When I was growing up, my parents were big Beach Boys fans. I was listening to them in the cradle. So when I went deaf in one ear aged nine, Brian Wilson was already there.
The first things I ever learned - about what was happening to me - were gleaned from Beach Boys biographies and interviews with the great man himself.
These tidbits included secret information that I've harbored ever since, like single-sided deaf people hear musical harmonies much better. Why else would folksie types stick fingers in one ear? And how else could Brian Wilson so exquisitely orchestrate his band?
For all that, I wish Brian hadn't been unilaterally deaf, because of the way that it reputedly occurred.
Murry Wilson - their mentally and physically abusive father - made the Wilson brothers' childhoods a living Hell. He was actually recorded verbally attacking Brian, captured on studio out-takes from the earliest albums of The Beach Boys.
"We had a sh*tty childhood," Dennis Wilson told the press, but only three years after his father was safely dead. "Our Dad used to whale on us."
Back in the 1960s, though Brian never publicly commented upon his deafness, his friends lined up to tell biographers what he said in private - parental violence had been the culprit, when he was only six years old.
The most commonly reported story is that Murry smacked his eldest son over the side of his head, either with a 2 x 4 plank or with his fist, until Brian Wilson was deaf in his right ear.
More recently, Brian told an interviewer that he was born partially deaf. However, a decade before, he'd written that his hearing loss followed a beating from a neighborhood bully. Around the same time, he also had this to say:
"(My Dad) scared me so much I actually got scared into making good records."