Tonight in 1989, 28 years ago, I attended The Monkees' concert at Valley Forge Music Fair in Devon, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia. The show was fantastic, and as you can tell from the audio below, the crowd was very enthusiastic.
The 1989 US tour featured an eclectic set list. Songs like "She Hangs Out" and "As We Go Along" were debuted live while "D.W. Washburn" got its first airing in concert since the 1968 Australian/Japanese tour. "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" hadn't been played by the trio since the initial 1986 reunion and saw Peter take the lead vocal in Michael's absence. An acoustic set, first performed during the European tour earlier in 1989, remained in the show and continued to be a highlight. Davy's solo spot, "Hangin' By a Thread," was a personal favorite.
Shortly after the Valley Forge concert, I acquired an audience recording from a tape trader. Here are some highlights, courtesy of the Live Almanac's YouTube channel:
"As We Go Along" was first performed live on The Monkees' 1989 summer tour that visited the United States, Canada, and Japan. This audience recording, from the group's final show in Japan to date, was recorded at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Tokyo, a popular venue for concerts in that city that closed in 2010.
A big thanks to Elliott Marx for sharing his recording of The Monkees' performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California!
The soundtrack from The Monkees' 1969 NBC TV special has never been officially released (many of the master tapes are missing), but a bootleg of it (courtesy of Zilch Records) surfaced in the mid-1980s. I ordered a copy from Golden Treasures in Arkansas (does anyone remember this company?!) in the late '80s, and here's a scan of the front and back covers. I'll have to search online to see if Golden Treasures still operates - I received mail order catalogs from them probably until the late 1990s.
This is my first recollection of a Monkees bootleg (along with Davy and His Band): the Monkeeshines album. As a new fan in 1986 who saw the picture of it in Glenn A. Baker's Monkeemania book, I wanted that album more than anything! I wasn't sure what this LP was all about - not knowing too much about bootlegs. It included unreleased songs ("Tear the Top Right Off My Head," "Mustang," "Lady's Baby"), tracks heard in the TV show but not available on the official albums ("All the King's Horses," the fast version of "I Wanna Be Free"), the first recorded version of "You Just May Be the One," the 1976 Christmas single, vocal bits and dialogue from the TV show ("Different Drum," "Iranian Tango," "Greensleeves"), and more. For a bootleg, the sound quality was pretty good. In the mid-'80s, there was a record store close to me that carried a ton of Monkees albums, including imports and bootlegs, but I never saw Monkeeshines in their racks.
I didn't get to hear it until the president of a Monkees fan club that I belonged to copied it onto a cassette tape for me sometime in 1987. (I still have that tape!) Although no date is stamped on the album cover, it is believed that Monkeeshines was pressed sometime around 1981. Remember, this was before the Missing Links series began in 1987, which featured previously unreleased Monkees material, so getting some of the songs on Monkeeshines was a must for fans at that time.
The front and rear covers of the boot appear in this post, along with the labels. So, take a moment to look back at one of the original Monkees bootlegs, produced by "Robert Dobolina" with liner notes by "Magnolia Simms."
As always, a big thanks to Ben Belmares, who has become the Live Almanac's key resource for high quality, rare album cover art!
The Monkeeshines bootleg was also issued with an orange-tinted cover:
Purchase the August 2015 issue of Record Collector
Believing In Daydreams (The Solo Monkees Collection) is a 5-CD release produced by longtime Monkees fan Chris Coyle. Strictly limited to 50 copies, the set was circulated among a small group of fans, myself included, in 2002. With artwork designed by Matt Moring, Believing in Daydreams was an attempt to highlight pre- and post-Monkees solo recordings, including alternate takes and B-sides, all taken from the best quality sources available at that time. Some of the 50 copies were sold on eBay and through a dealer at New England record shows.
More recently, Chris designed a Monkees-themed app for Windows Phone users. The app also uses the Live Almanac's blog as its news feed. You can check out the app in the Windows Phone store.
A little note on Chris: I connected with him online in 2000 or so. In 2001 I began a small project, writing brief summaries for each Monkees tour and embellishing the information with set lists and reviews. Brad Waddell at Monkees.net was kind enough to publish my work on his website that year, and Chris was a big help in collecting variations of set lists from different tours, reviewing the summaries I had written, etc. It took a decade for this website to be created, but the genesis of it all started during that time with assistance from Chris.
Courtesy of the Tulsa Poster Project, here's a poster advertising The Monkees at the Century II Convention Hall in Wichita, Kansas on May 10, 1969.
For years, rumors have floated that a concert from the 1969 Monkees tour was recorded. However, no tapes have ever turned up. One concert, thought to be the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas as advertised in the poster above, does exist as bootleg, but it’s an absolutely horrible recording usually sought after for historical purposes only. You can hear audio snippets from the bootleg at the Live Almanac's YouTube channel.
Both Micky and Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval have seemingly confirmed that audio recordings of the 1969 tour don't exist. In an online interview with Micky in 2005, he said there's no official documentation of the shows. "We never recorded that," Dolenz recalled. "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," the Monkees historian 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?”
This rare clip below (courtesy of the Live Almanac's YouTube channel) features The Monkees on radio station KLEO promoting their concert at the Century II in Wichita.
A big thanks to Bill Shinn for sharing an audience recording from the 1989 summer tour over at Iain Lee's Monkee Bootlegs Facebook page. Check out the '89 North American/Japanese tour page here on the site to listen to a radio advertisement for this show (which can be found at the bottom of that page).
Maybe Bill or someone can leave a comment letting us know if this was the first or second show at Humphrey's that day.
This is an audience recording of The Monkees performing "You Just May Be the One" live on their 1987 summer tour. Peter handles lead vocals and plays guitar, Davy provides the harmony vocal and plays tambourine, and Micky is on the drums. Be sure to visit the Live Almanac's YouTube channel for more!
Thanks a lot to Steve Lane for sharing this with the Live Almanac!
Michael's "Good Clean Fun" was played early on the '87 US tour and featured Peter on banjo and lead vocals. This is an audience recording from an unknown location and date.
"Vagabond John" was written by Derek Lord, who was the drummer for the Peter Tork Project in the early 1980s. The song has remained a part of Peter's repertoire for years. In the video below, Peter performs it at a solo stop in 2012, while the audio file features a live version from a Project show at The Jetty in 1983 (with Lord on lead vocals). Thanks to Kevin Schmid for passing along the Project live version!
You might recall that the late Jerry Renino was a member of the Peter Tork Project. He also toured with The Monkees between 1989 and 2002. After the 1989 US Monkees tour, Jerry's band, Breakaway, became Davy’s road band in the early 1990s. Breakaway consisted of Steve Avitabile (keyboards), VJ Riccitelli (drums), and Rory Gordon (guitar). The group later added sax player Steve Barlotta, along with Wayne Avers (guitar) and VJ's brother Jimmy Riccitelli (keyboards). Monkees fans, of course, know Wayne Avers as the veteran guitarist in The Monkees' backing band. (The Riccitelli's have also toured with The Monkees through the years.)
According to longtime Monkees fan Helen Pantuso (who also was largely responsible for the campaign to get The Monkees a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), the Avitabile's in both the Peter Tork Project (Scott was the lead guitarist of the Project) and Breakaway are not related! (What are the odds?!)
Helen talked more about Breakaway with the Live Almanac. "Scott and Jimmy were in a band called Rush Hour. I think VJ was in it, too, before joining Breakaway (there were 2 other drummers in Breakaway before VJ). They were all good friends and hung out together and even lived together. I think that Steve and Scott and maybe Jimmy shared a house at one point before Steve got married. I know VJ lived in the downstairs apartment in the house Jerry lived in for a while. I'm not sure how they all connected with Wayne (Avers)."
Helen continued. "Steve was found by Wendy Kaye. She was a booking agent with the Mars Agency. They handled Gary U.S. Bonds. Steve was Gary's sax player and musical director. Mars had just started booking Davy Jones so when Davy decided he wanted to add a sax player to Breakaway, Wendy recommended Steve."
A big thanks to Helen Pantuso for all of the information in this post about Breakaway, as well as Fred Velez, who helped facilitate this conversation about Davy's former backing band. Fred recently published a book, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You: The Monkees From a Fan's Perspective. You can download the electronic version of the book, and a hard copy is also now available. (Thanks, Fred!)
Thanks again to Helen for also providing some pictures of members of Breakaway:
Who else had this bootleg that was released by Bird Brain Records? An audience recording with an undesirable sound quality, Live In Los Angeles could be found in record shops that would carry less than official merchandise. Though the tape source is dubious, the boot does capture a near exuberant audience throughout the duration of the show, especially when Nez showed up for the encore that night.
As someone who is generally a fan of live recordings, I've always been frustrated by the lack of official live albums by The Monkees. We had the '86 live album, the two 1967 releases, Live Summer Tour (an incomplete documentation of the 2001 show on the King Biscuit label), and that's been about it. There were others, like the ones sold at the concert merchandise booths on the 2001 and 2002 tours, but those were not Rhino sanctioned official offerings. (The 2001 live CD is especially horrendous, featuring, of all things, canned applause!)
Take a moment to refresh your memory of the 1987 setlist. And how about the 1989 shows that featured an unplugged set? What about the Justus shows with all four Monkees in the UK in 1997?! It would have been great for these tours to have been officially documented. (And by the way, who dropped the ball when it came to having the ultra-successful 1986 tour filmed for video release? I still can't figure that one.)
Perhaps at the top of my list would be live recordings from the previous three tours, which fans have widely praised as some of the group's best performances. How about a box set for this request, Rhino? We'll be ready to purchase. Drop them an email and let them know you're interested.
The Monkees performed at the Poplar Creek Music Theatre on August 7, 1986. This one's been floating around for some time now but was just uploaded on YouTube. Thanks to Al Bigley for the heads up!