Last evening, Michael Nesmith appeared in Santa Monica, California at an event sponsored by Live Talks Los Angeles to promote his new book, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff. The session was hosted by D.A. Wallach, and Michael also signed books for attendees. A big thanks to Jeff Gehringer who submitted this report to the Live Almanac:
"What a wonderful evening at the Moss Center. Great to hear intelligent conversation with no mention of Liquid Paper! The extended Monkees family were on hand: Andrew Sandoval, Gary Strobl, Henry Diltz, Christian Nesmith, Circe Link, Rodney Bingenheimer, and John Hughes. I got a laugh from John when I asked him to sign the new Nez CD (he produced the set). Once the evening began, the session was funny and interesting. We loved his candid responses. The stories about getting high in Ojai [while writing the script for Head], asking Hendrix how to play 'Purple Haze,' and John Lennon soliciting Mike's thoughts about an unfinished recording of 'Sgt. Pepper,' were hilarious. The audience of 700 loved it. The book signing went quickly, too. Thanks Mike, for sharing your evening with us. I can't wait to see your next step."
Here's another photo taken while Michael was discussing The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix:
Live Talks Los Angeles has posted a gallery of photos from the event on their Facebook page (click the image below to visit):
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!
Last evening, Micky Dolenz performed with the American Metropole Orchestra at Rice Auditorium in Salem, Oregon, as part of the Smith Fine Arts Series. The orchestra was led by conductor Keller Coker, who can be seen below in rehearsals with Micky, and he was assisted by Wayne Avers (Monkees/Dolenz musical director and guitarist), who also took part in the performance.
Here are some more photos courtesy of Jennifer Winkle, who documented the final show of The Monkees' 2012 tour that featured the return of Michael Nesmith. Thanks a lot, Jennifer!
Thanks to Jennifer Winkle for these pictures from the final show on The Monkees' 2012 tour at New York City's Beacon Theatre on December 2, 2012.
A big thanks to Daniel Coston for sharing his Monkees concert photos with the Live Almanac. Here's three from Micky and Peter's appearance in Atlanta, Georgia on May 21, 2016.
Over the last few weeks, longtime Monkees fan Jennifer Winkle has been sharing with the Live Almanac her rich collection of photos from Monkees concerts going all the way back to 2001. Jennifer has taken some great photos, and you'll be seeing them here on the blog and elsewhere over the coming months. Here's two from The Monkees' show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on December 2, the last night of the 2012 tour.
A new page has been added to The Monkees Live Almanac website, chronicling The Monkees' appearance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California this past September, which Michael Nesmith said would be his last with the group. The essay examines Michael's history with The Monkees since the group's revival in 1986 as well as the Pantages concert itself.
I'd like to say a big thank you to Sherri Hansen who provided most of the photos you will see on the page (with more on the way to be added at a later date). A shout-out as well to Elliott Marx, who shared his wonderful audience recording of the show on SoundCloud, and to all the fans who uploaded their video footage to YouTube. Please enjoy - and I welcome any feedback.
Famed studio musician Louis Shelton, who played the famous guitar lick on "Last Train to Clarksville" and was featured on numerous Monkees songs in the 1960s, guested with Micky, Peter, and the band last night during the group's final show of their 50th Anniversary Tour in Gold Coast, Australia.
Andrew Sandoval marked the occasion in a message on Facebook:
A cool moment featuring the wonderful Louie Shelton, a Candy Store Prophet and a key component of the Boyce & Hart sound. What was really a thrill was how Micky & Peter performed "Last Train To Clarksville" tonight, like they were doing it for the first time in 1966. This was in fact the first time they had ever performed with the man who played guitar on so many of their classic recordings from 1966-1969.
Of note, this is the song they've played the most since they started performing in December 1966 (pre-"I'm A Believer"). We shared so much great history this year, and this along with the appearances of Michael and hearing Davy's voice every night brought home that there is still very much a real group called The Monkees.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval produced this year's 50th Anniversary Tour. Today on Facebook, he took a moment to reflect on the shows and more:
Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork played close to 50 different songs over the past 7 months, across 66 concerts in four countries (covering 30 of the 50 United States, Canada, New Zealand & Australia). We were joined by Michael Nesmith for four tremendous shows, one of which I think was maybe the best concert I have ever seen The Monkees perform.
This year, The Monkees had a new album called Good Times! that was a Top 20 charting album in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. This just blows my mind.
I have been proud to present The Monkees in concert for 160 shows from 2011-2016: the group's longest period of continuous activity since the 1960's.
We owe a great debt to our fantastic band: Wayne Avers, John Billings, Rich Dart, Gemma Dolenz & David Alexander. This year, we were blessed by having such wonderful guest musicians as David Robicheau, Vance Brescia & Felipe Torres.
Our tremendous crew pulled off a consistently great production. Thank you to Tim Iseler, Chip Auchincloss, Austin Becker & Sabrina Rush. We were helped immeasurably on a number of dates by Guy T. Koepp, Martin Garneret, Francis Sapienza, Noamme Elisha, Dave Butterworth & Matt Littlejohn. Special thanks to Scott Gawlik for his work on our videos and live concert filming.
Lastly, my extra special thanks to everyone who came to "watch us sing and play" in this wonderful five year period. Your support, trust and love have made it all possible.
Interview with Wayne Avers