On October 1, 1968, The Monkees were greeted rapturously as they arrived in Japan to perform a series of live concerts in that country for the very first time. One of these historic shows was filmed (most likely during the two day, three-concert stay at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, 1968) and later broadcast on Japanese television. The audio recording and video footage, however, has never been officially released. The audio (straight from the video) has long existed as a bootleg (complete with Japanese voice introductions before each song), but much to the chagrin of Monkees fans, the video footage is presumed lost or destroyed.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval has confirmed that multiple attempts have been made to find the missing video footage. "It was definitely broadcast and there has been communication with TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System] in Japan to retrieve anything they had," he wrote on Facebook in 2017. "We asked many times and have been told they have nothing. Unless they made a film print of the video, it is unlikely it survived."
I first acquired a cassette tape of this particular concert in the late 1980s that ultimately relayed a sprightly and resolute performance by The Monkees, exhibiting just how far these four individuals with disparate musical backgrounds had come to achieving a "group" sound in a relatively short amount of time.
For years, Monkees fans have clamored for some sort of official release of this concert, even if it was just the audio portion as it seems the video footage has seemingly been lost to time. In the latest twist of this long-sought after piece of Monkees history, Live Almanac contributor Justin Rakowski has commenced a project to restore the original Japanese concert bootleg. In an effort to present the cleanest audio possible while also removing the invasive voice introductions before every song, Justin has "demixed" the audio. For those that aren’t familiar with "demixing," Justin relayed some details to the Live Almanac. "It’s essentially the process of using specific programs that can run a algorithm on a mono track and separate out individual signals like vocals, guitars, bass, and drums," Justin said. "The inherent problem with the Japan concert is not only the mono mix but the narrator that talks over the beginning of each song."
Justin talked more about the challenges of his project. "Obviously the parts where the announcer talks is the hardest area to fix. It's easier when the announcer is not talking over The Monkees' performances. Even when there is commentary over the instrumental beginning of each song, I can remove the announcer, but the music underneath sounds like someone is playing with the volume knob so the music cuts in and out, leaving some bars with no recoverable information. So what I’ve done is flown in other parts of the song in to fix those areas."
And now, here are the initial results of Justin's experiment! While we're all doing our best to hunker down during this international health crisis, take a listen to Justin's work and keep your fingers crossed that the video of this concert finally emerges!
"Last Train to Clarksville" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I Wanna Be Free" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Johnny B. Goode" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"D.W. Washburn" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"It's Nice To Be With You" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I'm a Believer" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Salesman" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
For "Salesman," Justin has offered up something special:
"Enjoy this 'what if' video using my newly demixed track of 'Salesman' synced up with edits of the 8mm Australia tour footage posted by Iain Lee's RareMonkees YouTube page."
In this sequel to Long Title: Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One, authors Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold look at the careers The Monkees had outside of the TV show and the band: From Micky’s early appearances as "Circus Boy" through Peter’s financial and legal problems to become a respected performer with his band Shoe Suede Blues, to Davy’s frustration with record labels and his many solo albums for his fans, to Michael’s evolution from country rock founder to the creator of MTV and video technology ahead of many others. They look at the various reunion concerts, the movies and plays, and the ups and downs of their varied careers, all with insight and humor.
Below is commentary found on the back cover of Headquartered: A Timeline of the Monkees Solo Years, courtesy of Dean Friedman:
"Some people are so ignorant as to imagine that The Monkees are not a 'real' band. That’s crazy! That’s like saying that lemon meringue pie is not 'real' food. They’re both an inspired synthesis of disparate wholesome, delicious, natural ingredients combined, orchestrated and executed with expert skill and sublime results. What this book makes irrefutably clear is that all four Monkees were consummate professionals – talented musicians and skilled performers, all – producing strong, creative, original, yet inexplicably unheralded, music recordings and video content before, during and after their frenzied 'Monkees' moment. Never underestimate a 'pop star.' There’s always more to them than you could ever imagine. This book proves it. I will always love lemon meringue pie. And I will always love The Monkees."
Longtime Monkees fan Mark Kleiner, whose name you might recognize from the stellar liner notes that have accompanied various releases by 7a Records, has premiered a new podcast entitled Nesmith Tork Goffin & King. If you are curious about the origins of the podcast's name, check out a recent interview with Mark on Canadian morning television:
You can listen to the debut episode of the podcast below, which features remarks from Peter Tork's brother, Nick Thorkelson, an interview with Dick Eastman, who along with Bobby Hart penned the 1986 Monkees reunion track "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," the rarely heard demo of that Hart/Eastman song, along with much more:
Episode 2, "Escape from L.A.," dives deep into Peter Tork's early 1970s activities, including his affiliation with the Fairfax Street Choir. You'll also hear a live performance of "Sometime in the Morning" from the early 1986 "Sound of The Monkees" tour featuring Peter and Davy Jones:
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:
Monkees fans set to gather in Connecticut to honor Peter Tork (UPDATED with convention schedule & Governor's proclamation)
The Peter Tork Memorial Convention for Monkees Fans will take place on Saturday, February 8 in North Haven, Connecticut. Check out this previous Live Almanac blog post for more details and to purchase tickets!
UPDATE 2/1/2020: Thanks to convention producer Charles Rosenay for sharing the official schedule of the event with The Monkees Live Almanac:
UPDATE 2/3/2020: The Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, has officially proclaimed the date of the convention, February 8, as "Peter Tork and The Monkees Day" in the State of Connecticut:
Thanks a lot to Ronald Vazquez for sharing this photograph taken during The Monkees' appearance at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri on August 5, 1967. Check out Nez with a Rickenbacker!
Japan experienced the first rebirth of The Monkees in the 1980s even before Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork reunited for the mega-successful 20th Anniversary Tour of North America in 1986. When "Daydream Believer" was used in a Kodak commercial in Japan in 1980, Monkeemania was rekindled as the group's television show returned to the airwaves and Monkees albums were reissued, causing them to chart in that country once again. Demand for The Monkees was so high in Japan that Davy, Micky, and Peter (with The New Monks) all toured there individually between 1981 and 1982, playing to extremely enthusiastic audiences.
Thanks to Iris at Iris' Little Monkees Corner for sharing these 1981 clippings of Davy and Peter in Japan!
Earlier this afternoon, Rolling Stone magazine's website published an interview with Michael Nesmith conducted by Andy Greene. In it, Nez speaks openly about a wide array of topics and people, including the post-Monkees days with Red Rhodes, his relationships with Peter Tork and Davy Jones, touring with Micky Dolenz in early 2020, the scope of The Monkees' legacy today, the recently issued Cosmic Partners live album from 7a Records, and much more:
UPDATE: Rolling Stone followed-up their interview with Nez by putting the spotlight on the opening track of his 1972 album, And the Hits Just Keep on Comin':
To mark the one year anniversary of the passing of Peter Tork (and his birthday month), Liverpool Tours and Charles Rosenay announced today that "The Peter Tork Memorial Convention" will take place in New Haven, Connecticut on Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The convention will include memorabilia vendors and dealers, a rare video show, memorial tributes, and special guests are slated to be announced in the future. Live music will be provided by John Sheridan, Loose Salute, Zilch, and The Blue Meanies.
The site of the convention, Best Western Plus, is currently offering special room rates of $99 with the code "MONKEES" until January 1, 2020.
For more information, you may call (203) 795-4737 or email MonkeesFanConvention@gmail.com. The convention organizers have also launched an official website and accompanying Facebook page. Please note that this event is being organized for fans by fans and is not officially endorsed by The Monkees or their families, or Rhino Records.
Thanks to Charles Rosenay for passing along all of the details about "The Peter Tork Memorial Convention" to The Monkees Live Almanac!
The official charity of the convention, the Institute for the Musical Arts, was a favorite of Peter's. Click the image below for more information.
UPDATE 1/28/2020: James Lee Stanley, singer-songwriter and a longtime musical collaborator of Peter Tork's, will be a special guest at the upcoming Peter Tork Memorial Convention for Monkees Fans. Read more about James Lee in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac!
The wonderful team who oversees Peter Tork's official Facebook page has just announced that "Peter Tork: A Celebration of Life & Community" will take place on Sunday, October 20, 2019 at Club 66 in Edgewood, Maryland (near Baltimore) to honor the memory of Peter. Details can be found below, and stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac for more information about this special event.
A CELEBRATION: Peter loved his Torkees fanbase and was proud of the wonderful community and friendships that developed as a result of people traveling to see him perform in Monkees and Shoe Suede Blues shows. He was always concerned about the well-being of his fans, friends and loved ones. When thinking about the time he would no longer be on this earth, Peter often said that he would not want any glitzy or flashy events, nor sad or solemn ceremonies. He wished, instead, that people would simply gather in a comfortable place to remember him in fellowship, enjoy good food, listen to music, and share fun memories. We'd like to honor Peter by giving him his wish... and we invite you to help us.
In a gathering similar to his beloved Fan Parties, we welcome you to join us on Sunday, October 20, 2019 @ 1:00-5:00pm ET at Club 66, Edgewood MD (near Baltimore) for Peter Tork: A Celebration of Life & Community, as we enjoy one more visit with our favorite Blues Boy in celebration of his life and deep love and appreciation for all of you! This laid-back, casual celebration will include a buffet lunch, the showing of a never-before-seen-in-public video of a Shoe Suede Blues concert on a big screen (featuring Peter, Arnold "AJ" Jacks, Joe Boyle, and Sturgis Cunningham), lots of Peter Tork/Shoe Suede Blues music, time to chat and reflect on good memories, and a few other activities.
We have chosen Club 66 for this celebration because it was Peter's favorite place to play, as well as the host to most of the band's fan parties. The owners, staff, and members of the Club were always so supportive and welcoming to Peter & SSB, and the vibe so electric there, that the band truly considered it their "home away from home." If the timing would have worked out, Peter had even hoped to host a CD Release Party for "Relax Your Mind" at the Club. Because of all this, we couldn't think of a more appropriate place to bring people together to celebrate, remember and heal.
We are aware that Micky Dolenz will be performing in the “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today” tour in Bethlehem PA on October 19th, and in Washington DC on October 20th. Edgewood MD is located between these two locations, approximately 2.5 hours from Bethlehem and 1.5 hours from DC. We have adjusted the timing of our gathering to make it possible for fans to attend as many of the happenings as they wish to, without causing a conflict.
Please email our team at fiorepro85[at]hotmail[dot]com for ticket information and additional details. We hope you will be able to join us in celebrating Peter and being a part of his world! ~ptfb team #ShineOn #WeAreOne #PeaceLoveAndTork
(Photo: Sherri Hansen)
In 2016, Patrick Zappi penned a three-part series, "Reimagining The Post-Peter Albums." And now Patrick has contributed another piece to The Monkees Live Almanac, featuring a retrospective playlist of Peter Tork's musical career that not only includes his time in The Monkees, but also highlights Peter's work as a solo artist, his musical partnership with James Lee Stanley, and his stint in Shoe Suede Blues.
"Come On In: The Best of Peter Tork (1966-2016)" by Patrick Zappi
Since 1966, the press and purported "serious" music critics have reveled in stories about The Monkees and their musical prowess. But after the group's triumphant 45th Anniversary Tour in 2011, progressive journalists have reassessed The Monkees' musical catalog and many now choose to celebrate this cast of actors, singers, and musicians and their metamorphosis into an authentic recording and touring project.
As longtime fans already know, and contrary to urban legend, the individual members of The Monkees all played multiple instruments with varying degrees of skill. Peter Tork cut his teeth in the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, gigging with the likes of a then unknown Stephen Stills in The Buffalo Fish and jamming onstage with Mama Cass in her pre-Mamas and Papas project, The Mugwumps. Tork was a multi-instrumentalist who mastered the banjo, guitar, bass, piano, and even the French horn with exuberance. His stunning instrumental contributions are undisputed highlights of the Monkees catalog: the beloved piano lick from "Daydream Believer," the ominous organ solo on "Words," the breezy harpsichord on "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," the propulsive banjo on "You Told Me," the aggressive bass on "You Just May Be The One," the majestic piano on "Shades Of Gray," the rolling keyboards on "The Door Into Summer," the tense electric piano solo on "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and the famous guitar-intro to his own composition, "For Pete's Sake," which became the closing theme for The Monkees television series in its second season. The list goes on and on!
Peter's singing and songwriting however, were met with a different response. With a questionable pitch and a lovable but infrequently utilized voice, Peter became the Ringo Starr of The Monkees, an ace in the hole who was lucky to score a single lead vocal on any given album. In his heyday, Tork was an inspired but seemingly frustrated songwriter. Overshadowed by the prolific and somewhat dominant Michael Nesmith (who just happened to title Peter's signature composition "For Pete's Sake"), some of Peter's quirky, folksy, and bluesy gems were initially left unreleased until The Monkees' incredible resurgence in 1986 that ultimately opened the studio vaults. After that unprecedented commercial resurgence, Tork was able to spread his wings as a solo artist, exploring his folk roots with longtime friend and musical partner James Lee Stanley, tackling the roadhouse blues with the tongue-in-cheek titled band Shoe Suede Blues, and finally bringing his peculiar vision to life with 1994's Stranger Things Have Happened.
In February of this year, we lost Peter Tork to a longtime battle with cancer, but his music survives. The following is a retrospective of his career for fellow fans to enjoy. As Peter wrote, "To say that you can dig it, is to make your soul to fly . . . to heaven."
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" (With James Lee Stanley, Two Man Band, 1996)
"Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky" (The Monkees, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., 1967)
"Your Auntie Grizelda" (The Monkees, More Of The Monkees, 1967)
"Words" (The Monkees, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., 1967)
"Shades of Gray" (The Monkees, Headquarters, 1967)
"Cripple Creek" (The Monkees, Live 1967)
"Alvin" (The Monkees, Originally Unissued, 1968)
"Tear the Top Right Off My Head" (The Monkees, Originally Unissued, 1968)
"Come On In" (The Monkees, Originally Unissued, 1968)
"Seeger's Theme" (The Monkees, Originally Unissued, 1968)
"Lady's Baby" (The Monkees, Originally Unissued, 1968)
"Prithee" (The Monkees, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, 1969)
"Can You Dig It" - Peter's lead vocal originally unissued (The Monkees, 1968)
"Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" (The Monkees, Head, 1968)
"MGBGT" (The Monkees, B-side to "Heart & Soul," Live 1986)
"Gettin' In" (The Monkees, Pool It!, 1987)
"Since You Went Away" (The Monkees, Pool It!, 1987)
"Milkshake" (With Micky Dolenz & Michael Nesmith, Stranger Things Have Happened, 1994)
"Sea Change" (Stranger Things Have Happened, 1994)
"Giant Step" (Stranger Things Have Happened, 1994)
"Tender Is" (Stranger Things Have Happened, 1994)
"I Believe You" (The Monkees, Justus, 1996)
"I Remember Christmas" (With James Lee Stanley, A Beachwood Christmas, 2003)
"Saved by the Blues" (Shoe Suede Blues, Saved by the Blues, 2003)
"Slender Tender and Tall" (Shoe Suede Blues, Saved by the Blues, 2003)
"She Belongs To Me" (Shoe Suede Blues, Cambria Hotel, 2007)
"Vagabond John" (Live 2012)
"Little Girl" (The Monkees, Good Times!, 2016)
"Wasn't Born to Follow" (The Monkees, Good Times!, 2016)
"Early Morning Blues and Greens" (The Monkees, Live 2013)
"For Pete's Sake" (Shoe Suede Blues, Cambria Hotel, 2007)
"Daydream Believer" (With James Lee Stanley, Once Again, 2001)
"Higher and Higher" (Stranger Things Have Happened, 1994)
An Evening With The Monkees 2020