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All Music Guide:
Producer and composer Curt Boettcher was among the principal architects of the sunshine pop sound of the mid-'60s, his harmony laden, melody rich approach gracing the Top Ten hits of the Association as well as his own projects, including Sagittarius and the Millennium. Born and raised in Wisconsin, he began his career as a folksinger, co-founding the GoldeBriars in 1962; the group's self-titled debut album appeared on Epic two years later. Although the GoldeBriars' complex harmonies anticipated the style of Boettcher's subsequent work, the foursome dissolved after a second LP, Straight Ahead; he then turned to studio work, in 1966 arranging the Association's breakthrough hit "Along Comes Mary." The chart-topping "Cherish" followed and Boettcher also produced the band's debut album And Then, Along Comes the Association; however, the collaboration soon ended and in between producing material for Tommy Roe, Boettcher turned his focus to his own group the Ballroom, recording a long-unreleased LP which finally saw release three decades later on Rev-Ola under the title Preparing for the Millennium.
Boettcher then signed on with producer Gary Usher's studio supergroup Sagittarius; 1967's Present Tense also featured contributions from the Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston and Glen Campbell, the latter assuming lead vocals on the classic "My World Fell Down." While recording Present Tense, Boettcher formed the Millennium, which issued its sole album Begin -- the product of what was then the most costly recording session in the history of Columbia Records -- in 1968. After the record's commercial failure, he returned to studio work, but in 1973 issued a solo album, There's an Innocent Face. In the process of contributing production and session vocals to a handful of late-'70s Beach Boys releases, Boettcher changed his name to the more phonetic Becher; he died in 1987.
Curt Boettcher (January 7, 1944 – June 14, 1987) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer from Wisconsin. His career spanned 1964 to 1983. (In his later years he altered the spelling of his name to "Boetcher" and "Becher," before reverting to the original spelling of Boettcher.)
Boettcher was a pivotal figure in the mid-1960s emergence of Sunshine pop, influencing Brian Wilson before the production of Pet Sounds. Boettcher worked with The Association, Gary Usher, The Millennium, Sagittarius, and The Beach Boys, among others. Curt Boettcher sang some background vocals on The Byrds' The Notorious Byrd Brothers album, a Gary Usher production.
Before forming The GoldeBriars, Boettcher produced a few recordings, but not in a professional setting. He formed the GoldeBriars in 1963 with the Holmberg sisters and Ron Neilsson. They recorded two albums released by Epic Records, and a third (which apparently found them heading in a prototypical folk-rock direction) was recorded but not released. Under the influence of the recording producer Bob Morgan, the vocals were mixed up-front and enriched by double-tracking to sound like six voices. Morgan engineered a few easy-listening vocals where he used this technique. The group added drummer Ron Edgar (who later joined The Music Machine) prior to recording their third album. (Edgar later worked with Boettcher in the bands The Ballroom and The Millennium.) According to music historian Joseph Lanza, the GoldeBriars' material tended to follow the standard folk formula of songs such as "Shenandoah," but "acoustically, their style blended the homespun and the sugarspun." Boettcher arranged a large number of the group's songs, but he also contributed as a songwriter. Bob Morgan, quoted in Lanza's Vanilla Pop, writes that Boettcher's childhood as a navy brat influenced songs like "Haiku" on the album Straight Ahead!. But the largest influence on Boettcher came from Bobb Goldsteinn, an accomplished songwriter who would become "Boettcher's manager [and] confidant," as well as the lyricist behind some of the GoldeBriars' greatest hits. Goldsteinn took the group under his wing in 1964, on the heels of his success with the pioneering folk-dixie song "Washington Square", and helped set the groundwork for "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" by moving Boettcher into a more "pop" direction.
Following the demise of The GoldeBriars, Boettcher moved into production and songwriting work for others, including Tommy Roe and The Association, as well as forming the group The Ballroom. Though the group signed to Warner Bros. and recorded an album in 1966, it remained unreleased in its entirety until 2001. Curt Boettcher met both Brian Wilson and producer Gary Usher while working on the first single of Lee Mallory, "That's the Way It's Gonna Be", issued on Valiant Records in 1966. Usher bought Boettcher's contract and signed him as a staff producer for Columbia Records. Usher called Boettcher to help Usher on his own project, Sagittarius. Some of the songs came from The Ballroom, while others were re-recorded with new arrangements.
Claudia, Boettcher's wife, has said that although Tandyn Almer wrote "Along Comes Mary", it was a very slow song. Curt worked with Almer, sang the vocal, and helped revise it to the up tempo version that was then given to The Association and became the group's hit single from their debut album that Boettcher produced.
Gary Usher's clout, as well as Boettcher's successful productions for The Association and Tommy Roe, allowed Boettcher to start working on his own studio project for Columbia Records. In 1967, having been given carte blanche, he assembled a group of musicians and songwriters that he knew (including Sandy Salisbury, Lee Mallory, Joey Stec, and Michael Fennelly), as well as a flank of top Los Angeles session musicians, and started recording an album under the group moniker "The Millennium". The album was co-produced by Keith Olsen, who was a friend of Curt Boettcher since his college days. Their only album, Begin, was the most expensive album that Columbia had released at that point, and despite the release of several singles, it was a commercial failure. This has been partially attributed to Boettcher's reluctance to tour. The group did attempt a few live performances in Los Angeles, but the difficulty of reasonably replicating the album on stage presented a large enough challenge to disinterest Boettcher. Although the single "It's You" did become a substantial hit in several regions, there was no group to support it. "5 AM" became a hit as well, in the Philippines.
The group recorded one final single, "Just About The Same" b/w "Blight", which wasn't issued at the time.
Soon after The Millennium broke up, Boettcher's friend Gary Usher, fired by Columbia Records, started a record label called Together Records. He brought in Boettcher and Olsen as staff producers, and Boettcher was involved in several projects for the label. These included his first attempt at a solo album, as well as producing recordings for a Sandy Salisbury solo album, contributing to the second Sagittarius album, and co-producing with Olsen "The Moses Lake Recordings" by The Bards, which was a weird mixture of garage rock with psychedelia and sunshine pop elements. Though the Sagittarius album, entitled The Blue Marble, did see release (and also notched a minor entry on the singles chart with a cover of The Beach Boys' "In My Room"), and several Sandy Salisbury singles were released, the label failed before any of his other work could be completed (though it was eventually released in the early 2000s). Among other Boettcher productions remaining unreleased are sessions for Twice Nicely, the band of the legendary Californian guitarist Waddy Wachtel and the singer Judy Pulver (both author of Malachi Star that we can find on the only official solo album of Curt Boettcher), a single for Don Grady of The Yellow Balloon fame, sessions produced with Gary Usher of a duo of two guitarists called Tom and Dick (Dick being the songwriter David Batteau who would wrote songs with and for Curt Boettcher in his California days). On the session of Tom and Dick, Ron Edgar was the drummer.
Following this, and without having a substantial hit in any form for several years, Boettcher's career started to stall. In 1971, he signed a deal with Elektra Records at the insistence of Jac Holzman, who was a huge fan of Begin. Even after telling Holzman that the album would take a long time to produce, Holzman still insisted, and Boettcher reluctantly started working on a solo album. His influence was soon bolstered after meeting a young multi-instrumentalist named Web Burrel, and taking a cue from the early entirely-solo albums by Emitt Rhodes (the mixdown engineer on Rhodes' 1973 album, Farewell to Paradise), Boettcher decided to record the album in a similar fashion, using as few musicians as possible. After almost two years of work, There's An Innocent Face  was released in 1973. It differed from his early work (although, as posthumous collections show, it was a continuation of the direction that The Millennium had taken with their unreleased recordings), as it was a collection of songs with country, sunshine pop, arena rock, and folk stylings. It was another commercial failure.
He attempted to record a follow-up album, tentatively titled Chicken Little Was Right, but it was never completed. A CD reissue by Rev-Ola Records shows that the arrangements were still to be worked out for most of the songs.
His output, both as a musician and producer, was severely curtailed afterwards, and he did little work during his last years. His best-known work following There's an Innocent Face is a 10-minute disco version of the song "Here Comes the Night" by The Beach Boys, which was a moderate hit in 1979 and was included on L.A. (Light Album); it was a remake of the original recording from their 1967 album Wild Honey. Curt Becher also did a disco version of Shortnin' Bread for The Beach Boys that can be found on some bootlegs. He also produced Mike Love's solo album Looking Back With Love. Others productions were largely ignored, such as the Geno Washington album That's Why Hollywood Loves Me and The Diamonds' Live And Well album. He never had the opportunity to revive his career, and died in 1987 at Los Angeles County Hospital while being treated for a lung infection. Prior to his death, he set up the Valley Studios Center with musician Mark Antacky and engineer Dave Jenkins, and was recording music with Randy California, the guitarist of Spirit, that has never been released.
Critical opinion 
Critical opinion of Boettcher's work and importance varies, as some find his work outside of The Millennium to be rather lightweight and aloof, arguing that the technical quality of his productions and arrangements are often offset by subpar material (style versus substance). His output has achieved a substantial cult following, particularly amongst sunshine pop aficionados and in countries where sunshine pop is popular (such as Japan), and The Millennium's Begin is generally regarded nowadays as one of the finest pop albums from the late 60s, and has been described as a "bona fide lost classic". It's quite hard to estimate the quality of Curt Boettcher productions as there is still a lot to be heard, such as the Kaleidoscope (the American group) sessions he produced in 1966.