This article was originally published in the Vancouver Sun after The Monkees' performance at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 29, 1969:
The editor of Monkees Monthly penned this piece for the September 1969 issue, which was also its last.
This article is a time capsule on the state of The Monkees heading into what turned out to be the very challenging year of 1969 for the group. Davy talks about the lack of success of their most recent singles and why he thinks they underperformed. He also discusses 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee (which had yet to air), songwriting (including Micky's "Mommy and Daddy"), what he thinks their 1969 tour should encompass, and much more.
Before the start of their extensive tour across North America, Micky, Davy, and Michael were guests on Glen Campbell's variety show on February 5, 1969. The trio performed "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," and "Salesman" live and lip-synced "Tear Drop City" (their brand new single at the time) after a series of comedy sketches. Those sketches are outrageously dated and a bit over the top, but it's still a fun watch and one of the few surviving pieces of footage of The Monkees as a trio in 1969. Plus, you get to catch a glimpse of Davy's ultra-cool customized Gretsch bass.
Micky and Davy discuss Peter's departure from The Monkees and his new group Release, music trends, their upcoming LP that ultimately became The Monkees Present, and more:
The Monkees visited the historic Ryman Auditorium when they were guests on The Johnny Cash Show on July 19, 1969. The trio sang Michael Nesmith's "Nine Times Blue" in an appearance that was filmed earlier that May.
On April 25, 1969, Davy, Micky, and Michael performed in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Honolulu International Center Arena, site of the very first Monkees concert on December 3, 1966.
Andrew Sandoval made note of The Monkees' 1969 Hawaii appearance in his book, The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation, including parts of a review from the show originally published in the Honolulu Advertiser:
Anyone know where this ad originated? I'm not sure if it's from a newspaper or a trade magazine. Check out the 1969 tour page here at the Live Almanac for more details and set lists.
For years it has been debated whether or not a concert from the 1969 Monkees tour was recorded. Conflicting reports and recollections from members of The Monkees, their backing band from that era, and others have added to the intrigue. All this time later, however, no tapes have ever surfaced. One concert, thought to be the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas does exist as a bootleg, but it’s an absolutely horrible recording usually sought after for historical purposes only.
Both Micky Dolenz and Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval have seemingly confirmed that there is no audio to be heard from the 1969 tour. "We never recorded that," Micky Dolenz said in a 2005 online interview. "I recorded Sam & The Goodtimers [the supporting band on the 1969 tour] as an act, and was trying to sell them to a record company. But we never recorded - I wish we had, it was funny, it was really great having that band, they were a great band."
Sandoval agreed with Micky about the nonexistence of 1969 live audio. "Certainly there’s no tape of a 1969 show in the Monkees vault. What Micky says…that he taped them (The Goodtimers) at that Souled Out Club in Los Angeles…makes a lot of sense," Sandoval said in a 2005 interview. "I tried to do research about that club. I found out where it was but there were never any advertisements or listings of who played there in that time period, so it was hard to say when the Goodtimers played there or when The Monkees might have come to see them. It seems more and more that if there had been a recording it would have shown up by now. It’s been a long time, you know?”
Even with these statements, curiosity still surrounds potential live recordings from the 1969 tour today. The year, after all, was more than challenging for the group, who were now a trio after the departure of Peter Tork. With their weekly television series off the air (but revived in syndication in the fall of '69), along with the disastrous box office returns of their feature film Head, and the lukewarm reception to their 1969 NBC television special, The Monkees' concert show proved a hard sell to ticket buyers. To their credit, The Monkees were experimenting with new sounds in their music as well as in their live performances, developing an act that was revue-like in its presentation and supported onstage by Sam & The Goodtimers, a seven-piece rhythm and blues band. Despite some positive vibes from the critics, the 1969 tour, Micky later said, "was like kicking a dead horse. The phenomenon had peaked." "We all had a good time on the tour," Michael Nesmith told Sandoval in the 1990s, but "it was tough out there." Documentation of The Monkees in concert from this era would reveal a unique period in the history of the group like never before, and is a main factor in why fans still hold out hope that tapes will materialize.
Historical evidence survives to keep those hopes alive. Below is a radio spot that was aired in Oakland, California in advance of The Monkees' appearance there on November 30, 1969.
You'll note that the advertisement mentions the fact that the concert will be recorded for "their next album," but once again, no tapes seem to exist.
Monkees fan Justin Rakowski decided to create his own album artwork for such an LP as if it had been released in the aftermath of The Monkees' 1969 tour. Check out Justin's creations below!
Great job, Justin! Fantasy artwork like this and others are always a lot of fun to examine. Now if only those tapes would emerge!
Here's the promotional handbill for the Oakland Coliseum concert that Justin used on the back cover of his LP: