The Local Music Scene

Meet Fred DeAngelis: Engineer and artist, songwriter and teacher

The Beatles inspired him, Berklee embraced him (twice), and the artistry motivates him to create every day

By Michael Khouri
Posted 6/7/24

Audio engineer, producer, guitarist, singer/songwriter, music teacher Fred DeAngelis is a study in determination, patience and endurance. As a teenager, he fostered a dream to achieve a degree in, …

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The Local Music Scene

Meet Fred DeAngelis: Engineer and artist, songwriter and teacher

The Beatles inspired him, Berklee embraced him (twice), and the artistry motivates him to create every day


Audio engineer, producer, guitarist, singer/songwriter, music teacher Fred DeAngelis is a study in determination, patience and endurance. As a teenager, he fostered a dream to achieve a degree in, and a life of, music, but as time progressed, his dream was put on hold.

After decades, replete with hills and valleys, twists and turns, marriage, family and a completely separate career, he at last, in nearly miraculous happenstance, accomplished his goal.

At his quiet, spacious, cozy Barrington home, I had the opportunity to chat with DeAngelis over coffee (a latte macchiato to be exact, made fresh by my host), about his life in, and devotion to, music. He was articulate, methodical and candid with the facts, while displaying great humor and lightheartedness regarding the folly and fun of a musician’s existence.

I wondered how DeAngelis views himself and what it means to him to be a musician.

“At the end of the day, I’m an artist and a creator. I can’t ever stop doing that. It’s just in me. It’s always been there,” said DeAngelis. “I don’t exactly know why it’s there, but I’m happy it is. I feel like it’s a privilege to be creative. There’s a balance, a satisfaction about being an artist. It’s like therapy for me. I think people that are creative have something else, something extra, going on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘art,’ as the masses view it, to be creative. It could be cooking, gardening, teaching, things like that. But I think creative people share a common feeling and bond. It’s like a secret club.”

That Beatles influence

Like DeAngelis’s Baby Boomer generation, he got turned on – courtesy of four lads from Liverpool – to the prospect that musical and artistic expression were not exclusively reserved for the 1950s moody, beatnik culture crowd, but could be something enjoyed and embraced by everyday kids of the 1960s, in all classes, within all types of neighborhoods, in every locale, across the Globe.

“I had seen the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and it changed my life. I was just shy of 4 years old, but believe it or not I remember it. I wanted to play guitar because of them,” said DeAngelis. “They appeared on the TV, and they had a fresh look, and they were radiating excitement and happiness that they felt through music that seemed to represent their feelings. I was hooked.

“It’s still amazes me how impactful The Beatles were when they performed that night. In that limited media format, with a black and white screen and the music coming out of this little television single mono speaker, in a very short amount of time, less than 10 minutes of performances combined. It was the bare media essentials, yet it changed my life as well as countless others. “

After DeAngelis’s Sunday night epiphany, his aunt bought him a guitar, which was enough to get him started. He teamed up with a friend in the neighborhood who had set up some buckets and boxes, thus becoming the drummer. DeAngelis strummed his guitar, as he recalled, “just to make noise. It was a blast.”

“I kicked my guitar around for some time, but started getting serious, taking lessons, at 12 years old at Silva’s music in Bristol. I’m playing into my teens and things were cool. I’m hanging with Neal Vitullo, Mike Costa, Steve Hughes, that wonderful gang, and we were all in bands, kicking, playing around and everybody’s getting better,” said DeAngelis. ”There were even battles of the bands back then, and everybody was involved. The drinking age was 18, so I was playing clubs. I wasn’t quite of age, but they looked the other way a lot when it came to the bands. I was still in high school. We could sneak into the clubs to play. It was a don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing. Mr. T’s was a hot spot in Bristol, as I recall, and I played a lot of gigs there.”

A Berklee beginning

After high school, DeAngelis applied to and was accepted at Berklee School of Music in Boston. At Berklee he was an excellent student. He studied hard, became a good sight reader and made the honor roll every semester.

“I was studying performance and doing well, but my parents didn’t trust me being a performance major. They persuaded me to go in as an education major to be a teacher.

“I did that for one semester, and when my parents weren’t looking, I switched back to performance, “ chuckled DeAngelis. “I ultimately switched over to audio recording. The reason being, I used to be able to go down to the practice rooms and check bands out. There was a band called Morning Thunder, which was Steve Vai’s band. There’s the legendary Steve Vai. He was a student there at the time, and when I saw him play, I thought, ‘well that’s the level of expertise you need to be a performance major’ – a level I wasn’t sure I could attain. So, I decided to broaden my horizons and not put all my eggs in one basket.”

DeAngelis wanted to expand his options in case he could not launch a career in performance. “Maybe I could do other things in music. MPE (music production and engineering) perhaps. I had a class in recording and engineering, and when I went to the studio, I realized I wanted to write songs and could use the studio as a tool to record them. In those days, rates were high, so experimenting in the studio was very expensive. I thought if I learned this technology, I could use the Berklee studio as well as create my own studio at home and experiment to my heart’s content.”

Writing his own music

While at home on a school break, DeAngelis visited a local recording studio and spoke to the proprietor. Things didn’t go well and DeAngelis left the visit disillusioned.

“I was told by the owner that everything I had learned at Berklee was useless, and if I really wanted to learn the craft of recording and engineering, I would sign up for his six-week, four hours each Saturday class, and they would teach me everything I needed to know,” said DeAngelis. ”I came away from that a bit confused and a lot discouraged. I was young and trying to find my way, so I took a break one semester that turned into two semesters. Luckily my father advised me that I needed to do something while I was figuring things out, so I dropped out of Berklee and applied to Rhode Island College, where I ultimately got my bachelor’s degree in computer science. But as all musicians know, once you have the bug it never leaves you. You can’t deny it, and you can’t stop it. You’ve got to keep doing it. If you stop doing it, you’re not going to be happy. So, I graduated from RIC and began a good day job and career but never stopped writing songs, playing my guitar, gigging and building studios.”

A return to Berklee

DeAngelis enjoyed a successful 30-year career as a Technical Director at Oracle, but the nomadic nature of his position began to take its toll. In an ironic twist of fate, an opportunity arose that he could never have imagined.

“I was working for Oracle, and they had me traveling a lot. Oracle had just reduced my bonus, so I was slightly unhappy and I was tired and weary of getting on airplanes. By chance, I’d noticed that Berklee had an ad for a computer person in the same field that I had been working in,” said DeAngelis. “I applied and to my amazement I got the job and was back at Berklee! I always felt like I had made a mistake leaving Berklee, and I had this dream that maybe one day I’d somehow return. I left Berklee in 1981, and I went back in 2017 in the capacity as an employee and also, to my delighted surprise, as a student.”

Berklee employees are eligible to take classes for free, and DeAngelis was not about to miss that opportunity. “I seized full advantage and took 26 classes while I was working there,” he said. “Nights, lunches, breaks. Whenever I could, I took a class. I learned to sleep and study on the train to and from work. The school was also very flexible and helpful giving me space as a worker and a student. So, there I was, nearly 40 years after I first stepped onto the campus at Berklee College of Music, I earned my degree in MPE, graduating magna cum laude.”

Today, with two bachelor’s degrees in completely separate fields, one in computer science and the other in music production and engineering, DeAngelis says he feels “happy and blessed” to have found a balance for all the things in his life that he loves and cherishes.

Work-life balance

“I lost my job at Berklee when Covid hit. Things got tight and they laid off hundreds of people and I was one of them. I applied and got a job at Federal Service Credit Union, a company based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for in my life,” said DeAngelis. “One of the benefits is that they allow me to work from home, which means I get up in the morning, practice my guitar for half an hour, do my exercises, and then go to work. I’ll put in a full day at my home office, and after five I try to be a good husband and a good father. I’ll cook up a little dinner, help clean up, make sure everyone is good, then I’m back down to the studio to work on my music or a client’s studio project. I may be down in the studio from 7:30 to 9-ish, and sometimes I’m down there from 7:30 to 1:30 in the morning.”

Presently, along with recording projects for outside clients, and teaching students one on one or at seminars, DeAngelis is writing music. He has 50 original songs backlogged, either written alone or in collaboration with others. He’s working to finish and release them all in digital form. His song and corresponding video, ‘Top of the World’, featured on YouTube, deals with mega wealth and the inequality that it may encourage. It’s a biting, acerbic rocker displaying a series of images and information that may prompt the viewer to reconsider the fascination and lust for capital that some believe permeates society today.

I asked what advice he might give to musicians and artists of all ages.

“The first thing I would say is never measure yourself against anyone else. You can look at other people for inspiration and ideas but don’t gauge yourself against them. Just be true to yourself. Tell the world who you are. Color outside the lines.”

I wondered how that advice could benefit an artist.

“Hopefully it will inspire them to create and develop their own individual voice, and maybe they will bring a new influence all their own into the world. Being involved in anything artistic makes you feel good, and if by chance it allows you to help others, that good multiplies. Maybe you’ll have a message that will help them get through hard times. A message that may introduce them to a new way of thinking about a certain subject from someone outside their sphere.”

Who or what did that for you?

“Well, I get that from the family and friends who loved me and supported me and from artists like the Beatles that told me it was OK for me to be myself,” said DeAngelis. ”So, I picked up a guitar then and I’ve been myself ever since, because being yourself is the only way a person should have to be.”

Look for Fred at and on YouTube.

Michael Khouri is a Barrington resident writing occasionally about the Rhode Island music scene. Reach him at

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