Brian Wilson’s F in High School Music Class Gets Changed to an A

The composition that became the Beach Boys' "Surfin'" originally didn't pass high school muster

Brian Wilson

Not every genius was always considered as such in their chosen field. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts — twice. Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t sell a painting for a loaf of bread during his lifetime. And Brian Wilson once failed high school music class.

The Beach Boys songwriter infamously received a flat F from a teacher named Fred Morgan back in his days at Hawthorne High School in California. The mark was for an assignment that would eventually become the band’s first single, “Surfin'”, launching an iconic career and an entire genre in the process. “Brian wrote a composition for me and it turned out to be ‘Surfin’,” Morgan would later say. “That composition got an F, but it made a million dollars.”

Now, Hawthorne High has made amends for Morgan’s poor foresight by reversing that old grade. The school’s current principal, Dr. Vanessa Landesfeind, invited Wilson back to his old stomping grounds over the weekend to officially change the F to an A. Looks like staying true to your school does indeed pay off in the end.

Check out photos from the occasion below.


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