it was worth around $5 million in today's dollars. In his telling, Murry believed the value of The Beach Boys had peaked and would never return. Brian was devastated and shocked by the sale.

In the 1980s it was revealed that the sale to Irving Alamo Music had been orchestrated secretly by The Beach Boys' former lawyer Abe Somer who was also Irving Alamo's lawyer. This would have been a clear conflict of interest that should have prevented the sale from happening. In the decades following the Sea of Tunes' sale, the catalog generated over $100 million in publishing royalties. Not a cent went to Brian or his band mates.

In the early 1990s Brian began a process to sue for the return of his copyrights claiming he had been a victim of fraud, that his signature on the paperwork had been forged and various other misrepresentations and conflicts of interest. As part of this lawsuit, in 1994 the catalog's value was estimated to be worth $40 million. Brian's lawsuit did not result in the return of his rights, he was awarded $25 million in damages.

Unfortunately that was not the end of the Sea of Tunes lawsuits. Brian's band mate Mike Love subsequently filed his own lawsuit in 1992 claiming he was owed writing credits on dozens of songs and million in unpaid or underpaid royalties. In December 1994 Mike won the lawsuit and was awarded $13 million and co-writing credit on 35 songs.

Personal Life

Brian Wilson was married to Marilyn Rovell, from 1964 to the 1979. They had two daughters, Carnie and Wendy. After divorcing from Rovell in 1979, Wilson began dating Melinda Kae Ledbetter in 1986. The two dated for three years before breaking up, only to reconnect and marry in 1995. They adopted five children.

Health Problems

Wilson's struggle with his mental health and his complex relationship with therapist Eugene Landy have garnered much attention. Landy diagnosed Wilson with schizoaffective disorder and manic depression, for which he was prescribed large amounts of psychotropic drugs. The ongoing use of these drugs also caused Wilson to develop tardive dyskinesia, a neurological condition that induces repetitive and involuntary movements. Wilson is additionally known to experience hallucinations since beginning the use of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s.

Musical Legacy and Awards

Despite any personal problems, Wilson is still most well-known for his musical genius. A nine-time Grammy Award nominee and two-time winner, Wilson has also been ranked twelfth by Rolling Stone in their list of Greatest Songwriters of All Time. NME has also recognized him as the 8th greatest producers ever. He has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beach Boys and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000 by Paul McCartney.

Real Estate

In July 1999, Brian paid $3.5 million for a mansion in Beverly Hills. In 2007 he listed the house for sale for just under $9 million but ultimately did not end up selling.

In 2012, Brian and his wife spent $2.1 million on a house on Lake Arrowhead. They listed the house for sale in 2016 for $3.3 million. In November 2019 they sold this home for $2.85 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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