The Lost Beach Boy
to laugh all the way to the bank," says Marks. "The only thing is, I never got to the bank."
Nor did he ever gel the solo career he wanted at 16, when he left the Beach Boys in early 1964. Today the former teen idol, 45, sleeps most nights at his mother's two-bedroom house in Burbank, primarily supporting his 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer, with the $20,000 in Beach Boys' royalties he receives each year. "I was so arrogant," says Marks. "I was convinced I was going to make it on my own."
In 1962, Marks, a loudmouthed kid who had moved to Inglewood, Calif., six years earlier from New Castle, Pa., was asked to join a surf band that Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson had formed in their house across the street. (One of the original guitarists, Al Jar-dine, quit Lo go to dental school; he returned to the band in 1963.) Shortly after Marks came on board, the Beach Boys, managed by the Wilsons' father, Murry, landed a deal with Capitol Records. Over the next two years, the band churned out seven Top 40 singles, including "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Surfer Girl."
But Marks was unhappy. He had dropped out of high school, and his parents—Elmer, a gas station owner, and JoAnn, an office manager—squabbled with Murry over money. "I quit because Murry was on my case, and I wanted out," says Marks. "He wanted me to regard it as a business ... I wanted to have fun." Mike Love, Murry's nephew and the band's vocalist, says Marks was "just being a kid." "If Murry wanted us lo dress in a certain way or behave in a certain way, David would be the first to say, 'That's corny,' " recalls Love, who acknowledges that Murry could be abusive. (After Murry died in 1973, Brian and Dennis Wilson accused him of mental and physical abuse.)
When Marks quit, his parents set up a trust fund for him with his royal-lies (though David claims he never knew the amount because he didn't pay attention). He then formed a string of ill-fated groups, including the original Dave and the Marksmen. By the late '70s, he was earning as much as $70,000 a year in royalties. "T could just go out and buy a new car," says Marks, who once owned two Porsches and an apartment building. "I could go to San Francisco for lunch."
But the money proved dangerous for Marks, who slipped into LSD and alcohol abuse. Drifting around the country, he studied music in Boston, performed with Leon Russell in Tulsa and in 1978 met Polly Boutch, a waitress. Within a year of daughter Jennifer's birth in 1982, Boutch and Marks split up, and Jennifer stayed with Marks, just as his royalties hit an all-time low of $8,000 a year. (Today, Marks says he has no idea of Boutch's whereabouts.) He and Jennifer moved in with his widowed mother, and for the first time Marks was plagued with regret. Hearing Beach Boys songs on the radio, he says, felt like a "nudge from God."
Embarrassed at how his daughter might view his drinking, Marks checked into a rehab clinic in 1989 and worked odd jobs, including ushering at Dodger Stadium. All along he had the support of Maggie Montalbano, 45, a computer programmer with whom he has had an on-and-off romance since they met in 1965 at one of his shows.
Marks's passion is still music, and his new band is looking for a label. But he is no longer waiting for instant fame. Last year he passed a high school equivalency exam, and he is taking community college music classes. "I want Jennifer to have a father who has at least some kind of an education—you know, not a total loser."
He is also learning to block out his remorse. He hasn't seen any of the Wilsons in years and is friendly only with Love. "Sometimes I think, 'Oh shoot, I could have had all that money,' " he says. "But I have my daughter and really good music, and that's a lot right there."
CAROLYN RAMSAY in Los Angeles