Memories of Dennis
by Gerry Ashley

During the early-to-mid '70s, I spent a good deal of time with The Beach Boys (doing advance work and acting as a liaison with promoters) when they toured the east coast in the early '70s. As such, I have a lot of fond memories.

Most of the memories, however, focus on the activities taking place between concert dates. For the most part, Carl & Denny were the only two original members that enjoyed hanging out with those of us who were "fringe personnel." Most of the time, I hung out with Ricky Fataar, Blondie Chaplain, and members of the touring band including Billy Hinsche, Mike Kowalski, Carlos Munoz and others. And, while you always hear great stories about rock bands and their groupies (and yes, we had our share), as often as not, time between shows was spent in backgammon tournaments, or just playing practical jokes on each other. That's where Denny was often at his best. Sometimes as the prankster, but often as the victim.

Back in those days, a popular college prank was "streaking." This was where you would strip naked, and run through a public place. Looking back, it really was harmless fun, and streaking took place where you least expected it. One person even streaked the Oscars telecast.

While we were touring in the Northeast, the band played the old Cape Cod Coliseum. After the show, back at the hotel (I think it was Dunphey's), Denny was in a particularly good mood. Now what you need to understand is that when Denny was in a playful mood, ANYTHING could happen. Money didn't exist in Denny's world. You just did things. If it required cash and if he had it, it was a done deal. If he didn't have cash on him, he would simply charge it to his room and let Steve Love (Mike's brother who was the band's business manager at the time) figure it out later. Sometimes, I think Denny liked to spend money in bizarre ways just to piss Steve off. It always worked.

For the past few nights, however, Denny had been pulling practical jokes on all of us. Sometimes he'd sneak into our rooms and switch bags. Once, he took a piece of pie from a restaurant, saying he was going to eat it later. When "later" came, I found it under my pillow with a note that said, "This pie is great! You gotta try it! D.W."

So when the time came to play practical jokes on Denny, there was seldom any holding back. Most of the time, no one could laugh at himself better than Denny when it came to practical jokes. So, armed with an idea, and the memory of a pillow full of pie, I mapped out a strategy to get a little "DW Payback."

With the support and cooperation of all the backup band members, the fix was in.

We all met in Denny's room. We told him we all wanted to streak the lobby of the hotel. It was a perfect layout to do so. We could strip in our rooms (which were on the same floor as the lobby), then run straight through the lobby, around the corridors and back to our rooms before anyone knew what had hit them.

As was often the case, Denny would lead the prank. He loved the idea.

We all went back to our rooms and stripped naked. We opened our doors and stuck our heads into the hall to see if the coast was clear. Denny, his face smiling like a child about to steal a pie off the window sill of his next door neighbor, called the charge.

We all jumped out into the hallway and with a whoop and his fist in the air, Denny led the charge down the hallway. I was second in line, followed by the rest of the musicians.

Just before we made it to the first corner, I slowed and held my arms out as a signal to the rest of us to stop. With Denny in full stride, now entering turn 1, the rest of us quickly returned to our rooms and locked our doors. This was an older building, the kind that had the connecting doors between rooms. Being in the room next to Denny's, I had already left my connecting door unlocked. All I had to do was go into Denny's room and lock the door, open his connecting door to my room, then lock my hallway door.

By this time, Denny realized he'd been had.

He ran back to the hallway where we stood behind locked doors laughing. I looked through the peephole in his door. He had a "OK, you got me" look on his face. He started laughing at how he'd been duped.

He knocked on the door and said, "OK, very funny, now let me in." I told him I'd be right there... I was just cleaning up some leftover pie from my pillow.

"C'mon man, I'm out here in the hallway, butt-naked!"

I stood with my head next to the door and said (loud enough for him to hear), "Yes... front desk? Uh, there's a naked man running around in the hallway near my room... would you please send security over immediately? Thank you very much."

Denny knew I would be looking through the peephole for his response. He just stood there with a smile, giving me the finger. I still remember the way he shook his head side-to-side laughing and said, "OK, you (expletive deleted)! You got me, now let me in!" There was no response from me. I simply returned through the connecting doors to my room and got dressed while Denny pleaded with others to let him into their room.

Finally, dressed, I opened the door to my room and looked down at Denny and shouted, "Hey, keep it down will ya? People are trying to sleep!"

With that, the other guys came out and we all had a good laugh about it, especially Denny.

Today, some 25 years later, it still stands out as one of my favorite "Denny moments." This is the side of Denny - the laughing, gregarious and loving friend - that the media seldom touched when they referred to Denny. To be sure, there were the hard times and those memories are there, but I choose to keep them pushed into the background. It's this side of my friend I will always choose to think of whenever I'm "Remembering Denny."

Copyright 1999 Gerry Ashley All Rights Reserved.

I hereby give permission to Dan Addington to use this remembrance in full (or any part thereof) for use in his website established to honor the memory of Dennis Wilson. No other use is authorized.