David Lee Marks is best known for his work as a member of The Beach Boys. Growing up across the street from the Wilson family, Marks spent his formative years singing and playing with Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson.
At age 10, he received his first guitar for Christmas, and he and Carl began studying with John Maus (later John Walker of the Walker Brothers) and developing their own electric guitar style, which caught the attention of Carl’s oldest brother, budding composer Brian. David and Carl’s rock ‘n’ roll guitar sound blended with Brian’s complex harmonies to create the signature sound of the Beach Boys.
Thirteen-year-old Marks joined The Beach Boys in February 1962, and became one of the signatories on the band’s recording contract with Capitol Records. He remained a member through October 1963, performing in over 100 concerts across the United States, appearing on national television, and playing rhythm guitar and singing on the band’s first four albums, and on hits like “Surfin’ Safari,” “409,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Shut Down,” “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” and “Be True to Your School.”
Leaving the Beach Boys gave David the freedom to focus on his own songwriting with a new band, David Marks & The Marksmen. One of the first bands to sign to Herb Alpert’s A&M Records, The Marksmen packed concert venues up and down the state of California but ultimately disbanded in 1965.
Marks went on to play with Casey Kasem’s Band Without a Name, psychedelic-pop bands The Moon and Colours, Delaney & Bonnie, and Warren Zevon. By age 21, he had been signed to five major record labels and had grown disillusioned with the Los Angeles music scene. In 1969, he relocated to Boston, where he studied jazz and classical guitar as a private student at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. He earned a reputation as a solid session guitarist, working with artists like Buzz Clifford, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, Leon Russell, drummer-turned-actor Gary Busey, and Delbert McClinton.
Through it all, he remained friends and stayed in contact with members of the Beach Boys. He rejoined the band in as a full-time member in 1997, when Carl Wilson, fighting cancer, was unable to continue touring with the group. Marks left the band for a second time in 1999, after being diagnosed with hepatitis C. Since his diagnosis, he has become a leader in the hepatitis C community, often appearing in the media to raise awareness of the disease.
In 2007, David co-wrote his autobiography, The Lost Beach Boy, with Beach Boys historian Jon Stebbins. The book is a frank account of his career with and without the Beach Boys, his health problems, his musical development, and his recovery and acceptance within the Beach Boys community.
David Marks continues to write, record, and perform. He has released a number of solo albums, including Something Funny Goin’ On (2003), I Think About You Often (2006), and The Circle Continues (2012). In 2012, he joined Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston for the recording of That’s Why God Made The Radio, the first Beach Boys album of new material since 1992, and for the band’s subsequent 50th anniversary world tour. In 2013, he and Al Jardine joined Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck for a highly successful North American fall tour voted as the #3 tour of 2013.