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Author Topic: Brian Wilson & Joe Thomas  (Read 3932 times)
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« on: September 28, 2017, 12:21:15 PM »

So I've been reading about the production of BW's solo material on some recent threads, and I have many questions.

Why was Joe Thomas brought in for Stars & Stripes?

How come after all the BS Brian went through in the late 90's with Thomas, why was he brought back in 2012?

What was the story with Joe Thomas being a producer on NPP, and then being dismissed somewhere down the line, so Brian could finish the album by himself?


I'm just very intrigued and confused by this subject.
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 12:27:13 PM »

I think the easiest explanation for 2012 is that Thomas had recordings Brian wanted. But it could also be he was mutually acceptable among the parties.
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 12:32:40 PM »

So I've been reading about the production of BW's solo material on some recent threads, and I have many questions.

Why was Joe Thomas brought in for Stars & Stripes?

How come after all the BS Brian went through in the late 90's with Thomas, why was he brought back in 2012?

What was the story with Joe Thomas being a producer on NPP, and then being dismissed somewhere down the line, so Brian could finish the album by himself?


I'm just very intrigued and confused by this subject.

Here's an old post from guitarfool that recaps how Joe Thomas came into the BB orbit. Long story short, Joe had the S&S idea and took it to Mike, and it went on from there:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,24284.msg590741.html#msg590741
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 12:48:52 PM »

I think the easiest explanation for 2012 is that Thomas had recordings Brian wanted. But it could also be he was mutually acceptable among the parties.

He also built a multimedia production outfit, allowing for easy creation of tour videos, etc. And I think Brian also wanted a buffer to deal with the rest of the group -- the last person who had performed that role was Joe.

As for the No Pier Pressure sessions, no one has said outright that Joe was dismissed or anything. Just the general rumors about the way the production wrapped up suggested that Brian had taken a bit more charge of the proceedings, and Joe had other business to attend to in Chicago.
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 12:56:49 PM »

What was the deal with the lawsuit between Melinda and Joe? And I am misremembering, or weren't there some really ugly things said about each other? Why am I remembering reading about a slur of some sort being said? Too lazy to research this right now.

I'm way surprised that things got patched up; I guess it was really because he was one of the only people who was able to work well with Brian and also Mike, plus Brian had some tunes cowritten with Joe, and if they hadn't patched things up, those tunes would have never seen the light of day/completion.
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 12:57:27 PM »

Was Joe Thomas the smusher or the captain? Grin
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 01:00:54 PM »

Bad Vibrations (Chicago Sun-Times)

September 22, 1999

BY DAVE HOEKSTRA STAFF REPORTER

The good vibrations have gone bad between Beach Boy Brian Wilson and his former partner and producer Joe Thomas.

Earlier this month, Wilson put his 23-room home in far west suburban St. Charles on the market for $2.4 million. Wilson, wife Melinda and their two children, who returned to Beverly Hills, haven't lived in the house since March.

The sale comes after a lawsuit that Melinda Wilson filed Aug. 23 in Los Angeles Superior Court. It seeks to dissolve Wilson-Thomas Productions, a company co-owned by the Wilsons and Thomas, and alleges that Thomas took advantage of the Wilson name.

Thomas filed a countersuit Aug. 27 in Cook County Circuit Court that seeks $5 million in punitive damages; it charges that Melinda Wilson manipulated Brian Wilson and Thomas.

His suit also seeks to place Wilson-Thomas Productions' assets in a trust, appoint a receiver to manage the company's affairs and conduct an accounting.

Making matters worse, Wilson and Thomas were next-door neighbors. Their wives bought the homes together on what was supposed to be a suburban shopping spree in spring 1997.

Maybe Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart are looking for a cozy little mansion with a sauna, exercise room, nine fireplaces and a state-of-the-art recording studio.

"We've had a lot of calls," said Arlene Witmer, the Coldwell Banker real estate agent handling the sale. "But it's not officially on the market until Sept. 28. There are still things being done in the house."

Meanwhile, surf's out for Thomas.

"I'm devastated," he said in an interview last week. "The sad thing about the people who get close to Brian is that the same things happen over and over again. It's got to be tiring for the public to hear this."

In the past, Wilson weathered the storms churned up by his late father and first manager Murry, Beach Boys bandmate and cousin Mike Love and songwriting partner (and Wilson's former psychiatrist) Eugene Landy.

Thomas last saw Wilson in mid-June when Brian and his solo touring band finished a short East Coast tour. Thomas played keyboards and sang backing vocals. "Everything was cool," said Thomas, who added that he doesn't expect to see Wilson again. "I was under the understanding we were going to finish the two albums we had recorded."

Thomas said they had almost finished an uptempo, rock-oriented studio album and a live disc recorded last March at the Rosemont Theatre.

Then the word came down, Thomas said, that the discs were not going to happen. "It wasn't from Brian, in my opinion," said Thomas, who has produced Alan Parsons, Peter Cetera and roots rocker Monte Warden. "That's all I can say. I'm still confused why we recorded two albums' worth of material and the decision is being made not to release them."

Thomas figures the tapes will be destroyed.

In early July, Wilson, his wife and the band went to Japan for a 10-day tour. Thomas stayed home to work on the two records. While in Japan, Thomas said, Melinda booked Wilson on a monthlong West Coast tour for October.

"That was done without my knowledge, which is my contention in my suit," Thomas said. "I would guess from everything going on that Melinda made the decision Brian was going to tour rather than record."

"That's ridiculous," said a Wilson spokesperson. "Brian has a booking agency. He used to have William Morris, and he's had the Agency Group since the Japan dates. Melinda isn't booking the dates."

Neither Brian nor Melinda Wilson would comment.

Over time, Melinda became more involved with the Wilson-Thomas partnership, Thomas said. "Especially since Carl [Brian's brother] and Brian's mom died [both in 1998], Melinda's involvement dramatically increased," Thomas said. "I'm not sure it's Melinda's place to be in the studio with us.

"Toward the end of the relationship, I wasn't convinced that Brian was making the musical decisions."
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 01:10:49 PM »

I think the easiest explanation for 2012 is that Thomas had recordings Brian wanted. But it could also be he was mutually acceptable among the parties.

He also built a multimedia production outfit, allowing for easy creation of tour videos, etc. And I think Brian also wanted a buffer to deal with the rest of the group -- the last person who had performed that role was Joe.


I think these three reasons are likely at the heart of how Joe came back into the fold.

In the few interviews he gave, Thomas described having held onto the demos/worktapes of Brian's from the 1998-ish timeframe.

Brian apparently called him up several years prior to C50 commencing. I'm guessing part of bringing Joe back into the fold was to gain access to those compositions/tapes.

And indeed, Thomas has also worked on stuff like the PBS "Soundstage" show for years and had/has a whole apparatus to make something like C50 happen. He put a lot of C50 together. Someone was definitely needed to fill that role, and nobody at BRI was able to at that time.

And especially in the studio, Thomas surely was a good buffer for Brian to have in the studio. Probably similar to how he had Don Was (and Andy Paley) in there during the aborted mid-90s BB sessions.

It's also *very* interesting in my opinion to see how Joe Thomas's public persona in the 2010's is *very* different from 1998/99. In 98/99, Thomas was all over the TV documentary in interviews, was at Brian's side for TV appearances, was in the touring band, and so on. As I've mentioned in the past, there is hardly any photographic evidence of Joe Thomas since he rejoined with Brian and the BB's circa 2010-ish and into 2012-2015. Thomas only gave two *print* interviews surrounding C50 as I recall. There isn't a single photo I've seen of Joe with Brian and/or the BB's from 2012. I think I've seen *one* photo of Joe posing with Brian/Al/Dave during the 2013 tour.
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 01:19:06 PM »

Without getting too inside , i have to state that I believe  the rumors of the  Thomas demise with respect to NPP  and RJR have been really exaggerated! I know one of the guitar players who played on Run James Run as well as another song on NPP. As of just a few months ago, he worked with both Brian and Thomas together at separate studios! I asked how. Something that  nobody thought of yet was his answer. He said  when they were recording,Brian was at Oceanway and Joe was at another studio with the guitar player, presumably in Nashville. He said Brian and Joe were on Skype laughing it up and that Brian seemed very involved and comfortable communicating with  Thomas on the   TV monitor they set up in the studio. He went on to say that other than a very short time delay, they communicated very well together! As if they had done this before. According to him,at one point Brian laughed that he was ordering at  In and Out Burger and it was sad that they couldn't share their usual studio meal  together.   Digital lines and skype  is a very common practice here in Nashville. Not the In and Out Burger part. My guess is that they are both very busy. And Id be willing to bet that whomever stated that Thomas was out because he wasn't at the final sessions in L A , may have left out this important detail. So as they say in Star Wars, it is true from a certain perspective that Thomas wasn't there in La. But from another it seems that Wilson and Thomas are possibly more high tech than we could have imagined.
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2017, 01:27:37 PM »

Cool stuff timbnash!
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2017, 01:40:26 PM »

Recording remotely/over the internet is not a new thing, it was done as early as the mid-late 90s at least.

Given Thomas's well-known aversion to flying, this sort of set up makes sense. Brian hasn't had a ton of downtime this year after March, so I'm not sure how much recording may have been done this year.

I think, too, that Brian is more likely to work with Joe when they're working on their joint compositions. So, for instance, I'm not sure if Joe would definitely be involved if Brian goes in and records and album of oldie R&R songs.

They seem to have a more appropriate relationship now than in 1998/99. The problem back then was that their business partnership (to say nothing of moving in next door to each other) made it difficult for Brian to just *an* album without Thomas and then maybe go back and forth between working with and without Thomas. So these days, it's not like Joe is joined with Brian at the hip for everything he does.
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2017, 02:19:03 PM »

Regarding any relationship stuff, I don't know. They're big boys. They're both pros. They were friends at one time (at least). Yes, things got ugly with business, as unfortunately happens. Presumably they've just moved on. Y'know, like normal human beings who are stuck in the past.

I'm sure when BW feels like working with JT (like on some of NPP), he tries to arrange it. When he doesn't, he doesn't. It's not all or nothing. A professional relationship (and even friendship) isn't a monogamous marriage. There need not be drama. There need not be a "story."
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2017, 02:33:59 PM »

Regarding any relationship stuff, I don't know. They're big boys. They're both pros. They were friends at one time (at least). Yes, things got ugly with business, as unfortunately happens. Presumably they've just moved on. Y'know, like normal human beings who are stuck in the past.

I'm sure when BW feels like working with JT (like on some of NPP), he tries to arrange it. When he doesn't, he doesn't. It's not all or nothing. A professional relationship (and even friendship) isn't a monogamous marriage. There need not be drama. There need not be a "story."

It's interesting, considering *just* how ugly things apparently got with Joe vs. Melinda/Brian, that they patched things up and worked on MULTIPLE consecutive projects down the road. I would not have thought this possible had it not actually happened. This is in stark contrast to Mike, the other guy who it is extremely surprising that things were (even only temporarily) patched up with, only to have things fall apart again very quickly.

Again, most likely unlike the Mike/Brian situation, I have a hunch that Joe and Melinda probably had an adult, mature conversation at some point, with some actual apologies being uttered by both sides. Maybe not, but just a hunch. There were no family bonds to coerce such a relationship to become decent again, so it stands to reason they probably dealt with their past issues in something resembling a mature manner.
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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2017, 02:47:12 PM »

Well said Captain, these guys are adults working at the end of the day. Not some fanboy fantasy soap opera....



P.S- Add smusher to your signature.....
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2017, 05:41:35 PM »

Don't tell me how to live my life.
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« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2017, 06:15:51 PM »

I love to say dada....
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2017, 07:01:32 PM »

I made smush in my pants...NURSE! !!
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« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2017, 07:02:25 PM »

 LOL
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« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2017, 07:35:46 PM »

Re: That article reprinted above and some subsequent comments.

What isn't addressed is what Peter Carlin hinted at in his book regarding the presentation of the music. We should let anyone who doesn't know or hasn't read that account catch up, then I'd love to hear some comments and discussion and opinions on that.

My two cents, yes it's reviving the past and all that but if the Carlin account is something readers believe is the truth, and it is a surface telling of the story...the fans like me who saw Brian on that very first tour when his band played as authentic and respectful to the original music being presented and as kick-ass and jaw-dropping in terms of musicianship as I've ever seen in person got the best of the behind the scenes stuff that happened. We got what fans are still digging on the live stage almost 20 years later. We didn't get what the Carlin account says could have been A.C. and smooth jazz reworkings of classics in place of the original arrangements and original instrumentation that still makes the live shows so special.

Having said that, and it is just an addendum to the 1999 article which doesn't mention the musical angle that was a factor in some of this, the TWGMTR album and C50 was brilliant. The album seems to get better every time I give it a spin, and it sounds great. It was just what the fans and what the band needed after not doing sh*t together for years. The songs were there, and someone who could facilitate and make things happen. It's a shame Mike pulled the plug on revisiting a model that worked and scored a top-5 album and a tour that everyone raved about and were asking for more dates. Kudos to Joe for doing what he did in 2012.



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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2017, 07:50:02 PM »

The Imagination DVD actually gives a decent idea of the approach Joe presumably had in mind. Footage from the 1998 St. Charles show features a very AC approach -- along with Bruce and Christopher Cross auditioning for the Jeff Foslett role ...
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« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2017, 11:18:40 PM »

I still like TWGMTR but prefer the textures of NPP personally,  esp the bass sound
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« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2017, 12:30:58 AM »

Thomas said they had almost finished an uptempo, rock-oriented studio album and a live disc recorded last March at the Rosemont Theatre.

Then the word came down, Thomas said, that the discs were not going to happen. "It wasn't from Brian, in my opinion," said Thomas, who has produced Alan Parsons, Peter Cetera and roots rocker Monte Warden. "That's all I can say. I'm still confused why we recorded two albums' worth of material and the decision is being made not to release them."

Thomas figures the tapes will be destroyed.

In early July, Wilson, his wife and the band went to Japan for a 10-day tour. Thomas stayed home to work on the two records. While in Japan, Thomas said, Melinda booked Wilson on a monthlong West Coast tour for October.

"That was done without my knowledge, which is my contention in my suit," Thomas said. "I would guess from everything going on that Melinda made the decision Brian was going to tour rather than record."

"That's ridiculous," said a Wilson spokesperson. "Brian has a booking agency. He used to have William Morris, and he's had the Agency Group since the Japan dates. Melinda isn't booking the dates."

Neither Brian nor Melinda Wilson would comment.

Over time, Melinda became more involved with the Wilson-Thomas partnership, Thomas said. "Especially since Carl [Brian's brother] and Brian's mom died [both in 1998], Melinda's involvement dramatically increased," Thomas said. "I'm not sure it's Melinda's place to be in the studio with us.

"Toward the end of the relationship, I wasn't convinced that Brian was making the musical decisions."
This part really depresses me.  As a music preservationist, it's just awful to hear.  Like the Sweet Insanity tapes presumably being stolen, and a rock and roll album being possibly destroyed?? 

As for the Melinda thing, this is news to me...  Perhaps Brian got bored with Joe Thomas?  I don't think Melinda would manipulate BW like that...  Just pettiness and fishiness...  Guess we'll never know.
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« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2017, 01:10:52 AM »

from http://records2.tripod.com/JulyAugSept1999.htm

Daily Music Update
Edited by Julie Taraska / August 24, 1999, 11:00 a.m. EDT
 

Brian Wilson Sues Business Partner

Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson has filed a suit to dissolve a 1997 joint venture with Joe Thomas, who co-produced Wilson's last album, the 1998 Giant release "Imagination."

The suit, filed yesterday by Wilson's wife and conservator Melinda in California Superior Court in L.A., alleges that Thomas "has used his association with Wilson to further his own interests and/or raise his profile in the entertainment industry and has, at every turn, attempted to inject himself into Wilson's professional life and career and reap profits not commensurate with [his] contributions."

The action alleges that Thomas sought to insert himself into a second album project with Wilson and tried to reap half the profits from Wilson's 1999 concert tour. The suit also seeks a declaration that Wilson is free to record his next album and engage in other music business activities without Thomas' participation, and compensatory and punitive damages to be determined.
Thomas could not be reached for comment.


Updated 9/3/99

Joe Thomas, co-producer of Brian Wilson's 1998 album "Imagination," has filed a countersuit against Melinda Wilson, the musician's wife and conservator. The action,
      filed Aug. 27 in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, answers an Aug. 23 suit filed in L.A. by Melinda on Brian's behalf, which seeks to dissolve a 1997 joint venture between Brian Wilson and Thomas.

Thomas' suit -- which seeks unspecified general damages and
$5 million in punitive damages -- claims that Melinda Wilson
"schemed against and manipulated both Brian and Joe, and has misused [the joint venture] in order to secure the full benefit of Brian's star-status for herself." The complaint also alleges that she demanded Thomas take fewer writing credits and a smaller share of the publishing.

 According to the suit, she canceled a tour in support of the
Giant Records album, and sought to "break Brian's ties with
Giant." When Thomas asked why she canceled the tour, she
allegedly replied, "I'm going to f--- that little Jew," referring to Giant founder Irving Azoff.

Melinda Wilson also purportedly sabotaged the production of a second album, for which Thomas had been offered substantial advances, by scheduling Japanese concert dates and secretly organizing a fall 1999 tour. In addition, she allegedly made defamatory comments about Thomas to tour personnel.

A Wilson spokeswoman had no comment.
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2017, 08:01:05 AM »

All I have to say about Joe Thomas is that the albums  was most involved in were very bland in my opinion. With the exception of No Pier Pressure. I think the collaborator that got the most out of Brian was Andy Paley. With the exception of That Lucky Old Sun which he worked on with Van Dyke Parks and  other  whom I won't name. Finding out that Brian finished the production of NPP perhaps explains why it is more interesting than other Joe Thomas productions.
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« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2017, 12:37:13 PM »

But the thing with Joe Thomas is that he actually gets stuff made, done, and out there released for people to buy.

That to me has always been his best attribute, as both a producer and apparently a business guy (on C50 anyway). He has gotten multiple Brian albums out, and in 2012 got a studio album, a tour, a live CD, a DVD/Blu-ray documentary, and a live DVD/Blu-ray all out within the span of about 8 months.

Meanwhile, the Paley sessions have languished in the vaults for two decades, with Brian occasionally rifling through the material to pad out new projects.

I think a 1995 Beach Boys album based on those Paley sessions would have been great, and a BW or BB album based on that would have been preferable to "Imagination."

But Thomas being a sympathetic ear for Brian in the studio and being able to push projects to fruition is an important aspect.

I always got the sense that Thomas seems like a nice guy, and has a *personality* that Brian has liked in the studio more than not, and I appreciate (even if it went down the path of overly-slick AC sound) that Thomas has mentioned in interviews that he doesn't act like a fawning superfan around Brian.

There are a dozen other producers and scenarios I'd prefer for Brian over Joe Thomas, but he has jump-started some of the most important and enjoyable things of the last couple decades in the BB universe (C50 wouldn't have happened without Thomas, and one could argue his '98 work with Brian is what allowed Brian's touring to take off in 1999).

Ideally, Thomas would continue in more of a business capacity with Brian the way he did on C50, while allowing Brian to do some stripped-down stuff on his own.

I'd love for Brian to work with Jeff Lynne. But better yet, an album of just Brian and a piano. Done. Record a few dozen songs, stitch it all together, and it could be amazing.
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