Friends was the only studio album released by The Beach Boys in 1968.
As work on the album began in February 1968, Mike Love, a recent convert to transcendental meditation, departed on a two week trip to India (alongside The Beatles and Donovan) to study TM further with his new master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In his absence, the remaining Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and - now an official member - Bruce Johnston recorded the bulk of Friends along with selected members of The Wrecking Crew.
Friends was the first Beach Boys album to feature significant songwriting contributions from Dennis Wilson, "Little Bird" and "Be Still"; the former's bridge incorporated elements of "Child Is The Father Of The Man", a a then-unreleased song from the aborted Smile. Although production was credited to the group as a whole, this was the band's last album until 1977's Love You to feature Brian Wilson as a dominant creative force, writing or-co-writing every song with the exception of his younger brother's contributions and actively participating in recording sessions. As a harbinger of what was to come, Wilson was briefly insitutionalized shortly after the release of Friends
In mid-March, Mike Love returned from his TM retreat and contributed to the subsequent vocal sessions, with leads on the brief "Meant for You", which opens the album, and the understated "Anna Lee, the Healer", who was in reality a spiritual healer and not a masseuse as has been claimed (that was Marcella, on a later album). Almost immediately, The Beach Boys embarked on two US tours, one with the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and another with, most controversially, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself (as a lecturer). Both were commercial failures, and were swiftly canceled (after they famously drew only 200 people in New York City).