The Beach Boys, Mike Love, left and Bruce Johnston, perform at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, Thursday, July 3, 2014.

The Beach Boys, Mike Love, left and Bruce Johnston, perform at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, Thursday, July 3, 2014.

Michael Dwyer/AP

"Heroes and Villains" isn't just the title of one of the Beach Boys' greatest songs. It's the prevailing public perception of the group itself, with Brian Wilson portrayed as the band's angel with broken wings and his cousin Mike Love cast as the devil who wrested control of the group with a series of lawsuits and mind games.

But like a lot of stories, it's not true - or at least not entirely. The real tale of the Beach Boys has more contradictory twists, turns and layers than a stanza of "Good Vibrations."

Love, the group's co-founder and lead singer, says he's in the middle of co-writing a book that will set the record straight.

"There's a disproportionate view of who did what," he says in a phone interview. "A lot of the things written about me and the Beach Boys are written by people who weren't there."

Until his book comes out, it's business as usual for Love, who's touring with the Beach Boys in a lineup that includes longtime member Bruce Johnston. They play Thursday night at Verizon Theatre - the same venue where Wilson and Beach Boys co-founder Al Jardine will also play the band's music on June 24.

For one glorious but brief spell in 2012, all the surviving members buried the hatchet and reunited for a 50th anniversary album and tour. But the tour ended on a sour note when the media reported that Love, who holds the exclusive license to tour as the Beach Boys, had given the pink slip to Jardine and Wilson.

"It sort of feels like we're being fired," Wilson said in a statement at the time.

"I can't fire Brian. That's erroneous," Love says today. "We agreed on a certain number of shows. It was all contracted, and at the end of that time, we went back to doing things the way we were doing them before."

Love says he'd hoped to extend the reunion, but the creative mojo simply wasn't there. "I was told I was going to be able to write with Brian, and that was never permitted, which was a big disappointment for me."

Love's ups and downs with his cousin date to the mid-1960s, when Wilson stopped touring with the Beach Boys after suffering severe anxiety attacks. In addition to abusing LSD and cocaine, Wilson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, which can cause people to hear voices.

The Beach Boys, led by founding member Mike Love (second  from right), will play Verizon Theatre on Thursday night.

The Beach Boys, led by founding member Mike Love (second from right), will play Verizon Theatre on Thursday night.

David McClister

Many writers blamed Love for pulling the plug on Wilson's masterpiece, the legendary 1967 "lost album" Smile - a claim Love calls "absolutely untrue." In 2011, Wilson agreed with Love, telling a writer that "Smile didn't come out because the music was too advanced for the public, and we were on so many drugs we didn't know what to think."

Love's bad-guy reputation also stems from his lawsuits against various Beach Boys, including a successful suit against Wilson for royalties to "California Girls," "I Get Around," "Help Me, Rhonda" and others for which Love wrote or co-wrote lyrics.

"I'd come up with the [lyrical] hooks, and Brian would masterfully put the tracks and chord progressions and harmonies all together. It was a group effort. But since I didn't get credit, it appeared Brian did all of this himself," Love says.

"Brian called me and said he wanted to rectify the credits, but by that time, he was in a conservatorship, so my only recourse was to go to court. There's always been somebody ruling Brian's life - first it was his father, and then Dr. [Eugene] Landy a little later on. Brian would like to do things a certain way, but it's not only up to him."

Love tells his story in a soft, calm voice you'd expect from a guy who's been meditating daily since 1968, when he and the Beatles studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. (It was during that retreat that Love talked Paul McCartney into adding a Beach Boys vibe into a half-written ditty called "Back in the U.S.S.R.")

Today, Love credits meditation for keeping him focused during the many legal firestorms, feuds and deaths that have long followed the Beach Boys. Drummer Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983, and singer-guitarist Carl Wilson died of cancer in 1998.

"Things do happen within the Beach Boys that have been a source of fascination or fodder for writers," he says. "But that misses the overall story, which is a bunch of fantastic music that's given so much pleasure to so many generations. The other night, we had a 90-year-old lady and a 9-year- old onstage both singing 'Barbara Ann' from 1966. You can't get a much wider demographic spread than that."

By Thor Christensen

Plan your life

The Beach Boys perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. $45-$65, plus fees. axs.com.

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