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663638 Posts in 26587 Topics by 3815 Members - Latest Member: ILikeTheBeachBoys October 30, 2020, 11:50:29 PM
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Author Topic: Brian, Carolyn Williams, and 1979-1982  (Read 4659 times)
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« on: September 25, 2020, 03:24:00 PM »

Hello SS board, long time reader, first time poster. As we all go through particular phases of BB lore/period, I want to bring up Carolyn Williams. I feel that she is one of the few people in the BB where the information to come by is scant. This period is interesting because, I believe, it starts right after Rocky and Stan are gone from Brian's life? Again, the details are hard to find, so I am estimating the timeline. When searching for information, it really made me realize that I don't know a lot about Brian in general during the period between Landy. A lot of what I have found comes from Gaines, which I am aware your mileage may vary with his work. While I noticed errors in H&V, a lot of what is in the book does seem to check out with other sources/books.

It seems like 1978 is when Brian really started to decline after being "back". There were several overdoses that year prior to Brian's infamous San Diego trip in June. He was picked up by some fans and pictures exist of Brian playing the piano and hanging out with them, looking very red in the face. A few days later he is found unconscious in Balboa Park, dirty and shoeless. Marilyn is notified by the hospital and according to her, he suggests over the phone to separate. They are legally separated in September.

Around late August 78, Brian was discharged from the hospital and flown down to Criterion Studios in Miami. (I noticed Brian's Back was recorded during this time; did Mike hastily write this as a welcome back gesture?) Brian wanted to stay in Florida, but the group denies that and he eventually gets a place on Sunset Blvd. Several months later, Brian is very drunk and belligerent at home. Steve Korthof, Stan, and Rocky are there with him and they force Brian into a car and take him to Dr. Ganz; the one who Brian mistook for Murry. Brian is then admitted to the psychiatric ward at Brotman Memorial Hospital. Brian stays in the hospital until around February 1979. Carolyn was one of his nurses. Marilyn recalls Brian telling her over the phone how fond he was of Carolyn. Rocky is fired by Marilyn around January 1979 (and with that, I assume Stan was, too.) Rocky and Stan were not allowed to visit Brian at the hospital, but they made multiple attempts to meet up with him to get their jobs back; including a failed attempt to have Steve Korthof hijack Brian from the hospital. (Korthof did not go along with this.)  On March 1st, Brian joins the band at Madison Square Garden for the disco debut of Here Comes the Night.

Sometime after Brian’s release from Brotman; Brian and Carolyn began to date. The first time the group knew Brian and Carolyn were more than friends was during a meeting at the Brother Records office; much to the shock of the guys and other Brother employees. Carolyn goes on tour with Brian once he rejoins the guys on the road; again, I do not know the timeframe; but I’m thinking this is still in 1979. Steve Korthof claims that everyone hated Brian being arm in arm with a black woman backstage and names Al as one of those complaining. The group supposedly distrusted Carolyn not due to race, but because they were afraid Brian would spend all his money on her. Gaines’ depiction of Carolyn is of a very competent and caring woman. I believe one of Mike’s daughters was asked about this once (I’m thinking it was Ambha) and she reiterated the same argument; the guys were afraid Brian would be taken for a ride.

Ed Roach has said that at the beginning of their relationship, Brian was fairly sober. Carolyn was keeping him up to date with his meds. Brian mainly stuck to cigarettes and coffee as his vices. Ed recalls this time as productive for Brian and Dennis, even though Brian voiced concerns over Dennis’ drinking. Gaines, however, makes it seem like almost instantly upon Brian and Carolyn dating, that Brian’s life was falling apart; overeating and using booze and drugs. Brian is said to have gone back into the hospital briefly after overdosing on sleeping pills. The timeline for this is murky, though. In addition to Ed’s recollection of Brian being sober initially, Carl mentions how Brian was firing on all cylinders when they entered Western for the first few days of recording in 1979 before starting to slack. Even though Brian was unable to produce KTSA, he is still actively involved with that album, similar to his role in M.I.U.

Somewhere along the way, though, we know Brian relapses, and the blame in the BB inner circle seems to be on Dennis. I’m guessing this would be late 1980/early 1981. Rocky, (not exactly a trustworthy source), claims it was Carolyn who called about Brian buying cocaine off/for Dennis, which led to the infamous beating up of Dennis by Stan and Rocky on Super Bowl Sunday, 1981. Stan Love also says he received a call from Carolyn when visiting Steve Love out in Hawaii; asking him that someone needed to protect Brian from Dennis. By Christmas 1980, Dennis and Christine McVie’s relationship was over. It would make sense why he began to spend more time with Brian.

In March of 1982, Brian was involuntarily committed to a hospital to treat his weight. Carolyn complains to a patients legal rights group and Brian is released. Later in the month, Carolyn is arrested going through security with paraphernalia and residue for cocaine. Carolyn claims this was a set up and Gaines insinuates that other BB insiders think that it was, too, for Carolyn’s effort to get Brian out of the hospital. Brian has Carolyn and her 3 children move into his house in the Pacific Palisades during the summer of 1982. Domenic Priore and a friend of his checked out the house during this time and noticed Brian’s Cadillac in the driveway. (Although Brian supposedly had to re-learn to drive as part of his treatment in Hawaii?) There is a picture of the car in front of the house from their sojourn. Domenic peaks through the windows before the blinds are closed. A man then approaches outside with three large dogs and tells them to leave, which they do.

Brian was fired from the Beach Boys in November 1982; the same month as the Cocaine Sessions. Brian is told he is broke and owes a ton of back taxes; even though Gaines says this was all a ploy to get Brian way from Carolyn and back with Landy. Interestingly enough, Steve Korthof was fired from Brian’s employee in October of 1982, despite Korthof being Brian’s cousin and, from my readings, a supportive figure in Brian’s life. There does seem to be a concerted effort from the group and their managers to lure Brian back to Landy; almost at any means necessary. Gaines says it took 6 months of planning to get Brian away from Carolyn and into Landy. The actions of the band just seem very shady here. Carolyn was present at some of the initial meetings with Landy’s team and claims to have been secretly taped. Knowing how Brian was filmed 24/7 during Landy’s tenure in the 1980s, this claim seems legitimate.

In January 1983, Brian was admitted to Cedars Sinai for a bunch of tests. Carolyn received a signed, notarized letter from “Brian” during this time. Brian tells her he will be away on a retreat for a while and to move out. Later in the month, Brian is taken to Hawaii without Carolyn knowing. (I doubt Brian knew much about this until it happened.) They shut off the utilities at their home and a moving van came to take all of Brian’s belongings before the house was put up for sale. Carolyn gives a press conference and shows a telegram from Brian that tells her he misses her and the kids and that he was forced to leave. This part of the story, whether it’s all true or not, is believed when placed against the context of Brian’s life. Brian being unable to do what he wants is the main theme of Landy 2.0. We may look at songs like I’m So Lonely and It’s Just a Matter of Time as throwaways, but sounds totally like Brian to me. I know Brian claims Landy helped him write it when it was performed as I’m Lost Without You, but Brian was programmed to say whatever Landy wanted publicly. (Look at that 1984 interview where Landy starts asking Brian his own questions instead of the press.)

Gaines mentions that the press picked up on Carolyn’s press conference, but I have not found those articles (one of them was Rolling Stone). Carolyn continued to try to reach Brian throughout 1983 and in 1984, she filed unethical charges against Landy to the state, for familiar reasons.

Here is what I Am Brian Wilson has to say about Carolyn:

“In 1978 I went back to a mental hospital in San Diego. Some people said mental facility. It wasn’t the first time. I had been to one in the late ‘60s. I don’t remember much about the time in San Diego. It was the same time as my divorce from Marilyn. One of the nurses there was a girl named Carolyn, a black woman, and when I got discharged I asked her if she would come work for me and take care of me. We ended up going together for a few years. I was living in a rented house on Sunset and then in Pacific Palisades. My head wasn’t on straight at all and I would somtimes say stupid things to her. Once I got impatient and said, “Get your black ass in there and make me lunch.” I apologized immediately but I didn’t feel right about it. She split pretty soon and it was mostly because of me. I’m sorry about it even today. Carolyn, no.”

So a few questions remain:

Were Brian and Carolyn living together for 3 continuous years?

What was the relationship between Carolyn, Rocky, and Stan? They were no longer working for Brian by the time he was released from Brotman. So were Rocky and Stan still around Brian between the rest of 1979-1982? Carolyn somehow knew them well enough to call upon when Brian was descending back into cocaine. A Twitter account of a Carolyn Williams responded to a tweet from Brian about books and she said that Endless Wave was a really great book. So regardless of what people think of that book and Rocky, it’s interesting that Carolyn (if it’s her) maybe agrees with some of Rocky’s views. This same account has also posted various compliments to other posts on his account.

What happened to Carolyn after she failed to try to get Brian back from Landy? I assume she was powerless and gave up fighting.

Have Carolyn’s children ever spoken about Brian? Living with 3 kids, how did Brian interact with them? Also, how often did Brian interact with Wendy and Carnie post-divorce, pre-Landy? I doubt much but it’s not like he was forbidden to see them, either. He definitely had to think about his daughters living with 3 kids.

This is an old online rumor, but did Brian delude himself into thinking Carolyn was Ronnie Spector? I have only heard about Brian’s auditory hallucinations, but I am curious if Brian ever had a tendency to mistake people. That would put an interesting spin on Brian’s mental health issues; if he couldn’t differentiate people. I doubt, though, Carolyn would have lived with someone for several years if they couldn’t recognize her.

Has Marilyn ever discussed Brian during the years of 1979-1982? She told Brian that he was always welcome to visit her and the girls if he ever felt lonely. I have a hard time thinking Marilyn totally cut off contact from Brian considering how loyal she is to Brian’s life and legacy. Did Marilyn think that Landy entering back into Brian’s life was a good idea? Did Marilyn ever meet Carolyn? Did his daughters?

Why did the band dislike Carolyn? Was she really framed ? Can we really blame just her for Brian getting into bad shape? Were the guys blaming Marilyn in 1974-5 as the reason for Brian's mental health problems? I can't recall anything like that.

There’s a lot more questions out there....
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2020, 03:31:04 PM »

You mentioned that photos existed....would you happen to have any?
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2020, 06:18:54 PM »

This is all very sad stuff, but yes a very interesting and overlooked period of time that understandably, has been kept hush hush as much as possible.

What I couldn't help but to think of when reading about how Carolyn's utilities were turned off to passive aggressively get her to leave the house, was how Dennis did the same thing (more understandably, considering his then circumstances) with the Manson clan back in '68 (or was it early '69?). Weird how that incident replayed itself with a different Wilson brother, but I guess in both cases it was felt that any other option would have yielded worse, confrontational consequences.
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2020, 08:23:57 PM »

Attaching the three pics of Brian in San Diego, June 1978. From the Beach Boys Legacy Twitter, Brian was staying at a fortune teller's house who was giving marijuana. After dinner, Brian played Shortenin' Bread and California Feelin' before drinking a lot of beer and crying about never reaching the levels of Phil Spector. It almost sounds cliche; like too predictable. Just a sad episode though.

The strong arming of Carolyn out of the house by freezing off the utilities was too much. Brian made a quick press conference in Hawaii saying that they were trying to sell the house and the whole thing with Carolyn was 'weird'. Seemed like a quick little line fed to him by Landy.


Here is the link to the story/photo of Domenic and his friend (sneakypete77) talking about visiting Brian's home in 1982. https://endlessharmony.boards.net/post/8476
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2020, 09:32:12 PM »

One correction: Brian joined the band for the March 1, 1979 opening night of their run at Radio City Music Hall, not Madison Square Garden. Smiley

Also, there was some discussion here awhile back (I think when Rocky himself was posting) about whether the infamous, violent Super Bowl Sunday episode was '81 or '82...anyone remember which conclusion we came to?
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2020, 09:44:50 PM »

I could’ve sworn it was 82. I’ll have to go back and look....
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
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Fear 2 Stop: eating all of Elon Musk's nightmares as he sleeps

"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
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Free Feel Flows!!!!

Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2020, 07:56:40 AM »

Thanks for the correction, c-man. I knew he was in NYC for just that first gig in March 79.

I had trouble getting the exact date for the Super Bowl fight, but I think it's 81. Again though, could easily be 1982. A post from the Steve Hoffman forum says it was Jan 25, 1981 when I googled Rocky and Dennis' names.
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2020, 08:53:23 AM »

The fight was 1982 and there are newspaper articles about it
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2020, 09:00:57 AM »

Should be noted that throughout most of that period that you explained quite well-Brian was touring with the BBs-he was present for the vast majority of 1978 to 1982 shows-except for when he was in hospital and the BBs played a lot of shows in that period-most of which are detailed in my book (where I highlight when he was or wasn’t present)
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2020, 11:27:14 AM »

While I get the feeling that Carolyn was unfairly treated, I reccomend you reading Nick Kent's  post-KTSA piece on Brian for the NME, to get a feeling of his then-daily life. It's featured on Back to the Beach: A Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys Reader
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2020, 01:17:48 PM »

One caveat...there are a few inaccuracies for the sake of sensationalism in the Kent story
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
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Fear 2 Stop: eating all of Elon Musk's nightmares as he sleeps

"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
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Free Feel Flows!!!!

Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





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http://fear2stop.bandcamp.com/track/tricky-treats
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2020, 06:03:37 PM »

Thanks for the clarification on the SB date, Ian. 

I have not been able Nick's early 80s article but I have heard how it's very sensational. Isn't the interview Debbie Keil joined Brian for support in her anticipation of it being a hit piece?

The one thing I cannot find is any evidence of the supposed articles/press on Carolyn. Her 1982 arrest was supposedly on Entertainment Tonight in addition to other press outlets. Carolyn also made a press conference shortly after Brian was taken to Hawaii with the telegram allegedly from Brian saying he was taken against his will. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner ran an article "Brian Wilson Please Phone Home" and Rolling Stone had a column titled "Was Brian Wilson Shanghai'd?" I can't find any evidence of these articles or any mention of the 1983 press conference. It kinda foreshadows Stan Love's 1990 conference, just with no Brian showing up.
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2020, 07:51:11 PM »

Want to throw something else out there too...the only source for Steve Korthof implying Al was a racist was the Gaines book (and by extension, the Landy ghosted bio).
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
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Fear 2 Stop: eating all of Elon Musk's nightmares as he sleeps

"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
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Free Feel Flows!!!!

Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





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http://fear2stop.bandcamp.com/track/tricky-treats
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2020, 09:14:41 PM »

Any thoughts on who, if anyone, set Carolyn Williams up? Or is it best not to speculate on that here?
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2020, 09:40:09 PM »

Here’s as good of a place as any. That’s something I’ve often wondered about as well
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
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Fear 2 Stop: eating all of Elon Musk's nightmares as he sleeps

"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
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Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2020, 10:04:41 PM »

I know a lot of this stuff (including Al's supposed problem) are only in the Gaines book. I've never read WIBN, but I know it's mostly a copy and paste job in addition to being biased like crazy. Seems like the only source for a lot of this stuff is Steve Korthof. What ever happened to him? Seems like he was fired/let go around October 1982. I assume being a cousin to Brian/Carl/Dennis that he still had contact with them. Brian was admitted to Brotman in part cause of Korthof, Rocky, and Stan forcing him to see Dr. Ganz. Yet Brian allowed Steve K. to visit him, while Rocky and Stan were forbidden. (Brian made the realization that he hated both of them while also being afraid of them, too.) Is he a family member that's been excommunicated like Steve Love? Or was he still in contact with them post-1982?
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2020, 10:38:14 PM »

I know a lot of this stuff (including Al's supposed problem) are only in the Gaines book. I've never read WIBN, but I know it's mostly a copy and paste job in addition to being biased like crazy. Seems like the only source for a lot of this stuff is Steve Korthof. What ever happened to him? Seems like he was fired/let go around October 1982. I assume being a cousin to Brian/Carl/Dennis that he still had contact with them. Brian was admitted to Brotman in part cause of Korthof, Rocky, and Stan forcing him to see Dr. Ganz. Yet Brian allowed Steve K. to visit him, while Rocky and Stan were forbidden. (Brian made the realization that he hated both of them while also being afraid of them, too.) Is he a family member that's been excommunicated like Steve Love? Or was he still in contact with them post-1982?

Unfortunately, Steve Korthof passed away fairly recently, so we can't ask him. Anyone know if he ever popped onto a message board/fan forum and answered questions?
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2020, 12:05:18 AM »

Seems like Steve Korthof kept an ultra-low profile.  I can't even find an obituary on him.  There's a bare minimum of info, likely gleaned from public Social Security death records:

"Steven Carl Korthof was born on June 1, 1941. He died on February 27, 2007 at 65 years old. We know that Steven Carl Korthof had been residing in Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino County, California 92315."
https://www.ancientfaces.com/person/steven-carl-korthof-birth-1941-death-2007/89284203

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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2020, 04:41:30 AM »

Thanks for the clarification on the SB date, Ian. 

I have not been able Nick's early 80s article but I have heard how it's very sensational. Isn't the interview Debbie Keil joined Brian for support in her anticipation of it being a hit piece?

The one thing I cannot find is any evidence of the supposed articles/press on Carolyn. Her 1982 arrest was supposedly on Entertainment Tonight in addition to other press outlets. Carolyn also made a press conference shortly after Brian was taken to Hawaii with the telegram allegedly from Brian saying he was taken against his will. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner ran an article "Brian Wilson Please Phone Home" and Rolling Stone had a column titled "Was Brian Wilson Shanghai'd?" I can't find any evidence of these articles or any mention of the 1983 press conference. It kinda foreshadows Stan Love's 1990 conference, just with no Brian showing up.

Reference the "Was Brian Wilson Shanghaied?" article in Rolling Stone, I have it, from RS April 14th 1983:
It reads:
Was Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys snatched from his bed at Cedars-Sinia Hospital on January 16th and flown from California to Hawaii against his will as Carolyn Williams his former nurse-companion charges? Or did he split of his own volition to begin a much needed health-care program? That was one of the issues of contention last month in rock and roll's longest running burned-out case. In a press statement, Williams asserted that she was being tossed out of Wison's Malibu digs (where she'd been living since last April) without Brian's knowledge or approval. And in filing suit against Wilson's brothers, aides and accountant, she charged that forty-year old Brian had been shanghaied from Cedars-Sinia, where he was having a physical.
To counter the charges, Wilson held a press conference at the Kahala Hilton in Honolulu. "We are trying to get rid of her, yes, so that we can sell the house," said the slimmed-down but spacey Beach Boy. Since arriving in Hawaii, Wilson has been under the constant care of Dr. Eugene Landy, the controversial behavior-modification therapist who treated Wilson in the mid-seventies. And group frontman Mike Love asserts that in the past month, Wilson has lost sixty pounds, stopped smoking and "was better than I'd seen him in six years. His attitude was very, very good." But maybe Brian said it all: "I don't know. It sure is wierd."
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2020, 08:40:15 AM »

Sad to hear about Steve's passing. I respect how some of the inner BB circle have kept low profiles and have never tried to cash in. I wonder if Steve kept in contact with Carl even; I can imagine he would have been forbidden from contacting Brian during Landy.

Thanks for sharing that article from RS, chrisb. I looked in RS and Rock's Back Pages and the only mention of Carolyn I found was in their long article published right after Dennis' death in early 84. There's just a lot of iffy-ness here with the situation and many unanswered questions.
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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2020, 08:53:43 AM »

There is a brief, three-paragraph blurb from the LA Times, UPI, 3/25/82, re: Williams's arrest (aka alleged coke frame-up job).

And somebody once posted (I don't know where, maybe on this site?) a .jpg of a short article, AP byline, dated 2/25/83, in the Bakersfield Californian newspaper. It was about Carolyn's claims at the time, and the Beach Boy Organization's response, which was basically that (1) she's lying and (2) Brian was on a "health retreat" at his own request. That article mentions Carolyn's claim that Brian had sent a mailgram to her, saying "they forced me to come."  There's nothing in he Los Angeles Times about this incident, which is sort of weird, since the L.A. Times is usually the go-to newspaper for Beach Boys articles.
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2020, 09:09:32 AM »

Here's an April 1983 article. There's a mention of Carolyn hanging onto tapes of Brian's music. Has anyone ever attempted to dig deeper into that?

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« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2020, 10:05:08 AM »

More articles from 1982 and 1983:

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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2020, 10:30:13 AM »

Terrific thread. Thanks to all contributors. Hopefully more info will be unearthed. Dark times...
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« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2020, 12:51:24 PM »

Thanks for those finds, CD! Those readings with everything else I have read really portrays Carolyn as a very sympathetic woman. I wonder if Brian ever broke it off over the phone sometime within a year of Landy; just seems like a Landy thing to do, coach him breaking up with a woman on the phone. I doubt the tapes would be the Cocaine Sessions, those were recorded at Garby Leon Studio. I assume the tapes stayed there but maybe Brian took them home? I don't know how those got out; I'm sure some one out there would know about these purported tapes. Interesting that Carl put Brian in for 72 hours the day John Belushi died; that was March 5, 1982. That's when Carolyn challenged and got Brian out under a patients' legal rights claim. A few weeks later, she is arrested. I wonder if Carl go in touch with Landy in March; that would almost fit with the timeline of Landy being around 6 months prior to Brian being fired. Interesting, Carl's 1st show back is March 31st. Lot going on in Carl's life during that month. He takes a hiatus after early April; looks like there's a Young Blood session that month. Carl rejoins for good May 2nd. I do wonder how much Carl was involved with getting Landy back; beyond just, "Hey, we need your help again." This 1982-83 period is just a very interesting crossroads.
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