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Author Topic: Dennis' homelessness  (Read 3186 times)
juliansuess
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« on: July 23, 2021, 11:15:34 PM »

I've read that at the end of his life Dennis was homeless, which I think is really sad. How did this happen? Did he never buy a house from his income from the Beach Boys? Why did he not rent an apartment from his Beach Boys royalties? And why did his brothers not help him, for example through renting a small apartment for him? I've also read that he was kicked out of the Beach Boys because of his alcohol addiction, which is understandable. However, why didn't Brian and Carl help him beat his addiction, e.g. by finding a good treatment facility for him? After all Brian (cocaine) and Carl (cigarettes, which eventually killed him) should have known firsthand how difficult it can be to beat a drug addiction.
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Greg Parry
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2021, 02:53:00 AM »

I've always found the Stephen Gaines book, Heroes and Villains, to give the best account of this period. It answers all your questions and more. Definitely should be on the reading list for anyone wanting to take a Beach Boys 101 course.
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marcella27
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2021, 07:32:58 AM »

Why didn't Brian and Carl help him beat his addictions? Have you heard the expression "that's like the blind leading the blind"?
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Greg Parry
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2021, 08:23:21 AM »

I think Carl tried.
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2021, 09:20:57 AM »

Carl did try to help Dennis.
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juggler
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2021, 09:25:00 AM »

In his autobiography, Mike Love too has his take on Dennis' final days.  It's worth a read.

Carl and many others absolutely did try to help him clean up his life and get healthy, but we're talking a strong-willed, difficult 39 year old man.

It's not really clear what more they could have done to help someone who was seemingly hellbent on living the way he wanted to...  as an alcoholic.

Some type of radical intervention like Landy's program?  In the c. 1989-1991 period when Brian's family and friends were trying desperately to extricate him from Landy's control and financial exploitation, one of Landy's constant rejoinders was that he had saved Brian's life and that he could have saved Dennis' life too if the family and BRI hadn't been so stingy.  The clear implication of his remarks was that everyone cared about saving Brian but didn't give a crap about Dennis.  Landy's remarks were self-serving, and it's hard to imagine Dennis ever submitting to Landy's regimen or even something similar to it.
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marcella27
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2021, 11:22:38 AM »

Sorry, I should have been more precise. I realize that Carl did try to help and Brian, in his own way, probably did too.  What I meant to say is that by all accounts neither of them was very well equipped to tackle the particular problem of addiction.
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petsite
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2021, 01:51:48 PM »

There was a plan to clean Dennis up via Landy that was to have been implemented after the New Year in 1984. It just wasn't to be. Also, Jimmy G. was also asking the family to allow him to become Dennis' conservator around the same time.

People won't stop using until they are ready. But I am a firm believer that if you can make that person stand in awkward place while they are thinking about it, you should do it. Meaning, if they want to think about it and you have to the power to cut off their money and food, throw them out on to the street, you should. To allow them all of the comforts of life is NOT a motivator. But Dennis was a rough guy who seemed to not mind being homeless etc. But he ALWAYS had people around him that gave him $100 here or there. Everyone should have said sorry, you are on your own.
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bossaroo
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2021, 02:17:18 PM »

wasn't Dennis living on his boat at the end? not a home per se but not exactly homeless.
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2021, 03:08:16 PM »

No, the boat was gone. He had been living with wife Shawn and their son Gage, but became estranged from her. He was most likely couch-surfing with friends.

juliansuess, if you can find a copy of Jon Stebbins' book on Dennis (Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy), I strongly recommend reading it.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2021, 06:52:28 PM by Emdeeh » Logged
Sound of Free
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2021, 07:29:09 PM »

If I remember right, Carl had tried many times to help Dennis, and had promised that the group would pay for Dennis' treatment and buy the Harmony back for him if he would go to rehab. I think the Gaines book said that Dennis had checked in to dry out a couple of times in the final months, but left once because they wouldn't let a friend stay the night with him, and left another (and final?) time when Shawn called and said she needed him for something.

Again if I remember right, Carl was going to play the Landy card after the new year, after spending the holidays with Audree. It's so sad he never got the chance.

The dream scenario -- I know it would have been a HUGE longshot -- is that Landy would have gotten Dennis sober, then Dennis would have seen Landy for what he was and gotten Brian out, with both off booze and drugs.
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petsite
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2021, 08:38:38 PM »

It was suppose to be an intervention I believe at the family's place in Big Bear. A New Year's gathering only it was only going to be Carl, maybe Brian, Landy and some REALLY BIG BODYGUARDS. Dennis would stay there until he was sober, then they would move on to wherever was next. Landy said he would have Dennis sober fast. That sounds ify, except getting someone sober is really easy. KEEPING THEM SOBER is the bitch.

I had a very good friend who was an alcoholic back in the mid-80s. He went to the hospital for stomach issues and while there he had the usual blood tests run. His cholesterol was 475! So his long time family doctor, who was too much of a weenie to make my friend fess up to his drinking was there when the internal specialist (a younger guy) walked in to discuss the results. My friend and his doctor were asking how they could lower his cholesterol to stop the onset of heart disease, etc. The internal doctor, looking at his notes and not my friend had the following conversation:

Doctor: I would not worry about the 425 number.

Friend: Really? Its not that bad?

Doctor: No it isn't. They way you drink you will be dead LONG BEFORE heart disease sets in. So I wouldn't sweat the high cholesterol.

My friend's family doctor took this new guy out in the hallway and dressed him up and down and then came back into the room to apologize to my friend for the other doctor being so rough on him. My friend asked if the hospital had a rehab floor. They did, and my friend asked his own doctor to get him transferred. He then quit seeing that doctor and starting seeing the new guy. He has been sober ever since. Sometimes, you have to scare the living sh*t out of people. Some of our mutual friends thought the new doc was too rough. Not me. I loved it! Saved my friends life.
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juliansuess
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« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2021, 06:30:16 AM »

Thank you very much for your input. From your comments it seems like he was offered help but he thought that he didn't have an alcohol problem and so denied their help.
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Greg Parry
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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2021, 06:57:26 AM »

Thank you very much for your input. From your comments it seems like he was offered help but he thought that he didn't have an alcohol problem and so denied their help.

I don't think that's what anyone is saying. I think the most you can infer from the testimonials is that he no longer cared.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2021, 06:59:48 AM by Greg Parry » Logged
Lonely Summer
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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2021, 12:54:16 PM »

If I remember right, Carl had tried many times to help Dennis, and had promised that the group would pay for Dennis' treatment and buy the Harmony back for him if he would go to rehab. I think the Gaines book said that Dennis had checked in to dry out a couple of times in the final months, but left once because they wouldn't let a friend stay the night with him, and left another (and final?) time when Shawn called and said she needed him for something.

Again if I remember right, Carl was going to play the Landy card after the new year, after spending the holidays with Audree. It's so sad he never got the chance.

The dream scenario -- I know it would have been a HUGE longshot -- is that Landy would have gotten Dennis sober, then Dennis would have seen Landy for what he was and gotten Brian out, with both off booze and drugs.
In Brian's ...uh...Landy's autobiography, he took Carl to task for putting off the intervention till after the holidays. So it was Carl's fault Dennis died drunk and homeless.
Everything in that book was painted as being Carl's fault, or Audree's fault, or Mike's fault.
I should burn that bloody book. But I've saved it because Brian signed it - the one and only time I met him,
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2021, 01:00:57 PM »

Yep, that faux-autobio book is junk, imo. Landy targeted Carl for some reason, probably because he was seen as a threat to Landy's control over Brian's affairs.

If what I've heard is true, Dennis visited Carl in Colorado shortly before Christmas in '83. But that's something that's not been corroborated in any books or interviews.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2021, 01:02:39 PM by Emdeeh » Logged
juggler
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« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2021, 07:53:33 PM »

Nearly every page of "WIBN" by "BW" & Todd Gold (& Gene Landy) is filled with falsehoods, fabrications or material plagiarized and rehashed from other articles or books.

I don't own the book, and it's been decades since I skimmed through it, but I often thought that, aside from all the inaccuracies, one of the great ironies of the book is "Brian" trashes Fire/MOLC, the very tune that would earn him his first Grammy 13 or 14 years later.  IIRC, he says something alone the lines that "Fire" is still in the vault somewhere and that he hopes that it stays there, not because he still thinks that it was causing fires in 1966 but simply because it's not very good.  Roll Eyes
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JakeH
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« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2021, 09:09:32 PM »

Yep, that faux-autobio book is junk, imo. Landy targeted Carl for some reason, probably because he was seen as a threat to Landy's control over Brian's affairs.


Nearly every page of "WIBN" by "BW" & Todd Gold (& Gene Landy) is filled with falsehoods, fabrications or material plagiarized and rehashed from other articles or books.


It's not a book that can be read and digested passively, with confidence that everything expressed in it is true or "factual."  Still, it isn't junk and shouldn't be dismissed with a broad brush.  Landy undoubtedly influenced the content of the book - but the question is how did he effectuate his influence. There is an assumption, it seems, that Landy either "wrote" the book or dictated the book's contents to Todd Gold or edited it excessively.  I personally doubt that Landy was involved in such a direct, hands-on way. First, there is the testimony (given in deposition for Mike's defamation lawsuit)  of Todd Gold and various editorial and executive personnel at HarperCollins publishers - according to them, Gene was not heavily involved in the writing (one exec. at Harper Collins opined that Gene was basically an illiterate) but (again according to certain deposition testimony) Gene did read a draft and offered editorial commentary relating to the nature of Brian's "therapy" with Gene.  Gene also apparently/allegedly wanted the book to trash Carolyn Williams, whom Gene despised.  Todd Gold testified that he would meet with Brian to discuss his life and get notes, with minimal interference from Gene.  This of course doesn't mean that Gold didn't pad the book out with stuff from other sources.

If it can be said that Landy nevertheless "controlled" the tenor of the book it's because of what had already occurred between him and Brian during the previous several years.  So that the words coming out of Brian's mouth (e.g., in interviews with Todd Gold) at that time could have been influenced by his relationship with Landy.  Landy's editorial influence would have been "baked-in" so to speak.  So, Brian is telling Todd some thing or another - the words are coming out of Brian's mouth and Gene is not present, but is that "the real Brian" talking, or is it a Brian who has been abused/controlled by a renegade guru-shrink? That's for readers fans and historians to decide on a case-by-case basis, as they read the anecdotes and opinions in the book. 

The issue is similar to the question of Murry's supposed "forging of Brian's signature" on the Sea of Tunes sale documents.  Because of the abusive, controlling nature of their previous relationship over many years, Murry would not need to resort to such coarse methods as forging Brian's signature.  Similarly, Gene (aka Murry resurrected) would not need to either ghost-write the 1991 autobiography, nor would he need to review it with a red pen.  The control had already been established over years of "24-hr therapy" and Brian's opinions of that time were a result of the psychological merger between Brian and Gene ("Brains and Genius").  So in the end, some of what Brian says in that book is "true Brian" and some of it is Brian-as-corrupted-by-Gene. It's anyone's guess as what's accurate and what's not - the way to deal with it is to juxtapose the statements in the book with other sources, commentary and events and distinguish what sounds true from what sounds like nonsense.  Carl being responsible for Dennis's death (which I'm not sure the book says outright) is nonsense, but Brian's resentment toward Carl and mom Audree (at that time in Brian's life) sounds valid, in my opinion. 
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2021, 09:40:34 PM »

Brian himself has publicly disavowed the book.
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JakeH
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« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2021, 10:20:10 PM »

Brian himself has publicly disavowed the book.

Okay, but why? Under what circumstances? (if he did indeed do it)
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juliansuess
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2021, 03:41:03 AM »

Quote
Carl being responsible for Dennis's death (which I'm not sure the book says outright) is nonsense, but Brian's resentment toward Carl and mom Audree (at that time in Brian's life) sounds valid, in my opinion.

Why did he have resentment toward Carl and mom Audree?
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c-man
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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2021, 04:48:58 AM »

Quote
Carl being responsible for Dennis's death (which I'm not sure the book says outright) is nonsense, but Brian's resentment toward Carl and mom Audree (at that time in Brian's life) sounds valid, in my opinion.

Why did he have resentment toward Carl and mom Audree?

Mainly because they were trying to get Landy out of Brian's life.
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Join The Human Race
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2021, 06:49:26 AM »

Dennis' situation near the end of his life is a very sad one. We as outsiders can look on and wonder why the group didn't do enough. Mental illness and substance abuse are tricking things even for professionals to tackle. I just don't think the band and their management were able to handle it effectively. It was basically a tough love approach; get clean or you are out of the band. I can only imagine what kind of havoc Dennis caused over the years. In the Gaines book, he came across as very stubborn when it came to addressing his demons. Can you fix someone who doesn't want to be saved? Mike claimed Dennis had a death wish; I don't know I buy that, but he definitely was not in good shape. It seemed like the band was just exhausted dealing with how to handle Dennis; they had been doing that their entire lives. Dennis should never have been homeless but it seemed like even Carl and Audree were no longer going to help him out anymore. There was no excuse for Dennis Wilson to be homeless or to die the way he did, but to me, it seems like the group was content with letting Dennis be Dennis. The group was more focused on fixing Brian, probably because he's Brian Wilson, and even their efforts were not the best. It seems like there was a lot of planning behind the scenes with their management and Landy to get Brian back into him. Remember there are articles from the time claiming that Brian was 'Shanghai'd' to Hawaii. They evicted Caroline Williams from Brian's home and shut off all utilities during this time, too. Brian was obviously in bad health, but the way the group handled the transition back to Landy was very bad. This was all happening late 82, early 83; so Dennis was probably aware of some of the stuff going on. Maybe that's why he was so hesitant to avoid treatment. He saw what the band did to Brian and he didn't want any of that.

I believe Brian did have some natural resentment toward Carl for getting him back with Landy and then, years later, trying to get Landy out of Brian's life. Landy being the psychopath he was, used this resentment as a way to create a further wedge from Brian and the band/the family/etc.
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phirnis
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2021, 02:04:33 AM »

Concerning the Landy situation, there is an August 1983 bootleg where Dennis can be heard thanking Brian and "Mr. Landy" (iirc) before singing You Are So Beautiful (I think this is the performance they used for An American Band).
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JakeH
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2021, 04:51:39 PM »

I ought to add a couple of things on this...


It's not a book that can be read and digested passively, with confidence that everything expressed in it is true or "factual."  Still, it isn't junk and shouldn't be dismissed with a broad brush.  Landy undoubtedly influenced the content of the book - but the question is how did he effectuate his influence. There is an assumption, it seems, that Landy either "wrote" the book or dictated the book's contents to Todd Gold or edited it excessively.  I personally doubt that Landy was involved in such a direct, hands-on way. First, there is the testimony (given in deposition for Mike's defamation lawsuit)  of Todd Gold and various editorial and executive personnel at HarperCollins publishers - according to them, Gene was not heavily involved in the writing (one exec. at Harper Collins opined that Gene was basically an illiterate) but (again according to certain deposition testimony) Gene did read a draft and offered editorial commentary relating to the nature of Brian's "therapy" with Gene.  Gene also apparently/allegedly wanted the book to trash Carolyn Williams, whom Gene despised.  Todd Gold testified that he would meet with Brian to discuss his life and get notes, with minimal interference from Gene.  This of course doesn't mean that Gold didn't pad the book out with stuff from other sources.


It's been a long time, but at the time of this book controversy, Todd Gold was pressed to defend himself against plagiarism accusations and the like.  One thing he mentioned (this was printed in the Washington Post in 1991) was that he was allowed access to Dr. Gene's "case files" on Brian.  So this potentially constitutes another way Landy could have influenced the book indirectly.  It leads to the question of what was in Landy's files... did the files contain verbatim accounts of things Brian said to Landy in their "therapy" or did those files consist of Landy's subjective opinions about Brian and his life? Or a mix?  If Todd Gold saw something interesting in the files, did he then ask Brian to elaborate/verify in their conversations, or did he accept it as sufficiently verified and throw it in the manuscript without talking to Brian about it? Who knows.

Another factoid, if anyone's interested: The publisher, HarperCollins, vetted Gold's draft of course, before publication. What was eventually published was a version that, in the opinion of HarperCollins, was solid - verified by Brian Wilson and, in their opinion, adequately defensible in a libel/defamation suit.  The publisher may not have appreciated who they were dealing with and what they were getting into.  Lawyers for Carl Wilson/Audree Wilson/the Beach Boy camp (or for at least one of those three parties) specifically warned HarperCollins not to publish the book - their reasoning was basically, "Brian is not well, he is not responsible or in control of his own life, you're going to be sorry if you do this." They warned HarperCollins about the pending conservatorship proceeding which was intended to (1) separate Brian from Landy and, in so doing (2) establish Brian's mental incompetence.   Meanwhile, lawyers representing Brian in the separate Irving Music/publishing lawsuit counseled HarperCollins not to print anything that would offend the Beach Boys; their reasoning was, "please don't do this, we need the Beach Boys' and Mike Love's support in our effort to get the publishing back."  Anyway, HarperCollins did publish, of course, thinking they were on solid ground, and they did get burned, at least to some degree. By the time of the defamation lawsuits, Gene (Brian's toxic support system) was out of the picture, Brian was alone and vulnerable and a sitting duck in court. If I'm not mistaken, it was under those circumstances that Brian disowned the book - if he did indeed formally disown it.


If it can be said that Landy nevertheless "controlled" the tenor of the book it's because of what had already occurred between him and Brian during the previous several years.  So that the words coming out of Brian's mouth (e.g., in interviews with Todd Gold) at that time could have been influenced by his relationship with Landy.  Landy's editorial influence would have been "baked-in" so to speak.  So, Brian is telling Todd some thing or another - the words are coming out of Brian's mouth and Gene is not present, but is that "the real Brian" talking, or is it a Brian who has been abused/controlled by a renegade guru-shrink? That's for readers fans and historians to decide on a case-by-case basis, as they read the anecdotes and opinions in the book. 

[***] The control had already been established over years of "24-hr therapy" and Brian's opinions of that time were a result of the psychological merger between Brian and Gene ("Brains and Genius").  So in the end, some of what Brian says in that book is "true Brian" and some of it is Brian-as-corrupted-by-Gene. 

 

Also, for what it's worth: the above notion about Landy's "baked-in" control was a theory that Brian's attorneys were going to pursue on Brian's behalf in Mike's defamation lawsuit.  Brian's attorneys consulted with a certain well-known (and to some, controversial) psychiatrist who was purportedly an expert in cults and brainwashing.  It didn't go much beyond a consultation, since the case settled. If the case had progressed, presumably the argument would have been something to the effect of "okay, even if it's true that Brian participated in writing the book and signed off on it, he was effectively brainwashed, and was in a cult-follower/cult-leader relationship with Landy, and therefore he should not be held culpable."

This era is a total mess; it's unlikely that the public will ever really know what went on with certainty. Or maybe it will, but it's still too early.   This is just a random message board so even though I wanted to share some interpretation/opinions, they are still  just opinions - based on my personal prejudices and predispositions as well as publicly available evidence (the stuff in my posts about various lawyers, the brainwashing expert and the deposition testimony is publicly accessible)
 
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