Look what I`ve found which has something to do with the Beach Boys: It is said that Brian Wilson, the creative genius behind the BB, abandoned the project he was working on after hearing Sgt Pepper for the first time. He didn`t see the point of going on now that the definitive album had been made. The Beatles were greater! (but, please, don`t get offended as you all love the Beatles as well).
Yeah, that's a very well known myth, but complete
nonsense. It's just a story that someone made up and that has been repeated ever since by lazy journalists that haven't done proper research.
Of course I don't have absolute knowledge on the subject, but I've read about 10-15 different Beach Boys/Brian Wilson biographies and had some online conversations with people very close to the Beach Boys camp and everyone who could know seems to agree: yes, Brian did see The Beatles as competition, but in a healthy way. He was mostly a fan and saw it as a challenge to do better than them, but it wasn't an obsession. The Beatles inspired and motivated him, and vice versa. And by all accounts, he's always seen "Rubber Soul" and not "Sgt. Pepper" as The Beatles' most impressive album. There was actually one competitor that he truely felt threatened by: Phil Spector. Brian absolutely worshipped Spector but Spector showed his disdain for Brian's work whenever he got the chance. John Lennon and Paul McCartney however have always been very
supportive of Brian.
Brian Wilson shelved the "Smile" project in 1967 and became a reclusive after that (but although it's a popular myth that he didn't leave his bedroom for a couple of years, he kept having a few productive days, weeks or even months every now and then), but that took a lot more than just a Beatles album. Brian Wilson had a very weak mental health for most of his life (he's been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type). He had his first nervous breakdown in 1964 and has been hearing evil voices in his head ever since. And he was then already known to act pretty 'weird' sometimes (but he was rich and famous, so people didn't think he was weird, just eccentric). On top of that he had to deal with a very abusive father (who still bullied him as an adult), a very demanding record company (Capitol had gotten used to Brian writing, arranging and producing three new hit albums per year and didn't want him to slow down), a non-cooperative band (reportedly, especially Mike Love didn't approve of Brian's progressive new direction and pressured him to stick to the hit formula to keep the money coming in) and on top of all that, he had started doing too much drugs. So what it came down to: he was a mentally instable guy on drugs with way too much pressure on his shoulders. It was bound to go wrong one way or another.
And during the time he was working on "Smile", Brian didn't really have a reason to acknowledge that the Beatles were 'greater'. He was one of the few American musicians from the pre-Beatles era to survive the British invasion with his carreer unharmed. His last single "Good Vibrations" had just been a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The Beach Boys had just beaten the Beatles in a British
popularity poll. John Lennon and Paul McCartney considered him a genius. Andrew Loog Oldham was so impressed by "Pet Sounds" that he personally paid for an advertisement for the album. Insiders told everyone that the new album was gonna be so good that it would overshadow "Pet Sounds". Capitol Records was so confident about the album that the record sleeves and store displays were printed before the recordings were even halfway done. Even classical composer Leonard Bernstein praised Brian's new music. So there was really no reason for Brian to throw in the towel just because he heard a really good album by someone else.
So yeah, it does sounds like a spectaculair story... Brian Wilson heard "Sgt. Pepper", was so impressed that he freaked out and lost his mental health... But that's a complete myth.
Brian finally managed to finish "Smile" in 2004 (although not with the Beach Boys but with his current touring band). Paul McCartney was in the audience when Brian performed the entire album live in London that year.