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  The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - Album Cover Location - San Diego Zoo, California - May, 1966

Pet Sounds, the 11th album by the Beach Boys, filled with elaborate vocal harmonies, myriad sound effects, and a Phil Spector/"Wall of Sound"-like mastery of studio recording techniques, has been often recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of rock. It is often listed in the top 5 rock albums of all time.

Inspired by the release of the folk-rock sounds of the Beatles' Rubber Soul, an album he perceived as having "no filler" (unlike most records of that era), producer/writer/eccentric/(sandbox-in-his-living-room) Brian Wilson quit touring with The Beach Boys to take the "Surfin' Safari" sound of the early 60's Beach Boys to the next level, spending months putting the album together.

The result yielded hits like "God Only Knows," whose delicate harmonies still reverberate in the culture today, as evidenced by the ending of the film Love, Actually, which uses the song in its climactic scene.

Other familar songs from the album include: "Caroline, No," "Sloop John B," and "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Paul McCartney has said that Pet Sounds insipired the writing behind the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" album. (Wikipedia)

Here's the album cover, which I really didn't have to "find," as Wikipedia said it had been taken at the San Diego Zoo, in California. But Wikipedia never said exactly where at the zoo. And that's what I set out to find.

(credits: album cover courtesy of Capitol Records; cover photo by George Jerman)

The Beach Boys are (from left to right): the brothers Carl Wilson, Brian Wilson, and Dennis Wilson; their cousin Mike Love, and family friend Al Jardine.

This photo (below) shows the "petting paddock" (enclosure for animals) at the San Diego Zoo's children's park where the album's cover photo was taken, in a photograph from the 1960's provided by the zoo.

I emailed the cover photo of the album to the the public relations department of the San Diego Zoo and asked if they could pinpoint where the cover photo was taken over 50 years ago.

A few days later I received an email back, with photos attached, including the one below, from Yadira Galindo, Senior Public Relations Representative of San Diego Zoo Global.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

She and her staff had determined that the photo had been taken in the petting paddock of the Zoo's children's zoo, and she sent along old black and white shot from around 1966 when the cover was shot, and also a color shot of the modern day children's zoo, which is basically in the same area, but redesigned.

(Thank you, Yadira Galindo, and your staff at the San Diego Zoo, for all your help in getting me the photos and locating the exact spot in the modern day zoo.)

Here's a closer view of the 1960's petting paddock, courtesy of the San Diego Zoo publicity department.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

And here's the spot the Beach Boys were standing when the photo was taken. They were just in front of the barrel-shaped building. You can see part of the curved roof of the building (as we will see in close-up in a minute) just to the left of Brian.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

Here's the same point of view, blended into the 1960's black-and-white photo.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

So if we zoom into that corner, you can better see how one photo fits into the other.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

This shows the specific parts of both photos that match up.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

This is what the Children's Zoo's petting paddock area looks like now in a photo courtesy of the San Diego Zoo.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

According to San Diego Zoo officials, the red circles in these two photo photos are the exact same spot, just separated by about 50 years. Both circles represent the exact spot of where the Beach Boys were on the album cover, which I showed before in the black-and-white photo.

This was the spot where the Beach Boys were feeding the animals back in 1966. Since 1966 the children's zoo was reconfigured slightly.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

That would place the Beach Boys right HERE.

(Photo source: The San Diego Zoo)

This is a close-up of the park map from the 1960's. The Beach Boys were in the "children's zoo" at bottom left, marked by an arrow.

Here's where the zoo is located in relation to San Diego.


From the Wikipedia entry: Pet Sounds:

On February 15, 1966 the group traveled to the San Diego Zoo to shoot the photographs for the cover, which had already received its title. George Jerman was credited for taking the cover photo.

According to the liner notes, "The photos of The Beach Boys feeding an assortment of goats was a play on the album's chosen title,"Pet Sounds."

Both the origin and meaning of the album title "Pet Sounds" are uncertain. Brian Wilson claimed at one point that the title was "a tribute" to (famed "wall-of-sound" record producer) Phil Spector by matching his initials, PS.

Brian's brother Carl Wilson later said this about the album title: "The idea (Brian) had was that everybody has these sounds that they love, and this was a collection of his 'pet sounds.' It was hard to think of a name for the album, because you sure couldn't call it "Shut Down Vol. 3," referencing the artistic disparity between Pet Sounds and their earlier works. Carl added "It was just so much more than a record; it had such a spiritual quality. It wasn't going in and doing another Top Ten. It had so much more meaning than that."

Mike Love also laid claim to the title. "We were standing in the hallway in one of the recording studios, either Western or Columbia, and we didn't have a title," he recounted. "We had taken pictures at the zoo and...there were animal sounds on the record, and we were thinking, well, it's our favorite music of that time, so I said, 'Why don't we call it "Pet Sounds?" (note: this would have meant that the band went to the petting zoo for a photoshoot before knowing the title of the album ) At another time, Brian credited the album title to Carl.

In other words, there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to where the name of the album came from.

Here are some outtakes from the photoshoot.

(Beach Boys photo by George Jerman)

Here's an outtake seen on a bootleg album. (Note: "Hang on to Your Ego" was an early version of "I Know There's An Answer" which is on Pet Sounds. Both have the same music, but over half of the lyrics were changed for the newly-titled song.

(Beach Boys photo by George Jerman)

Another bootleg outtake photo.

(Beach Boys photo by George Jerman)

A Sci-Fi version (from another bootleg). Note the two-headed goat.

(Beach Boys photo by George Jerman)

This shot below is an interesting outtake because it includes Bruce Johnson, who was not included on the album cover. Bruce was not an original Beach Boy, but joined in 1966 to play bass and sing Brian's parts, since Brian didn't want to go out on the road.

Even though Bruce started playing and singing with the band on the road in 1966, according to Wikipedia he was not allowed to be credited or photographed on a Beach Boys album until 1967 "for contractual reasons."

Maybe no one was sure of the contract details on the day of the cover shoot, because he appears in several outtakes from the San DIego Zoo that day.

(Note: Bruce Johnston is frequently credited as one of the original greatest supporters of the Beach Boys' 1966 signature album Pet Sounds. He flew to London in May 1966 and played the album for John Lennon and Paul McCartney. (Wikipedia)

(Photo by George Jerman)

Here are some more outtakes from that day.

(Photo by George Jerman)

Brian sings up a goat.

(Photo by George Jerman)

Carl gets inspired by two friends.

(Photo by George Jerman)

Bruce learns about how to fend off overly aggressive fans.

(Photo by George Jerman)

Dennis tries being a "camel whisperer."

(Photo by George Jerman)

Mike contemplates becoming a camel shepherd.

(Photo by George Jerman)

Now let's turn now to the cover of Surfin' Safari from (1962).

(Cover photo courtesy Capitol Records; taken by Ken Veeder)

Here's the site, in a photo by sent in by PopSpots reader Dave Meinzer of Buffalo, who happened upon the site of the album cover photo with his wife after eating lunch at the restaurant at Paradise Cove, in Malibu.

Looking up at the bluff, he said to her, "I know I've seen this place before." Then it dawned on him that it was the Beach Boys album cover spot. So he took the picture of the cliffs that you see here.

The photos I had of the beach and cliff from the web didn't line up half as good as Dave's, so Dave, "Thanks for thinking of Popspots!"

(Photo by Dave Meinzer)

Here's the PopSpot of the site.

(Background photo by Dave Meinzer)

While we're here, here are some out-takes from that session...

(Photo by Capitol Records/Ken Veeder)

(Photo by Capitol Records/Ken Veeder)

(Photo by Capitol Records/Ken Veeder)

(Photo by Capitol Records/Ken Veeder)

This is where the shot was taken: Paradise Cove in Malibu Beach, California. In the TV Show The Rockford Files, private detective James Garner lived in a trailer in the parking lot here.

Here's where Paradise Cove is in relation to Malibu, which runs from the beach to the mountains along the Pacific Coast Highway.

And here's where that is in relation to Los Angeles.

The Beach Boys came to New York City's Times Square in late August 1964 between the 25th and 27th, to go on The Ed Sullivan Show. Here they are about a block from the Ed Sullivan Theater (1697-1699 Broadway). (Thanks, Andrew Doe, for the dates.)

They were standing in front of the Sheraton Hotel on 7th Avenue and West 52nd Street. The picture looks south into Times Square. I recognized the site from having done the Billy Joel's 52nd Street PopSpot which was one block south and Bob Dylan's Another Side of Bob Dylan PopSpot which was one block west.

Here's the PopSpot. Notice how Dennis is standing on the subway grating, still there 50 years later.

And that's the PopSpot. I hope it gave you some "Good, Good, Good - Good Vibrations."