- Brian Wilson is best known for his involvement in The Beach Boys.
- He had a tumultuous love life over the years.
- Brian was married twice and had two daughters, who are also famous.
- He has also adopted five children with his current wife.
Brian Wilson, 80, is best known for being a founder of one of the original “boy bands” of the 1960’s. As an original member of The Beach Boys (alongside brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and school mate Al Jardine he helped define a distinctive California-pop sound whose influence continues to this day — in fact, the iconic track “Fun Fun Fun” is featured in a trailer for the 2003 Margot Robbie/Ryan Gosling Barbie movie. Fittingly, in the summer days of July of 1962, the Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records. Their first album, Surfin’ Safari, hit the airwaves that same year, and the rest is history!
But behind the scenes, Brian, who was widely hailed as a pop music genius, struggled on a number of fronts. His personal life, which included a string of tumultuous relationships, suffered under the weight of his mental and emotional issues, which include diagnoses of schizoaffective disorder and mild manic depression.
Amid it all, he had two marriages and two children. Here’s everything to know about Brian Wilson’s marriages and romantic attachments over the years.
Melinda Kae Ledbetter
Brian has been married to former model Melinda Kae Ledbetter since 1995. But the couple had initially dated years before that, from 1986-1989. According to The U.S. Sun, Brian and the Colorado-born beauty married on February 6, 1995 in California. They met when she was working at an upscale auto dealership in Los Angeles in 1986, and began the foundation for their decades-long relationship.
“I remember meeting her at her dealership, Cadillac, and I said, ‘God, she’s a pretty girl,’” he said during an ABC Nightline interview back in 2015. “‘That’s a pretty girl.’” He added, “I just said to myself, ‘God, I think I’ll see her again sometime.’” For her part, Melinda was attracted to the legendary musician’s kindness. “That’s what attracted me to him, he was so nice,” she said.
The duo wound up adopting five children together — daughters Daria, Delanie, and Dakota, and sons Dylan and Dash. She is now his manager, as well.
Singer Marilyn Rovell was Brian’s first wife, and the couple met and began dating in 1962 when she was just 15 and he was 21. The Rovell family was also musical, and with Brian being close to the family, he was invited to live in their home. Marilyn and Brian initially kept the relationship secret. However, the romance progressed, and they were married in December of 1964. Amid the marriage, however, Brian began to struggle with his emotions. He suffered panic attacks and a nervous breakdown. Drug and alcohol use compounded the problem.
Per Wikipedia, Marilyn and Brian moved to ritzy Bel Aire in Los Angeles as his star rose, and she gave birth to two daughters — Carnie in 1968 and Wendy in 1969. Carnie and Wendy would go on to comprise two thirds of the famous 80’s pop band Wilson Philips.
But the marriage was tumultuous to a shocking degree. Brian engaged in affairs with Marilyn’s sister Diane Rovell and, simultaneously, with a telephone operator named Debbie Keil. Meanwhile, he told his wife she should be having affairs, too. Still, he cared for his wife, as evidenced by an unreleased song called “Marilyn Rovell” and his 1964 hit “All Summer Long,” both about her.
The marriage couldn’t withstand the instability and infidelity, and they separated in 1978 and filed for divorce the following year. They are grandparents of six musical kids — Carnie had two daughters, while Wendy had four sons.
Before meeting Marilyn, David was involved with Judy Bowles, whom he met at a baseball game in 1961. However, the connection overlapped with his relationship with Marilyn. His involvement with her was ongoing as he met his future wife in 1962, but he went on to write romantic hits about Judy, including Surfer Girl in 1963 and “The Warmth Of The Sun” in 1964. They were engaged by December of 1963 with a plan to marry in December of 1964. They went their separate ways, and he wound up marrying Marilyn, instead.
Diane Rovell is Marilyn’s older sister, and she embarked on an affair with her brother-in-law after they were married. His songs “My Diane” and “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister” were written about her.
Singer Linda Ronstadt insinuated in her 2013 biography Simple Dreams that she shared a romance with the crooner. Brian subsequently took to his Facebook page to share the eyebrow raising excerpt. “I knew Brian years ago. I think we met at the Troubadour and became friends. He lived not too far from me, when I was living above the Sunset Strip. He used to come knock on my door on a regular basis, usually on the way to the health food store – I think everybody was drinking grape juice in those days. Sometimes he’d be short of money and he’d come to my back door and say, ‘I need to borrow 18 cents.’ He’d get a couple bottles of grape juice and come back and we’d drink it together. He wasn’t living at home at that point and he was having a hard time adjusting to things like doing his laundry. We’d go sit in the laundromat and watch the clothes go ’round and talk about rock’n’roll. I was hoping he’d remember those times as fondly as I did – and he does.”
Brian embarked on a relationship with a nurse named Carolyn Williams. They met in 1969, and the liaison lasted until 1983. The end of the relationship came, he confessed at least partially as the result of a misogynist and racist remark he deeply regrets. “My head wasn’t on straight at all and I would sometimes say stupid things to her,” he wrote in his own 2016 memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. “Once I got impatient and said, ‘Get your black a** in there and make me lunch.’ I apologized immediately but I didn’t feel right about it. She split pretty soon and it was mostly because of me. I’m sorry about it even today.”
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