Song: “Help Me, Rhonda” by the Beach Boys
Reached #1: May 29, 1965 (their second, 2 weeks)
There are at least three versions of this song in circulation. If you had the original Today! album, you had “Help Me, Ronda” – with a guitar intro and slightly different lyrics. That version was never going to be released as a single – but when radio stations started playing it, Brian Wilson took it back to the studio (well, that’s one version of the story).
That led to version #2 – the one we’re all familiar with, and the one that went to the top of the charts.
In 1998, the Beach Boys re-released it on Endless Harmony Soundtrack, even calling it the “Alternate Single Version” with some extra vocal pyrotechnics from Brian Wilson.
Of course, there’s another story behind the change from “Help Me, Ronda” to “Help Me, Rhonda” – and it is part of the larger story that may explain why Brian Wilson turned out to be such a damaged person… tapes have been circulating for more than 40 years of a specific incident from the original “Ronda” session. It’s a drunken and self-pitying Murry Wilson (the Wilson boys’ father) kind of losing it. The tape runs close to 40 minutes, and apparently is used as proof that the elder Wilson was every bit as nuts as he has been portrayed. In 2005, Fordham University radio station WFUV posted the tape on their blog. Listen at your own risk.
There was some good news late last year – after years of bitterness and division among the various Beach Boys, including multiple touring groups, the band is back together. The album That’s Why God Made The Radio comes out next week, and the single came out on April 25, 2012 (for some reason, it debuted on sports radio – ESPN’s “Mike & Mike In The Morning”). It’s part of the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary “Celebration!” tour. The last time Brian Wilson toured with the Beach Boys was… at the time “Help Me, Rhonda” came out. Yes, 1965.
Tomorrow, the third visit to a group that knew its own share of internal strife…
Other songs that reached #1 on May 29:
1961 – “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson (his second, 2 weeks)
1971 – “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones (their sixth, 2 weeks)
1976 – “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross (her fourth, 2 weeks)