Curt Boettcher

Curt BoettcherFrom: Eau Claire, WI, USA

Curt Boettcher was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer from Wisconsin. Boettcher was a major figure in the mid-1960s emergence of sunshine pop, working with The Association, The Millennium, Sagittarius, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Tommy Roe, Elton John, Gene Clark, Emitt Rhodes, Tandyn Almer, The Beach Boys, and more. The New York Times wrote about Boettcher, stating “If his life had gone just a bit differently, [he] might have been another Brian Wilson … As it stands, Boettcher — a pop-music producer whose heyday was the late ’60s — now survives in rock history mostly as a liner-note credit. He could have been, but never was. Yet he enjoys a godlike status among a select group of music fans, for whom obscurity is more enticing than fame.”

In 1962, Boettcher attended the University of Minnesota. In 1963, he formed the folk quartet The GoldeBriars with Dotti and Sheri Holmber and Ron Neilsson. They relocated to Los Angeles after they were signed by Epic Records. The band recorded and released two albums in 1964, The GoldeBriars and Straight Ahead! There was, apparently, a third album released in 1965, but it was never released. Prior to recording their third album, the band added drummer Ron Edgar (later of The Music Machine). Boettcher arranged most of the band’s material and also contributed as a songwriter. Accomplished songwriter Bobb Goldsteinn became Boettcher’s manager and confidante, as well as lyricist for some of The GoldeBriars’ songs and lead the band in more of a pop-oriented direction. The GoldeBriars performed live in the 1965 film Once Upon A Coffee House.

After The GoldeBriars broke up, Boettcher moved into producing and writing for others, including Lee Mallory and The Association. Through his production partnership Our Production, Boettcher produced the debut album by The Association, And Then…Along Comes The Association, in 1966. The album featured two Top 10 hits in ‘Along Comes Mary’ (#7 in the USA) and ‘Cherish”‘(#1). ‘Along Comes Mary’ was written by Tandyn Almer, who wrote it as a slow song. Boettcher sped up the tempo and recorded a demo on which he sang vocals. This demo was presented to The Association who used is a reference when making their arrangement for the song. Boettcher and Almer had a dispute over writing credits for the song. Boettcher argued that his extensive contributions to the arrangement, which formed the basis of the hit version, warranted a co-write. Ultimately, the song was credited solely to Almer.

After And Then…Along Comes The Association achieved commercial success, the band dropped their manager, Dean Fredericks. Fredericks filled a breach of contract suit against the band, claiming they were bound by a seven-year agreement. He then joined Our Productions, which lead to The Association no longer associating with the company. They decided to hire member Jim Yester’s brother Jerry as their new A&R person. As a result of all that happened, despite his contributions to the debut album and it’s commercial breakthrough, Boettcher was prevented from continuing as the band’s producer.

In 1966, Boettcher formed the band The Ballroom with Sandy Salisbury, Michele O’Malley, and Jim Bell. The four recorded an album’s worth of material, but other than two songs that appeared on a 1967 single, the sessions remained unreleased until 2001. Later in 1966, Boettcher produced two hit singles for Tommy Roe, “Sweet Pea” and “Hooray For Hazel.” Production for both songs was credited to Boettcher’s Our Productions partner, Steve Clark, but Boettcher has claimed that it was he who produced the songs. In 1967. Boettcher produced Roe’s album It’s Now Winter’s Day.

It is said that Boettcher met both Gary Usher and Brian Wilson while producing and mixing the first single by Lee Mallory, ‘That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be’. Years latter, Usher insisted that Boettcher influenced Brian Wilson during the development of the Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds, leading him to abandon surfing music. However, Usher’s statements are contradicted by session date logs and contemporary publications, where band members have claimed they were looking beyond the confinements of surf rock as early as 1964.

Gary Usher bought Boettcher’s contract and signed him as a staff producer for Columbia Records. He enlisted Boettcher to collaborate on a personal project, a studio band called Sagittarius, under whose name he produced the single “My World Fell Down.” The song became a minor hit, and was sung by Glen Campbell who was doing a lot of session work in L.A. at the time. Because of the signal’s minor success, Columbia requested Sagittarius make a full album, only to discover there was no band. Usher and Boettcher became the studio group and an album was made and released in 1968 titled Present Tense. Some of the songs were adapted from The Ballroom sessions, while others were re-recorded with new arrangements. A second single, “Hotel Indiscreet,” was recorded with Boettcher, but failed to chart. The album was also a commercial failure.

Boettcher’s successful productions for The Association and Tommy Roe convinced Columbia to finance Boettcher’s own studio project. In 1967 he assembled a group of musicians and songwriters that he had previously worked with or knew, as well as some of Los Angeles’ best session musicians, and started recording an album under the group moniker The Millennium. Keith Olsen, a friend of Boettcher’s since college, co-produced the album. The band’s debut/only album, Begin, was the most expensive album ever recorded for Columbia at that point. Several singles were released from the album, but sales were horrendous, and the project was deemed a commercial flop. This had a lot to do with Boettcher’s reluctance to tour. The Millennium played a few live performances in L.A., but had a hard time replicating the album in concert, dissuading Boettcher from sustaining the project. Despite its commercial failure, Begin is critically regarded as one of the better pop albums from the late 1960s, and has been describe by AllMusic Guide as a “bona fide lost classic.”

Soon after the breakup of The Millennium, Gary Usher, who had been fired from Columbia Records, started his own label called Together Records. Boettcher and Olsen were brought in as staff producers, and Boettcher was involved in several of the label’s projects. Included in these projects was Boettcher’s first attempt at a solo album, producing an album for Sandy Salisbury, contributing to the second Sagittarius album, and co-producing with Olsen “The Moses Lake Recordings” by The Bards. The Sagittarius album and Salisbury singles were both released, but Together Records failed before any of Boettcher’s other projects could be released. Some of his material was eventually released in the early 2000s, on the compilation Misty Mirage.

The early 1970s saw little success for Boettcher. In 1971, at the insistence of Elektra Records, he signed with the company, who were huge fans of The Millennium album. The project took almost two years to complete. In 1973, the album There’s An Innocent Face was released under the name Curt Boettcher. It was very different than any of his earlier work, being a collection of country, sunshine pop, arena rock, and folk. The album failed commercially. He recorded a follow-up album tentatively titled Chicken Little Was Right, but it was never completed.

Later in 1973, Boettcher served as mixdown engineer on the Emitt Rhodes album Farewell To Paradise. Later in the ’70s, he sang backing vocals on a number of Elton John recordings, as well as recordings by Tanya Tucker, Helen Reddy, Eric Carmen, and Dennis Wilson.

After awhile, Boettcher’s output as a musician and producer was rather sporadic. His best-known work of the late ’70s was a 10-minute long disco version of the song “Here Comes The Night” by The Beach Boys. The song was a moderate hit in 1979 and was included on L.A. (Light Album); the song was a remake from The Beach Boys’ original 1967 album Wild Honey. Going under the moniker Curt Becher, he recorded a disco version of Shortin’ Bread for The Beach Boys that appeared on some bootleg collections. He also produced Mike Love’s solo album Looking Back With Love. In the 1980s, Boettcher produced new recordings by a later incarnation of The Association, but these were never released.

Boettcher passed away in 1987 at Los Angeles County Hospital while being treated for a lung infection. Soon before his death, he set up the Valley Center Studios with Mark Antaky and Dave Jenkins, and was recording with Randy California of Spirit. Those recording have never been released.

Artist Info: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…


Misty Mirage – 2000
Misty Mirage

  • Misty Mirage [Previously Unreleased]

The Collected Curt Boettcher, Vol. 1 – 2013

  • Along Comes Mary (Demo) [Originally Unreleased, 1966]