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The Beach Boys circa 1972, featuring (L-R) Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Ricky Fataar, Dennis Wilson, Blondie Chaplin, and Mike Love. (photo: Brother Records archives)

On December 2, The Beach Boys will release a new box set titled Sail On Sailor – 1972, celebrating their landmark albums, 1972’s Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” and 1973’s Holland. Featured prominently on those albums is Blondie Chaplin, the charismatic guitarist and former Beach Boy from South Africa, who’s called San Pedro home since 2017. 

Chaplin on the cover of San Pedro Today, Sept. 2018.

Fans of The Beach Boys, and there are plenty in San Pedro since the band came from neighboring Hawthorne, will dig this collection. The comprehensive 6-CD Super Deluxe Edition features newly remastered versions of the two albums, plus Holland’s “Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairytale)” EP, and includes an unreleased live concert from New York City’s Carnegie Hall recorded 50 years ago on Thanksgiving, 1972, during Chaplin’s tenure with the band. 

The set also includes a detailed 48-page booklet with extensive liner notes by Howie Edelson, featuring new and archival interviews with the band, rare photos, and producer notes from Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, providing an in-depth look at the recording of these albums and the era.

Born and raised in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Chaplin joined The Flames in 1967 when he was just 16. That year, The Flames sailed to London to play some gigs, where The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine saw them perform in a London club. 

After The Flames disbanded, Chaplin and fellow Flames bandmate, drummer Ricky Fataar, joined The Beach Boys as official members in 1972. Chaplin would sing lead on several Beach Boys songs on Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” and Holland, which was rare, considering the band rarely shared lead vocals outside the original line-up. 

Holland features the song that would become Chaplin’s signature tune, “Sail On Sailor,” a funky, R&B-fueled rock song that ended up being a hit for the band. 

Fresh off a summer of touring with founding Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, and finishing up a solo album to be released in the spring, Chaplin, still full of energy at 71, met with San Pedro Today for a quick chat about the upcoming box set and his experience recording and touring with one of rock music’s most iconic bands.

On his experience recording “Sail On Sailor” with The Beach Boys: “I’m fascinated [by that song] considering if it didn’t get on Holland, it wouldn’t have come out. We did a whole album in Holland for three months. Everything was in shambles a little bit because the studio was set up in a barn. There were wires everywhere, the train would come by and [we’d] have to stop the recording. Everything would rumble. But we did that, and everybody got into it and tried to do a good job. But when we showed [Holland] to the record company, they [didn’t like it]. So, we recorded ‘Sail On Sailor’ at Village Recorders [in Los Angeles]. 

The Beach Boys’ Sail On Sailor – 1972 box set cover, with a young Blondie Chaplin.

“We did the recording there, and I did the vocal. Dennis [Wilson, the late Beach Boys drummer] was going to try, but he didn’t want to do it, or he had to go surfing, which is absolutely true. Carl [Wilson, the late Beach Boys lead guitarist] took a pass a couple of times. Then he asked me to do it. I had a feeling he wanted me to do it to begin with. It just went through different stages. So, I did it a couple of times, and that’s what everybody hears. It’s just a slow blues shuffle. That’s all it is.”

On playing Carnegie Hall in 1972: “Well, it was some of the first gigs when Holland first came out. A buddy of mine said you could hear a pin drop. He said, ‘It’s the first time you sang ‘Leaving This Town’ [a song on Holland], and you can hear a pin drop.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I was probably nervous as hell!’ I mean, I was barely 21. That is nuts. 

“[For the rehearsals], Carl was the one who would sit with Ricky and me, just us in a little room. Just a guitar without it being plugged in or anything, and we’d run through some Beach Boys songs. That’s how we learned [their music]. Then it was just a matter of going on stage and playing with everybody, playing with the band.”

On the Sail On Sailor – 1972 box set: “This is great. This is a good set as far as how much stuff they put on it. It’s still good memories. Holland is one of The Beach Boys’ best albums. You put any of what you think is The Beach Boys’ best stuff, and it’s got a place. I enjoyed doing it. It’s good that people like it, and it’s stood the test of time. spt

The Sail On Sailor – 1972 box set hits record stores December 2.

Joshua Stecker

Joshua Stecker is the publisher and editor-in-chief of San Pedro Today.