David Lee Marks

Written By: Stomp

David-at-Royal-Albert-Hall-David Marks and Carl Wilson began working out their six-string chemistry in 1959, and together they created a unique hybrid of surf instrumentals and Chuck Berry influenced Rock & Roll that became their signature musical vocabulary.

When Brian Wilson began using that Rock & Roll foundation for his intricate vocal harmonies, an all new sound was created and Capitol Records soon took advantage of their uniqueness and marketable image by signing Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and 13 year old neighbor, David Marks to a recording contract as the group, The Beach Boys, in 1962.

Brian purposely highlighted the vibrant guitar driven format delivered by his brother and Marks in songs like Surfin’ Safari, Surfin’ USA, Shut Down and Catch a Wave. The Beach Boys guitar formula was eventually absorbed by bands everywhere. David Marks not only brought a dose of punk into the Beach Boys sound, but his personal style and attitude reflected it as well. And like the true rebel he was, he defied the harsh authority of Manager-Dad, Murry Wilson, and quit the Beach Boys after 2 years, 4 albums, a dozen hits and growing International fame.

His time in the band may have been short, however, it was during the ‘David Marks era’ Beach Boys that the enduring image of 5 Pendleton-clad guys carrying a surfboard on a California beach was forever captured – defining the band’s image for decades to come and the impact David Marks’ Fender Stratocaster had on generations of future guitarists is undeniable.

David went on to record solo material with his band, The Marksmen, on both A&M and Warner Brothers Records. Additionally, two of his late 60’s psychedelic-pop bands, The Moon and Colours, still enjoy a significant cult following among the era’s collectors and music aficionados. He is a classically trained guitarist and composer who studied at some of Boston’s finest music schools and had a successful career playing with some of the greatest talents of this generation in the varied genres of surf, psych-pop, jazz, blues, classical and rock and roll – all without trading on his notoriety as an ex-Beach Boy, choosing instead to remain out of the spot light as an anonymous, working guitarist and songwriter.

Marks finally accepted his place as an original Beach Boy in the late 1990’s when he rejoined the touring band full-time. However, in 1999, a diagnosis of Hepatitis C forced David to leave the road for the second time and began working to raise awareness of the disease – becoming a spokesman for several National campaigns in the US and UK that reached audiences of millions. David underwent an experimental year-long treatment and was declared virus-free in 2004; he continues to work for the cause.

In 2005, at the request of the Wilson family, David Marks was included on the State of California Historical Landmark. This statue features the same iconic image shot on the beach in 1962 of the Pendleton clad boys, literally and forever cementing David’s place in the history of the Beach Boys.

The following summer, all 5 surviving Beach Boys, including David Marks, gathered on the rooftop at Capitol Records to receive recognition for 2 million sales of their compilation, Sounds of Summer.

The last few years have also seen the reissues of David Marks & the Marksmen, (The Ultimate Collector’s Edition 1963-1965), as well as reissues of both albums by The Moon and Colours on the UK based Cherry Red Records, and a new CD of originals titled I Think About You Often.

David is currently residing in New York, where he continues to write and record new music. He is currently finishing a collection of songs co-written with Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich. When not in the studio, David performs solo shows, as well as with fellow ex-Beach Boy Al Jardine and Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean as the Legends of Surf Music, and he occasional appears as a special guest with the Beach Boys – including joining the band on their UK tour in 2008.

Check out our Interview with David about Dennis Wilson here: Interview

Carrie Marks has very kindly sent us some wonderful photos from their archives