Beach Boys drummer buried at sea

LOS ANGELES -- The body of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, carried to sea aboard a Coast Guard cutter, slipped into the chilly Pacific Ocean waters featured so strongly in his life, in his songs and in death.

In a rare burial-at-sea honor granted the drowned musician because of President Reagan's personal intervention, Wilson's family boarded the ship Wednesday morning for the brief service off the Southern California coast.


It was a summer-like day with the mercury hovering near the 80-degree mark when Wilson, the only real surfer in the Beach Boys, was buried at sea several miles offshore.

Details of the burial, directed by the Coast Guard, were not disclosed.

'Following a period of mourning, the remaining members of the Beach Boys -- Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston -- will make an announcement about the group's plans to carry out future projects,' spokesman Sandy Friedman said.

He also released a statement from the group reading, 'We know Dennis would like us to continue in the tradition of the Beach Boys. His spirit will remain in our music.'

The Beach Boys rode a wave of 'Good Vibrations' for 20 years with the beach sound that glamorized the Southern California surf, sand and pretty girls.


Burial at sea is an honor usually reserved for Navy and Coast Guard veterans. Wilson, 39, who drowned last week in Marina del Rey, had never served in the military.

But Reagan, who told the Beach Boys to call him if they ever needed help after James Watt banned the group from performing at the Washington mall on the Fourth of July, intervened at the request of Wilson's wife and mother and directed the Coast Guard to waive normal procedures.

'That's what Dennis wanted done with his body,' Shawn Wilson said of her husband. 'Wherever he is, I know he'll be glad that we're doing it.'

The cause of Wilson's death was listed by the coroner as accidental drowning. Tests to determine whether alcohol or drugs may have been a contributing factor were incomplete, but results were expected by the end of the week.

Burials at sea, other than those of cremated ashes, must take place beyond the territorial limit 3 miles off the coast and in more than 100 fathoms -- 600 feet -- of water.

Wilson's body was held temporarily in a crypt at the Inglewood Memorial Park, a few miles from the home where he grew up in suburban Hawthorne. A private service was held at the cemetery's chapel last Saturday.


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