50 years ago today, The Monkees commenced work on "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Andrew Sandoval documented the June 10, 1967 session at RCA Hollywood, one day after The Monkees' triumphant concert performance at the Hollywood Bowl, in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation:
Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is one of Chip Douglas's most complex productions for The Monkees. Sadly, session tapes will not survive for this landmark date so it is impossible to follow this wonderful creation step-by-step. The basic track is most likely recorded with Chip Douglas and Eddie Hoh forming the rhythm section of bass and drums while Michael and Peter perform on electric guitar and piano. Union documents indicate Micky is also present for this session, and it is quite possible that he contributes some acoustic guitar to the track. Additional guitar overdubs will be recorded tomorrow.
Chip Douglas: "Mike played the lead guitar. That was my riff that I threw in there and taught to Mike. Not many guitar players can play it the right way. ... It's kind of an offshoot of the Beatles song 'I Want To Tell You' but in a different tempo and with different notes.
"I wish I could hear the original demo, because I can't recall if I got a [lyric] line right or not. It's in the bridge, 'creature comfort goals can only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see.' For 'make it hard for me to see,' for some reason I had the impression that I didn't do the right line in there, or changed it possibly. I couldn't understand that line, or something like that. One of those great mysteries.
"I do remember seeing Carole King up at the Screen Gems office from across the room after we did 'Pleasant Valley Sunday.' She kind of gave me this dirty look. I thought, 'Was it that line that I got wrong, perhaps? Or didn't she like the guitar intro?' It was faster, definitely, than the way she had done it. She had a more laidback way of doing stuff."
Michael Nesmith: "I remember that we went after the guitar sound. Everybody was trying to get that great big present guitar sound - Beatle [amplifiers] in the studio, playing really loud trying to get the sound, and it just ended up sounding kind of ... like it does. Kind of wooden. There was a tube-type of limiter/compressor called a UREI 1176, and boy you could really suck stuff out of the track. That was the first time that we really could do it. I think everybody got a little carried away with the 1176 on that record."
On June 11 and 13, 1967, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was treated to overdubs, including backing vocals from all four Monkees.
In a 1982 interview with Bruce Pollack, Peter Tork discussed the blending of Micky and Michael's voices throughout "Pleasant Valley Sunday":
"A notion of mine that I was really pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you've got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who's a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It's not two separate voices singing together, it's really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy. "
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" was issued as Colgems single #1007 on July 10, 1967, right in the middle of The Monkees' ultra-successful summer tour that year. It was backed with "Words," written for the group by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The single is considered to be one of their most successful (certified Gold just four days after release), and it's worth noting that radio gave attention to both sides. As a result, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" peaked at #3 in Billboard while "Words" topped out at #11. The songs were later featured on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
"While I Cry," written by Michael Nesmith and recorded in January 1968, is one of my favorite Monkees songs. It was featured on The Monkees' 1969 album Instant Replay.
"It has kind of a rolling guitar intro," Michael told Andrew Sandoval. "It's slow. It's a ballad. It's me playing guitar, a guitar lick that I was just foolin' around with and wrote a song around the lick. Not an uncommon move."
Eddie Hoh was a session drummer for The Monkees throughout the late 1960s, most famously contributing to the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album and such singles as "Daydream Believer" and "Goin' Down." Sadly, Eddie passed away in November 2015.
WGN Radio in Chicago takes a look back at the life and career of Eddie Hoh:
Eddie Hoh made his name in the music industry in the 1960s as a noted studio session drummer. Born in Forest Park, Illinois on October 16, 1944, Eddie got his start playing on the Los Angeles club circuit in 1964. He eventually joined forces with the Modern Folk Quartet in 1965, a group that included future Monkees producer Chip Douglas and legendary rock/Monkees photographer Henry Diltz. During this period, Eddie participated in the recording of "This Could Be the Night," written by Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector (and produced by Spector).
By 1966, Eddie was drumming on albums for such artists like Donovan, and by the Summer of Love, Eddie was part of the touring group for The Mamas and The Papas, appearing live onstage with the band at the Monterey Pop Festival. He began working with The Monkees as their studio drummer in the summer of 1967 after Micky Dolenz decided he was no longer going to sit behind the kit after recording the group's third LP, Headquarters.
Eddie can be heard on most of The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (except on "Hard to Believe" which features Kim Capli on drums, and "Cuddly Toy," which features Micky). The album's single, "Pleasant Valley Sunday," is a highlight of Eddie's recorded work with The Monkees, along with being one of the group's most recognized songs.
Micky Dolenz recalled Fast Eddie in a 2011 interview with Modern Drummer. "Yes, he was pretty cool. He was fast, alright, I’ll tell ya! Eddie was also a good friend who came over to my house frequently to party."
Micky and Eddie share drumming duties on the Pisces standout track "The Door Into Summer."
Most likely because of his previous friendship with Chip Douglas, Eddie quickly became immersed in the studio with The Monkees, playing on "Daydream Believer," "Goin' Down," "Tapioca Tundra," "Zor and Zam," the studio take of "Circle Sky," and the extended drum-heavy ending of "Star Collector."
In 1968, Eddie performed on one of the seminal rock albums of the late '60s, Super Session, a collaboration between Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills. It produced the underground classic, "Season of the Witch," written (and originally recorded by) Donovan. Eddie was the drummer on both versions of the song.
Eddie continued to participate in Monkees recording sessions through 1969, drumming on tracks like "Oklahoma Backroom Dancer," "While I Cry," "Auntie's Municipal Court," and "Writing Wrongs."
After working with various other artists throughout the late 1960s, Eddie apparently stopped recording and performing. Chip Douglas, in a 2015 interview with this website, did confirm that Eddie played drums on the 1976 Monkees Christmas single, "Christmas Is My Time of Year." But a 2006 biography in Great Rock Drummers of the Sixties noted that he "reportedly has been out of the music business for some time, down on his luck." A Facebook page dedicated to Eddie was created earlier this year, and members of the Steve Hoffman Music Forums have been discussing his work for quite a while now.
Eddie Hoh passed away on November 7, 2015. He was 71.
For additional reading, please visit Ultimate Classic Rock's remembrance of the late Eddie Hoh.
Check out Henry Diltz (on banjo), Chip Douglas (on bass), and company performing on the music variety show in 1965. That's Monkees session drummer Eddie Hoh on drums.
They are performing "Come On In," a song Peter tackled in 1968 as a member of The Monkees:
The drummer on the studio version is Eddie Hoh, who played on a number of Monkees sessions from 1967 through 1969. Micky Dolenz is the drummer on the live take.
"Writing Wrongs" appeared on the fifth Monkees LP, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, in 1968. A Nesmith original where he plays guitar and keyboards, he's joined by bassist Rick Dey and Eddie Hoh on drums and percussion. That's Nez you hear on the Hammond organ during the song's psychedelic instrumental interlude. "Writing Wrongs" was recorded at RCA Victor in Hollywood on December 3, 1967.
In 1976, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork released "Christmas Is My Time of Year," a holiday single produced by Chip Douglas and written by Douglas and Turtles founding member Howard Kaylan. In a 2015 interview with Iain Lee for The Monkees Live Almanac, Douglas confirmed that he contributed guitar and bass to the track, Peter played Hammond organ, and ex-Monkees session musician Eddie Hoh sat in on drums. Micky and Davy shared lead vocals, and Douglas eventually added horns. Here's the original 1976 mix of the song:
Backed with "White Christmas" that was also produced by Douglas and featuring Davy on lead vocals, the single was an extremely limited release, and was not issued with a picture sleeve.
Thanks to Live Almanac contributor Ben Belmares who provided scans of the original 1976 single and its labels:
Both "Christmas Is My Time of Year" and "White Christmas" were remixed and augmented by Douglas in 1986 (during The Monkees' highly successful 20th Anniversary Tour) and sold via mail order, this time with a picture sleeve:
Here are the lyrics to "Christmas Is My Time of Year" from the back of the 1986 picture sleeve:
Listen to the '86 remix of "Christmas Is My Time of Year" below:
Amazingly, neither side of the 1976 Christmas single has ever appeared on a Monkees compilation, though "Christmas Is My Time of Year" surfaced on a late '80s Rhino Records holiday collection.
For more information about the release history of "Christmas Is My Time of Year," check out Monkee45s.
UPDATE 12/11/2019: The 1986 remix of "Christmas Is My Time of Year" was included on a CD bonus tracks edition of The Monkees' 2018 holiday album, Christmas Party.
The original 1976 mix of the song later appeared on the special Record Store Day Black Friday double vinyl single Christmas Party Plus in November 2019.
Members of MFQ had a lot of connections with The Monkees, and here they are below pictured in 1990. Chip Douglas, of course, produced both the Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. albums, along with the "Daydream Believer" single. Henry Diltz, noted rock photographer, was constantly around the group in the '60s and even contributed to some Monkees recordings (that's Henry on the banjo on "D.W. Washburn"). And Jerry Yester played bass on "Shades of Gray" and "I Can't Get Her Off My Mind" on Headquarters.
In 1965, the band added rock drummer Eddie Hoh and was renamed the Modern Folk Quintet, but they preferred to be known as the MFQ. (Hoh later became a session drummer for The Monkees throughout the late '60s, adding his work to albums like Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. and singles "Daydream Believer" and "Goin' Down.") It was at this point that legendary producer Phil Spector took notice of them, producing "This Could Be the Night," co-written by Spector and Harry Nilsson. Despite enjoying a couple of high profile appearances, including a spot on Shindig! and performances at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, the group failed to breakthrough and disbanded in 1966. Years later in 1985, Diltz, Faryar, Douglas, and Jerry Yester appeared with Michael Nesmith on an installment of Television Parts.
Pictured left to right are The Yester brothers (Jim & Jerry), Henry Diltz, Cyrus Faryar, and Chip Douglas. This picture was taken on July 19, 1990 at a Monkees convention in Chicago where MFQ played a set that mirrored their concerts in Japan earlier that year. They were joined at the end of the show by Davy Jones, who made a few remarks. MFQ also performed "Riu Chiu" a capella-style on the first day of the Chicago convention, and Chip played a solo show on the second day. (Thanks to Chie Hama for updated information found in this post!)
In Memoriam: Michael Nesmith
Dolenz sings Nesmith - The EP