Reminisce: Al Jardine, of the Beach Boys, returns to Lima

On a summer day in 1988 the resident of a home in the 900 block of West Wayne Street answered his door to find, though he didn’t know it at the time, a recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee on his porch.

The stranger told the resident he was passing through town, had spent part of his childhood in the home and just wanted to look around. According to a 1991 story in the Lima News, it wasn’t until the man, who was accompanied by his son, walked into the living room where a friend of the resident was watching the Beach Boys on television that the stranger identified himself.

“See that guy on the left,” he said. “That’s me.” The guy on the left was Al Jardine, a founding member of the Beach Boys, the iconic California group inducted into the rock hall in January 1988.

Among Jardine’s memories of the home was an antique, clawfoot bathtub, the sliding oak doors that separated the dining room from the living room and the thrill of running outside to watch a blimp pass over. “I love that place,” Jardine told the News in 1991. “Seeing the house in 1988 reminded me of what it was like to exist in the ‘40s.”

Much has changed since Jardine’s impromptu 1988 visit. His childhood home, a two-story brick house at 962 W. Wayne St., was demolished in October 2016, the first house razed as part of Allen County’s land bank program. Likewise, the sprawling 70-acre site of the Lima Locomotive Works on South Main Street, where Jardine’s father worked, was leveled in the late 1990s. Even the Beach Boys splintered.

Some things, however, remain the same. Al Jardine is now in his sixth decade making music. He returns to Lima on Friday to perform with his Endless Summer band at the opening of the Pangle Pavilion and Greater Lima Region Amphitheater. The band features his son Matt, who was 16 when he accompanied his father on the trip to Lima in 1988.

Jardine was born in Lima Memorial Hospital on September 3, 1942, the second son Don and Virginia Jardine. Their first son, Neal, was born in December 1938. Don Jardine, a photographer, had moved his family to Lima in 1939 to take a job with the Lima Photo Engraving Co. In January 1941, he was hired as a photographer for the Lima Locomotive Works.

After initially living in homes on Brice Avenue and then North Union Street, the family moved to the house on West Wayne Street. “Our block was lined with trees and the smell of raked leaves burning still takes me back there,” Al Jardine told the Wall Street Journal in a 2018 story.

In August 1949, Don Jardine left Lima to teach industrial photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Three years later, in 1952, the family moved to San Francisco and, three years after that, to Los Angeles, where Al Jardine, who had developed an interest in folk music, met Brian Wilson and the two began talking about forming a group.

That plan was interrupted when Don Jardine took a one-year job at Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan. After the family returned to Los Angeles in September 1961, Al Jardine along with brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson and the Wilsons’ cousin, Mike Love, formed a group they called the Pendletones.

The Pendletones became the Beach Boys and, in 1963, enjoyed their first national hit with “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, riding a wave of top-ten singles that reflected southern California youth culture of surfing, cars and romance before evolving into a more mature sound.

They boosted their popularity with live performances, including one on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1984, that marked a triumphal return of sorts. The band, which had performed on the mall for the Fourth of July in 1980 and ’81, had their scheduled 1983 performance canceled by then-U.S. Interior Secretary James Watt, who said bands such as the Beach Boys attracted the “wrong element.” However, Watt’s boss, President Ronald Reagan, was a fan and the band returned to the mall in 1984, performing before a crowd estimated at 750,000.

Another live performance in 1983, this one at the Ohio State Fair in August, was also tinged with controversy when a security guard refused band members, including Jardine, entrance because they did not have proper identification. The band wound up paying admission, even though the band was a featured act at the fair.

In June 1991, the News announced the Beach Boys would perform at the Allen County Fairgrounds in August to benefit the Locomotive Works Railroad Heritage Center, a proposed $30.3 million project designed to attract tourists and railroad buffs to Lima. It was sponsored by American House Inc., a group researching the historic, ethnic and cultural background of the city and the area. Although it did have some successes, American House disbanded in 2000, several years after the Locomotive Works was demolished along with dreams of a heritage center.

Among the group’s successes was the August 7 concert, which was preceded by an exhibit of Don Jardine’s photographs at ArtSpace/Lima. Al Jardine spoke to a small crowd gathered for the exhibit, telling them, the News wrote, “it was good to be in a room where he was known as Don’s son for a change.” Don Jardine died in 1994 while Virginia Jardine passed away in 2007.

About 6,400 turned out for the concert at the fairgrounds, which, according to the News, the band originally wanted to do from a flat car at the Locomotive Works. “The crowd was unanimous in liking the beach-style music,” the News wrote. “Differences of opinion show up only when trying to decide why the band is still an attraction.”

In an interview the week before the concert, Jardine credited the popularity of the band’s songs in part to their “youthfulness.” “They are songs with neat yet real simple, cleverly couched harmonies, songs that are so beautiful yet put together without any effort, just a couple chords,” he said.

Life for the Beach Boys was not so simple. Dennis Wilson, the only member who was a surfer, drowned in 1983. His brother, Brian Wilson, considered the genius behind the group, seldom appeared with the band after suffering the first of numerous nervous breakdowns in 1964. The Beach Boys in 1991 were comprised of Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Brian Wilson and Carl Wilson, who died of cancer in 1998. Jardine left the band after Carl Wilson’s death.

Jardine and Brian Wilson no longer tour with the Beach Boys, although in 2012, Jardine and Wilson joined Love, Johnston and David Marks on a 50th anniversary reunion tour. Jardine reunited with Wilson again from 1916 through 1918 for a 50th anniversary world tour celebrating the Beach Boys’ masterpiece album “Pet Sounds.” Since 2018, Jardine has performed solo and with the Endless Summer band.





This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.


See past Reminisce stories at

Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected].