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Tom Trefethen

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  1. 1.
    How Much I Feel - Ambrosia,
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In the mid-'70s, engineer, songwriter, and musician Tom Trefethen began a lengthy association with soft rock band Ambrosia, engineering their first three albums.
The origins of this partnership can be traced to the early '60s when Trefethen and future Ambrosia bassist Joe Puerta struck up a friendship, learning guitar and writing songs together. While in high school, Trefethen played with another Ambrosia founding member, Christopher North, in the psych-rock outfit Blue Toad Flax. Along with Burleigh Drummond and David Pack, North and Puerta formed Ambrosia in 1971. Although it took the group a few years to score a record deal, their debut album -- produced by Alan Parsons and engineered by Trefethen -- was a Top 30 hit upon its release in 1975. Trefethen received industry recognition for his work when the record was nominated for a Grammy for Best Engineered Recording. Before the end of 1976, he engineered two more recordings that became Grammy nominees for his contributions, Take Me Back by gospel singer AndraƩ Crouch and Ambrosia's second effort, Somewhere I've Never Traveled. Also during this time, he worked on Parsons' debut effort, Tales of Mystery and Imagination.
Crouch's Take Me Back was the first in a string of contemporary Christian albums Trefethen would engineer. Glow in the Dark by Chuck Girard, Welcome to Paradise by Randy Stonehill, and For Him Who Has Ears to Hear by Keith Green are all considered important releases in the development of the CCM genre. Trefethen's work with Ambrosia continued until the release of Life Beyond L.A. in 1978. After the album was released, he focused his attention on releasing his own album, which he had finished recording in 1977. He soon hooked up with Michael Nesmith's Pacific Arts label and engineered Nesmith's album Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma, released in 1979. A year later, Pacific Arts released Trefethen's album, titled Am I Stupid or Am I Great?/It's All Mom's Fault. Assuming all songwriting and production duties, Trefethen was joined on the album by all original members of Ambrosia helping out on instrumentation. Alan Parsons and AndraƩ Crouch also made guest appearances. The songs and the packaging of the LP suggested a loose concept album; the bizarre cover photo showed raincoat-clad Trefethen and sister Tina sitting atop a jet engine. Despite some promising response from college radio, Trefethen's eccentric brand of pop never found an audience, due partly to poor distribution and other label tribulations.
Trefethen took a break from music business after the release of his album but returned in the 2000s, building a studio and creating his own production company. With assistance from Parsons, he released the ambitious, Internet-only single "Johnny's Gone Away" in late 2005. Trefethen performed the song, written in 1980 after the death of John Lennon, at the 25th annual Lennon candlelight vigil in Hollywood. He also recently contributed his talents to the Mountainfilm Festival, composing and producing three original musical works for montages presented at the event. Interestingly enough, Trefethen's name is semi-famous outside of music. His 1969 sketches of a vehicle designed to break speed records are well known among enthusiasts of high-speed land travel. ~ Jeremy Frey, Rovi

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