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."
"She Makes Me Laugh" was the lead single from The Monkees' album Good Times! and was premiered on Rolling Stone magazine's website on April 28, 2016.
Accompanied by a lyric video that featured scenes from Monkees comic books produced by Dell in the 1960s, the video recently passed 1 million views on YouTube.
At the time of the song's release, Rivers Cuomo, lead vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and songwriter of the rock band Weezer, who composed "She Makes Me Laugh," talked about The Monkees' influence on his career:
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!
Thanks a lot to David Marcone for passing along this YouTube find to the Live Almanac!
Click the image below to watch the fantastic music video for "You Bring the Summer," produced by Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway:
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux concluded their recent round of shows last night with a performance at The Chapel in San Francisco, California. Nez and company were joined onstage by Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie. Ben is a longtime Monkees fan who contributed "Me & Magdalena" to The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times! Here is the set list from the final show, courtesy of Andrew Sandoval:
Here's two fan-made videos for both the slow and fast versions of "Me & Magdalena":
And, another fan-made video for "Birth of an Accidental Hipster":
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, is a longtime Monkees fan who contributed "Me & Magdalena" to The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times! Ben will be joining Michael Nesmith onstage as a special guest when the First National Band performs at The Chapel in San Francisco on January 28, 2018.
Ben also appeared with Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork during The Monkees' 50th Anniversary Tour when it stopped in Seattle, Washington last year.
Nez talked about teaming with Ben on Facebook:
"Terrifying," written by Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave, is a bonus track available as a download on the iTunes, Amazon, and HD Tracks versions of The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times! On a side note, I feel this song should have been included on the album proper.
"Terrifying" was later released on a four-song EP for Record Store Day 2016, pressed on 10" red opaque vinyl and limited to 2,500 copies. The EP also included the other non-album songs that were previously only available via iTunes and exclusive retail CDs in both the US and Japan.
Paul Weller talks about singing with Boy George, writing for The Monkees and his solo effort "A Kind Revolution"
You and Noel Gallagher had a song [“Birth Of An Accidental Hipster”] on The Monkees record from last year [“Good Times!”], and it got a great response. How did it come about?
We had a very, very rough backing track, and I was trying to get in to do some writing for a record; I can’t remember which album it was now. This was a couple of years back. That was as far as we had got with it.
And then Noel said he had been asked to write a song for The Monkees, so he said, “How about we write one together?” And then I remembered that track, so we reworked it, really, and wrote some words for it. Michael [Nesmith] and Micky [Dolenz] and I think even Pete [Tork] all sing a verse or a bridge or whatever, each — that was quite a nice touch. It’s so mad to think we wrote a song for The Monkees.
Were you a Monkees fan growing up?
Yeah, I loved them. I mean, not like I loved the Beatles, but I thought there were some amazing tunes of theirs. And some of the Wrecking Crew played on some of the records. Brilliant, brilliant production [and] players. But great songs — I mean, they chose some great songwriters. Some Mike Nesmith songs were brilliant.
The Monkees record led a lot of people to reappraise their catalog and as musicians and songwriters, I was heartened to see.
It’s quite an amazing story, isn’t it? To have something that was totally put together and fabricated, [but] there’s all this intense, great music coming out of it.
Michael Nesmith on New Book ‘Infinite Tuesday,’ the Monkees and Being John Lennon’s Friend (The Interview)
Jeff Clark: "You sing one of my favorite songs, 'Me and Magdelena,' written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. You also sing the Rivers Coumo song 'She Makes Me Laugh,' which has a great chorus. Would you work with these guys again?"
Micky: "Absolutely. We do have other tracks that we found and we’re going to listen and see if they are appropriate, but we’ve received a whole lot of interest in other people writing stuff. I’m not sure it’s going to happen this year; it may be a bit early. I don’t know how in the hell you follow that up. How do you that?"
Micky on dueting with his friend, Harry Nilsson, on Good Times!:
“When we started talking about the [Monkees' 50th] anniversary, we found a bunch of unfinished tracks from the ’60s,” says Dolenz. “When the show was on the air, we recorded tons of material because they wanted two new songs in every episode. Harry, who was one of my dearest friends, had written one for me to sing. It had his scratch vocal, but because Harry never did anything half-assed, it was a full-blown performance. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do a duet with my old friend.’ ”
Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter, who played on the 2016 Monkees album Good Times! (which was produced by his bandmate Adam Schlesinger), commented on Facebook that he'll soon be in Los Angeles to work on a new Monkees LP:
UPDATE 4pm EST: Jody Porter's comments about The Monkees have been removed from the Facebook post above.
The Monkees first studio album since 1996's Justus arrived one year ago today. Check out the Live Almanac's complete coverage from the moment it was announced:
This evening on his UK radio show, Iain Lee spoke with Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, the legendary new wave group responsible for songs like "Tempted," "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," and many more. Afterwards, Iain relayed details about the interview on Facebook, in which Tilbrook referenced The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times!, while also hinting about writing for a future Monkees release:
"Um. How to say this. I literally just had Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze on my show. I said it was sad he wasn't asked to write a song for Good Times. 'Oh we were,' he said, 'but we couldn't fit it in. But they're doing another record and we're writing one for that...'"
No further information is available regarding Tilbrook's comments, but it should be noted that in a March interview Micky Dolenz raised the idea of The Monkees working together in 2017:
"We’re talking about another Monkee project. Nothing to announce at this point, but it’s in the air because this year is the 50th anniversary of our first real tour. So there’ll be stuff going on this summer and fall and then, well you just never know."
Stay tuned to the Live Almanac, and for a link to the Tilbrook interview once it's archived online.
UPDATE @ 8:40pm EST:
Joe, who owns Joe's Record Exchange in Fort Myers, Florida, has informed the Live Almanac that he received an email today from a record distributor regarding a brand new Monkees compilation coming this summer from Rhino Records. Here's what Joe had to say:
"I own a record store in Florida. I received an e-mail today from one of the distributors I buy new vinyl from, and it was about an upcoming Rhino promotion called '1967 Summer of Love.' There are 19 releases scheduled, and one is by The Monkees called Summer of Love. The only information given is that it is a 'New 1 LP and 1 CD compilation' with a scheduled release date of July 18, 2017."
It's unknown, of course, if this collection will contain any new Monkees music, and I'd like to stress that Rhino Records has yet to officially announce such a compilation. It's interesting nonetheless, on top of Iain's interview with Glenn Tilbrook. Thanks, Joe!
UPDATE #2 @ 10:30pm EST:
Andrew Sandoval, Monkees archivist and concert tour producer, spoke exclusively with the Live Almanac about the initial report above:
"No comment on recording, but we await any new Difford & Tilbrook song. Here's hoping."
Chris Difford is Glenn Tilbrook's songwriting partner in Squeeze. Thanks, Andrew!
UPDATE #3 on 5/10/2017 @ 4:15pm EST:
You can now listen to Iain Lee's interview with Glenn Tilbrook, and the Monkees discussion begins at the 2:00 mark.
UPDATE #4 on 5/23/2017:
Rhino Records has announced a new Monkees compilation, Summer of Love, as referenced in the first update above.