In the Beach Boys' early days, Dennis was a lot things: handsome surfer, fan favorite, ladies man, unskilled drummer, friend of Charlie Manson. The one thing he wasn't was an artist. But that changed in the late '60s, when Brian retreated from the studio post-Smile. With his mates filling the creative void left behind, Dennis evolved in ways no one around him ever expected. His first tunes, "Little Bird" and "Be Still," are simple treasures heavily inspired by his bro. Yet he soon became the Beach Boys' No. 2 composer, crafting a unique mixture of orchestral pop and blue-eyed beach funk. Feeling increasingly alienated from the band's image as an oldies act, Dennis began work on a solo jam (his first single came out in 1969). Not only is 1977's Pacific Ocean Blue the first solo album from a Beach Boy; it's also one of the great pop statements of the '70s, right up there with Fleetwood Mac's Tusk and No Other by Gene Clark. With P.O.B. in the can, Dennis set his sights on a follow up. Unfortunately, a longtime dependency on alcohol (as well as other emotional issues) prevented Bambu's completion. In 1983, after years of abuse, Dennis drowned in the Pacific Ocean, just off L.A. He was 39.