Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! and Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
Adam was a songwriter, musician, and record producer who was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy.
Adam will be celebrated by a virtual concert show that will stream live at 8 p.m. ET on May 5, 2021 with all ticket proceeds benefitting MusiCares and The Bowery Electric, the Manhattan venue that recently reopened and where portions of the concert were filmed. Micky Dolenz is one of many special guest performers, which also include Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Sean Ono Lennon, Courtney Love, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Drew Carey, Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5), and Adam's Fountains of Wayne bandmate Jody Porter, who spearheaded this tribute concert.
You can purchase your ticket to the virtual show now and read more about this special event below:
Rolling Stone: Courtney Love, Sean Ono Lennon, Micky Dolenz to Play Adam Schlesinger Tribute
Brooklyn Vegan: Adam Schlesinger virtual tribute ft. Courtney Love, Peter Buck, Sean Lennon & more
AP: Tribute planned for Adam Schlesinger, who died of COVID-19
Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! along with the group's first-ever holiday collection Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
"As many of you are aware, Adam had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and although he had been making some small improvements over the last few days, Adam's condition was critical and he was ultimately unable to recover from COVID-19 complications," read a statement on April 2 provided to CNN. "He was truly a prolific talent and even more so, a loving and devoted father, son and friend."
Adam was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy. Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show for which he composed more than 100 songs. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as They Might Be Giants, America, and Robert Plant.
Good Times!, The Monkees' first album of all new material since 1996's Justus, was produced by Schlesinger and included his own composition, "Our Own World," along with a song co-written with Micky Dolenz, a send-up of an oft-used phrase utilized by Dolenz over the years, "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 in June 2016.
Schlesinger appeared onstage with The Monkees in New York City during the group's 50th Anniversary Tour, performing "I Was There" and "Steppin' Stone."
Micky Dolenz remembered Adam in an interview with WCBS FM. "He was such a great guy, a gentleman, and funny, and so smart. And obviously an incredible producer, writer, performer. I wrote a song with him on Good Times! I just can't believe it. That's by far the closest person to me that's been affected [by COVID-19] and I think about him all the time. What a loss."
Schlesinger was effusive in his praise of Dolenz in a 2016 interview with Fast Company when talking about the recording sessions for Good Times! "Micky was a real workhorse, and I think he did more hours in the studio than all the other guys, in total, because he sang most of the songs. He was a real trooper, and his voice is incredible – in most cases, when you’re working with older singers, you’re having to transpose things lower, and in Micky’s case, we’re actually having to transpose things higher, because he’s got this incredible range."
Adam's collaboration with The Monkees on Good Times! was seemingly a high point in his career. "They were all incredibly easy and fun to work with," he told Fast Company. "Everybody has the attitude of 'let us know what we can do to help - here are some ideas, take them or leave them.' They're very collaborative."
The Monkees' official website paid tribute to Adam Schlesinger after the announcement of his death, while also highlighting his work on Good Times! "Even the most optimistic Monkees fan couldn’t have guessed just how wonderful an effort Schlesinger would help put together. It wasn't just a comeback album, it was an instant classic that was – without question – the best thing the band had released since the '60s."
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, whose song "Me & Magdalena" proved to be a highlight from Good Times!, also commemorated Adam.
"I never got to meet Adam," Gibbard relayed during an at-home live stream concert after Schlesinger passed. "We had a lot of connective tissue - a lot of friends in common - but we never had a chance to meet. But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he was integral in picking 'Me & Magdalena' for The Monkees to record four years ago."
"I always thought as one does in life that you have plenty of time to say thank you, or I love you, or to give somebody a compliment or what have you, but that day obviously did not come," said Gibbard. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful to him for helping me realize a lifelong dream, which was to write a song that would be recorded by The Monkees, a band I grew up listening to."
Adam Schlesinger returned to the producer's chair for The Monkees on Christmas Party in 2018. Schlesinger co-wrote one of the standout tracks on the holiday collection, "House of Broken Gingerbread," with novelist Michael Chabon.
Adam was survived by his two daughters, Sadie and Claire, his girlfriend Alexis Morley, his parents Barbara and Stephen Schlesinger, and his sister Lauren.
Listen to the latest podcasts from Rhino, NPR's Fresh Air, Zilch, Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King, and Rolling Stone as they honor the life and accomplishments of Adam Schlesinger.
"To create their 50th-anniversary LP Good Times!, the Monkees turned creative control over to lifelong fans of the group, like producer Adam Schlesinger and songwriters like Rivers Cuomo, Paul Weller, and Noel Gallagher. The result is, improbably enough, the greatest album of the 2010s by a Sixties band, highlighted by the achingly gorgeous love ballad 'Me & Magdalena,' by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. The voices of Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz blend together as perfectly as they did in the Sixties. And now with decades of wisdom and tough loss underneath their glossy exterior (beloved members Peter Tork and Davy Jones are no longer with us), they somehow mean more than ever." —Andy Greene
UPDATE 12/24/2019: Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield placed "Me & Magdalena" on his personal "Best Songs of the 2010s" list:
"The Monkees had a beautiful resurgence with Good Times — their first record written and produced by actual Monkees fans, which must be why it was their best since the Sixties. 'Me and Magdalena' is a country-roads ballad, written for them by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard: Mike Nesmith flexes his weathered Texas twang, in Magnetic South mode, while Micky Dolenz hits the high harmonies. They sound like they’ve waited years for this moment — and they’re not the only ones."
Micky Dolenz discusses the two most recent Monkees albums, "Head," Adam Schlesinger, and "Instant Replay"
Adam Schlesinger, producer of The Monkees' two most recent albums Good Times! and Christmas Party, breaks down the tracks on the group's new holiday LP and much more on The Nightfly with Dave Juskow podcast. Thanks to Tracy Robison for the heads-up!
Take the last train to Christmas, and enjoy pure pop goofiness, harmony and personality with the implausibly still-around Monkees, the late ‘60s TV sensations who are still as fun today as they were then.
Micky Dolenz handles most of the vocals, though Michael Nesmith sings on two songs and Peter Tork is on the banjo-laden “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Davy Jones, who died in 2012, sings lead on two tracks via tapes he recorded in 1991, backed by new instrumentation. His “Silver Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka” will make a daydream believer out of you, too.
“Unwrap You at Christmas” sets the tone for this lighthearted holiday romp, leading into the whimsical “What Would Santa Do?”
Most interesting is “House of Broken Gingerbread,” with its unmistakable ‘60s psychedelic feel. Built around a funky guitar riff, “Christmas Party” arrives at the conclusion that one holiday blowout year is enough: “Remember last year/Cops had to shut us down twice.”
The Monkees also cover classic Christmas tunes from Roy Wood (”I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”) Paul McCartney (”Wonderful Christmastime”), and the oft-covered “Merry Christmas, Baby,” which is way more bad-ass than one would expect from The Monkees.
Guest musicians include XTC’s Andy Partridge, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Adam Schlesinger, who produced as well.
— Wayne Parry (twitter.com/WayneParryAC)
On October 12, Rhino Records will release Christmas Party, the first-ever collection of Christmas music by The Monkees. The album will feature newly recorded versions of classic Christmas songs including "Silver Bells," "The Christmas Song," and "Wonderful Christmastime" along with brand new songs written for the group by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo ("What Would Santa Do"), Andy Partridge of XTC ("Unwrap You At Christmas"), as well as R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5 ("Christmas Party"). Adam Schlesinger, who produced the LP (and 2016's Good Times!), collaborated with novelist Michael Chabon on "House of Broken Gingerbread." Covers of Wizzard's yuletide classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and Big Star's "Jesus Christ" will also be heard on the album.
Christmas Party includes new vocals by Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, plus the late Davy Jones’ voice - taken from vintage recordings - also appears on two songs. It will be available for purchase on compact disc and as a digital download this Friday. A vinyl edition is in the works but will not be issued until 2019.
Retail giant Target will carry an exclusive bonus tracks edition of Christmas Party beginning on October 19 (a week after the release of the standard edition), and it's currently available for pre-ordering. Target's compact disc will feature two additional songs: "Riu Chiu" and "Christmas Is My Time of Year."
While we wait for the video of the first single, "Unwrap You at Christmas," to arrive, take a moment to catch up on all things Christmas Party in the archives of the Live Almanac!
Thank you very much to John Hughes of Rhino Records for providing The Monkees Live Almanac with an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek in the studio when Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) joined Micky Dolenz to record the tracks "Christmas Party" and "Jesus Christ" for the upcoming Monkees holiday album, Christmas Party. John is the executive producer of this latest Monkees project.
Left to right are guitarist Jody Porter, producer Adam Schlesinger, John Hughes, Mark Pinkus (President, Rhino Records), Micky Dolenz, drummer Brian Young, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey:
“I guess he’s kind of like our Neil Young,” Dolenz says, likening Nesmith to Young’s occasional reunions with Crosby, Stills & Nash, who have carried on regardless. “I will always love singing and playing with him. He’s always welcome. But he’s always marched to the beat of a different drummer.”
Q: Are you glad you agreed to this whole thing?
A: What whole thing? The Monkees?
Q: We could go that far back, but I’m asking more specifically about the latest reunion tour and new album.
A: I’m thrilled. Are you kidding? We knew we would have something going on for the 50th anniversary. But to have it explode like this — it’s just unimaginable. The equivalent to this happening — for us to have a Top 20 record with “Good Times” — would be like Al Jolson or Enrique Caruso having a Top 20 album in 1966 when the Monkees first came out. You just wouldn’t believe it.
What has the reception to "Good Times!" been like?
We’re selling hard copies of this thing, apparently at the equivalent of a million-selling copies. I mean, somebody told me how many we’re selling, and I went, “Well, what’s this? That’s not a big number.” And they said, “No, it’s the equivalent of a million-seller, back when people really bought records. The fact that you’re actually selling hard copies is a great, great thing.”
How excited were you when Adam Schlesinger started recruiting all these legendary composers for “Good Times!”?
Adam was the magic name. We’d all heard his work on “That Thing You Do,” and it was obvious that he knew how to do the ‘60s in the ‘90s, and the ‘70s in 2016. As soon as we heard his name, Mickey (Dolenz) and I looked at each other and said, “Great!” And then? Here came the songs!”
Tribune: Does it bother you that the Monkees aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Dolenz: "Not at all. I don’t really chase that stuff myself. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a wonderful organization. I do a lot of work for their charity foundation. But it was started by three guys, two of them in music and one in publishing, and it’s like a private country club. They have the right to have in whoever they want. That’s their prerogative."
On Jan. 21, 1967, just a few months after their TV show became a hit with kids across America, the Monkees performed at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This was no ordinary stop on their tour, though, as footage from the concert was used in the television episode “The Monkees On Tour,” the last of their first season, featuring a day in their lives on the road. If you watch it, note the scenes filmed at Mountain Shadows Resort, and the inclusion of classic Valley radio station KRUX! The episode truly plays as a mini-documentary of a band in its prime — in retro Phoenix!
Can it really be possible that The Monkees’ TV show debuted 50 years ago? Wow … just trying to let that sink in. Hard to believe that Peter, Davy, Micky and Mike have been delighting us with their Marx Brothers-meets-Beatles antics for so long. In celebration, Rhino Records has released a three-disc set, spanning their entire career.
There’s nothing surprising about this collection; all the hits are here, represented by their most recent versions. I’ll never tire of hearing “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Mary, Mary.” Also included are key tracks from their 1980s comeback, “That Was Then, This is Now” and “Heart and Soul,” as well as their latest singles, “You Bring the Summer” and “She Makes Me Laugh.” A splendid collection.
The Monkees have delivered one of the greatest comebacks of the new century. Helmed by producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), Good Times! sees the surviving Monkees, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, working with a mix of contemporary songwriters alongside tunesmiths used in their heyday.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the set kicks off with the title track, a raucous duet from Dolenz and Harry Nilsson. (Nesmith produced Nilsson’s scratch vocal in 1968, while Dolenz was added seamlessly in 2016.) XTC’s Andy Partridge contributes the first slice of sheer sonic joy, You Bring the Summer, cut this year. Dolenz sounds as good as he did in 1967.
Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) penned the almost equally infectious She Makes Me Laugh while Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) offers up the mid-tempo marvel Me & Magdalena. The latter is superbly sung by Nesmith with Dolenz offering a close harmony. The new tunes are rounded out by the psych-rock of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller’s Birth of an Accidental Hipster.
A raid on the vaults yields Davy Jones singing Neil Diamond’s Love to Love. Known to completists, the rarity has been remixed with additional backing vocals from Dolenz and Tork. Tork then hits it out of the park, singing lead on I Wasn’t Born to Follow (his new vocal was added to a Goffin-King backing track from 1968).
Only a supreme optimist could have hoped that the Monkees would come up with an album as good as this in 2016. Great songs, clever production and the whiff of nostalgia have created a genuine modern classic.
- Sean Sennett
Be sure to check out this informative interview with Peter Tork where he broaches all current topics related to The Monkees and more. And thanks to James Grant, who conducted the interview, for alerting the Live Almanac to it, and for supplying the audio, too!
Good Times! producer Adam Schlesinger joined The Monkees onstage tonight in New York City for the live concert debut of the new song "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." Adam also hung around for "Steppin' Stone."
Thanks to Robb Johnston for these great photos of Adam with The Monkees:
A look at Adam Schlesinger: "How The Go-To Guy For Writing Fictional Music Ended Up Producing The New Monkees Album"
The Fountains of Wayne bassist and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend music supervisor talks working with the Monkees for their 50th anniversary
The Monkees have unexpected fans: the leaders of Weezer, XTC, Death Cab for Cutie, Oasis, the Jam and Fountains of Wayne. They all wrote songs for “Good Times!,” the Monkees album appearing nearly half a century after the group’s arrival as TV characters in September 1966. Two surviving Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, are on a 50th-anniversary tour; the third, Michael Nesmith, rejoins them on this album.
Just as the British Invasion was giving way to psychedelia — before “Empire,” before MTV, before the Archies — the Monkees were television’s idea of a rock band. They were four droll guys in matching outfits having absurd adventures; a creator of “The Monkees” was Bob Rafelson, who would go on to write and direct “Five Easy Pieces.” Pop pros — Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin — supplied the hits. The band’s career faded in the late 1960s when, craving authenticity, its members demanded to play and write their own songs. But their lighthearted TV antics earned lingering baby boomer nostalgia.
“Good Times!” recapitulates the Monkees’ arc from performers to singer-songwriters, keeping an uncomputerized 1960s sound. The Monkees and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, who produced the album, found and completed three 1960s demos. The title song is cheerful hackwork by Harry Nilsson that echoes “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Dancing in the Street,” but Nilsson’s enthusiastic lead vocals (shared with Mr. Dolenz) make it a charming relic. A 1960s track sung by Davy Jones, the Monkee who died in 2012, is resurrected with “Love to Love,” a Neil Diamond song with a whiff of Zombies psychedelia.
The Monkees’ latter-day songwriters aim mostly for mid-’60s-style innocence. “You Bring the Summer,” by Andy Partridge of XTC, turns into a Beach Boys homage, as does Mr. Schlesinger’s “Our Own World”; “She Makes Me Laugh,” by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, harks back to the Byrds (and mentions playing Scrabble). “Me & Magdalena” by Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie is folkier, more weathered, more acoustic, more mature. “Birth of an Accidental Hipster” by Noel Gallagher (Oasis) and Paul Weller (the Jam) moves toward anachronism; it’s both Beatles homage and 1990s Britpop.
The surviving Monkees seize their moment as songwriters, perhaps to prove they were underrated. “Little Girl,” by Mr. Tork, is a wandering, eccentric waltz that would have been at home in the late 1960s, and “I Know What I Know,” by Mr. Nesmith, testifies to love and vulnerability over simple piano chords. But the Monkees want to leave their listeners with the band’s lighthearted essence. The album’s conclusion is “I Was There (and I’m Told I Had a Good Time”) by Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Schlesinger, all piano and backbeat like the Beatles with Billy Preston. Mr. Dolenz sings as if there’s no reason to take anything too seriously. Fifty years later, the Monkees are still endearing.
On May 16, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork participated in a Town Hall event for SiriusXM Satellite Radio in Nashville, Tennessee. The first airing of the special occurred this afternoon at 5PM ET. Here's a rundown:
If you are a subscriber to SiriusXM, you can do a search for "Monkees" and listen to the Town Hall on demand. Or, you can hear a repeat of the show at the following times:
Vocals: Michael Nesmith
Vocals: Micky Dolenz
Guitar: Jody Porter
Drums, Piano: Adam Schlesinger
Bass, Guitar: Mike Viola
Writer: Benjamin Gibbard
In this interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Micky Dolenz talks about Adam Schlesinger (producer of The Monkees' new album, Good Times!), Michael Nesmith's involvement in the making of the LP, Harry Nilsson, the 50th Anniversary Tour, and much more.
In the latest episode of Zilch (a Monkees podcast), host Ken Mills interviews the producer of The Monkees' upcoming album Good Times!, Adam Schlesinger, along with Rhino's John Hughes, who oversaw the project. Below is a summary of their conversation. A big thanks to my old pal, longtime Monkees fan Chris Coyle, for providing the foundation of this overview!
Monkees Farewell Tour