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663638 Posts in 26587 Topics by 3815 Members - Latest Member: ILikeTheBeachBoys October 30, 2020, 11:34:09 PM
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Author Topic: Stephen Desper's career  (Read 586 times)
Magic Transistor Radio
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« on: October 09, 2020, 01:56:06 PM »

As far as I can tell, and I am no expert, Stephen Desper is an engineering genius! According to Wikipedia, he didn't do much in pop music outside the Beach Boys or inventing the Spacializer. Certainly he was offered jobs with other bands/record labels? If not, he was the Beach Boy' best kept secret!

I know Stephen comes on here from time to time. So he can answer, or anyone else that has some insight of what he did after Surfs Up, other than American Spring and a few more  Beach Boys albums he engineered?
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"Over the years, I've been accused of not supporting our new music from this era (67-73) and just wanting to play our hits. That's complete b.s......I was also, as the front man, the one promoting these songs onstage and have the scars to show for it."
Mike Love autobiography (pg 242-243)
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2020, 08:21:12 PM »

Oh how I'd love a Spatializer,  so curious about them.  There was one for sale recently too!  The Desper era is hands down my favorite BB content.
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2020, 09:24:54 PM »

Probably my favorite era of the Beach Boys are the years Mr. Desper was with them. It's such a fascinating period for them. I think he contributed a whole lot to their sound. I consider him kind of an extended member of the Beach Boys himself, honestly. In what I've seen from him in documentaries (BW Songwriter) and his posts on here over the years, he seems so incredibly nice and humble, considering his immense contributions to the band.

I was devastated to find that his site, his breakdown videos, his Recording the Beach Boys books, were all taken down. I'm not sure the specifics of what happened but I'm incredibly disappointed. I understand and respect Stephen's decision, but I'm sure hoping to see them again at some point down the road. They were awesome, as are the posts here where he very generously shares all these great pieces of info.

From what I remember, he was a huge part of what makes Sunflower sound so incredible, with Stephen and the Boys doing some quite innovative things with that. Sunflower is probably my favorite sounding BB record. Plus all my fav BB songs were recorded during this time. I think songs like Time to Get Alone and that whole later 60s to early 70s period should get more recognition from mainstream audiences rather than just God Only Knows, etc.

I remember in that one 1976 interview with Brian where he's going over SMiLE and some other neat topics, Stephen is brought up and Brian said that he considered him the co-producer of their records then. I thought that was nice, but I'm not too knowledgeable about what the difference exactly is. I guess in my head, the audio engineer vs producer in music seems similar to the cinematographer vs the director in film. Not sure if that's an accurate comparison.
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Magic Transistor Radio
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2020, 10:22:24 PM »

Probably my favorite era of the Beach Boys are the years Mr. Desper was with them. It's such a fascinating period for them. I think he contributed a whole lot to their sound. I consider him kind of an extended member of the Beach Boys himself, honestly. In what I've seen from him in documentaries (BW Songwriter) and his posts on here over the years, he seems so incredibly nice and humble, considering his immense contributions to the band.

I was devastated to find that his site, his breakdown videos, his Recording the Beach Boys books, were all taken down. I'm not sure the specifics of what happened but I'm incredibly disappointed. I understand and respect Stephen's decision, but I'm sure hoping to see them again at some point down the road. They were awesome, as are the posts here where he very generously shares all these great pieces of info.

From what I remember, he was a huge part of what makes Sunflower sound so incredible, with Stephen and the Boys doing some quite innovative things with that. Sunflower is probably my favorite sounding BB record. Plus all my fav BB songs were recorded during this time. I think songs like Time to Get Alone and that whole later 60s to early 70s period should get more recognition from mainstream audiences rather than just God Only Knows, etc.

I remember in that one 1976 interview with Brian where he's going over SMiLE and some other neat topics, Stephen is brought up and Brian said that he considered him the co-producer of their records then. I thought that was nice, but I'm not too knowledgeable about what the difference exactly is. I guess in my head, the audio engineer vs producer in music seems similar to the cinematographer vs the director in film. Not sure if that's an accurate comparison.


My guess is that he had to take his site down for legal reasons. Which is sad given that he used them for education purposes, not to mention helped record them!

As for producer/engineer roles, I assume the definition is loose. Nick Venet was the 'producer' for Safari and USA, but probably just said, take 1.....one more time......and cut. Brian arranged and directed the musicians in the studio. Just like some studio musicians only play what is on paper. While the wrecking crew helped create the sound as well. Desper was an engineer that helped create sounds. Such as the hundred beats per second at the beginning of Do It Again. I don't think any other band created that kind of sound in 1968!
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"Over the years, I've been accused of not supporting our new music from this era (67-73) and just wanting to play our hits. That's complete b.s......I was also, as the front man, the one promoting these songs onstage and have the scars to show for it."
Mike Love autobiography (pg 242-243)
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