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Brian Wilson Placed in Conservatorship as Daughters Win Consultation Rights

The Beach Boys founder, 81, was previously diagnosed with dementia. The conservatorship will be run by his longtime publicist and manager and his longtime business manager

Brian Wilson

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Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson was placed in a court-ordered conservatorship Thursday that will be run by his longtime publicist and manager, Jean Sievers, and his longtime business manager, LeeAnn Hard. The reps revealed in a petition filed last February that Wilson is suffering from dementia at the age of 81.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gus T. May granted the petition after finding that Wilson is living with a “major neurocognitive disorder” and needs the assistance as the least restrictive way to address his needs. The judge also added a last-minute addendum after hearing from a lawyer representing Wilson’s two eldest daughters – the Wilson Phillips musicians Carnie Wilson Bonfiglio and Wendy Wilson Knutson.

The daughters requested that “all of Brian’s children who wish to be added will be added to the text chain from his nurses providing updates about Brian,” their lawyer Justin Gold told the court. They also asked that the conservators be required to “consult” with them and their siblings “regarding all material healthcare decisions.” The judge added the lines before signing his ruling, granting the rights to all seven kids.

The conservatorship covers Wilson’s personal and medical affairs only, not his estate. His financial assets are held in a trust, with Hard named as trustee as well as Wilson’s power of attorney. “Mr. Wilson will remain in his home, and it is Ms. Sievers’ and Ms. Hard’s intent to ensure that all of Mr. Wilson’s daily living needs are satisfied, and he has the best possible care while remaining in his home,” the petition filed in February said.

More details about Wilson’s condition were included in a capacity declaration. It said Wilson, the writer behind dozens of Top 40 hits including “I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “Good Vibrations,” would find it “emotionally very stressful” as well as physically difficult to attend any court hearings in person. “He is easily distracted” and “often makes spontaneous irrelevant or incoherent utterances,” the declaration from Dr. Stephen S. Marmer, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, said.

Wilson also has a “very short attention span and while unintentionally disruptive, is frequently unable to maintain decorum appropriate to the situation,” the doctor told the court, adding that Wilson is taking a drug called Aricept to treat his dementia. The doctor said Wilson has trouble following instructions, except when he’s taking voice lessons or during physical therapy. “This is based on long-standing muscle memory,” the doctor wrote.

Wilson’s family previously shared a statement on his website, confirming the musician was in good hands following the death of his “beloved” wife. It said the conservatorship petition was “consistent” with the couple’s prior planning and that Wilson’s seven children, his caretaker Gloria Ramos, and his doctors all supported the move. They said the conservatorship plan would “ensure” there would be “no extreme changes” to Wilson’s daily routine.

“Brian and the children living at home will be taken care of and remain in the home where they are cared for by Gloria Ramos and the wonderful team at the house who have been in place for many years helping take care of the family,” the statement said. “Brian will be able to enjoy all of his family and friends and continue to work on current projects as well as participate in any activities he chooses.”

Sievers said in a statement to Rolling Stone that the “overwhelming outpouring of love and support for Brian” was appreciated. “While Brian is diagnosed with dementia and he mourns the loss of his beloved wife Melinda, he is physically healthy and leads a full life and is currently working on projects,” Sievers said. “As is co-conservators, we will ensure that all of Brian’s daily living needs are satisfied and he continues to lead an active life.”

The conservatorship petition did not mention Wilson’s decades-long history of mental health issues, but he previously addressed his struggles in public comments. During an interview with Larry King in 2004, Wilson and Melinda said he had a form of schizoaffective disorder. He described having a “slight nervous breakdown” in the 1960s, hearing voices in his head, and dealing with bouts of depression.

Through it all, he maintained his ability to write songs. Singing and writing offered him a respite from the voices, he said. After stepping back from touring with the Beach Boys early in his career, Wilson kept writing. He later returned to live shows as a solo artist, and while he toured steadily over the past few decades — including a reunion with the Beach Boys in 2012 — he hasn’t performed in concert since July 2022.

His music continues to draw dedicated fans and fellow musicians. As Rolling Stone recently reported, a country album Wilson started in 1970 will be the subject of an upcoming docuseries partially dedicated to its completion.

“I got to visit and spend time with Brian a few days after his wife passed,” Jason Fine, Wilson’s longtime friend who collaborated with Wilson on the documentary Long Promised Road, says. “He was sad, but typically stoic. We spent time watching clips for the Beatles rooftop concert. He told me he’d love to get his mind off things and go to a Lakers game.”

From Rolling Stone US