A big thanks to Jeremy Maine who shared on Facebook this article from the Sydney Morning Herald as published on September 22, 1968. Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith are interviewed, along with Monkees confidant Bill Chadwick, while the group is on tour in Australia in 1968. Thank you, Jeremy!
Monkees...and the science of noise!
Bill Chadwick, a young American who sports hippy gear and a Chico Marx hairdo, studied electronic technology at University.
Now, he says, what they taught him he has largely forgotten.
"That knowledge is pretty useless to me now," he said this week. "Mostly they taught me that what I'm doing now is impossible."
His impossible task: To make the Monkees heard in concert.
You couldn't really hear the Beatles when they were out here. Nor the Rolling Stones or even Bill Haley and the Comets. After the first two bars the audience screams would drown out the music.
But, for better or worse, you can hear the Monkees. The sound equipment pumps out about 150 per cent more power than any used in pop concerts here before.
"The other night in a concert back in the States," Bill said, "I measured the audience screams just before the Monkees went on stage.
"It was 110 decibels, scientifically recognized as being just a fraction below the threshold of pain. We amplified the Monkees over the top of that.
"At one concert recently with audience noises and the Monkees we hit 140 decibels."
He smiled contentedly and added: "You could still hear the Monkees. I wonder we didn't all go off our heads."
The Monkees normally carry about four tons of equipment with them. They imported 1455 lb on this tour and have hired more.
This scientific approach, however, does have its problems. Monkee Mike Nesmith, for instance, found last year that concert noise had destroyed the upper 10 per cent of his hearing.
"It wasn't really important," he said. "It just means I can't hear a few very high notes any more. But I don't want it to get any worse.
"We all wear ear plugs on stage now. It means we can't hear the audience, but we can hear each other. That means we play better."
The Monkee management takes the same commendably efficient approach to audience control as it does to noise. That way nobody gets hurt.
In a show of strength just before the Melbourne concerts this week 34 assorted white-coated attendants and policemen lined up in front of the stage before the Monkees went on.
And the audience was warned that anybody who left his seat would be ejected forthwith.
Vertical movement was condoned. Horizontal movement was out. It worked like a charm.
Meanwhile, back at the Pesident Motel, where the Monkees were kept more or less in a state of siege during their Melbourne stay, the Monkees talked more about the Monkees set-up.
"We're happy to let other people organize the concerts," said Mike Nesmith.
"But the one area we insist on keeping for ourselves is the actual show. We conceived the the whole thing ourselves because we think we know what the kids like."
The one thing the tour is proving is that the Monkees, individually and collectively, have talent. For years they've been plagued with rumors that they don't actually sing and play their own songs; they used stand-ins.
Well, they don't use stand-ins on stage. And they each do individual numbers which show off their talents.
Davy Jones sings a spiritual, Peter Tork performs with his banjo, Mike Nesmith does a rock 'n' roll send-up of Chuck Berry, and Micky Dolenz does a show-stopping impression of James Brown, the wildest of the soul singers.
The satire of Micky's number is largely lost on young Australian audiences who aren't yet switched on to James Brown, but it works as a performance in its own right.
Davy Jones, the one the kids scream for the most, displays the least stage talent.
Their audiences are barely pubescent, but certainly less scruffy than the usual pop crowds.
"We seem to be catering to a completely new audience," Micky Dolenz said. "They're between nine and 12 years old and they're suddently aware.
"They are often more aware than their parents because through television and things they've been exposed to so much, they know what's going on.
"But they're still too young to go to groovy clubs and things like that and they want something they can scream at.
"They scream at us."
Scream they do in Australia. Several hundred congregated outside the motel in Melbourne every day, jamming the switchboard, sending in presents, flashing mirrors and generally carrying on.
In Melbourne it was nothing compared with the Beatles debacle. But in Sydney on Friday the crowd of kids outside the Sheraton Motel was as large as one the Beatles attracted.
The Beatles, incidentally, are people the Monkees don't want to know about. They know and admire them, but they are fed up to the eye teeth of being compared to them, usually unfavourably.
"The Beatles are like gods," said Micky. "They started the whole thing. We started out simply as a television comedy team and we sort of just drifted into being a pop group which makes records and goes out on tour.
"We're simply entertainers. An act."
There is, however, rather more to the Monkees than that, and their outside activities show it.
Micky, for instance, is deeply interested in primitive societies and hopes to sneak a couple of days in the Outback so he can observe some Aboriginals.
His ultimate professional aim is to be a director of science fiction films.
Peter Tork, now sporting a nine-weeks-old beard, is involved in a complicated record venture. The record, an LP, is slowly being accumulated and he and the musicians he wants are available.
And Mike Nesmith recently wrote and produced a pop LP with 57 musicians. "It took me a couple of years to do," he said. "I'd hum all the instrument parts into a tape recorder and send them to Shorty Rogers to arrange.
"We used 14 violinists, seven of them came from symphony orchestras. One of them is regarded as the best violinist in the world and I can't even remember his name. He has to do studio work to make a living."
The record was only moderately successful.
"The trouble was that no one takes the Monkees seriously," he said bitterly.
March 25, 1968 is a milestone date in Monkees history. That evening, the last original episode of The Monkees aired on NBC. "The Frodis Caper" was written by Micky Dolenz and Dave Evans, and in his debut behind the camera, directed by Micky. Rip Taylor made a memorable guest appearance as "Wizard Glick." The episode is also known as "Mijacogeo," which is made-up of the names in Micky's family: Micky, Janelle (mother), Coco (sister), and George (father).
The show opens with The Monkees being awakened by the Beatles song "Good Morning Good Morning," first heard on that group's seminal album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. When writing in the liner notes of his 2012 solo album Remember, Micky believed this was the first time The Beatles allowed their music to be utilized for an outside project.
The episode is about the evil Wizard Glick, played by Taylor, who is out to control people's minds through a hypnotic eye that is being broadcasted on television sets. "This is my attempt to address the manipulation of the American mind by the media," Micky relayed in a 2003 DVD commentary for the episode. "Hooray, The Monkees save the world from the evil machinations of the media...I guess it didn’t work, though, did it?" Singer/songwriter Tim Buckley, personally selected by Micky, was featured at the end of the show performing "Song to the Siren."
As the second season came to an end, and with the group tired of the format of the show, talks abounded about what direction a third season of The Monkees would take. "We started talking about what we would do on the next season–a live show? A variety show? A series of sketches?," said Micky years later. "One idea that came up was an awful lot like Laugh-In. We were, to be quite honest, getting tired of the same format. We wanted to do something a little more unusual, a little more out there." It wasn't meant to be, however, and the television series left the airwaves in 1968.
Ironically, The Monkees' TV show, the whole reason behind their conception, was never as big of a hit as the records were with the public. Andrew Sandoval happened to broach the topic of a third season at the 2014 Monkees convention. It is accurate to say that the group cast aside another season on TV because of creative differences, but according to Sandoval, the real reason the show ceased production is because Kellogg's, who sponsored the 7:30pm time slot on NBC on Monday's, contended that The Monkees didn't sell enough product for their company.
"The Frodis Caper" concluded with a final Monkees romp, featuring Bill and John Chadwick's anti-war song "Zor and Zam," which was heard in an early mono mix. "It was basically about two kings who gave a war and nobody came," Bill Chadwick told Andrew Sandoval. "We all had friends going off to Vietnam, and nobody was real happy about the way things were being handled. Guys were going over there and weren't getting any support. Basically the idea of, 'If you're not going to get support from your own country, why the hell should you go?'"
The website Ultimate Classic Rock is also taking a look back at "The Frodis Caper" today:
For more about this episode, check out some articles from the Live Almanac's archives:
In late 1968, The Monkees toured Australia and Japan. On September 30, The Monkees left Australia and traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the second leg of the tour. The group and their tour party were forced to stop in Hong Kong when their flight hit severe weather.
When the 3-CD deluxe edition of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was released in 2010, fans were treated to a previously unheard alternate mix of "Auntie's Municipal Court," this time with Michael on lead vocals:
There are also two versions of "Zor and Zam." An early mono mix appeared on the last original episode of The Monkees television series ("The Frodis Caper") but wasn't officially released until the 1996 Missing Links, Volume Three collection:
An embellished production of "Zor and Zam" courtesy of arranger Shorty Rogers appeared on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in April 1968:
Brand new to the Live Almanac's YouTube channel is Bill Chadwick's single for Dot Records, "Talking to the Wall"/"If You Have the Time." Thanks to Kevin Schmid for providing the audio, and the scans of the 45s in the video are courtesy of Monkee45s.
Bill Chadwick talks about the 1968 tour of Australia & Japan and more on the Headquarters radio program
This episode of Headquarters also includes a live solo version of "I'll Spend My Life With You" by Peter, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" with Nez at the Greek Theatre in 1986, a live performance by Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart of "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," and a Christmas song by The New Monkees!
Be sure to check out the recent blog post about Bill and his years spent working with The Monkees.
Bill Chadwick is familiar to Monkees fans as a songwriter, TV show extra, studio musician, and confidant of the group throughout its initial run in the 1960s.
Bill was a regular along with Michael Nesmith and John London at the famous Ledbetter's club in Los Angeles and the Troubadour in Hollywood during the pre-Monkees era. The three were soon part of a folk group called The Survivors that was assembled by Randy Sparks, who also founded The New Christy Minstrels. Bill auditioned for The Monkees in 1965, making it past the initial round of interviews and being one of the few to participate in an actual screen test with Bob Rafelson (fast forward to 13:35 and 17:20 to see Bill).
Despite not being chosen, Bill contributed to the Monkees project through multiple avenues. His song, "Of You," was recorded at one of the earliest Monkees recording sessions in the summer of 1966. His other songwriting credits for the group include "If I Knew," "French Song," "Time and Time Again," "If You Have the Time," "You and I," "Smile," "How Can I Tell You," and "Zor and Zam." Bill also contributed backing vocals and instrumentation on many Monkees tracks. He went on to become a lighting director and tour manager for The Monkees, and photographed the group extensively throughout the late 1960s.
In 1969, Bill released a single on Dot Records, "Talking to the Wall"/"If You Have the Time." Both tracks were produced by Michael Nesmith, and Nez later recorded his own version of "Talking to the Wall" for the 1972 album Tantamount To Treason Volume 1. Michael also produced a few unreleased sessions for Chadwick in the early 1970s.
Bill remained close with The Monkees after the television show was canceled. Years later in the 1980s he worked for the Tiffany glass company and was often seen in pictures backstage at Monkees reunion concerts. Bill also performed his songs at several Monkees conventions in the late '80s, and was present when the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1988, his book (co-authored with Maggie McManus and Ed Reilly) The Monkees - A Manufactured Image: The Ultimate Reference Guide to Monkee Memories & Memorabilia, was published.
Below is his memoir that appeared at the beginning of the Manufactured Image book.
Read more about Bill and listen to interviews he has given about his experiences with The Monkees in the Live Almanac's archives.
A big thanks to Kevin Schmid for providing the audio files for Bill's 1969 Dot single, and for contributing some of the information in this blog post.
To accompany today's blog post about Bill Chadwick and his relationship with The Monkees, here's an insightful and revealing interview with Bill from the Headquarters radio program conducted by host Paris Stachtiaris in the summer of 1988. Bill covers a lot of ground, including his recollections of Jimi Hendrix opening for The Monkees at Forest Hills in New York in 1967.
A big thanks to Perry Corvese for scanning his program from the 1988 Chicago Monkees Convention!
The hardcover book, The Monkees - A Manufactured Image: The Ultimate Reference Guide to Monkee Memories & Memorabilia, was published in 1987. Its authors included Monkees collector Ed Reilly; the editor-in-chief of Monkee Business Fanzine, Maggie McManus; and longtime Monkees associate Bill Chadwick.
In 1988, after two frenzied years on the road and in the studio, The Monkees maintained a relatively low profile. Micky, Davy, and Peter eventually toured Australia late that year, but beyond the trek down under, the only other group public appearance in '88 was at a Monkees convention in Chicago, Illinois in August. The trio were guests at the gathering, and Peter played a solo show at the Vic Theatre on August 20 to coincide with it. Micky and Davy joined Peter during the encore for both "Daydream Believer" and "I'm a Believer."
Peter played for about 90 minutes that evening, mixing Monkees songs, solo material, and covers (including Elvis and The Beatles) throughout the set. The show was billed as "Peter Tork...And Friends." The late Jerry Renino, a member of the Peter Tork Project in the early '80s who also toured with The Monkees throughout the years, played bass. A bootleg recording of the Vic concert has long floated among collectors.
During the show, Peter introduced a few friends who were in the audience that night, including Monte Landis, a frequent guest star on The Monkees television series (perhaps most notably in the second season episode "The Devil and Peter Tork"). Longtime Monkees associate Bill Chadwick, Monkees producer Chip Douglas, Monkees photographer and musician Henry Diltz, and Micky's sister, Coco, sang a rendition of "Higher and Higher" with Peter as well.
Here's a partial setlist from the concert at the Vic:
Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again/For Pete's Sake/Milkshake/Don't Be Cruel/All Shook Up/Cripple Creek/Since You Went Away/Vagabond John/Higher and Higher/Miracle/Daydream Believer/I'm a Believer