A big thanks to Brian Marchese (host of the "Where's That Sound Coming From?" podcast) for scanning this candid interview with Michael Nesmith from the January 1974 issue of ZigZag, a long-defunct British rock music publication.
Michael later performed at the Amazing ZigZag Concert that was held at The Roundhouse in London on April 28, 1974 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the magazine. The entire show, including Michael's performance with Red Rhodes, was released as part of a box set in 2010.
Magnetic South was the first solo album released by Michael Nesmith after his departure from The Monkees. Arriving in June 1970, the LP featured The First National Band: Red Rhodes (pedal steel), John Ware (drums), and John London (bass). It was the first in a trilogy of albums by the group, containing brand new material along with many songs that were recorded during the Monkees era but ultimately passed over for release on Monkees albums. Tracks like "Calico Girlfriend," "Nine Times Blue," "Little Red Rider," and "Hollywood" were re-recorded and reinterpreted during sessions for Magnetic South.
The first single, "Little Red Rider," failed to chart, but "Joanne" became a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite this success, Magnetic South would only reach #143 on the Billboard Top LPs chart.
Loose Salute followed in late 1970, and the trilogy was completed with Nevada Fighter in 1971.
Note the dedications made by Nez on the back cover: to his fellow Monkees, Lester Sill, Bert Schneider, Jack Nicholson, and Mimi. The "Tomorrow Man" is thought to be a sly reference to Don Kirshner, who was producing a group named Toomorrow at the time (which featured Olivia Newton-John as one of its members).
Last year, Monkees fans voted Magnetic South as their favorite Nesmith solo album.
As always, thanks a lot to Ben Belmares for providing the front and back cover images, along with the labels, that are seen above!
In this interview with Steve Earle, Michael talks about The Monkees' new album, Good Times!, The First National Band, Red Rhodes, and much, much more. And if you are a SiriusXM subscriber, the conversation with Nez is available on demand.
UPDATE June 8: Listen to the audio of the interview below, which was recently shared on Facebook by a Monkees fan:
Check out this photo that Michael recently shared on Facebook...anybody know when and where this was taken???
On November 28, 1970, Michael Nesmith and The First National Band performed at the WVOK Shower of Stars at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.
Spec, published by 16 Magazine, covered the show in their August 1971 issue:
Here's a promotional handbill for the event:
Micky, Davy, and Michael performed Michael's song "Nine Times Blue" live during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show in the summer of 1969.
Several different attempts were made recording the song, and each of them remained in the vault until years later. There's a version featuring Davy Jones singing the lead vocal (accompanied by Michael on acoustic guitar), recorded during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in early 1968:
Michael also tackled the song around the same time. Both of these attempts remained unreleased until the 2010 Rhino Handmade deluxe box set of the Birds album.
In the summer of 1968, Nez released his first solo album The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, an all-orchestral affair that included an instrumental take on "Nine Times Blue."
Nez actually demoed "Nine Times Blue" while recording Headquarters in early 1967:
Michael revisited the song once again in April 1968, accompanied by Red Rhodes on pedal steel and Chip Douglas on bass. It was this version that first saw the light of day on the 1987 compilation Missing Links:
Michael recorded "Nine Times Blue" once more in 1970, and it was featured on his initial solo album with The First National Band, Magnetic South.
A friend of Mike's in the pre-Monkees era, John London later accompanied Mike to Los Angeles to try their hand at the music scene there. London later became Mike's stand-in on the television series and would occasionally play bass guitar on Monkees recordings. He also co-wrote "Don't Call on Me" with Nez, which appeared on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. After The Monkees, Mike asked John to join him in the First National Band.
This article was originally published in the September 1967 issue of 16 Magazine.
British broadcaster and longtime Monkees fan Iain Lee is working on an upcoming vinyl/digital release centered around Micky's MGM singles in the early 1970s. Earlier today, Iain shared a previously unseen 1973 Henry Diltz photograph of Micky with Chip Douglas and Red Rhodes (who, of course, was a member of Michael's First National Band).
Here's Iain message from Facebook:
Thanks so much everyone for sharing this page and encouraging people to come and look and like and join.
I did promise that when we reached 1,000 likers I would post a never before seen pic from the collection of renowned rock photographer and Monkee friend Henry Diltz.
Henry and Gary Strobl have been incredibly generous and are allowing Glenn and myself to use, I think, 13 previously unseen pics of Micky from the early 70's. These will be on the back cover, the inside of the gatefold and in the 8 page booklet as well as a few other treasures (mustn't give TOO much away).
So, here you go. No one has EVER seen this before. It's a pic taken on March 16th, 1973 at Gold Star Studios and shows Chip Douglas, Micky and Red Rhodes. A pretty magical trio.
We've got more great pics and surprises. We still don't have a release date but it SHOULD be out by the summer. There are a few things that Glenn and I are chasing. We were about to press in January and then something cropped up. Also, I am interviewing Micky in the next couple of weeks (sadly over the phone) for this and the Keep Off My Grass project.
Do keep sharing this page and posting on it.
Thanks for your support and patience.
Michael and John London won San Antonio College's Headliner of the Year contest in 1964.
All photos are courtesy of First National Band drummer John Ware...
John Ware was the drummer in the First National Band...
Nevada Fighter was the third and final album recorded by Michael Nesmith and The First National Band. Released in May 1971, it failed to make the Billboard Top 200, bubbling under at #202, but the title track managed to reach #70.
Both John London and John Ware left the First National Band in late 1970, despite the album being incomplete. Michael asked James Burton and Joe Osborn and a few others to help finish the project. Both Burton and Osborn were longtime studio session players for The Monkees.