UCLA has just established a new scholarship named for the Beach Boys' creative genius, Brian Wilson. According to Newsroom.ucla.edu,”The two-year award will be presented every other year to a junior in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music whose career aspirations include any combination of composing, arranging and producing popular music. The scholarship is funded by a gift of $100,000 from David Leaf, a UCLA adjunct professor in musicology and a writer and filmmaker.”

Leaf, a longtime friend and biographer of Wilson's explained, “I was looking for a way to meaningfully honor Brian’s legacy in a way that was different from anything I’d done before, whether it was a book, a movie, liner notes or produce box sets. If you look at the 1960's, I would argue that he was one of the most, if not the most, influential, important and accomplished composers, arrangers and producers in contemporary music. This just struck me as the right thing to do.”

Brian Wilson was clearly thrilled by the news of the scholarship and said, “I’m honored by David Leaf’s generosity in creating this scholarship in my name and feel very proud. I hope that the UCLA students who it supports will help lead the next wave of great musicians.”

The scholarship’s inaugural recipient is David Ghesser, a music composition major from Los Angeles, who plans to graduate in 2021. He explained: “I’ve really loved Brian’s music for a long time — he’s one of my musical inspirations. He’s an incredible genius in how he writes melodies and produces his songs. When I was told that I was going to be the first recipient of the Brian Wilson scholarship, I was honored to have my name associated with his.”

According to the report: “To further fund the scholarship, the music school has launched an online crowdfunding campaign whose goal is to raise another $100,000 to match Leaf’s initial gift. To learn more about the effort or to donate, visit the campaign website: https://lettherebe.ucla.edu”

David Leaf, the director of the 2004 Grammy-nominated documentary Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson And The Story Of Smile, told us that he feels Wilson's best work still lays ahead of him: “I believe that Brian has as many great works within him as he's already made. The only challenge for him is to get them out of his piano room and into the world. I think that he is confident that the world wants to hear whatever he does. I think that's what Smile and That Lucky Old Sun have shown. And he is in complete control of his music from the point of view of that he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.”

Producer Don Was who spent time behind the boards for both Brian Wilson on his own and with the Beach Boys, also directed the riveting 1995 documentary on Wilson, called, I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, named after Wilson's 1966 classic from Pet Sounds. Was remains as impressed today as he ever was Wilson: “The sum total of my experience with him is that as an artist, he’s, y’know, without peer. He’s got a unique vision of music that’s had an enormous impact on the vocabulary of rock n’ roll. And on a personal level, the guy, he’s a man of steel, y’know? I mean, he’s got incredible strength, he’s overcome some really severe obstacles that have been tossed in his way, and really survived.”