Each member of The Monkees had a stand-in during filming of their television series. Michael Nesmith's original stand-in was John London, but in 1967 London joined the Lewis & Clarke Expedition, a country rock group that also included Michael Martin Murphey, an old friend of Michael's and the songwriter responsible for "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" (and "Oklahoma Backroom Dancer").
Nesmith's brother-in-law, Bruce Barbour, replaced John London as Mike's stand-in on The Monkees during the second season and while filming the movie Head (as seen in the photo below). Barbour went on to become a respected Hollywood stunt man.
Nez also talks about The Monkees' 1968 film, Head:
“It was an attempt to do harm. I knew that these guys, Bert [Schneider] and Bob [Rafelson], were up to no good. And I don’t mind it being in the public record,” he says. “But the thing that I did love about it was the way that it recovered, the way it redeemed itself. It had something in it that was never gonna die, that wacko absurdity, and it remains compartmentalized. You open the silo that Head lives in and there’s no other movie in there.”
In 2010, Head was included in a Criterion Collection box set, America Lost & Found: The BBS Story, which highlighted the films of Bob Rafelson & Bert Schneider and Steve Blauner. This poster was created to promote the DVD and Blu-ray releases, as well as a screening of Head at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in New York.
Here are The Monkees on The Hy Lit Show from Philadelphia on Monday, November 18, 1968:
Here's what Rodney Bingenheimer played -- and who called in -- during the last installment of 'Rodney on the ROQ'
The Monkees visited the station on May 16, 1968, the day before the live concert filming of "Circle Sky."
SirQ shared his alternate cover design for the Head soundtrack with the Live Almanac:
This photograph of The Monkees was taken in November 1968 during the promotional tour for their feature film, Head.
Peter Mills, author of The Monkees, Head, and the '60s, was recently contacted by none other than Bob Rafelson, who praised his work! (And it looks like Jack Nicholson is reading, too.) Jawbone Press, the publisher of the book, tweeted the following account earlier today:
Be sure to check out an excerpt from the book that was published on this blog last year.
In a 2002 interview with Mojo magazine, Micky Dolenz discussed the significance of the 'black box' in the movie Head. "...About us as individuals getting stuck in this black box, which was a metaphor for The Monkees. We used to talk about being in a black box all the time. When we were on tour, especially - but even being on the TV set. We couldn't leave a room or hotel. We were shuffled around from limo to hotel room to limo to the back entrance of a concert arena in a dressing room. It was even a little black box on-stage because we used to jump out of these fake Vox amps. So for more than two years, we lived - literally - in a little black box."
"War Games" was composed by Davy Jones and Steve Pitts and was originally considered for inclusion on the soundtrack of The Monkees' 1968 feature film, Head. Pitts was a friend of Michael Nesmith's from Texas, and Nez introduced the pair to each other in late 1966. They eventually entered into a songwriting partnership, composing such tracks as "Dream World," "The Poster," "Smile," "Party," "I'm Gonna Try," and "Changes" (another song that was floated for Head, and at the time of its recording, the name of the film).
Two versions of "War Games" exist. The first was recorded in January 1968 under the supervision of Nesmith. Present at the initial sessions were Michael, Davy, Steve, and Bob Rafelson, who offered the visual image he was getting while hearing the track being produced. "It sounds to me like four spade chicks all dressed in American flags and all wigglin' their asses at the same time, goin' down the street," reported Andrew Sandoval in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, after listening to the session tapes. "You dig what I mean? If you just start thinkin' on that, it sounds awful good." Nez replied with some hesitation. "Thanks Bob. That's very groovy. That's what we are playin', right?"
Sandoval discussed the first version of "War Games" in the liner notes of Rhino's 2010 deluxe edition release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
(Sandoval notes in his book that Michael most likely overdubbed the Hammond organ part at a future recording session.)
In February 1968, Davy went back into the studio with Lester Sill and Shorty Rogers and remade "War Games" in a slower arrangement with horns and strings:
"War Games" wouldn't be heard until version 2 appeared on 1987's Missing Links. Version 1 would make its debut on the 2010 deluxe edition of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.
Go ahead and take a moment to vote in the poll below to show your preference between the two versions of the song: