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Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys is being placed under a legal conservatorship

Brian Wilson, performing in Los Angeles in 2015.
Kevin Winter
Getty Images
Brian Wilson, performing in Los Angeles in 2015.

Brian Wilson, one of the founders of The Beach Boys and the writer of many of their hits, will be placed under a legal conservatorship due to a "major neurocognitive disorder," a judge in Los Angeles ruled Thursday. Wilson's conservators will be two longtime associates: his manager, LeeAnn Hard, and his publicist, Jean Sievers. Wilson's family pursued the conservatorship after the death of his wife, Melinda, in January.

Wilson's situation appears to be markedly different than that of another high-profile celebrity conservatorship: that of Britney Spears, which was in place for 13 years before being lifted in 2021.

In his order, Judge Gus T. May of Los Angeles Superior Court noted that Wilson, now 81 years old, agrees to the conservatorship, and that the court has found "from clear and convincing evidence that a Conservatorship of the Person is necessary."

May observed in his ruling that Wilson lacks the capacity to make his own health care decisions, because "the Conservatee has a Major Neurocognitive Disorder and lacks capacity to give informed medical consent for medications." Judge May stipulated that Wilson's seven children will be consulted by the conservators regarding major health care decisions and kept informed on their father's condition.

Wilson's family publicly announced its intention to file for a conservatorship in February, writing on social media:

Although the exact nature of Wilson's illness has not been disclosed publicly, the family's court filing in February seeking the conservatorship also noted that Wilson suffers from "a major neurocognitive disorder."

Wilson has experienced mental health issues throughout much of his life. He continued to record music and tour until 2022, which he credited to his late wife.

In the mid-1970s and again in the early 1980s, he became deeply entwined with psychologist Eugene Landy, who wound up exerting near-total control over Wilson's life; as Wilson told NPR's Weekend Edition in 2016: "He wouldn't let me talk to my family on the phone for nine years ... He had power over me."

In the early 1990s, members of Wilson's family filed other conservatorship petitions in bids to separate him from Landy; a 1992 restraining order forbid Landy from having any contact with Wilson.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.