Gary Wells (Clip): Backstage with The Beach Boys – Donna Loren

In this episode we sample a clip from our Beach Boys Book Club conversation, as our leading contributor Gary Wells tells us how he and an accomplice managed to find themselves backstage at an early 1990s Beach Boys concert in Canada, chatting to Mike, Al and Carl. It’s a little comical, poignant, and slightly eccentric at various moments, but it’s a great story with some treasured memories.

We also recommend a conversation between Gary and singer and actress, Donna Loren, to be found at her Love’s a Secret Weapon Podcast, and in our post-credits segment, we recall a light-hearted look at Elvis’ encounter with the Mayor of Roanoke, VA, in a memorable scene from Elvis on Tour, and which featured in Part One of our Aloha From Hawaii series.

Companion Newsletter

Gary’s invitation to appear on Donna Loren’s podcast arose from her appreciation of a biographical article that he wrote on his own website. It’s an enjoyable, warm and fascinating conversation and a thoroughly recommended listen for any vintage leisure enthusiast.

Donna Loren is an actress and singer, with an incredible CV. As a teenager in the 1960s she was signed to Capitol Records, was a featured vocalist on Shindig and appeared in American International Pictures’ Beach Party movie series.

She was the face of Dr Pepper, today what we might call a a brand ambassador, a high profile and perhaps at times controlling arrangement that involved billboards, television and media, personal appearances and singing advertising jingles.

The Dr Pepper Girl

She also had guest roles in iconic television including Batman and The Monkees, and worked with some of the most talented musicians of all time, including the Wrecking Crew and, on James Burton’s invitation, with members of the Elvis’ TCB Band. Donna Loren’s version of One Night With You concludes the episode with Gary, it’s a revelation.

Learn more from Gary’s bio The Dr Pepper Girl: Donna Loren, and from Donna Loren’s official site, She also remains active on social media.

Our series on Elvis Aloha From Hawaii, also with Gary, has had great support, in particular this year (2023) for the 50th anniversary. We very much appreciate all the Facebook shares and comments, a massive thank you to everyone who got right behind those episodes, and the 50th anniversary supplement.

At the end of the first instalment, we considered a slightly bizarre encounter between Elvis and the Mayor of Roanoke, Roy Webber, who officially greeted Elvis upon his arrival at Roanoke Airport in April, 1972, presenting him with the key to the city. This featured in Elvis on Tour, an award winning concert documentary by Robert Abel and Pierre Adidge, and something very different in style and substance from 1970’s Elvis That’s The Way It Is.

Having got himself into a bit of a tangle over paper bag full of money whilst waiting on the tarmac with a large contingent of excited fans, the Mayor was invited onto Elvis’ private plane for the official greeting. It looked a little cramped on board, this was around three years prior to the larger Convair 880, the Lisa Marie, coming into service.

The Mayor also had an additional gift to present; a floral guitar. A very warm yet strange conversation ensued; one of those iconic and head-scratching encounters that seemed to be an essential part of a 1970s Elvis documentary.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of information on Roy Webber himself – it appears that he had two stints as Mayor of Roanoke (1949-1954 and 1968-1975). He also owned a florist, which traded until 2008, and which, unsurprisingly, provided the floral guitar.

Roy Webber passed away in 1975, aged 70.

Background on Roy Webber from Alchetron

Special thanks to Gary Wells for sharing his Beach Boys adventure with us. In the original episode, we discuss some important and fascinating books on the Beach Boys – The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience (1990), by Timothy White, and Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy (2016), by Mike Love with James S Hirsch. For a little additional context, we also refer to I am Brian Wilson, (2016) written by Brian himself with Ben Greenman.

Read more at The Beach Boys section on Gary’s website, and find the full episode, including some additional background and research notes, here.

The Beach Boys in 2023 (Shared on Al Jardine’s social media)

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