In the film "1974," Did any of the band object to being filmed in these "private" moments?
BH: Everyone knew that I had a project to do so they were not surprised to see me show up in any given place with the camera rolling. I think you can see by the footage that people would often “play” to the camera or actually look into the camera and talk to me while I was taping.
Although not in the film, was Brian Wilson in the picture writing and recording with you for the Holland album? What was he like in the studio at that time?
BH: Brian isn’t seen in the film at all, but his presence is felt by comments from several band members, and of course, in the music. The “Holland” project was already complete by the time we were on the road in 1974, but during the recording process in Holland he was most active on tracks like “Funky Pretty” – giving vocal parts to everyone including me. It’s always fun to record with
Brian leading the session.
I didn’t see Bruce Johnston or Beach Boys manager Jack Rieley in any footage. Were they not on tour with the band?
BH: Both of them were no longer directly associated with the Beach Boys at that time.
It must have been lonely on the road. How did your marriage survive it?
BH: Having all this video equipment to carry around from hotel to hotel gave me something to do, and planning the project kept my mind focused. However, I still managed to find the time to meet a few girls along the way. I wasn’t married then, so it wasn’t a problem!
How often would Dennis have groupies sleep over? Who was the biggest "Don Juan" in the band?
BH: Dennis didn’t need “groupies” as his only source of female attention. He could have a different girl every day and every night if he wanted to – nobody got girls the way he did. We all liked the ladies and everyone seemed to do just fine with them.
Why did Blondie Chaplin leave the band? Rumor is an argument with Mike Love caused it.
BH: He was at odds with the group’s management.
Other than a few quick spots, you don’t have much of the band rehearsals on film although you mentioned this is when Dennis did most of his original material. Did he not want to be filmed during sound checks?
BH: It was Jim Guercio who referenced Dennis in the film and I don’t think he [Dennis] would have minded if I had videotaped him during a soundcheck. The only band member seen rehearsing at a soundcheck at the venue in Kansas City is a lone Al Jardine – he plucks out the “bicycle rider” section and “breakdown” rubato section of “Heroes & Villains” on his very cool Fender Stratocaster and sings along – one of my favorite moments in the film albeit brief. Ricky Fataar is seen rehearsing pedal steel, though it is backstage in
one of the dressing rooms.
Was it at all frustrating that the band played most of the old Beach Boy hits (1964-1967) and very little of the newer material from Holland or Surf’s Up during that tour?
BH: It wasn’t frustrating – it was fun, and the audiences loved it. Our setlist included newer material too like “The Trader” and “Long Promised Road,” both from “Surf’s Up.”
I suppose you are still very close with the Wilson family, do you still do any work with Brian or his daughters?
BH: I was in Brian’s band for his 2007 summer tour of the US and Europe and I backed him up for a few songs (along with Jeff Foskett, Darian Sahanaja and Mike D’Amico) at the NAMM show (Gibson Guitar exhibit) in ’09. I have worked with Carnie and Wendy Wilson during their tenure with Al Jardine’s Family & Friends band. Of course I usually see everyone around the holiday season.
Lee Hazlewood is one of my favorite songwriters/producers – what was it like working with him when you were a part of Dino, Desi & Billy?
BH: Lee was easygoing, relaxed and funny. He was also a consummate professional when he got to the recording studio to produce our sessions. He wasted no time in getting right down to business. He was also one of the best writers around – he had a very singular take on things and was a great lyricist. He was a good guy and I will miss him now that he’s gone.
Did the celebs connected to the band (Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin) encourage you and take you seriously as singers, or was it a "let the kids have some fun" moment?
BH: I think it was a little of both – I think everyone was surprised at the level of success we actually achieved on our own. The fact is, we got better and better as the years went by, both as musicians and singers, and eventually as songwriters and producers.
How did you get to record "Lady Love"? Was it a half finished Wilson tune, you wrapped up or did you collaborate with him in the writing. Did he have anything to do with the recording?
BH: After several years of my father asking Brian, “When are you going to write something for Dino, Desi & Billy?,” Brian called me up and invited me to his home in Bel Air. He played me a song he was working on that he thought might be good for us called “Lady Love” to which I added a few musical and lyrical thoughts. He was kind enough to give me a writer’s credit on it. We recorded the song ourselves and it became a hit, but Brian was not present for either the tracking or vocal session.
Thanks so much for your time, Bill – I wish you continued success!