Bruce Botnick article

This was written by one of our Seattle NFFC members and taken from our latest newletter.

Opening a door to love, and Disney!
When Seattle?s Experience MusicProject announced a series of four visitors connected to Disney music history, the least known to most Disney fans was sound engineer Bruce Botnick. He was the only one of the four not a direct Disney employee. So if a MountainEar elected to miss one presentation, the Botnick chat in mid March would likely have been it. That would have been a bad choice. Botnick, in his early 60s, came to Seattle with a treasure trove of interesting stories. He couldn?t hide the teenage crush he had on Annette.
He couldn?t forget the great learning experience under legendary producer Tutti Camaratta. Nor the Italian dinner appetite of Burl Ives. But since Botnick was not an inhouse Disney employee, his range of contacts in the music industry was encyclopedic. Responding to questions from Jasen Emmons, EMP curator, Botnick?s two hours included stories about Bob Dylan, actor Val Kilmer, movie composer Jerry Goldsmith, well know Los Angeles rock group Love, rock icon The Doors, Andy Williams;Crosby, Stills and Nash; Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys,Barry Manilow and more.
It was in the genes. Botnick?s father played in one of the day?s hottest bands. His mother provided scores to the likes of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. As a teenager, ?I was on a mission,? Botnick said, a mission to get into the
record business. Th at proved pretty easy, when Liberty Records invited Bruce in as an unpaid apprentice. Not only was he unpaid, ?I would have paid them,? Botnick said of his 2 1⁄2-year learning experience. Botnick was only 19 when Camaratta hired him. Separating vocals from instruments was important at times. Camaratta wrestled with that issue while working with the young and talented Annette Funicello. ?Tutti built the isolation booth around Annette,? Botnick said, and a fixture of recording studios was invented. The booth also served as a bedroom, Botnick said, when work ran late. Botnick said it was not uncommon for him to sleep in the studio because he loved his work so. When Annette was scheduled for her first visit, Botnick said he was among those who preened for her:
?A lot of guys were turned on by her.? That first time she was accompanied by her close friend, Shelley Fabares,
another Hollywood star. This was now Sunset Sound Studios, known for its work with echoes. Camaratta layered Annette?s vocals, doubling and tripling her lyrics to enhance the sound. Like Disney?s early reuse of classic cels because the company was hard up for cash, Sunset Sound reused tapes. Botnick suggested some powerful
originals were never available again. Botnick?s work around Annette was not done. Although Disney did not
produce the beach blanket movies with Annette and Frankie Avalon, Botnick handled the sound work on the music.
Botnick apparently had a good relationship with the Beach Boys? top gun, Brian Wilson. Once, Botnick was looking for a little help on Annette?s title song in the 1965 Disney film, ?The Monkey?s Uncle.? The song was written by the Sherman brothers. Botnick asked Wilson if the Beach Boys wanted to participate. Brian?s answer: ?Sure,? proving few were immune to Annette?s charms. To demonstrate the full affect of separate tracks, EMP played three separate tracks of Annette?s ?Pineapple Princess.? The three tracks then were played together to offer the full impact.
The studio would be used to record advertising in the morning hours, Disney music recorded in the afternoon
and rock?n roll in the evening, Botnick said. Emmons? artful questioning of Botnick steered him into the rock?n roll genre. Botnick?s first dip was into a group that was huge in Los Angeles, but didn?t have as much impact elsewhere. Love, sparked by lead singer Arthur Lee, enjoyed a series of modest successes, topped by ?My Little Red Book,? beginning in 1966. Maybe Love?s biggest distinction came in a very unusual way. Botnick said The Doors wanted to be on the same label, Elektra, as Love, and that meant recording at Sunset Sound. The Doors? self-named first album
was recorded in six days, Botnick said. ?We broke the 2 1/2?minute barrier,? Botnick said. The Doors? biggest hit, ?Light My Fire,? created a new standard by encouraging many stations to run the full, 6 1⁄2 minute version. ?The first Doors? album, I think, cost under $10,000.? Although The Doors? lead singer, Jim Morrison, could be difficult during recording sessions ? all six Doors? albums were recorded at Sunset Sound ? Botnick seemed to have nothing but affection for him. Botnick said Morrison was happy as he departed for Paris, where he died in 1971.
?He thought he was coming back,? Botnick said plaintively. ?But he decided to leave us.? Heart failure, aggravated
by alcohol use, was the cause of death. By Greg Heberlein

Next week we go to the EMP to see Richard Sherman :)

If you would like to hear Bruce Botnick's first Disney recording find "The Famous Ward Singers at Disneyland" on my radioblog site: note: this is a temporary site