In the era before DVDs and Blu-ray, Rhino Records released a limited edition (and numbered) 21-tape box set of The Monkees TV series in October 1995. Co-produced by Andrew Sandoval and featuring a packaging design made to look like a vintage television set, the box included the original 58 episodes along with the unaired version of the pilot, and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
The collection was reissued in 1997 without the collectible watch that was included in the original release, and the boxes were not individually numbered:
DVD sets of both Season 1 and Season 2 appeared in the early 2000s. The series debuted on Blu-ray (with a bevy of bonus material) in 2016, just in time to celebrate The Monkees' 50th Anniversary.
To view the complete contents of the 1995 VHS box and to read the liner notes from its 48-page booklet, be sure to visit Monkee45s.net.
Wayne Avers is no stranger to Monkees fans. He has been a part of The Monkees' family since the group's 30th Anniversary in 1996, acting as musical director and handling lead guitar duties. Wayne has performed onstage with all four Monkees at Wembley in 1997, appeared twice on The Tonight Show with the group, and took part in The Monkees' massive 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016. He recently spoke with The Monkees Live Almanac about his guitar collection, career highlights, and more.
Wayne first entered the orbit of The Monkees in the early 1990s when he joined Breakaway, the group that supported Davy Jones in his solo performances during that period. "In 1991 I was asked by Jerry Renino (Davy's bandleader) to fill in for a weekend for their guitar player, Rory Gordon," Wayne told the Live Almanac. "David asked me to join the band right after the first show. So we had both Rory and me for a few years, and then Rory went on to other things and I stayed." Wayne continued to be a part of Davy's touring band in the '90s and backed both Davy and Micky Dolenz on their joint 1994/1995 Together Again tour. Ever since then, he's been a constant presence in The Monkees' live concert performances. Today Wayne continues to serve as musical director and lead guitarist for Micky's band.
Residing in Nashville, Wayne is an ardent collector of guitars. "I play the guitar because I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964," Wayne shared. A standout guitar in his collection happens to be a Monkees Gretsch model. The Monkees have a long history with Gretsch. The company provided guitars, basses, and drums for The Monkees in the 1960s, and a Monkees model Gretsch guitar was available on the market from 1966 until 1968. Today, the Gretsch Monkees Signature Guitar is a highly sought after collectible that has been known to sell for thousands of dollars through online retailers like eBay. "I own one and play it on tour, and have done a lot of research on these guitars - I'm a guitar collector geek!," Wayne enthused.
"This is a photo of me in Toronto on the 2016 Monkees tour. It's a 1967 Gretsch Monkees model, also known as the 6123 model. They originally all came in red, but this one was refinished in black 30-40 years ago before I got it on eBay in 2014. I played it nightly on the 2016 tour."
Here's another photo of Wayne playing his refinished Monkees Gretsch guitar:
"The next picture is me with Micky's personal Monkees Gretsch model, also a 1967. Micky owns 2 Monkees models. He was given one by a fan in 2014 and that's the one I played on the 2014 tour. He has another one that he got from a collector a few years ago. None of the other Monkees own any [Gretsch Monkees guitars], but Davy's family still owns the small bass guitar that Gretsch made for him."
Wayne mentioned other famous musicians who count a Monkees Gretsch guitar as part of their own collections.
"Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick owns a Gretsch Monkees model, and so does Bono from U2. When I lived in New York City in 2001, Bono bought it from 30th Street Guitars. My friend Matt Brewster owns the store and they shipped it to him in Ireland. In 2002 when The Monkees played in Dublin, Bono's guitar tech brought it for Davy and Micky to autograph. He's a big fan."
You can see Rick Nielsen's Monkees Gretsch in the video below:
Wayne also revealed to the Live Almanac another Monkees-related guitar that's in his collection, one that he carefully customized himself. "After the Monkees Gretsch guitars were discontinued, they used the Monkees guitar bodies and electronics, changed the finish, and renamed it the Streamliner. I own a 1969 Gretsch Streamliner guitar in cherry red. And I had a Monkees pickguard and truss rod cover made for it, and added a bigsby."
I took a moment to ask Wayne about his personal highlights of working with The Monkees for the last 20+ years. "Too many to remember!," he exclaimed. "But playing on The Tonight Show twice [in 1996 and 2001] was a real highlight, and I've had the opportunity to tour the world: the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and twice visiting Japan with Davy Jones. And getting to play at the Cavern Club in England with Micky last summer at the International Beatle Fest was also a highlight!," Wayne said. "And all the friends I have made through this experience. I'm great friends with mostly everyone that has been in the band and crew over the years, as well as many of the fans. It's a dream job."
As for what's next, Wayne will once again be on the road while also releasing new music with the Wayne Avers Group. "I'll be doing the "50 Summers of Love" tour this year with Micky Dolenz and Mark Lindsay, and the Fab Four as our band. My own band in Nashville will soon release our new CD as well." Wayne will also be playing with Micky and fellow Monkees touring musicians Rich Dart, John Billings, Dave Alexander, and Coco Dolenz in Micky's solo shows throughout 2017.
Fans will also get to hear the Wayne Avers Group performing "For Pete's Sake" on an upcoming Monkees tribute album from 7a Records, with all proceeds benefiting the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation. "I was taking my band into the studio to record a new CD, and at the same time 7a Records asked if I'd like to contribute a song. Since I am a sponsor of one of Davy's horses, I was happy to participate." Wayne also spoke about his admiration for Peter Tork's most famous work. "I always thought 'For Pete's Sake' was a great song. I love the guitar part, and have been playing it for over 20 years with The Monkees. So, I rearranged it as an instrumental Latin Jazz song. The original version is perfect, so rather than copy it, I did my own version, and we think it came out great."
I'd like to say thank you to Wayne for taking the time to speak with The Monkees Live Almanac. And be sure to stay tuned for more information about the upcoming album by the Wayne Avers Group!
Kool-Aid acted as sponsors when The Monkees television series started in reruns on CBS in the fall of 1969. This piece of memorabilia recently elicited 20 bids on eBay with a final auction price of $356.00! The seller provided the following description:
Up for sale is an extremely rare Kool-Aid retail display with an offer featuring the Monkees (minus Peter Tork) offering practical jokes. This display would have been affixed to a grocery store shelf, and people would take the coupons for free hand buzzers or snake in a can when they mailed in Kool-Aid labels. The reverse of the coupon says that the offer expires in February 1970, so this is probably circa fall of 1969.
A similar advertisement appeared in newspapers in the fall of 1969.
Was a reader of the Live Almanac the winning bidder???
The Chicago Tribune spotlights The Monkees' 1969 NBC television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee:
On March 3, Friday Music issued a limited edition (gold) vinyl version of the soundtrack to The Monkees' 1968 feature film, Head, entitled Head Alternate. This release features alternate versions of songs that appeared on the original soundtrack, such as "Can You Dig It" with a lead vocal by Peter Tork, a remixed "Daddy’s Song" with the slow verse sung by Davy Jones as seen in the movie, alternate stereo mixes of "Porpoise Song," "As We Go Along," and "Circle Sky," and a rough mix acetate of "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again." All of these alternate versions have been previously available on various CD releases by Rhino Records.
Once again, Ben Belmares delivers for The Monkees Live Almanac with his scans of this new release. Thanks, Ben!!
The latest stellar release from 7a Records is a very limited edition (500 copies) 7" yellow vinyl single featuring two live cuts by Davy Jones. The single includes Davy and his band performing "Daydream Believer" and "I Wanna Be Free" during a tour of Japan in May 1981.
Be sure to purchase your copy today at Amazon (in the US or UK) or via Deep Discount! You can also hear audio samples of the tracks from a previous post here on the blog.
As always, thank you very much to Ben Belmares who shared the scans of his copy with the Live Almanac!
These are the actual album covers in its unused, pristine state, before it was pasted onto the cardboard LP jacket
I remember this hat being sold at my local mall in 1986 (along with other 20th Anniversary Tour merchandise), but I never owned it. Do you have this hat in your collection?
Thanks to Scott Nelson for the heads-up!
PRE-ORDER: HEAD-ALTERNATE (180 Gram Audiophile Translucent Gold Vinyl/Limited Anniversary Edition/ Gold Foil Cover)
Earlier this month, a very limited edition (500 copies) 7" colored vinyl single featuring two live cuts by Micky Dolenz was released by 7a Records. The single includes Micky singing "Sunny Girlfriend" and "Zor & Zam" on his brief Japanese tour in 1982. A CD release of the entire concert is forthcoming.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares for sharing the scans of his copy with the Live Almanac!
Good Times! Plus! was made available as part of a special Record Store Day release by Rhino Records for Black Friday on November 25, 2016. The four song EP, pressed on 10" red opaque vinyl and limited to 2,500 copies, included the four non-album songs that were previously only available via iTunes and exclusive retail CDs in both the US and Japan. Ben Belmares scanned his copy, and you can see the front and back covers, labels, and more below. Thanks, Ben!
In late 1980, Peter formed a band called The New Monks. On February 13, 1981, they recorded a single, "Steppin' Stone"/"Higher and Higher." The 45 was eventually released on the Claude's Music Works label, named after Peter's then-manager Claude Hayn. Thanks a lot to Ben Belmares for sharing the scans of his single!
Lisa Manekofsky attended the penultimate show on the 50th Anniversary Tour at Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on November 19th. In a recent email to the Live Almanac, Lisa reported two new items on the merchandise table which were not for sale on earlier dates, or at least since the last time she had seen the tour (in mid-July in New Hampshire). There was a canvas tote bag which sold for $20, and a light blue T-shirt with a drawing of Micky Dolenz and the words "Psycho Jello," which sold for $35.
Did anyone else take notice of these additional items at other late stops on the tour? (Note: The "Psycho Jello" shirt was for sale on Micky's official eBay store this past summer.)
Thanks, Lisa, for the heads-up!
A lot of fans from Australia and New Zealand have contacted the Live Almanac asking about pricing and availability of 50th Anniversary Tour merchandise for the shows Down Under. I'd like to thank Matt Boe of Love Police Merchandising for confirming which items will be for sale and at what cost:
Interview with Wayne Avers