On May 17, 1968, The Monkees finished their first and only motion picture, Head, with the filming of the "Circle Sky" concert scene in front of four thousand fans at the Valley Music Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. They performed "Circle Sky" several times for the cameras and also did a handful of other special requests.
Patio Gardens, a venue housed inside the Farmington, Utah amusement resort Lagoon, was the original location for the filming of "Circle Sky." The venue was changed at the last minute to the Valley Music Hall in Salt Lake City for logistical reasons, despite fans already waiting in line at Patio Gardens. To make amends, The Monkees delivered a 30-minute set later that evening in front of a crowd of five thousand at Patio Gardens. This particular show was not filmed or recorded, and a setlist has yet to surface. The two Utah-based concerts in May 1968 would constitute the last live performances by all four Monkees in the United States until 1986.
This past November, the 50th anniversary of Head was commemorated at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and featured special guests Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith. Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval hosted a Q&A session with Micky and Michael after the sold-out screening, which also included a slideshow created by Andrew that showcased photographs taken by legendary rock photographer Henry Diltz. The final part of the slideshow revealed many never before seen photos from The Monkees' performance at Lagoon's Patio Gardens, screenshots which can be seen below. (The slideshow can be viewed in its entirety at Michael Nesmith's Videoranch Facebook page.)
A special thanks goes to the Live Almanac's friends at Written In Our Hearts for inspiring this post based on screenshots they had previously shared from the Diltz slideshow!
'Head' trip: How the Monkees and Jack Nicholson shattered the fourth wall and the Hollywood mold, 50 years ago
Peter Mills, author of The Monkees, Head, and the '60s, was recently contacted by none other than Bob Rafelson, who praised his work! (And it looks like Jack Nicholson is reading, too.) Jawbone Press, the publisher of the book, tweeted the following account earlier today:
Be sure to check out an excerpt from the book that was published on this blog last year.
Andrew Sandoval wrote about the November 6, 1968 premiere in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation:
The Monkees travel to New York City to attend the premiere of their movie Head, which is held not in a cinema but rather at the Columbia Pictures studio on West 54th Street. A party is thrown afterwards for guests including Janis Ian, Andy Warhol, Boyce & Hart, Carole Bayer, Lester Still, Bert Schneider, Bob Rafelson, Peter Fonda, Peter's brother Nick Thorkelson and his grandma. A discotheque is set up and a room that includes small television sets playing portions of the movie. (The group stay at the Hilton Hotel.) Bob Rafelson: "The night Head opened they arrested [Jack Nicholson and myself]. Our opening - and there we were slapping stickers all over New York about the movie. The producer and director on 57th and 5th Avenue. I see a guy about to get arrested for selling chestnuts on the street without a license. So I went over and said, 'How much for the chestnuts?' and the cop said, 'He can't sell you the chestnuts.' And I said, 'I'll just give you the money and you give me the nuts and then no one breaks the law.' "Now, while I'm having this dialectic with the cop, who has a white helmet on, Jack is standing behind the cop trying to slap a Head sticker on the helmet. And like a Laurel & Hardy comedy, man, this cop turns around just at the right moment and Jack nails him on the side of his face. Bam! We're handcuffed and up against the walls. A squad car takes us away. We've got a flick opening in an hour. I just wanted to call everybody and tell them we're in jail. And to get on the radio and sell tickets - because Jack and I had this feeling that no one was going to see Head."
In The Monkees' 1968 film Head, 'Lady Pleasure' is played by I.J. Jefferson, who was Jack Nicholson's girlfriend at the time. Jefferson's real name is Mimi Machu and she had previously been one of the resident dancers on the variety show Hollywood A Go-Go on KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. Jefferson later appeared in the film Drive, He Said in 1971 (a BBS Production directed by Jack Nicholson). Nicholson, of course, was friendly with The Monkees in the late '60s, co-writing and co-producing Head.
Here is Mimi today:
This article was originally published in the July 1968 issue of Monkees Monthly:
This piece comes from Harold Bronson's book, Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees. For easier reading, click on the image to enlarge.
The Monkees, or their stand-in dummies that is, get torn to shreds after performing "Circle Sky" live in Salt Lake City during filming for Head. Jack Nicholson, of course, co-wrote and co-produced The Monkees' only feature film.
The Monkees filmed the "Circle Sky" live sequence for Head in Salt Lake City, Utah in May 1968. Nicholson co-produced and co-wrote the group's only feature film. Michael is strumming his custom model white Gibson SG guitar.
This article appeared in the November 12, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times. A special screening of Head took place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood that night. Davy and Peter took part in a Q & A session at the event and were joined by both Chip Douglas and Bobby Hart.
For easier reading, click on the image to enlarge. Thanks to Scott Catton for scanning and submitting this piece!
In this interview, published in the July 22, 2005 issue of Goldmine, Micky discusses a broad range of topics about The Monkees, including filming the television show, his work as a songwriter, the group's battles with Don Kirshner, the Headquarters era, Jack Nicholson, Head, the recording sessions for The Monkees Present and Changes, and more. Also featured are reviews for Andrew Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation as well as Total Control: The Michael Nesmith Story by Randi Massingill. A complete Monkees U.S. Discography, including 2005 estimated dollar values for each album and single, rounds out the Monkees features in the issue.
For easier reading, click on each image and then click on it again.
Jack Nicholson co-wrote and co-produced The Monkees' 1968 feature film, Head.
In an interview with Mojo magazine in 2002, Bob Rafelson (one half of Raybert Productions that created The Monkees television series and who co-wrote, co-produced, and directed Head), said Nicholson remains a great fan of the film. "Jack loves Head. He still quotes lines from the film to me on a daily basis. 'Howzabout some more steam?' or 'Everybody's where they want to be.'"
In 1970, Nicholson spoke to the New York Times about Head. "Nobody ever saw that, man, but I saw it 158 million times. I loved it. Filmatically, it's the best rock 'n' roll movie ever made. It's anti-rock."
Below are photos of The Monkees with Nicholson during the making of the movie and backstage at the filming of the "Circle Sky" live performance in Salt Lake City.
Live in 2021