After browsing through my back issues, I'm excited to present this interview with Michael Nesmith that appeared in the June 1989 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine, which, of course, was published by Maggie McManus from 1977-2002. Music journalist and New York Times bestselling writer Ken Sharp spoke to Nez while promoting Tapeheads, a movie he produced in 1988 that starred John Cusack and Tim Robbins. Sharp talks to Michael about his solo career, the 1989 compilation The Newer Stuff, music videos, heavy metal, his company Pacific Arts, reuniting with The Monkees onstage in 1986, the 1968 Nashville sessions, recording "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," and much, much more. Nez also reimagines The Monkees' lineup as a band, which includes discussion of Peter as the drummer and Micky as the bassist. Enjoy!
Michael talks about a lot of topics in this interview, including the movies Tapeheads, Square Dance, and Repo Man; The Monkees; his days at the Troubadour in the 1960s; Linda Ronstadt; hanging out with The Beatles; Jimi Hendrix; and much more. Michael's comments on The Beatles and Hendrix are a fun listen...those remarks start at 8:23.
Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma was released in May 1979 and is Michael Nesmith's ninth studio album as a singer/songwriter during his post-Monkees career. The LP was Nesmith's third to be released on his own label, Pacific Arts. To continue developing Pacific Arts' multimedia projects, Nesmith originally developed Infinite Rider as a "video album." It peaked at #151 on the Billboard chart.
To promote the release of Infinite Rider, Pacific Arts issued a promotional album entitled "The Michael Nesmith Radio Special." The program intertwines an interview with Nesmith with the anticipated slate of songs for the LP.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares who supplied the scans seen below:
From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing was released in 1977 and is Michael Nesmith's eighth studio album as a singer/songwriter during his post-Monkees career. The LP was Nesmith's second released on his own label, Pacific Arts.
Michael experienced a moderate worldwide hit with the lead-off track "Rio" (including a Top 30 placing in the United Kingdom), and later produced a promotional video for it. The video for "Rio" helped spur Nesmith's creation of a television program called PopClips for the Nickelodeon cable network. In 1980, PopClips was sold to Time Warner/Amex. Time Warner/Amex ultimately developed PopClips into the MTV network.
Due to the success of "Rio," Nez returned to the stage, making a series of concert appearances in Australia and recording the Live at the Palais album during his visit there. The success of "Rio" didn't translate into swift sales for From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing, which bottomed out on the Billboard charts at #209.
(Thanks a lot to Ben Belmares who supplied the scans for the inner sleeve and the back cover of the LP.)
'Elephant' Innovator Serves Up Some 'Duck'
By Andy Wickstrom
As the first recording artist to win a Grammy Award for a video production, Michael Nesmith has a reputation as an innovator in the field. In the introduction to the award-winning made-for-video program Elephant Parts (1981), he referred to it as his first video album - in fact, the first video album ever. It was a spectacular blend of highly original music videos, skits and commercial spoofs.
Now comes another blend, under the painfully coy name of Dr. Duck's Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce (82 minutes, Pacific Arts Video, $39.95). If that title strikes you as trying too hard to be clever, you'll probably not find the concoction to your taste. Five years have passed in the brief history of home video, but Nesmith seems not to have noticed. His Dr. Duck is hardly more than warmed over Elephant Parts, and not the choicest cuts at that.
The charge that Dr. Duck is serving leftovers is lamentably accurate. The advertising and packaging for this tape are careful to mention the hallowed Elephant Parts, but they avoid naming the program's true predecessor, a fizzled network television show.
In the summer of 1985, NBC aired half-a-dozen installments of Michael Nesmith in Television Parts, a comedy-variety show trading on the cachet of the cassette. This led in turn to its own cassette, Television Parts Home Companion. If Dr. Duck has a "super secret," it's that some of this material was conceived for, and in some cases was shown on, the TV show. One segment (Jay Leno describing a '55 Buick) even begins in front of the Television Parts graphic.
Dr. Duck is unmistakable television fare. In contrast to the virtual one- man show of EP, this venture is awash in a guest celebrity roster fine-tuned to the hippest of demographics. Appearing in song or comedy bits (besides Leno) are Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Gary Shandling, Martin Mull, Jim Stafford, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Goldthwait and Ed Begley, Jr. (Perhaps Nesmith's nom de video on this program comes from his ducking the camera.) It's a veritable list of Johnny or Joan's guests next week.
The mere fact that this is a TV retread is no reason to dismiss it entirely. It has some very entertaining moments. Nesmith figures in one as a Fassbinder-esque film director being interviewed by Dick Cavett. Puffing intently on short cigarettes, Nesmith expertly parodies the pretense of foreign "art" directors. In another fine bit, Lois Bromfield works herself into a frenzy while recounting the details of a slasher movie to her cowering date.
Other segments have a decidedly stale air. Goldberg does a turn as a surfer chick, a variation on the airhead Valley Girl that may have been funny two years ago but has since been worked to death by every talk-show comic. Goldberg contributes nothing new.
Even more boring is Goldthwait, who does his "Bobcat" routine introducing animal escape artist Houdini the Pig. Goldthwait is another in the current rash of comedians - such as Pee-wee Herman and Emo Phillips - who affect personas so geeky that the viewer squirms. It's funny at first but it's strictly one-note humor. After a minute's time, you've seen the entire repertoire of tics and grimaces.
There's one big music video production number that recalls the glories of EP. In Buffett's "La Vie Dansante," a Caribbean beach bum imagines a dreamy world of tap-dancing people in white tails, culminating in the appearance of a huge top hat that goes soaring among the stars with a line of dancers on its brim. That's just the kind of outlandishly beautiful image that Nesmith is known for, but has it become a trademark or a cliche?
This article was originally published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 7, 1986.
Here's a flashback from the Live Almanac's YouTube channel. Nickelodeon's music countdown show, Nick Rocks, profiles Michael Nesmith in a January 1987 episode. Nez discusses his most recent project (Dr. Duck's Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce, a 90-minute montage of sketch comedy with a variety of stars and music videos including Bobcat Goldthwait, Ed Begley, Jr., Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Garry Shandling) and his reunion with The Monkees in 1986.
Micky Dolenz was among the directors who worked on Michael's Television Parts in 1985 on NBC.
A big thanks to Jeff Gehringer for submitting this September 1986 article to the Live Almanac! It covers a wide variety of topics, including the 1986 Monkees revival; Nez seeing Micky, Davy and Peter in concert in Texas that year; MTV; Elephant Parts; Television Parts; the video magazine Overview; as well as the movies Square Dance, Timerider and Repo Man. For easier reading, click on each image and then click on it again.
If you wrote to Nez in the mid-1980s during the second wave of Monkeemania, this is the postcard you received back via the Pacific Arts Corporation.
In 1980, Michael Nesmith's company, Pacific Arts, released The Michael Nesmith Radio Special on vinyl. The promotional album was meant to highlight Michael's latest effort, Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma. The album featured segments of an interview with Nesmith along with tracks from Infinite Rider. The transcript of the interview can be found here.
The album has never been released on compact disc and is usually hard to find. Here is the radio special, courtesy of the Live Almanac's YouTube Channel.
Looks like the gentleman behind Peter is wearing a Pacific Arts Video (Mike's production company from the '70s through the '90s) T-shirt.
Here's an article from a 1991 issue of Record Collector.
For easier reading, click on the image and then click on it again.