“A fantastic drummer”, “A
fast powerful drummer that has versatility and many
styles” and “Simply the Best Drummer in Gospel Music on
the West Coast” is often heard when talking about
Stephen grew up in a very
musical family. His Great Grandpa TJ Palmer & Great Uncle
Merle Norton used to play fiddle in Oklahoma. His uncle
Merle Norton also competed on fiddle at the Grand Ole Opry.
Stephen's family had gone to Church with and knew Semie
Moseley who founded Mosrite Guitars as well as some of the
Mosrite employees and His Grandfather "Joe Underwood" was a
regular singer on a Bakersfield local Christian Radio program
in the 1950s. In 1974, Two of Stephen's uncle's "Mark
Underwood" & "Steve Johnson" and His Father "Bill Underwood"
formed "The Lighthouse Boys"; a Southern Gospel Quartet still
going on over 35 years later. By the time Stephen was
age 6 he had already been around the Buckaroos as well as many
other well known musicians.
Stephen has always
been a drummer of multiple styles, soaking up his influences
from listening to such legends as Buddy Rich, Herb Brochstein,
Keith Moon, Matt Sorum, Louie Weaver, Robert Sweet and Steve
Smith. Stephen is told he started playing Drums and Tambourine
by the time he was almost 2 years old. After dragging out the pots and pans from his
mothers kitchen for a couple of years, He finaly had a drum set
under the Christmas Tree in 1979. After having 2 Jr Sets,
finally at the age of 11 He was given a 3 piece vintage set by
a friend and mentor, also that same year Stephen played his
first Recording Studio Session at Maximus Recording Studios in
Fresno, CA as a Tambourine player, the engineer pulled a
chair up to the recording console and told Stephen to watch
everything He does; this was the session that sparked
Stephen’s interest in Recording.
At the age of
12, Stephen officially became The Lighthouse Boys drummer and
he got a 7 piece vintage drum set. Stephen also attended
Standard Jr High School in Bakersfield, CA where He joined the
Standard Warrior Band under the new direction of DR. Rayford
Grady Walls, Jr. Under Mr Walls' leadership, Stephen
learned the basics of learning to read Drum notes, the
importance of Time and how to write his own notes.
In the fall of
1989, Stephen recorded in the studio again this time as the Drummer for The Lighthouse Boys, it was this time
The Lighthouse Boys schedule started to pick back up
drastically, by 1994 The Lighthouse Boys had already began
touring again and finally re-entered "Fat
Tracks Recording Studio" (formerly Buck Owens Recording
Studio) in Bakersfield, CA. It was there that Stephen
began to draw more studio experience from watching and talking
to Engineer Max Reese (Korn, Tom Petty, Big House).
Stephen would go on to record several sessions at Fat Track
with The Lighthouse Boys from 1994-1997, Stephen calls this
time some of the most influential sessions in His life,
working with both Max Reese and Dollywood award winning
pianist/producer & friend "Tracy Heaston." The
talked to several labels, eventually inking a deal with "Lamp
In the 90s
Stephen also began branching out joining a side band called
"Sudden Storm," after that band broke up, He and a couple of
former members including Stephen's brother "Tommy Smith"
started another side band in 1995 called "Images of Christ";
the band would go through several lineup changes, until
Stephen shut it down in January 1999. Stephen also began
joining the "Watchmen Quartet" on major stage events such as
the WSGMA Memorial Day and Labor Day events and The Great
Western Quartet Convention. In 1999 it was during a GWQC
performance with The Watchmen Quartet that brought Stephen a
chance of a life time to play for legendary Dr. James
Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers during his final West
Coast Major Appearance.
In 2001, The
Lighthouse Boys began sessions at Oreely Multi-Media, a small
home studio owned by Mark Yeary (Merle Haggard). Stephen
said "I was enjoying these sessions very well, I remember I
didn't feel nervous or tense what so ever, Mark Yeary was
drawing out some really creative stuff musically." In
2008 Stephen and his brother and "Images of Christ" band mate
"Tommy Smith" agreed to finally launch their own Recording
Studio, "NashvilleWest Productions". During that same
year Stephen also became friends with former Capitol Records &
Hightone Records recording artist "Bobby Durham" and set in on
a couple of songs with the band. Between 2008 and 2009
Stephen added Country Music and Classic Rock to his repertoire
of bands He has helped out.
In 2010, Stephen re-joined a couple of former Images of Christ
members in a Christian Rock band called “Red Letter Edition.”
Their debut EP was recorded at NashvilleWest Productions and
was released in April 2011. Stephen also joined The Blue
Diamonds out of Long Beach, CA for a short stint and help
record their debut album in 2013. In 2015 Stephen moved
to Madera, CA after getting engaged to his wife Miranda.
Stephen stepped down from touring with The Lighthouse Boys in
May of 2016 and is working in his home Church with his family.
Stephen is playing J&B Custom Drums from Las Vegas, NV.
His snare was built by owner Jim Brown. Stephen has
plans for a solo album in the future and is currently
accepting session work in the Madera/Fresno, CA area.