Here's Ward Sylvester, Monkees collector and confidant Gary Strobl, Davy Jones, and Monkees photographer Michael G. Bush in early 1997 during filming of The Monkees' ABC television special, as photographed by the legendary Henry Diltz.
After releasing Justus, an album of all-new material in late 1996, The Monkees began work on an original one-hour prime time TV special in January 1997, and it eventually aired in the United States on ABC on February 17, 1997. This article, from the March 1997 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine and written by MBF editor Maggie McManus, details the genesis and filming of the television special, the group's first since 1969's 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
Read much more about The Monkees' 1997 television special at The Monkees Film & TV Vault.
The Monkees to appear on CBS Sunday Morning on May 29
UPDATE 5/22/16: Michael was visited by the CBS Sunday Morning crew in late April. On May 16, all three Monkees were interviewed in Nashville after taking part in a SiriusXM Town Hall event. Portions of that interview will also be featured on the CBS Sunday Morning segment on May 29, 2016.
Here is the full text of Michael's remarks:
The video with CBS Sunday Morning went as well as could be expected -- or so it seemed from my perspective.
Anthony Mason seems to be a true Monkees fan. He talked about how he had grown up with the show and how it had been a good memory and a good time for him.
I had the feeling that he, like many journalists I have talked to over the years, was struggling a little to get his head around just what the Monkees were and importantly what they are -- have become. It’s a mind twister for sure.
My standard answer is “I have no idea” -- which is a safe response since, 1 -- it’s true, and 2 -- I'm not in a position to know, given my relationship to the show. The question is a good one, though -- and it seemed to be framed for Mason, like it is for many others, around whether it is/was a “real band” or not.
For me the television show started it all so that is my foundation for understanding what the aesthetics are, and the music and the concerts all come from that. But we shall see what Anthony has to say on May 29 -- Memorial Day weekend -- that is when he told me the show would air.
We did not talk about the 1996 Monkees special in any depth, just a quick drive-by of the concept -- and I did not get to parse the Davy-in-Ethel-Merman-drag with Anthony at all -- so that will sit on the public sidelines for a little longer -- although it is one of the great joys in my mind.
During that shoot in 1996 Davy and I were sitting in the trailer and he was in full drag regalia -- makeup and hair -- getting ready to do the little bit where he was going to do an Ethel Merman riff. He looked a LOT like Ethel Merman in that get up -- just the right age and size -- dress and shoes -- perfect.
We had not gotten the rights to use the song “No business like show business” since the publisher and author had reportedly forbidden it to be licensed for such purposes. Davy was trying to get into “character” -- I’m not sure how much he know about EM -- but he was giving it a shot -- Broadway diva gestures and voice --when there was a knock at the door and an old friend of DJ’s poked his head in asked to come in and say hello for just a sec.
DJ was clearly surprised and happy --they embraced and laughed and DJ said he hadn’t seen his buddy for years -- I think the friendship may have gone back to his days in England -- and they did the small talk of reacquaintance and rememberings. After ten-fifteen minutes -- I excused myself, let them catch up.
I watched from distance as they said goodbye to each other and Davy walked toward the set when he stopped in his tracks and stared at me then at the mirror he was standing next to. He looked back at me, and then, in what seemed to be a blind panic -- ran over to me and said “Has he gone?! Did he leave?!” I nodded yes. “Oh no. I haven’t seen him in years” Davy said, “I only now realized I was in this Ethel Merman drag the whole time. I can’t imagine what he must have thought. I didn’t mention it -- and neither did he!!”
The two of us exploded in laughter -- long and loud. Davy got through the routine as the pro he was -- but not with breaking into laughter a few times and having to do a retake. We had some good laughs, DJ and I.
Wonder what he might have thought of the new album and the CBS interview? Wonder what DJ thought the Monkees were?
The wonder of show business -- like no business I know.
In the same post, Michael mentions that a crew from the CBS Sunday Morning program were paying him a visit today to discuss The Monkees' new album, Good Times!
Bill Martin, an extended member of the Monkees family, has passed away. Martin was a musician, songwriter, screenwriter, comedic actor, and voice actor.
Brought into The Monkees' orbit by his friend Michael Nesmith, Martin's initial contribution to the group came in the form of "All of Your Toys," a song recorded in early 1967 during the very first sessions to feature The Monkees supporting themselves instrumentally in the recording studio. Unfortunately for Martin, Screen Gems was unable to acquire the rights to "All of Your Toys" from its original holder, Tickson Music, for which Martin worked. "All of Your Toys" remained unreleased until it was finally aired on the Missing Links compilation in 1987. After Martin eventually signed with Screen Gems, The Monkees recorded another of his compositions, "The Door Into Summer," which found a home on 1967's Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album and stands today as one of the LP's finest cuts. Martin later collaborated on songs with an assortment of artists, including Harry Nilsson ("Rainmaker," covered by Michael on his third solo effort, Nevada Fighter), Dan Fogelberg, and The Turtles. He also performed with a variety of bands throughout his career, including playing keyboards for Linda Ronstadt.
In the early '80s, Bill appeared in Nesmith's Elephant Parts and then co-wrote the screenplay to the 1987 movie Harry and The Hendersons (with Steven Spielberg as executive producer). In 1997, he made a cameo appearance in The Monkees' ABC television special (as the refrigerator tour guide). Martin lent his voice to various animated series throughout the years, too, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and multiple Star Wars video games.
When The Monkees played in Seattle, Washington on their 2013 summer tour, Michael dedicated that evening's performance of "The Door Into Summer" to Bill.
In 1989, Martin was interviewed by Paris Stachtiaris and John Di Maio on the Headquarters radio program:
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval took a moment to remember Bill Martin on Facebook:
"Davy Jones used to like to go around quoting his favorite Martinism: 'Hummus where the heart is.'
All four Monkees loved him..."
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