It was 44 years ago tonight (August 5th, 1976) that the Beach Boys' NBC prime time special The Beach Boys: It's O.K. premiered. The show, which was produced by Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels, was based around the group's 15th anniversary, their new 15 Big Ones album, and the full time return of Brian Wilson to the group, kicking off the legendary “Brian's Back” publicity campaign.
The special included live performances filmed on July 3rd, 1976 at California's Anaheim Stadium in front of 55,000 fans, featuring the group's classic lineup, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Al Jardine, with the long reclusive Brian behind the keyboards, playing only his second full concert in over six years.
The show's sketch in which Saturday Night Live's John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd pose as California Highway Patrolmen and force an overweight Brian out of bed to go surfing after issuing him a citation for failing to surf, has gone on to be one of rock n' roll's greatest comedic moments. Later that year, photographer Annie Leibovitz used a photo of the bathrobed Brian holding a surfboard for an iconic cover of Rolling Stone.