Micky Dolenz speaks with Forbes.com about Frank Zappa, playing drums, missing Davy & Peter, and more
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.
This past Saturday, Liverpool Tours and Charles Rosenay sponsored "The Peter Tork Memorial Convention" in New Haven, Connecticut to commemorate Peter's birthday month and the one year since his passing. Michael Nesmith remembered Peter in a special video that was screened at the event and published on the Videoranch YouTube channel:
An official tribute video was also produced for the convention, featuring appearances by Micky Dolenz, Bobby Hart, Valerie Kairys Venet, Wayne Avers, John Billings, Sandy Gennaro, Fred Velez, Ed Reilly, Rich Dart, and many more:
After a flurry of albums with the First and Second National Bands in the early 1970s, Michael Nesmith began to broaden his artistic scope. In 1972, Nez formed Countryside Records, a subsidiary of Elektra Records, to produce and promote country and western artists including Red Rhodes, Tom Holbrook, Steve Fromholz, and Garland Frady. One of Michael's most noteworthy projects from this era included his collaboration with British musician and singer-songwriter Ian Matthews on the album Valley Hi. Matthews had previously been a member of the folk rock band Fairport Convention, and Nez acted as producer for his 1973 LP on Elektra.
Valley Hi is noteworthy for Matthews' version of "Seven Bridges Road," a song later made famous by The Eagles on their 1980 album Eagles Live. Rhino Records highlighted the track earlier this week in an article entitled "5 Things You May Not Have Known About Mike Nesmith" while celebrating Michael's recent birthday:
He produced, sang, and played on Ian Matthews’ version of "Seven Bridges Road." Written by Steve Young and arguably made most famous by the Eagles, Nesmith recorded Matthews’ version of the song in 1973 for Matthews’ VALLEY HI album, and if you listen to that version first and then listen to the Eagles’ version, what you will notice is that the tempo and arrangements are pretty much identical. Like, to the degree that Nesmith later said of that similarity, "Son of a gun if Don or somebody in Eagles didn’t lift [our] arrangement absolutely note for note for vocal harmony. If they can’t think it up themselves [and] they’ve got to steal it from somebody else, better they should steal it...from me, I guess."
Matthews also covered Nesmith's classic "Propinquity" on Valley Hi.
And now, this period of Michael Nesmith's career and his work with Ian Matthews has been examined in much greater depth by Peter Mills, author of The Monkees, Head, and the '60s, in his new blog Pete Sounds. Peter relayed to the Live Almanac that he had to leave an abundance of material for his book on the cutting room floor, but now fans can enjoy his research about this often overlooked period of Nesmith history. Click the image below to visit Peter's blog!
Micky Dolenz to appear at "James Burton and Friends" benefit concert with Sammy Hagar, Queen's Brian May, and others (UPDATED)
On November 12, legendary musicians will gather at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center for "James Burton and Friends," a concert event benefiting the James Burton Foundation. Mr. Burton, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, is a famed guitarist who has played on numerous recordings, and he also acted as a session musician for The Monkees in the 1960s. The Burton Foundation supports music education for those in need through guitar donations and music instruction to schools, hospitals, and community service organizations.
Micky Dolenz is scheduled to be a part of the benefit concert and will take the stage with Mr. Burton, Sammy Hagar, Brian May (Queen), Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Paul Shaffer (The Late Show with David Letterman), and many more. Tickets are still available!
UPDATE 11/14/2019: Footage and more from the Burton benefit concert:
Actor and comedian Rip Taylor, known for his flamboyant personality and showering himself and others with confetti, who made countless appearances on television, film, and in nightclubs, passed away on October 6. Monkees fans will remember Taylor as a multiple episode guest star on The Monkees, appearing prominently in second season highlights "Monkees on the Wheel" (as the distressed casino manager) and "The Frodis Caper" (as the diabolical Wizard Glick).
Taylor was also spotted in The Monkees' 1969 NBC television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, during the "Listen to the Band" segment.
The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter eulogized Taylor, while also noting his appearances with The Monkees.
"In 1967, Taylor showed up as a sobbing casino manager on an episode of The Monkees. 'Oh, officer, thank goodness you're here,' he says to a police detective called to investigate a rigged roulette wheel. 'I just found this wire attached to the wheel. And whenever I'd shift my stick, the house would lose a bet. Could you die?'"
-The Hollywood Reporter
On March 25, 1968 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. Taylor portrayed Wizard Glick, who was out to control people's minds through a hypnotic eye broadcasted on television sets. "This is my attempt to address the manipulation of the American mind by the media," Dolenz 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?"
Rip Taylor was 88.
Paris Stachtiaris interviews legendary Monkees and rock music photographer Henry Diltz about Woodstock
Monkees fans are likely to recall the name Paris Stachtiaris, co-host of Headquarters ("The only radio show in America dedicated to The Monkees") that originally aired on 90.3 WBAU-FM, the radio station of Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, from 1987 to 1990. Cassette tapes of the program, which featured interviews with Monkees luminaries like Chip Douglas, Ward Sylvester, Jim Frawley, Coco Dolenz, Lester Sill, Monte Landis, Gerry Goffin, the individual Monkees themselves, and others, were frequently traded among fans in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
And now in 2019, Paris is back, with co-host Ben Brown, producing a special in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock that will air Labor Day Weekend on HCS internet radio. Paris and Ben's premier guest is the renowned rock photograher Henry Diltz, the official lensman of Woodstock who also has photographed The Monkees extensively since the 1960s. Paris has informed the Live Almanac that he is planning to play Rhino's recently released (and now sold out) 38-disc box set, containing nearly every note played at Woodstock, during the special.
The Woodstock Radio Special will air on HCS internet radio beginning Friday, August 30 at 5:00 PM through Monday morning, September 2, and you can preview the interview with Henry from the special right now! And don't miss a selection of Henry's photographs from Woodstock, courtesy of his website.
Thanks to Paris for keeping everyone informed about his latest project, and be sure to check out the archives of the Headquarters radio program here at The Monkees Live Almanac!
Congratulations to Amy and John Billings on the opening of Wine Down Nashville, a new music and event-based establishment in Nashville, Tennessee. John has been The Monkees' bass player since 2012 and also performs with Micky Dolenz. He resides in Nashville with Amy, who has long dreamed of opening a wine restaurant.
"Wine Down Nashville is a boutique wine bar created by musicians but made for all," John relayed to the Live Almanac this weekend. "It reflects both of our histories, some of our adventures, and especially our love of wine. We are open for all walks of life, but we're putting an emphasis on local events, corporate meetings, parties, and Amy's favorite pet project: meet and greets by some of our favorite musical artists, creatives of all walks, and a glimpse into Nashville's musical studio and touring force. Stay tuned!"
John also alerted the Live Almanac that a special treat awaits Monkees fans inside Wine Down Nashville. "I'm displaying and selling some of our favorite behind the scenes photography [of The Monkees] that I've taken over the years. I haven't previously displayed or presented any of it, but with Amy's help, it's going to be part of our boutique wine bar." John shared photos of his work that currently adorns the walls of Wine Down Nashville:
Stopping in at Wine Down Nashville to give his seal of approval was Wayne Avers, longtime Monkees guitarist and musical director:
Wine Down Nashville is located at 2720 Old Lebanon Road #111 in Nashville, Tennessee. Be sure to like the Facebook page and visit the website. And best of luck to Amy, John, and their staff from The Monkees Live Almanac!
Late A&R head’s reissues of everyone from the Ramones to the Monkees combined a scholar’s authority with a fan’s zeal
Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval remembered his friend Gary on Facebook:
Recorded during The Monkees' 30th Anniversary Tour in the summer of 1996, Two Man Band featured Peter Tork and his longtime friend, singer/songwriter/musician James Lee Stanley, performing selected covers and songs by Tork, Stanley, and The Monkees.
Peter and James first met in 1964 when Peter was a member of the Phoenix Singers during Peter's Greenwich Village days. In 1994, James Lee's Beachwood Records issued Peter's first solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, and the duo began to perform together in the aftermath of its release. The intimate, acoustic nature of their shows inspired them to replicate that formula inside the recording studio, and Two Man Band was born.
In 2001, Peter and James released Once Again, which was followed by Live/Backstage at the Coffee Gallery in 2006.
Two Man Band is an excellent album that the Live Almanac highly recommends. Listen to an insightful interview with James Lee Stanley where he talks extensively about the album on the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast:
AllMusic delivered praise for Two Man Band in its review of the album:
"Following the artistic success of his debut solo CD, Stranger Things Have Happened, Peter Tork teamed up with Beachwood labelmate James Lee Stanley. This pairing allowed Tork to further explore his acoustic, blues, and easy listening side. And, as with his first release, this is an excellent album. Both artists compliment each other and the music is very accessible. Tork has a wonderfully pleasing and distinctive voice, and Stanley's voice is a perfect blend. The two alternate lead vocals and composition credits and this, too, works. Stanley contributes more original tunes to the collection, while Tork is content to write a couple and choose suitable covers (such as the brilliant 'Milkshake,' a clear standout of the CD). 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' is outstanding and rivals the Monkees' version. One wonders what direction the Monkees would have taken had Tork had more control. That said, this album is a treasure. A perfect album for late summer nights while relaxing."
Two Man Band can be purchased on compact disc today through Amazon or CD Baby. The album is also available for downloading on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify.
Thanks very much to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of Two Man Band with The Monkees Live Almanac!
On Saturday, April 27, Micky Dolenz will join longtime friend (and fellow Hollywood Vampire) Alice Cooper at Cooper’s Annual Rock & Roll Fundraising Bash, benefiting free music, dance, art, recording, and video classes for teenagers at Alice Cooper’s Rock Teen Center.
Legendary Wrecking Crew member Hal Blaine played drums on a number of Monkees songs in the 1960s, including "Papa Gene's Blues," "Mary, Mary," and "Someday Man." He passed away on Monday at age 90.
Gemma "Coco" Dolenz (Vocals)
John Billings (Bass Guitar)
Rich Dart (Drums)
Christian Nesmith (Guitar)
Circe Link (Vocals)
Sandy Gennaro (Drums: 1987, 1996-1997, 2001-2002)
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval is the author of The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation and has produced The Monkees' concert tours since 2011. Andrew honored Peter Tork today on Facebook:
James Frawley was a monumental figure in the success of The Monkees televison show, directing 28 episodes of the series. In 1967, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for "The Royal Flush." He was nominated again a year later for another episode, "The Devil and Peter Tork."
Frawley appeared on The Monkees several times over, including the second season episode "Monkees Blow Their Minds" as 'Rudy Bayshore' and as himself in "The Monkees in Paris." He also voiced the dummy 'Mr. Schneider' along with other uncredited voiceovers. His success continued after working with The Monkees, producing and directing numerous television shows and movies, including The Muppet Movie in 1979. Jim died in Arizona on Tuesday at age 82.
Here is a list of Monkees episodes that were directed by Jim Frawley:
Micky Dolenz remembered Frawley in a post on Facebook:
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!
Live in 2021