Tag Archives: Monkees

Over 12 years, a musical education

When this blog debuted 12 years ago this week, I knew plenty about Peter Tork and I knew nothing about Harvey Scales.

Fellow music bloggers hepped me to Harvey Scales, who was an underappreciated Wisconsin treasure. He’s well known to soul enthusiasts and to those who saw him 50 years ago on a Midwest circuit of clubs, college rathskellers, frat houses, roadhouses and beer bars. He died on Feb. 11. He was 77, maybe 78. When I posted word of his death in a couple of local history Facebook groups, the memories poured in from that long-gone scene:

“I remember being at the teen beer bar, Jack’s Point Bar on the Beach Road, Twistin’ Harvey singing and standing on the tabletops while twistin’ a white towel over his head. He was very good and got the place rockin’!” … “Threw me his sweaty shirt!” … “Twistin’ Harv was legendary and always drew a big crowd. They were so much fun!” … “First good R&B band I had ever heard. They really opened my eyes to a complete different style of music.” … “Twistin’ Harvey and the Seven Sounds blew my mind in the late ’60’s at some outdoor event in Appleton.”

I’m too young to have seen Harvey Scales in his prime, but I was fortunate to see latter-day versions of Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds at a small outdoor show in 2010 and then in a steamy tent on the Fourth of July in 2013. Kinda felt like I was seeing one of the last of the soul and R&B revues.

Peter Tork’s passing on Feb. 21 was not unexpected. He also was 77. When Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz announced the most recent Monkees tour, I immediately got the sense that Tork sat it out because he didn’t feel up to touring. Whether that’s so, only those closest to him know.

“I have in general made no secret of the fact that all these recent years of Monkees-related projects, as fun as they’ve been, have taken up a lot of my time and energy,” Tork said a year ago, preferring to work on a blues record instead. “So, I’m shifting gears for now, but I wish the boys well.”

I’ve loved the Monkees since I was a kid in the ’60s. Truth be told, I don’t write about them enough. Wish I still had my Monkees cards and my Monkeemobile model. I still vividly remember the day my Monkeemobile’s roof got smooshed beyond repair. However, we still have all the records.

We were fortunate to see the Monkees in three different settings, in three wonderful shows. We started with Davy Jones solo in 2010, then the Davy-Micky-Peter lineup in 2011, then the Mike-Micky-Peter lineup in 2014. That’s Peter playing the red guitar at right in the latter show. Each time we saw Peter, he was the coolest, most relaxed guy on the stage.

When this blog debuted 12 years ago this week, I knew nothing about Mongo Santamaria, either.

It wasn’t all that long ago that my friend Larry Grogan — the proprietor of the mighty Funky 16 Corners blog and the host of WFMU’s “Testify!” — hepped me to him, too. Still exploring, still learning.

The record you see below is one recently found while digging and recently ripped on the turntable that sits just to my right in AM, Then FM world headquarters.

“I Thank You,” Mongo Santamaria, from “All Strung Out,” 1970.

Thanks for reading all these years, everyone, and thanks for hepping me to cool music like this. More to come!

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Filed under February 2019, Sounds

Parked near the Batmobile

If social media are any indication, all the cool kids — including my friends Norb and Brian — are in Madison this weekend.

The Wizard World Comic Con Madison is going on next door to what we used to call the Dane County Coliseum, an aging hockey barn that has also has seen some fairly remarkable rock shows.

Brian rode with William Shatner in a hotel shuttle last night and saw Edward James Olmos and Lou Ferrigno at breakfast this morning. Name dropper.

But Norb saw the Batmobile today. “I think it’s just a replica,” he said.

batmobile desk

This is as close as I’m going to get to the Batmobile this weekend.

This Batmobile sits on my desk, just behind my Mac. It is, of course, one of the coolest cars from a childhood filled with cool cars.

Adam West, the guy who sat behind the wheel of the real Batmobile, was to have been at Comic Con Madison this weekend, but he canceled because of what was said to be a scheduling conflict.

I have long wanted to meet Adam West. But I’m not into autographs or selfies — I don’t need proof of such a meeting — so paying upwards of $50 extra just to shake his hand and say thanks seems pointless. It might have been enough just to see him from a distance.

There’s always hope for a random meeting. We once rode in an elevator with Sam Kinison, so anything’s possible.

But I suspect my chances of meeting Adam West are about as slim as another entry on my bucket list.

I would love to have lunch with Paul McCartney. Vegan, of course. No pictures, no autographs, just a couple of guys shooting the breeze.

Maybe Adam West could join us.

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“Good Morning, Good Morning” Micky Dolenz, from “Remember,” 2012. Also available digitally.

Here’s another mashup of ’60s icons, one of whom had another cool car, the Monkeemobile.

As Dolenz tells it, John Lennon invited him to listen to his song — “Hey Monkee Man. Want to hear what we’re working on?” — as it was being recorded at EMI Studios in London in February 1967. A year later, a bit of this Beatles song was heard at the beginning of the final episode of “The Monkees,” one co-written and directed by Dolenz.

“I don’t remember how it happened, but I somehow managed to get the rights to play this song,” Dolenz says in the “Remember” liner notes. “To my knowledge, it is the first time that The Beatles let one of their songs be used in such a manner.”

Here’s that episode: “The Frodis Caper,” or “Mijacogeo,” from March 25, 1968. That’s an unknown Tim Buckley at the end, doing an acoustic version of “Song To The Siren,” which hadn’t been released at the time.

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Filed under February 2015, Sounds

The Monkees, the Beatles and Jesus

The shock wave that followed the news of Davy Jones’ passing last week shook loose this realization: There have always been four Monkees. You thought there always would be four. Now there are three. There will never again be four.

It was the same shock wave that followed the news of John Lennon’s death in 1980. There had always been four Beatles. You thought there always would be four. Then there were three. And then, 21 years later, there were just two.

Davy Jones was the man the Monkees could not lose, just as John Lennon was the man the Beatles could not lose. Davy Jones and John Lennon in the same breath? Absolutely. Going on without them? Unfathomable.

Time proved Davy Jones irreplaceable. Girls who loved the young Davy Jones kept that torch burning for years. Fans — including some remarkable names — kept finding the Monkees’ music fresh and vital decades later.

In his solo shows and on Monkees reunion tours, the 60-something Jones gracefully navigated fans’ expectations as he — and they — grew older. He’d walk out on stage, hear the cheers, smile and announce:

“Hi, I’m Davy’s dad. Davy will be out in a minute.”

Only the most fearless, confident entertainers can pull off a self-deprecating line like that with such ease and charm, immediately winning over an audience not sure what to expect from a man who long ago was a teen heartthrob.

Micky Dolenz is a better singer. Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith are better musicians. But Davy Jones was a great entertainer, the straw that stirred the drink, and that’s why it’s impossible to imagine the Monkees without him.

Davy Jones and John Lennon were friends. Lennon enjoyed “The Monkees” TV show and thought the lads to be a bit like the Marx Brothers. High praise.

In a fascinating 2006 interview with a suburban Chicago newspaper, Jones said:

“He was a very big influence on my life, John Lennon, you know?
So were all the Beatles, and Ringo’s a good friend still.”

So when you think of the Monkees and the Beatles, remember their mutual admiration. “There’s talent there,” George Harrison was to have said.

But please, may we set the record straight on one thing? “The Monkees” TV show was not inspired by the Beatles’ film “A Hard Day’s Night.”

So says Bob Rafelson, who with Bert Schneider created the show. Rafelson told the Los Angeles Times’ Randy Lewis:

“This was a show I had written six years before the Beatles existed, and the pilot was based on my own life as an itinerant musician when I was 17 years old. What the Beatles did was to create a kind of permission for any rock ‘n’ roll to be a popular subject for television.”

And if the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, as Lennon suggested in 1966, then the Monkees must have been, too. Rafelson explains:

“This was a massive thing, They sold something like 23 million records in 1966 — and that was more than the Beatles, more than the (Rolling) Stones that year. They had more No. 1 hits. I tell this to people now, and they say ‘What are you talking about?'”

Ah, what a time it was. Imagine.

“Paperback Believer,” Mark Vidler (Go Home Productions), 2004, from “This Was Pop (2002-2007),” a free collection of the British producer’s mashups.

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Filed under March 2012, Sounds

Turning 5, and feeling a little older

(There was a different post intended for today. It still begins the same way.)

To mark the fifth anniversary of AM, Then FM, we’ve gone back to the photo that graced the top of the blog as it landed on browsers in the last week of February 2007. The boy in that picture is our son, Evan.

Evan was 9 when that picture was taken in Duluth, Minnesota, in September 2004. He’s 17 now, yet he vividly remembers our long-ago trips to Duluth.

What are your vivid memories from when you were 9? Mine came rushing back earlier today with the news that Davy Jones of the Monkees had died.

When I was 9 in September 1966, “The Monkees” were must-see TV on early Monday nights on NBC. Mostly, it was for the skits and jokes and gags that would be the catch phrases at school for the week to come.

Eventually, though, the songs became the tidal wave that carried everyone along. So many friends — and friends’ sisters, mostly — had Monkees 45s. You heard them everywhere. Today, I’m amazed that I came to know so many Monkees songs without having camped out in front of the radio for hours.

Beyond the songs, I most vividly remember my Monkeemobile model. This one.

Somehow I managed to put it together. Eventually, though, it got played with, as all models do. One day, the flimsy supports on that low-slung roof folded up like an accordion. Just like that, my Monkeemobile was a convertible, just another tricked-out GTO headed for Model Demolition Derby.

I also vividly remember drawing the Monkees’ guitar logo. This logo.

We called it freehand drawing — sketching a copy from sight, and never tracing — and I did a lot of it. Sports logos, mostly, but I did this one, too. A couple of years later, I did the Woodstock logo, which was just a different kind of guitar.

The Monkees’ music belongs to everyone. That was apparent from the tremendous outpouring of memories on Facebook, on Twitter, on the blogs and in seemingly every corner of the Web today.

The Monkeemobile with the collapsed roof, the freehand drawings, those memories belong to me.

As do the memories of being just a couple of rows from the stage when Davy Jones brought his solo act to Green Bay back in the fall of 2010. We sat there, marveling at his charm and energy, and digging all those great Monkees songs.

Reading today that Davy Jones had passed away at age 66, my friend Glick said:

“66, my butt. He was never more than 24.”

He certainly seemed that way. The years just washed away, for him and for us.

In five years of writing this blog, the Monkees have been featured here just once. I apologize for that oversight. It was almost exactly four years ago that a Monkees song appeared in a throwaway post called “Sunny pop goodness.”

Davy Jones sang it.

“Valleri,” the Monkees, from the Colgems 7-inch, 1968. This is the single edit, which fades at the end. An alternate version, with a more distinct finish, was released on “The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees” in 1968. It’s out of print.

Davy Jones sang these, too. Neil Diamond wrote them.

“A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” from the Colgems 7-inch, 1967. This was the first time Davy Jones had sung lead on one of the Monkees’ singles.

“Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),” from “More of The Monkees,” 1967.

All three cuts are available digitally on “The Best of The Monkees,” a 2003 release.

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Filed under February 2012, Sounds

Sunny pop goodness

It comes with the territory — I’ve lived in Wisconsin since 1965 — but I really am tired of being cold this winter.

Maybe that just comes with being older than dirt.

I could use some nice sunny pop goodness. Maybe you could, too.

You’ve heard ’em all, but dig ’em anyway.

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“Green Peppers” and “A Taste of Honey,” Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, from “Whipped Cream and Other Delights,” 1965.

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“I’d Wait a Million Years,” 1969, and “Temptation Eyes,” 1970, both by the Grass Roots, from “Their 16 Greatest Hits,” 1971. It’s out of print, but both cuts are available on this best-of CD.

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“Valleri,” the Monkees, from “The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees,” 1968.

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“Paperback Believer,” Mark Vidler/Go Home Productions, 2004, from “This Was Pop, 2002-2007.” This Beatles/Monkees mashup is among the many swell Vidler creations available at his web site. Go get ’em.

Oh, yeah, I feel much better now.

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Filed under March 2008, Sounds