Beach Boys ‘Vice Principal’ Jeffrey Foskett Dead at 67
Jeffrey Foskett, longtime touring member of the Beach Boys who was dubbed the band’s “vice principal” by its principal members, has died at 67 following a years-long battle with anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Brian Wilson paid tribute to his longtime friend and bandmate in a social media statement. “I’m so heartbroken that my dear friend Jeff Foskett has passed,” he wrote. “Jeff was always there for me when we toured and we couldn’t have done it without him. Jeff was one of the most talented guys I ever knew. Love and mercy to Jeff’s family and friends, we will remember him forever.”
Born on Feb. 17, 1956, in San Jose, California, Foskett fell in love with the Beach Boys as a child and performed their music, along with other surf rock classics, in local bands throughout the ‘70s. He met Wilson in 1976 when he visited the reclusive, embattled musician’s home in Bel-Air.
“Brian opened the door and said ‘Hey, come on in’ — like he’d been expecting us!” Foskett told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “I said, ‘Great!’ We hung around and went to the music room. [Wilson’s then-wife] Marilyn made us a sandwich. He said, ‘Stay in touch.’ And I did — and I’m glad that I did.”
How Jeffrey Foskett Joined the Beach Boys
Foskett’s big break came a few years later when Mike Love discovered him performing in a bar near the University of California, Santa Barbara, which Foskett was attending. Love recruited Foskett to join his Endless Summer Beach Band, and he subsequently joined the Beach Boys in the early ‘80s, performing alongside Love, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and occasionally Brian Wilson. He stayed in the band until 1990, performing Brian’s lofty falsetto parts.
After his dismissal, Foskett pursued a solo career throughout much of the ‘90s. He reconnected with Wilson near the end of the decade and performed on his 1998 album Imagination, subsequently becoming the musical director of the Brian Wilson Band. He also rejoined the Beach Boys for their 50th-anniversary reunion tour and performed on their 2012 album That’s Why God Made the Radio.
“Because I had remained on good terms with everyone, when it was proposed that this reunion celebration would happen, there was absolutely no problem, no issue at all,” Foskett. said. “I’ve had some great talks with everybody, and it’s just a really, really fun and fulfilling time.”
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Foskett continued touring with the Beach Boys until 2019, when he took a leave of absence to undergo throat surgery. He revealed the same year that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 anaplastic thyroid cancer in 2018, and that the treatment had stolen much of his upper vocal range. He released his last three studio albums — Love Songs, Vintage Summer and Voices — all in 2019.
It was the end to a long career that also included work with Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and more. He likened his main gig to a Little League Baseball player getting called up to the majors out of the blue.
“How many amateur athletes turn pro?” he said. “And how many of the thousands of musicians — tens of thousands of musicians — in Los Angeles are going to get into the band that they really loved, and tour with them?”
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Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp