The Monkees completed production for their first and only motion picture, Head, with the filming of the "Circle Sky" concert scene at the Valley Music Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 17, 1968. They performed the Michael Nesmith original (seen below in video, complete with graphic images from the Vietnam War) several times for the cameras and the assembled crowd of four thousand fans.
What is the Monkeemobile all about? What was the idea behind this iconic vehicle? And eventually, what happened to the Monkeemobile?
The final episode of the first season of The Monkees, "Monkees on Tour," was a documentary that chronicled the group's appearance at Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona on January 21, 1967 during their earliest live performances:
"The primary purpose of the SoCal Music Hall of Fame is to honor, promote and commemorate California's musical heritage. Micky Dolenz of The Monkees is more than worthy of this coveted recognition."
This article, submitted by longtime friend of the Live Almanac Al Bigley (who is also co-host of the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast), features a conversation with The Monkees during a West Coast promotional tour for their 1968 feature film, Head. Peggy King reports in the December 7, 1968 edition of the Oakland Tribune on The Monkees' feelings about the end of their NBC television series, including what King calls their "famous Flying Saucer episode," Michael Nesmith's ruminations of future Monkees activities, discussion of a double album (that never came to fruition), filming the TV special that became 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, and more. A highly recommended read for Monkees fans!
This photo of The Monkees, previously seen on social media and various online outlets, was seemingly taken during this Oakland Tribune interview:
And don't forget to listen to the latest episode of the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion!
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!
UPDATE 4/16/2020: Justin has completed this project and has uploaded the entire 1968 Japanese concert. Thanks again, Justin! (Individual clips still appear below.)
The Monkees Live in Japan 1968 - Complete Show (Stereo Demix)
"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."
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!
Be sure to stop by and look around the fantastic Written In Our Hearts Facebook page where they recently shared this undated photograph of Davy Jones onstage in the 1960s:
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.
Paris is back in 2019 with co-host Ben Brown, and the duo produced a special in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock that aired on Labor Day Weekend on HCS internet radio. Most recently, Paris and Ben spoke with Bobby Hart:
Along with his songwriting partner Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart is responsible for penning some of The Monkees' most enduring songs, including "Last Train to Clarksville," "Steppin' Stone," and "Valleri." Arriving with determination and drive to the nascent Monkees project, the duo wrote and produced the soundtrack to the pilot episode, including singing the lead vocals, which were later replaced once the show was formally cast with Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter. Despite conflicts with Don Kirshner, the show's music supervisor, Boyce and Hart were retained, and with the help of their backing band, The Candy Store Prophets, Boyce & Hart went on to produce many of the early Monkees recording sessions. Their influence eventually waned once Kirshner was sacked and The Monkees gained control over their musical output in early 1967. However, each original Monkees album, with the exception of Head, contains Boyce & Hart tunes.
Tommy and Bobby went on to have a successful recording career on their own, making guest appearances on television shows and contributing scores to movie soundtracks. In the mid-1970s, they teamed up with Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, a project which led to concert tours, new music, and a television special. Boyce & Hart were celebrated with a full-length documentary in 2015 (co-produced by Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval), and that same year, Bobby published his autobiography. Paris and Ben intend to have Bobby back on their program to discuss more about The Monkees, Boyce & Hart, the Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart era, and much more.
Thanks to Paris for keeping everyone informed about his latest projects, and be sure to check out the archives of the Headquarters radio program here at The Monkees Live Almanac!
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.
The Monkees Live Almanac would like to wish a very happy birthday to legendary rock and roll/Monkees photographer Henry Diltz, who was born on this day in 1938 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Henry is also a musician, and was a member of the Modern Folk Quartet in the 1960s. While a member of MFQ, Diltz became interested in photography, met The Monkees, played on some of their recording sessions (that's Henry on banjo on "D.W. Washburn"), and took numerous pictures of the group. Henry was the official lensman at Woodstock and has photographed numerous album covers, including Morrison Hotel (The Doors) and the debut LP from Crosby, Stills & Nash.
In honor of Henry's birthday today, here's one of his photos taken during production of the second season Monkees episode, "Hillbilly Honeymoon," in September 1967:
"Hillbilly Honeymoon" eventually aired on NBC on October 23, 1967:
Happy Birthday, Henry Diltz! Read more about Henry and his legendary photographic work in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac (scroll down after clicking on the link)!