George was a great inspiration to me, with his orchestral arrangements and production. The albums he made with the Beatles just had that wonderful sound and made me want to make good music too. It was Rubber Soul that inspired me to write Pet Sounds. My favorite of his arrangements is for the song “Yesterday,” because the violins sound so sweet. I also loved that song from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “She’s Leaving Home.” It absolutely blew my mind.
In 1997, I got to be in the recording studio with George, who died March 8 at age 90, for a documentary. It was a thrill. I was in awe of him when I finally got to work with him all those years later. I just remember he was still very skilled at mixing and working in the console, despite losing his hearing in his later years. He was a handsome man with a calming voice, and when we were listening to “God Only Knows,” I remember him saying how he loved my brother Carl’s voice. He will be remembered as one of the great producers.
Wilson is a singer, composer and record producer who co-founded the Beach Boys
This appears in the March 21, 2016 issue of TIME.