Dennis Wilson Death: Is He Buried in the Sea?

Dennis Carl Wilson, an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was a founding member of the Beach Boys. His role as their drummer and middle brother of bandmates Brian and Carl Wilson is what people most often remember him for. The only authentic surfer in the Beach Boys was Dennis, whose personal story perfectly embodied the “California Myth” that the group’s early songs frequently praised. Along with his involvement with the Manson Family, he was well-known for co-starring in the 1971 movie Two-Lane Blacktop.


Dennis Carl Wilson was born on December 4, 1944, in Hawthorne, California. He was the second child of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Gage Wilson. Dennis often refused to participate in family singalongs, and avoided vocalizing on his father’s early recordings. The Beach Boys’ Dennis and Brian Wilson sang in the late-night brotherly three-part harmonies for much of their discography. Dennis began playing piano at the age of 14 and learned boogie-woogie styles from watching his father play. Brian described Dennis as “the most messed-up person I know”.

Dennis Wilson Death


In 1960, Dennis began taking drum lessons at Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles. The Beach Boys officially formed in late 1961 and had a local hit with their debut record “Surfin'”, a song that Brian wrote at Dennis’ urging. In 1963, Dennis teamed with Brian’s collaborator Gary Usher to release the single “RPM” backed with “My Stingray”. In March 1964, Dennis moved out of the Wilson family home and took residence in Hollywood. In 1965, Brian declared to his bandmates that he would no longer tour with the group for the foreseeable future.

Dennis played drums on “Vega-Tables”, “Holidays”, and “Good Vibrations” during the Smile sessions. Released in July 1965, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) contained Dennis’s favorite song by Brian, “Let Him Run Wild”. Dennis’ drumming contributions on Pet Sounds were limited to the track “That’s Not Me”. In the late 1960s, Brian Dennis started writing songs for the Beach Boys. His first major composition for the group was “Little Bird”, issued in April 1968 as the B-side of the “Friends” single. Many of Wilson’s unreleased tracks from this period were released for the compilations Wake the World: The Friends Sessions and I Can Hear Music: The 20/20 Sessions.

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Dennis Wilson death cause

The musician had been homeless and travelling since November 1983. He spent a few days in therapeutic facilities before being treated for wounds in hospitals. He would, however, always excuse himself and resume drinking. Dennis drowned at Marina Del Rey on December 28, three weeks after turning 39, after binge drinking all morning and diving for his ex-possessions wife’s in the late afternoon. three years prior, in the midst of their divorce, he had previously been thrown overboard at the marina from his yacht. Michael Hunter, a forensic pathologist, thought Dennis had a shallow water blackout just before he passed away.

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Funeral in the ocean

His funeral was held in an unusual location—right in the middle of the ocean—and was only made possible with the assistance of a special admirer: President Ronald Reagan. The president’s intervention appears to have been the sole occasion when the American commander in chief offered to plan a funeral. The data was gleaned from documents obtained by the Coast Guard, the Reagan Library, and the American National Archives.

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Buried in the sea

Reagan was at his California home the day the musician’s passing was made public. It was the afternoon between Christmas and New Year’s. According to Craig Fuller, a cabinet assistant, the president instructed his advisors to take every step possible to aid the family after learning about the disaster involving Dennis.

Authorities then mobilised to have Dennis Wilson’s body “buried” as soon as possible in the Pacific at the request of his wife Shawn Love. Three of Dennis Wilson’s sons, Shawn and his younger brother Carl, were taken aboard a ship on a tranquil Wednesday and transported 45 minutes out to sea until they arrived in international waters.

Dennis Wilson Death

The vessel came to a stop at a depth of 183 metres, which is the minimum allowed by American law for these burials. One of Dennis’ sons, Scott, stated in 2016: “All I could see was my father’s body sinking into the river forever.”

The ‘burial’ led to arguments between family members. The widow Shawn Love suggested that they take Dennis to the water because she knew that this was the musician’s wish. The event was opposed by Brother Carl and Brian Wilson. Later, the Coast Guard received letters from the White House expressing appreciation for the organization’s prompt action in setting up funeral arrangements in such a short amount of time. Reagan’s legislative affairs aide W. Dennis Thomas stated, “They followed a request, not a command.”

Dennis’ love of the ocean permeates The Beach Boys’ whole work, according to Jardine. He says, “It was only right that he went back there.

Personal Life

He was married to Shawn Marie Love, who claimed to be the daughter of his first cousin Mike Love, although she disputed the claim. Wilson’s songs “Lady” and “Barbara” were written about his former wife Barbara Charren.

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