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Author Topic: Denny's stature in the BBs, if he'd gotten proper credit on You Are So Beautiful  (Read 1762 times)
CenturyDeprived
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« on: June 25, 2018, 03:43:24 PM »

Part of me wonders what political weight Denny might have garnered in The BBs during his lifetime, if he'd been credited as a writer on You Are So Beautiful.

Especially since no original song in that era - written/cowritten by a then-active member of the band - came anywhere near YASB's #5 placement on the charts, if my calculations are correct. (Rock and Roll Music sorta doesn't quite count being a cover version, and I Write The Songs being written while Bruce was out of the band).

Would the record company have asked for more Denny-written content?
Would the BBs have given Denny more clout, and would POB have gotten more promo and better sales?

Of course, even if Denny had that credit, I don't see him bragging about it in a Mike "Kokoko" Love type fashion. But still, it'd have been a feather in Denny's cap, and I don't think they would have made a secret about it, either. I could even possibly see The BBs bragging about Denny's contribution in a 1970s interview or two... unless they'd have further feared that Denny would leave The BBs and have greater success without the band.

I think the implications of how things actually went down with the credit for this song... versus how things *could* have gone down if the credit had properly been given to Denny at the time, could have been HUGE in the band's history.

How much money would Denny potentially have made from this song? Not saying that a boatload more money would have been good for someone with substance abuse problems either. But then again, he could have had more confidence, and events like the infamous tarmac incident where Denny's talent was berated/minimized might not have happened either.

Finally... when Denny started singing the song live in The BBs' sets in the late '70s and early '80s... I'm assuming this meant that the band must have known about Denny's involvement in the song, right? That Denny didn't just say "hey, this random famous song NOT COWRITTEN BY ME IN THE SLIGHTEST would be a song I'd like to regularly include in the set for years to come"... that makes no sense. I'm guessing it must have been an open secret to some degree, right?

Side note: considering how miffed Mike was at his own credits not being what they should have been, I wonder how he felt about Denny's crediting issue.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 03:45:21 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
MrRobinsonsFather
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 12:42:43 AM »

Personally I donít think it would of made that much difference, the guys already knew he wrote that one.

What is the infamous tarmac incident? I donít recall it.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 09:16:35 AM »

Just to keep things factual, Dennis began singing YASB during BBs encores in 1975. His role in composing the song was definitely an open secret among his friends, family and collaborators. But Dennis' personal intention was never to publicly claim credit or dispute the official credit. His plan was to simply perform the song as his signature concert solo, and in that way reclaim it, in his words making it "his own".
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 09:54:53 AM »

Personally I donít think it would of made that much difference, the guys already knew he wrote that one.

What is the infamous tarmac incident? I donít recall it.

I thought about that too, but I think it would have made a difference. How much difference is debatable, but I don't think it wouldn't have made any.

Just because Denny's mates knew, I can see that as being a totally different situation as opposed to his mates PLUS the whole world + bigwigs in the music industry knowing too. This piece of songwriting trivia probably would have been written about in many trade papers, repeatedly, when the band's name was mentioned, even just when an article about The BBs playing a show was printed. You know, the way Bruce has repeatedly been linked, in countless articles, to I Write The Songs.

The way I see it, when someone writes a hit song, and they're in a famous band (even if that song isn't for that particular band), it's going to get people to have more faith in them, or at least to some degree incentivize people (whether that's just industry people, fans, band mates anxious for more hits, etc) to bug that songwriter to write more hit material.

Would Bruce have been asked to produce 2 albums for The BBs if he hadn't just recently gotten the accolades and fame that came from writing a big hit for Manilow? Not sure. I'm not saying Denny would have been thought of unquestionably as the next hitmaking machine, either by the industry, fans, or his bandmates... but I think Denny's songwriting skills would have received some renewed faith, confidence, and probably even jealousy from his cousin, had word about the credit been completely, unquestionably publicly known.

Regarding the tarmac incident...

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,6867.msg110359.html#msg110359

I'm just guessing that if it was publicly known that Denny wrote a hit song, and this piece of trivia had been written about in numerous articles for a few years, that accusations such as Denny was riding "on Brian Wilson's coattails" might not have been uttered. Those weren't true words to begin with, but they'd make even less sense when directed towards someone who had just had a hand in writing a hit song without any involvement with the group whatsoever.  

I just mean that toxic stuff like that, where Denny was being undervalued by those around him, might possibly have been less of a thing.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 10:11:49 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 10:06:57 AM »

Just to keep things factual, Dennis began singing YASB during BBs encores in 1975. His role in composing the song was definitely an open secret among his friends, family and collaborators. But Dennis' personal intention was never to publicly claim credit or dispute the official credit. His plan was to simply perform the song as his signature concert solo, and in that way reclaim it, in his words making it "his own".

Thanks for this info, John. I wonder if friends/family tried to convince Denny that he should have in fact tried to get credit (and royalties) for this song, especially when he had financial problems. But I assume that Denny (like Brian) would have had an allergic reaction to anything courtroom-related, not to mention anything that would have smacked of greed or turning on fellow musicians/friends, even if they had left him out of the crediting.

Then again, seeing as Denny's cousin Mike had numerous uncredited contributions to hit songs, maybe that "normalized" that as just being a "thing" that happened sometimes in the industry, and that it was something that perhaps wasn't worth the potential icky emotional landmines of fighting against. After all, I don't think Mike did any pushback of fighting (at least publicly) during Denny's lifetime for Mike's own credits.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 10:07:43 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2018, 10:48:30 AM »

Interesting case. Depending on how strong individual fans' opinions may be on the issue of writing credits, this one could be maddening...or it could be considered Dennis' wishes that he didn't take, get, nor pursue credits.

What makes this more of an issue is that the song through the years, specifically from Joe Cocker's version, became a stone-cold classic. Go to a wedding anywhere and chances are good you will hear this. Then add up all of the cover versions, or times it was used in the media, and the royalties/income could become staggering.

But considering just how much of an issue writing credits became thanks to one particular Beach Boy, and how it became intertwined forever in the legacy of the band and the band's image, fans might think Dennis not only lost a ton of income but also lost the name recognition and due props for actually being a writer on this tune.

(Side note regarding royalties...In the 90's a rap single called 'Worldwide' by Royal Flush was built around a sample of the string intro from Billy Preston's original album cut. Which means Dennis' estate would have received any royalties collected from that song's use of that sample.)

I'm not doing this to cause a backlash or outcry against the late Billy Preston, but a simple YouTube crawl for the song would turn up this live performance Billy did in Germany some years ago. Notice first that Billy's spoken introduction as the chords are playing sounds a lot like the spoken intro Dennis would give in concert.

But (for some) even worse is how Billy clearly says *he* wrote the song, and name-checks his good buddy Joe Cocker. But he doesn't even mention Dennis. He dedicates it to Johnny Guitar Watson.

Judge for yourself if this is wrong, or if it's done according to Dennis' wishes. But a simple nod to Dennis as co-writer from this stage would have felt more "right".
Billy Preston live:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvnz3zIcFeU
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2018, 10:59:46 AM »

Interesting case. Depending on how strong individual fans' opinions may be on the issue of writing credits, this one could be maddening...or it could be considered Dennis' wishes that he didn't take, get, nor pursue credits.

What makes this more of an issue is that the song through the years, specifically from Joe Cocker's version, became a stone-cold classic. Go to a wedding anywhere and chances are good you will hear this. Then add up all of the cover versions, or times it was used in the media, and the royalties/income could become staggering.

But considering just how much of an issue writing credits became thanks to one particular Beach Boy, and how it became intertwined forever in the legacy of the band and the band's image, fans might think Dennis not only lost a ton of income but also lost the name recognition and due props for actually being a writer on this tune.

(Side note regarding royalties...In the 90's a rap single called 'Worldwide' by Royal Flush was built around a sample of the string intro from Billy Preston's original album cut. Which means Dennis' estate would have received any royalties collected from that song's use of that sample.)

I'm not doing this to cause a backlash or outcry against the late Billy Preston, but a simple YouTube crawl for the song would turn up this live performance Billy did in Germany some years ago. Notice first that Billy's spoken introduction as the chords are playing sounds a lot like the spoken intro Dennis would give in concert.

But (for some) even worse is how Billy clearly says *he* wrote the song, and name-checks his good buddy Joe Cocker. But he doesn't even mention Dennis. He dedicates it to Johnny Guitar Watson.

Judge for yourself if this is wrong, or if it's done according to Dennis' wishes. But a simple nod to Dennis as co-writer from this stage would have felt more "right".
Billy Preston live:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvnz3zIcFeU

I'd think that any public acknowledgement by Billy Preston (even after Denny had passed) that there was another songwriter on this song (which was surely a big revenue stream for Preston) would have opened him up to all sorts of potential legal stuff. I can't conceive that Preston wasn't aware of that, so I have to think it's part of why there was no nod whatsoever by Preston (at this time, or at any time, I believe).

But yes, it certainly would have felt more "right" if Denny had been acknowledged.

And yes, you're totally right that this intro sounds much like the way Denny introduced it.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 11:08:18 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2018, 11:07:27 AM »

Side note: a few weeks ago, I attended a car show in LA, and lo and behold, Billy Preston's famous 1954 Bentley made an appearance:



The car has Billy's initials painted on it, and apparently is in the same exact condition that it was in when it was owned by Billy years ago (all modifications to the car, like the initials, were Billy's own).
This car was on Billy's 1977 album cover A Whole New Thing:



While standing there drooling over the car, I couldn't help wondering if Denny had ever gotten a ride in it at some point.
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2018, 01:51:21 PM »

My simple theory on the song. It has always been said, Dennis would give the shirt off his back if asked. He noddles some notes over a piano with other musicians at a party that is refined later to become a hit? ĎHave one on me guysí.
He had probably also witnessed within the Beach Boys, and the industry, the turmoil and pettiness over song writing credits and just thought ĎNahí.
He seemed to have gotten more satisfaction singing the song live than money could buy.
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2018, 02:54:02 PM »

What is the open secret? Some of us are not aware. It sounds like most have information that Dennis wrote  or co wrote the song. I'd love to hear the story. Was he in the studio with Preston? Details please.....
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2018, 04:45:55 PM »

What is the open secret? Some of us are not aware. It sounds like most have information that Dennis wrote  or co wrote the song. I'd love to hear the story. Was he in the studio with Preston? Details please.....

What was once an open secret is now a Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_So_Beautiful

The question of DW's participation in the composing of the song has been corroborated by eyewitness' (Billy Hinsche for one) and many, many others whom were aware of this at the time preston recorded the song, prior to the song becoming a hit for Cocker. Billy Preston for his part once claimed in public, prior to his death, that he didn't know Dennis Wilson, or even know who he was. Which is ludicrous because it's well documented that they knew each other as early as 1965, and knew each other quite well in the early '70's.
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2018, 04:57:39 PM »

What is the open secret? Some of us are not aware. It sounds like most have information that Dennis wrote  or co wrote the song. I'd love to hear the story. Was he in the studio with Preston? Details please.....

What was once an open secret is now a Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_So_Beautiful

The question of DW's participation in the composing of the song has been corroborated by eyewitness' (Billy Hinsche for one) and many, many others whom were aware of this at the time preston recorded the song, prior to the song becoming a hit for Cocker. Billy Preston for his part once claimed in public, prior to his death, that he didn't know Dennis Wilson, or even know who he was. Which is ludicrous because it's well documented that they knew each other as early as 1965, and knew each other quite well in the early '70's.

Jon, do you know the timeline approximately on when the info of Denny being a writer on YASB became public knowledge?
Did the info slowly leak out to non-insiders (and then proliferate as the internet got larger), or did people "in the know" intentionally just decide to let the world know at some point?

Off topic: same question for the X-rated part of "All I Want to Do"... I've always wondered what the timeline was where it became public knowledge that the fadeout part of the song contained illicit content... Did insiders and superfans have this info for years, and then the info gradually leaked out to more common fans?
I find it hard to believe that anyone - without knowing what was on the fade - would have ever known/suspected it, since it's so buried in the mix.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 05:01:36 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2018, 05:20:08 PM »

What is the open secret? Some of us are not aware. It sounds like most have information that Dennis wrote  or co wrote the song. I'd love to hear the story. Was he in the studio with Preston? Details please.....

What was once an open secret is now a Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_So_Beautiful

The question of DW's participation in the composing of the song has been corroborated by eyewitness' (Billy Hinsche for one) and many, many others whom were aware of this at the time preston recorded the song, prior to the song becoming a hit for Cocker. Billy Preston for his part once claimed in public, prior to his death, that he didn't know Dennis Wilson, or even know who he was. Which is ludicrous because it's well documented that they knew each other as early as 1965, and knew each other quite well in the early '70's.

Jon, do you know the timeline approximately on when the info of Denny being a writer on YASB became public knowledge?
Did the info slowly leak out to non-insiders (and then proliferate as the internet got larger), or did people "in the know" intentionally just decide to let the world know at some point?

Off topic: same question for the X-rated part of "All I Want to Do"... I've always wondered what the timeline was where it became public knowledge that the fadeout part of the song contained illicit content... Did insiders and superfans have this info for years, and then the info gradually leaked out to more common fans?
I find it hard to believe that anyone - without knowing what was on the fade - would have ever known/suspected it, since it's so buried in the mix.
It became public knowledge when my book on Dennis (The Real Beach Boy) was first published in 2000, which included Hinsche's recollection of witnessing the collaboration. But it was recording engineer Tom Murphy who first told me of this phenomena when i interviewed him for the book in 1999, I then mentioned it to Billy H. and others of Dennis family and friends thinking it was just Murphy being gullible. But I was set straight by at least a dozen of Dennis' closest family and friends, like Karen Lamm, Jim Guercio, Gregg Jakobson etc... Who all knew about this, and all knew Dennis wasn't interested in claiming credit. He just wanted to sing it as often as possible. So that was the open secret of sorts. It was like, why was he so into that song? The reason why was that he felt it was his song.

I think the All I Want To Do info came out when an interview was conducted with that song's recording engineer or someone who was at the recording session. Not sure of the timeline on that one.
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2018, 02:39:27 AM »

In the Dennis documentary that came out in 2008 (with Jon - hi!) I remember someone (might have been Gregg Jakobson but cant remember) said something like [and I'm paraphrasing] "He never went to one beach boys board meeting. Never did anything that might possibly help him out monetarily"

I feel like this falls into the same category. Just didn't have much interest in trying to get credit for it. Possibly he was just self-destructive (well, obviously we know thats true) and felt like he didnt deserve anymore money/credit/etc because as he the title of the song goes "he's a bumb", or so he thought.
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2018, 03:12:06 AM »

Hypothetical question. When Bruce wrote ĎI Write The Songsí he was out of the group. The credit was his.
Could The Beach Boys have made a claim for royalties to YASB as Dennis was a member?  Huh
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« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2018, 06:47:05 AM »

Some element (whomever is in charge) of the Dennis estate would need to pursue the YASB situation.

Here's a thread from 2014 with participation from Howie Edelson delving into the topic:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,17202.0.html

The basis gist of the situation is that while it would not neccesarily be a 100% slam dunk sure-thing case, it's a pretty viable court case that could be made so long as a respected, long-time and still active person in the industry (Billy Hinsche) could speak to witnessing the composition, and many others could speak to contemporaneous discussions with Dennis and others about his co-authorship.

Recapturing past royalties would be unlikely, but much like Mike's 90s songwriting lawsuit, they could potentially fix the credit (and resulting royalties) going forward if they chose to pursue a case and then were successful.

In that thread, one interesting story was Howie mentioning discussing the situation with Carnie Wilson, who amazingly didn't know at the time that she covered YASB with her father, that Dennis had co-authored the song: Here's a bit from one of his posts:

I should point out that when interviewing Carnie around the time of her lullaby LP in which she and Brian covered YASB, she had absolutely no idea that Dennis had a hand in writing it. She became very emotional (tearful and angry) at the fact that she and her father had been recording a work of Dennis' together and told me that she would look into the situation of the estate's position re: the copyright. I don't know if she followed through.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 06:48:55 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2018, 12:08:27 PM »

Thanks HJ.

Itís mentioned above that Billy Preston never name checked Dennis when he played the song. Although Dennis was deceased Billy possibly knew his heirs might have a claim, so omitted mentioning speculation.

It would actually be great if Billy H could give more detail. Who wrote what, context, timeline, contribution percentage etc.
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« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2018, 04:57:39 PM »

Thanks HJ.

Itís mentioned above that Billy Preston never name checked Dennis when he played the song. Although Dennis was deceased Billy possibly knew his heirs might have a claim, so omitted mentioning speculation.

It would actually be great if Billy H could give more detail. Who wrote what, context, timeline, contribution percentage etc.

I wonder how often such a thing happens in the music industry, where an already famous guy contributes to writing a famous, moneymaking hit song... and does not receive credit. I mean, we know it happened to Mike Love, who was already in a famous band during the time he didn't get his proper credits, but was this a pretty common thing in this era, or much more of a rarity?

And an even more interesting question... how many famous musicians would have not been credited, but then not even care about not being credited (again, on a hit, moneymaking song) at all? That's gotta be a very rare thing.

Also...

During Dennis' lifetime, how much did Mike grumble about not being credited on BBs songs he (Mike) cowrote?  Not sure there's many known examples of any pre-1983 Mike public grumbling in interviews about this topic (unless I'm mistaken)... but I'll bet that Mike made it known to his bandmates that he was unhappy about having been deprived of credits. In other words, I doubt it was a secret to Dennis that his (and Brian's) cousin Mike was bitter and pissed about not being credited on hit songs.

Which makes 2 things occur to me:

- I have no doubt that Denny was a very generous soul, who generally just didn't care about money... but is it possible also that Denny perhaps didn't want to be like his cousin Mike, and Denny actively not going after the YASB credit could have been a deliberate attempt to be unlike Mike?

- Is it possible that Denny also realized that if he were to legally go after the YASB credit, that this could've emboldened Mike to legally go after Brian for old missing credits during the low ebb Brian years, and thus Denny didn't even want to open up the can of worms of setting a precedent of a BB member legally going after missing credits on a famous song?

Again, maybe the answer is as simple as Denny not caring about money or credits, and also booze being a huge distraction from acting wisely about many topics. But I can also see the above ideas as possibly also being a contributing factor, going through his head at the time and helping to coax him into a "not caring about it" type of mindset.

I can't imagine not a single person in Denny's world never suggested to him that he should go after the credits and money, especially after losing The Harmony, etc.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 05:10:40 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2018, 06:22:40 AM »

An interesting example of a famous guy helping his friend co-write a pretty famous song and not getting (nor seeking) any credit would be George Harrison's clear hand in Ringo stuff like "It Don't Come Easy." Ringo even acknowledges in concert that George co-wrote it.

I think it's also a pretty safe assumption that George (and possibly the other guys) contributed enough on "Octopus's Garden" to warrant a co-writer credit.

But I think there are two (or more) different types of these scenarios. One is where someone clearly fully co-writes a song in the way they would normally co-write a song, yet don't receive credit (George on "It Don't Come Easy", Mike's lyrics for "California Girls" and some other BB songs), and then cases where the main writer of the song is credited but someone else added something that is more *arguably* warranting of a co-credit (e.g. Mike's "contribution" to "Wouldn't It Be Nice", Matthew Fisher's contribution to "A Whiter Shade of Pale").

It sounds like Dennis's situation with YASB is somewhere in between, though much closer to the "fully co-wrote" scenario. That is, it's not like Dennis and Billy Preston necessarily decided to sit down and said "let's write a song together!", yet Dennis also wasn't just some backing musician who added a twiddly bit to the song. Indeed, he was *only* present at the genesis of the song apparently rather than any actual studio session, etc.

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« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2018, 07:48:22 AM »

Bob Dylan declined a co-writing credit on Roger McGuin's 'Ballad of Easy Rider', though Dylan wrote most of the lyrics.


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« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2018, 02:02:26 PM »



I think it's also a pretty safe assumption that George (and possibly the other guys) contributed enough on "Octopus's Garden" to warrant a co-writer credit.




Donít for get Yoko. Yikes!

https://youtu.be/XFL4B7_d8wQ

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« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2018, 02:54:06 PM »



I think it's also a pretty safe assumption that George (and possibly the other guys) contributed enough on "Octopus's Garden" to warrant a co-writer credit.




Donít for get Yoko. Yikes!

https://youtu.be/XFL4B7_d8wQ



I guess it makes more sense when it happens with people within the same band, or with spouses/partners of band members. Like with Brian not taking cowriting credit on Little Bird. It seems much rarer for someone contributing to a song that's unrelated to their band, with famous musicians, on a song that becomes a huge hit.
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« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2018, 04:37:02 PM »

What is the open secret? Some of us are not aware. It sounds like most have information that Dennis wrote  or co wrote the song. I'd love to hear the story. Was he in the studio with Preston? Details please.....

What was once an open secret is now a Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_So_Beautiful

The question of DW's participation in the composing of the song has been corroborated by eyewitness' (Billy Hinsche for one) and many, many others whom were aware of this at the time preston recorded the song, prior to the song becoming a hit for Cocker. Billy Preston for his part once claimed in public, prior to his death, that he didn't know Dennis Wilson, or even know who he was. Which is ludicrous because it's well documented that they knew each other as early as 1965, and knew each other quite well in the early '70's.

Jon, do you know the timeline approximately on when the info of Denny being a writer on YASB became public knowledge?
Did the info slowly leak out to non-insiders (and then proliferate as the internet got larger), or did people "in the know" intentionally just decide to let the world know at some point?

Off topic: same question for the X-rated part of "All I Want to Do"... I've always wondered what the timeline was where it became public knowledge that the fadeout part of the song contained illicit content... Did insiders and superfans have this info for years, and then the info gradually leaked out to more common fans?
I find it hard to believe that anyone - without knowing what was on the fade - would have ever known/suspected it, since it's so buried in the mix.
It became public knowledge when my book on Dennis (The Real Beach Boy) was first published in 2000, which included Hinsche's recollection of witnessing the collaboration. But it was recording engineer Tom Murphy who first told me of this phenomena when i interviewed him for the book in 1999, I then mentioned it to Billy H. and others of Dennis family and friends thinking it was just Murphy being gullible. But I was set straight by at least a dozen of Dennis' closest family and friends, like Karen Lamm, Jim Guercio, Gregg Jakobson etc... Who all knew about this, and all knew Dennis wasn't interested in claiming credit. He just wanted to sing it as often as possible. So that was the open secret of sorts. It was like, why was he so into that song? The reason why was that he felt it was his song.

I think the All I Want To Do info came out when an interview was conducted with that song's recording engineer or someone who was at the recording session. Not sure of the timeline on that one.

And Jon, hat's off to you by having helped Denny's legacy by bringing things like this to light. I have a copy of your book that I've owned since it came out, I really need to re-read it now.
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