Many members of the group don't have name or face recognition to the general masses. But believe me, you would recognize his voice.
He's the one who sang the lead on such classics as "God Only Knows," "Good Vibrations," "Darlin'," "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows." He also took the lead on such overlooked gems as "The Trader," "Steamboat," "4th of July," "Marcella" and "Where I Belong."
He had a couple of great solo songs, too. "Heaven" is his best known, perhaps. And "What You Do To Me" is a good li'l stomper, too.
And he was in the "supergroup" of Beckley-Lamm-Wilson, with Gerry Beckley (of the group America) and Robert Lamm (of Chicago), and had a handful of good tunes on their one album (most notably "Like a Brother" and "I Wish For You").
Carl's life wasn't the easiest. He had the same abusive father as Brian and Dennis. Not to mention he had Brian and Dennis as brothers, and was the anchor for those two troubled talents. Carl refused to enlist in the military in 1967, claiming conscientious objector status that caused him legal issues. He had struggles with other Beach Boys members over the group's artistic direction. He had drug issues. He had to watch his brothers struggle with drugs and mental demons. He had to survive a brother's death. He had a divorce. Then he got cancer. And through it all, he was the calm voice that kept things going and the musical force that drove the live shows.
(In the above photo, brothers Carl (from left), Brian and Dennis blow out the cake's candles.)
The surviving Beach Boys have big plans for the 50th anniversary this year. Obviously, Carl and Dennis aren't here to join in the celebrations. And it won't be too many years before the world sees the passing of Brian, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks and short-term members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. And then the Beach Boys will be gone. But they won't be forgotten.
Just like Carl. He's been gone many years now. But the beauty of his voice, the strength of his spirit, live on. Ready for new listeners to discover them as time marches forward.
He died from cancer in 1998. His presence, his impact, his legacy are still here.