"I thank you. The banjo thanks you."
- Peter Tork
Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Shank Hall / May 4, 1997
"If it sometimes plays like a victory lap, it's one that's well-deserved, and while this isn't the stuff to win them new converts, The Mike & Micky Show proves no one was wrong for loving this band and their music, and longtime fans will certainly enjoy it."
Dolenz called a planned July return to touring for him and Nesmith "optimistic." "I think everybody's waiting for some sort of a drug … or vaccine. I'll be honest, I don't think I'm going to be too crazy about going out unless something of that nature happens."
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!
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!
And here's some footage from the recent run of concerts by Nez and the First National Band Redux at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California, thanks to Lisa Duclo:
Singer, songwriter, and pioneer, Michael Nesmith, will visit the GRAMMY Museum for an intimate discussion on his celebrated career and recent work, moderated by Scott Goldman. Following the discussion, Nesmith will perform live. Starting in the Texas folk scene in 1963, Nesmith quickly blossomed into a brilliant tunesmith during his time on the Emmy award-winning The Monkees. His melodic, country-tinged songs were regularly featured on the band’s multi-million selling albums and singles, but he heard a greater creative calling to find his own voice as a record maker. During 1968, Nesmith ventured to Nashville and formed the band the First National Band (pedal steel virtuoso Red Rhodes, bassist John London, and drummer John Ware). After being signed to RCA by A&R man Felton Jarvis, the band released a few critically acclaimed albums, including Magnetic South (1970), followed by Loose Salute (1970) and Nevada Fighter (1971), which spun off the chart hits “Joanne,” “Silver Moon,” “Nevada Fighter” and “I’ve Just Begun To Care (Propinquity).” In January 2018, Michael Nesmith sold out The Troubadour in West Hollywood, performing his First National music for the first time in four decades. Songs like “Different Drum” (a Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys), “Some of Shelly’s Blues” (covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and The Monkees’ classic, “Papa Gene’s Blues” filled the room with warmth and splendor. Nesmith will once again perform this music and share stories from his recent autobiography, Infinite Tuesday, while on tour in October 2019.
UPDATE 10/2/2019: Here is video of the performance portion from Michael's appearance last night at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The set list included "Different Drum," "Joanne," "Some of Shelly's Blues," "Silver Moon," and "Papa Gene's Blues." Nez was backed by the First National Band Redux.
And earlier today, the Grammy Museum tweeted about Michael's appearance:
Michael's familiar blonde Gretsch guitar (below, left) has been at his side since returning to the concert stage with The Monkees in 2012. It's not, however, the original blonde Gretsch that Michael owned in the 1960s, but a reproduction. His current blonde Gretsch guitar is a twelve string Country Classic I. It was custom made for him by Gretsch when he did a concert for them in the 1990s at the NAMM Show, a music products industry trade event. This was also the guitar used during recording sessions for the 1996 Monkees album, Justus.
The Gretsch sunburst guitar (below, right), reminiscent of the Gretsch Viking guitar Michael played in the 1960s, was given to Nez by Andrew Sandoval in 2013. Michael played both guitars during the 2018 and 2019 "Mike & Micky Show" tour. (And that's pedal steel extraordinaire Pete Finney in the background of the photo below!)
If you are wondering what happened to Michael's original blonde Gretsch, it was stolen in the 1970s (along with Michael's white Gibson guitar, most famously seen during the "Circle Sky" live sequence in Head). Nez spoke about his affection for these instruments on Facebook in 2010, as well as his desire to have them returned. "I know they are out there still and I miss them and would like to have them back after all these years. Whoever has ended up with them, please return them, no questions asked. They were and are an important part of my life."
Live in 2021