An express train to hell and back with the leader of the Beach Boys. Wilson begins with his darkest days, in November 1982. Then, weighing over 340 pounds, smoking six packs of cigarettes and snorting five grams of coke a day, failing to bathe for weeks at a time, ""I stank. I was dirty...I was insane."" How did the founder of ""America's band"" reach this bottom? According to the equally frank life-review that follows, father Murry Wilson, a would-be but talentless composer, had a lot to do with it, taking out his frustrations on his sensitive son (born in 1942) through mind-twisting beatings and ridicule. And then there were the drugs and the relentless pressure to produce hit tunes; by the late 60's, Wilson, wealthy and renowned for such songs as ""Good Vibrations"" and ""I Get Around,"" was drifting into a paranoid schizophrenia that would envelop him for 15 years. Salvation finally came in the person of Eugene Landy, an unorthodox psychologist who took Wilson by the hand in 1983 and turned his life around through a rigorous program of diet, exercise, and therapy. Wilson devotes nearly half of his text to his resurrection, and it's an inspiring story (although recent moves by the other Beach Boys to sever him from Landy--for reasons Wilson ascribes to greed and jealousy--find the self-admittedly ""brain-damaged"" author unsure about his mental future). Most readers, though, will find of even greater interest Wilson's detailing of his early encounters with the Beatles, Elvis, and other rock luminaries; of his stormy relationship with the other Beach Boys; of his now-dead brother Dennis's ties to Charlie Manson; and, in a recurrent motif that illuminates his troubled tale, of how he goes about composing his exquisite music. A bold and genuinely affecting account by a founding father of rock 'n' roll: a must for popular-music fans.