David Lee Marks (born August 22, 1948) is an American songwriter and musician. He is best known as being a member of The Beach Boys from February 1962 to October 1963, and later versions of the band, including a reunited version that recorded the album That's Why God Made the Radio and have toured together in 2012. Marks was part of the Beach Boys line-up, at age 13, when they signed with Capitol Records on July 16, 1962. Marks performed on the band's first four albums, playing rhythm guitar.
David Marks moved across the street from the family home of the three Wilson brothers, Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson (the founding members of The Beach Boys) when he was seven years old. As the 1950s progressed Marks sang and played music with the Wilson family at their Sunday night singalongs. Inspired by a 1958 performance by guitarist John Maus (later of the 1960s Walker Brothers), Marks asked his parents to buy him a guitar, which they did on Christmas Eve, 1958. He began taking lessons from Maus, who had been a student of Ritchie Valens.
In 1959, Marks and Brian Wilson's youngest brother Carl had begun to develop their own style of playing electric guitars Brian realized that the combination of Carl and David's playing brought a rock guitar sound to his original compositions, and the two teenagers participated in Brian's first songwriting efforts that led to the band's 1963 hit single "Surfer Girl".
Marks was not on the Beach Boys first recording, "Surfin'" for Candix Records on October 16, 1961; this roster included Al Jardine, a high school classmate of Brian Wilson's who had been singing and playing stand-up bass with the Wilson brothers and their cousin Mike Love. Over the next couple of months, Brian experimented with various combinations of musicians, including his mother Audree Wilson, but was not able to secure interest from a major label.
In mid-February 1962, a new line-up, which included 13-year old Marks, was established. On April 16, 1962, the newly electrified Beach Boys recorded a demo session at Western Recorders that produced the masters for the songs, “Surfin’ Safari” and “409” that would became the band’s first double-sided hit, landing them a long-term contract with Capitol Records.
According to biographer Jon Stebbins, Marks's guitar chemistry with Carl Wilson changed the sound of the band. Writing about the difference between The Beach Boy's Candix Records single and their first Capitol Records release, Stebbins stated:
"Compared to 'Surfin', this was metal. No sign of stand-up bass or folk sensibility on this recording. And the tiny amateurish guitar sound and lazy feel of the (earlier demo) World Pacific version of 'Surfin' Safari' had now transformed into something crisp and modern. "It was Carl and Dave who brought that electric guitar drive into the band," says Al Jardine. "And because of that, Brian was able to expand a little bit."
Marks would continue to sing and play rhythm guitar with the Beach Boys long enough to record on the first four albums, as well as early hits such as "Surfin Safari", “409”, "Surfin USA", “Shut Down”, "Surfer Girl", "In My Room" and "Be True to Your School". Marks also played over 100 concerts with The Beach Boys, toured across the United States with them, and appeared on their first string of national TV appearances. While his time in the band may have been relatively short, Marks contributed to their foundational sound.
Although it is often assumed that Marks left the Beach Boys because Jardine wanted to return to the band, this is not the case. Marks and Jardine were both part of the 1963 Beach Boys touring line-up. Jardine initially returned on a part-time basis to fill-in on bass for Brian Wilson, who had already begun to detach himself from the touring band as early as the spring of 1963.
At the height of their first initial wave of international success, Marks quit The Beach Boys in late August 1963 toward the end of the group's summer tour during an argument with Murry Wilson, the Wilson boys' father and the band's manager, but did not immediately leave the band until later that year when his parents and Murry came to blows over financial and managerial issues. The first show without Marks on guitar was October 19, 1963, though he would stay friends and be in close contact with various band members for many years, and he would remain, unbeknownst to him, a legal member of the Beach Boys until September 27, 1967.
In February 1963, Dennis Wilson was injured in a car accident and his replacement was Mark Groseclose, who went to high school with Carl Wilson. Marks and Groseclose became friends and Marks eventually took over Groseclose's garage band, The Jaguars, which he renamed The Marksmen. The band was initially a side project for the aspiring songwriter, who was growing tired of his songs being passed over for Beach Boys records by Murry Wilson.
After Marks left the Beach Boys, The Marksmen became his full-time focus, becoming one of the first acts to be signed to Herb Alpert's A&M Records in 1964. Murry Wilson reportedly threatened radio deejays in order to keep them from playing The Marksmen's records, but failed. Later, the group signed with (and released a single on) Warner Bros. Records, but in spite of packed concert venues up and down the state of California, lack of much air play precluded any further releases. The 2009 release of Marks & the Marksmen Ultimate Collector’s Edition 1963–1965 marks the first-time the entire Marksmen catalog was made available to the public.
In 1966, Marks played with Casey Kasem's Band Without a Name. He then worked with the late 1960s psychedelic-pop band, The Moon, along with Matt Moore, Larry Brown and David Jackson. The band signed a production deal with producer Mike Curb and released two under-promoted albums on the Imperial label. He also performed with Delaney and Bonnie, Colours (recording lead guitar on their second album), and Warren Zevon. By the time Marks was 21 years old, he had been signed to five label deals and had grown disillusioned with the Los Angeles music scene. In 1969, he relocated to Boston, where he studied jazz and classical guitar as a private student at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory in 1970–71.
In early 1971, after reuniting onstage in Boston with The Beach Boys, Marks received an offer from Mike Love to rejoin the band, but he declined. Instead, he spent the next 25 years playing with artists like Buzz Clifford, Daniel Moore (writer of "My Maria" and "Shambala"), Gary Montgomery, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, Leon Russell, drummer-turned-actor Gary Busey, Delbert McClinton and many others, earning a reputation as a solid session guitarist without cashing in on his notoriety as having been a Beach Boy. In 1988, when The Beach Boys were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Marks was neither invited nor acknowledged at the ceremony, an oversight which was finally rectified in 2007.
Marks eventually rejoined The Beach Boys as a full-time member playing lead guitar in 1997, when Carl Wilson, fighting cancer, was unable to continue touring with the group. After playing another 300 shows as an official “Beach Boy” again, Marks left the band for a second time in 1999 due to his own health issues when he was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Marks became a leader in the hepatitis C community, often appearing in the media to raise awareness of the disease. In 2007, Marks co-wrote The Lost Beach Boy with Stebbins, which detailed his early career and related his "lost years", his health problems, his musical development, and his recovery and acceptance within the Beach Boys community.
On May 20, 2005, the original Beach Boys six-man line-up (including both Marks and Jardine) was memorialized on the Beach Boys Historic Landmark in Hawthorne, California. The following year, on June 13, 2006, Marks gathered with surviving BBeach BoysBrian Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston on the roof of the landmark Capitol Records building in Hollywood, where all five were presented with an RIAA Platinum record Award in recognition of two million in sales of The Beach Boys CD song collection Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys. In 2008, following the release of a career retrospective, The Lost Years (released to coincide with his book), he toured the UK as a "special guest" with the Beach Boys. He also performed with Jardine and Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean, in the "Legends of Surf Music" tour.
On December 16, 2011 it was announced that Marks would be reuniting with Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston for a new Beach Boys album and 50th anniversary tour in 2012. The group appeared at the 2012 Grammy Awards on February 12, followed by a 50-date tour that began in Tucson, Arizona in April. Mike Love commented on working with Marks once again, stating, "David rocks. A phenomenal guitarist. When he does those leads on "Surfin'," "Surfin' Safari" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" it's so authentic. He and Carl committed on playing guitar since they were ten years old and were neighbors with each other from across the street in Hawthorne. He's a fantastic musician and a really fantastic guy to be with. He went through his issues with alcohol, but he's completely cooled out for maybe ten years now. It's going to be really great to be with him."] Marks has even taken over lead vocal duties on a few songs during the anniversary tour including "Hawaii", "Don't Back Down" and "Getcha Back".