“Help Me Rhonda, like most of the Beach Boys songs was written by Brian Wilson. The first version of the song was titled “Help Me Ronda,” just a little different spelling.
By 1964, the stress of constant touring and being responsible for much of the writing and performing for the group began to take its toll on Brian Wilson. He was on a flight to Houston, Texas when he suddenly experienced a panic attack. As a result, he left the tour and returned home. He announced shortly after that that he would not be touring anymore and would just devote his time to writing and arranging the music. Not many know, but Glen Campbell stepped in to take Brian’s place in the group. Campbell stayed with the group from December of 1964 to March of 1965, so he was only with them for three or four months.
Brian Wilson was getting more ambitious and his work was maturing. In 1965, they again released three albums, “Today” (#4), “Summer Days and Summer Nights” (#2) and “Party” (#6). These featured songs which showed that the group was growing. “Today” featured such songs as “Dance, Dance, Dance” written by Brian, Carl and Mike Love. It was another top 10 for the guys, peaking at number 8. The album also includes two of my favorite Beach Boys songs. “Help Me Rhonda”, written by Brian and Mike Love, was released as a single and became their second number one song. This is their first song that hit the charts that featured Al Jardine as the lead singer.
There is a lot of speculation as to who “Rhonda” really was. A girlfriend or wife of one the members of the band, maybe? It turns out that Brian later admitted that Rhonda doesn’t really exist. It’s just a name that sounded good for the song.
Al Jardine almost didn’t become a Beach Boy. He wanted to be a dentist and had applied to a school to further that ambition. He figured rock and roll was just a temporary thing. After all, how many bands really made it. He sang on one of their early hits, “Surfin U.S.A.” and then quit the band to go back to school. When “Surfin U.S.A.” hit number three on the Billboard charts, he decided to come back. I think he’s glad he did.
After Glen Campbell left, Bruce Johnston took over for him, playing bass guitar and singing Brian’s part in the songs that followed. Johnston stayed with the Beach Boys until 1972 and is considered one of the original members as he sang on many of their biggest hits. He went solo for a few years and then in 1978, he re-joined the group.
“Help Me, Rhonda” debuted on the pop chart on May 1, 1965 and spent two weeks at number one. It was their second number one song.