On June 23, 1967, The Monkees and their crew departed Los Angeles for Paris, France. Over the next several days in the French capital, The Monkees filmed what would become the second season episode "Monkees in Paris." Here's a photo of Davy riding a motorbike through the streets of Paris as seen in the episode:
And Peter Tork is hosting Jimi Hendrix at his home...
Craig Smith wrote "Salesman," the opening track on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Smith was a friend of Michael Nesmith's and a member of The Penny Arkade, a group Nesmith produced in the recording studio. Nez talked about the Arkade and "Salesman" with Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval: "I really liked the way they sang," he said in the liner notes of Rhino's 1995 compact disc release of the LP. "I was drawn to record 'Salesman' because it reminded me of Sir Douglas and the Tex-Mex oompah."
The song was later used to great effect in the second season episode "The Devil and Peter Tork," but not before stirring controversy at NBC. The January 1968 issue of Hit Parader reported that the episode had been rejected by the network because of the inclusion of "Salesman," which was thought to have been about drug use. "NBC said we're not putting that song out," Peter Tork recalled in Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation. "They said, 'Because "Salesman's" got drug references in it.' In fact, it sort of does, but it's not direct and it's not approving by any stretch of the imagination. What it really says is, 'Salesmen are so sleazy, they'll sell anything.'"
By the time the episode aired on February 5, 1968, the song remained in the final cut of the show. Ultimately, Bert Schneider, one half of Raybert Productions that created The Monkees series, was convinced that the network's real problem was the use of the word 'hell' throughout the episode. Peter agreed with this assessment. "Bert felt that they didn't want to put the show on because they were pissed off directly and personally at having their idea of what's right and wrong challenged. They said it was centered on 'Salesman,' but he thought it was a red herring."
Shortly after experiencing success with "Salesman," Craig Smith fell on hard times by the 1970s. Abusing drugs and dropping out of society, Smith's life spiraled alarmingly. He's been the subject of writers previously, and now author Mike Stax has delved into his life in a new book, which was released last fall.
Lots to check out in this cool screenshot taken from "The Monkees on Tour" episode, including the large screen that projected images of The Monkees during their performance, along with several of the group's Gretsch brand instruments: Micky's champagne sparkle drum kit, Peter's burgundy bass, and Davy's customized bass!
Micky Dolenz, in an interview for Harold Bronson's Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees book, remembered The Monkees' earliest live performances and the hysteria that greeted The Monkees in concert. "We would burst out of these big, mock Vox speakers onto the stage and the place would go bananas," Dolenz said. We had one of the first multimedia presentations; we projected this film up behind us on a big movie screen." The screams coming from the audience, however, often hindered the band as they could barely hear themselves play. "I get up behind the drums and I couldn't hear any count so Mike would turn and he would look at me and I'd look at him and we'd all look at each other because you couldn't hear or see a thing," he recalled. "We had a lot of good times," Nesmith told Bronson.
Famed actress Rose Marie guested on two episodes of The Monkees during its first season: "Monkees in a Ghost Town" and "Monkee Mother." Here's a great interview with her courtesy of the Zilch podcast as conducted by Jeff Gehringer:
Watch "The Fairy Tale" below, featuring Michael Nesmith's commentary:
And here's the episode with Peter Tork's commentary. This is Peter's favorite episode of The Monkees, and he raves about Michael's performance in it:
The legendary Chuck Berry, guitarist, singer, and songwriter, passed away on March 18, 2017. Micky Dolenz sang Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" while auditioning for The Monkees in 1965.
Years later, Micky reimagined the song on his 2012 solo album, Remember:
In 1994 during the Together Again tour with Davy Jones, Micky performed another Berry classic, "Too Much Monkey Business." Here's a live recording of it, courtesy of the Live Almanac's YouTube channel:
Jerry Blavat, "The Geator with The Heater" and "The Boss with the Hot Sauce," is a longtime disc jockey and Philadelphia icon who appeared in the second season episode, "Some Like It Lukewarm."