TCM Music Group News – Ted Carfrae Meets The Legendary Bruce Johnston, 22nd September 2011

TCM’s Ted Carfrae recounts how he recently met up with Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys…..

The Beach Boys – L to R Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine, Mike Love, Brian Wilson & David Marks In 2006.

In 2010 I was given the ‘go ahead’ and the very real honour of producing the latest Doris Day album ‘My Heart’. In fact I was one of three producers on this project, which turned out to be a little out of the ordinary.

Bruce Johnston And Terry Melcher 1966.

Seven of the album tracks were originally produced by Doris Day’s son, Terry Melcher back in 1985/86 and three of those songs were written, co-written and produced by Bruce Johnston. Bruce and Terry were long time best friends. The original songs were recorded primarily to be included in Doris Day’s ‘Best Friends’ television series at the time and since then, those recordings have remained unreleased.

Because these songs are the final part of Doris Day’s recording legacy, I was asked all these years later to re-visit the songs and update them for an official 2011 release. For me personally, this was the opportunity of a life time, to work with a true Hollywood legend but more importantly, to work with one of the finest female voices in music history. And I have to say, Doris Day is an artist that I have admired all my life.

Doris Day’s ‘My Heart’ Album Was Released September 5th 2011 By Sony UK.

The ‘My Heart’ album was finally released on September 5th 2011, by Sony UK. We all (myself and the team at Sony) expected the album would do well probably over time, but nobody expected it to fly straight into the top ten at number nine and then break some records along the way. It took us by complete surprise, because all of a sudden the public embraced Doris and the album, and we had a massive hit on our hands.

Doris personally took part in a lot of radio and press promotion prior to and just after the release. But to sustain sales, Sony had to think about further promotional opportunities, so they contacted Bruce Johnston at his home in Los Angeles and flew him over to England for a few days of television and radio promotion.

I had no idea at all that Bruce was in town until I received a phone call on the way to a meeting last Wednesday saying that Bruce Johnston had just appeared on the BBC News Programme, talking about the Doris Day album and that he had mentioned my name and that he would like to meet me.

I have a lot of music heroes, but Bruce Johnston and The Beach Boys are right up there at the top. So I called a friend involved with the album project and asked him to try to find out where Bruce was staying, and I then carried on with my scheduled meeting.

During the meeting my phone rang several times but I couldn’t at that point answer it. At the end of the meeting I picked up the messages which contained Bruce’s hotel number. My missed calls register told me that the hotel had also called so I assumed that, that must have been Bruce himself.

I called the hotel immediately, they put me straight through to Bruce and after introductions were made, we had a good chat recalling mutual acquaintances and the fact that both of us have produced two albums for David Cassidy. It was like we had known each other for years. The conversation was so easy and effortless. I told him that I was free on Thursday (the next day) and that we should meet up while he was in London, he said he would see what he could arrange and call me back.

Roger Day BBC Radio Kent…No Relation To Doris.

Later that day, Faye Donaldson, the label manager at Sony, sent an e-mail to invite me to the recording of Bruce’s interview ‘Down The Line’ with Roger Day at BBC Radio Kent the following day.

I caught an early train and arrived at BBC Radio’s Western House in Gt. Portland Street at midday and met Faye from Sony and project PR Joe. When Bruce arrived we hugged like old friends, and went up to studio G3 which was a hive of activity with lots of different artists and representatives also recording their interviews racing around. Bruce and I were whisked into a small studio and all of a sudden there was complete silence, just Bruce and I, two desktop microphones and a couple of sets of headphones, the red light went on and off we went.

Doris Day And Her Son Terry Melcher.

The interview was fantastic. Bruce told lots of Doris Day anecdotes and was very generous by including me in the conversation and passing certain questions over to me to answer. I had a ball working with Bruce, who is a true gentleman and has a very warm personality.

Coincidentally, I had recently done a full hour interview with Roger Day about my career on his live radio show.

L to R: Ted Carfrae, Janis Ian & Bruce Johnston.

After the interview concluded, Bruce and I left the room. Outside was another living legend and heroine of mine, the great Janis Ian. I’ve loved Janis since hearing her first massive hit ‘At Seventeen’, without doubt an example of the perfect pop song. To finally meet her in person was such an honour. Imagine, meeting  two all time heroes in one day, it really doesn’t get better than that.

L to R: Bruce Johnston, Steve Hackett & Ted Carfrae.

Then, we ran into British rock legend, Steve Hackett. I worked on many of Steve’s albums back in my early days at CTS studios when I was an assistant engineer so it was wonderful to meet him again after all these years. The whole experience was great but I didn’t realise, there was more to come.

Bruce had a second interview scheduled for BBC Radio 4 at Broadcasting House, just around the corner and he asked me to join him. What I didn’t realise was that he also wanted me to be a part of this interview as well.

When we arrived at the studio, Bruce announced to the interviewer that he wanted me to also take part in the interview. The reaction of horror and almost panic on the interviewer’s face was really interesting to witness. I was definitely picking up some unwelcome vibes. Bruce however, insisted a second time then looked at me and winked and before I knew it I was sitting next to him again in the studio.

Bruce Johnston On The Right, In The Middle – With The Beach Boys.

After some minor adjustment of chairs the interview began and as expected, Bruce was in fine form recalling lots of amazing anecdotes about growing up and attending Doris Day recording sessions and of course talking about The Beach Boys.  Again, very graciously, Bruce made sure I was included in the conversation. The interview itself was very well researched and Bruce enjoyed it immensely and said so afterwards. It was fun for me as well but between you and me, I’ll be interested to hear the final edited interview to see if I’m still in it.

It was a great day…..meeting Janis Ian and Steve Hackett. And I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest gratitude to Faye and Joe and especially to you Bruce for making yesterday’s visit a highlight in my life and career. Thanks!

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