Recently I have been in contact with Tom Czarnota, co-author of the book Monkeemania: The True Story of The Monkees (1986). Tom has been kind enough to share a lot of photos that you can currently view in the 1968 Australian/Japanese tour section (and soon the 1988 Australian Tour page).
Tom also passed along some information about Michael Nesmith's concerts that took place in Australia in 1977. The tour was being conducted on the strength of the "Rio" single in the Australian charts, where it had gone Top 10. (Not to mention the historical significance of Nesmith's video work at this time.) The album from which it came, From a Radio Engine to a Photon Wing, had attained gold status in Australia, which Tom thinks meant sales of 20,000 or more at that time.
Nesmith arrived in Australia in November 1977 to perform 11 concerts. He was reunited with First National Band drummer John Ware for the tour, and most shows took place in 1,000-1,500 seaters. Here's a list of venues and cities, courtesy of a poster from Tom's collection:
Here are Tom's recollections about the show:
"I remember the following songs: Grand Ennui, Calico Girlfriend, Propinquity, Joanne, Carioca, Some of Shelly's Blues, Different Drum, Tomorrow and Me, Rio, Navajo Trail, Silver Moon, and Nadine as the encore song. It was a nice laid back concert, though the band sounded a bit more dynamic than the recording on 'Live at the Palais' which happened a few nights later. One young girl ran up on stage and gave Mike a hug, much to the disapproval of Mike's then wife Katherine, who seemed to be tour manager. There is a picture of this moment in the Monkeemania book."
The Live at The Palais album that Tom speaks of was released by Michael's company Pacific Arts in August 1978. Recorded during the tour in Melbourne, legend has it that Nesmith disliked the results, but he later re-released it on CD due to popular demand (with bonus tracks from separate 1981 and 1995 shows). Nez even took time to do a mock send-up of the album in his 1981 Elephant Parts video:
Tom also noted that Michael conducted several interviews during his visit to Australia:
"Mike also gave lots of radio and TV interviews, most of which focused on 2 things - the "Rio" film clip and his time with The Monkees. I remember two radio interviews which Mike seemed to quite enjoy. One interviewer brought up 'The Wichita Train Whistle Sings' and played fragments of 'Tapioca Tundra' as done by The Monkees and Wichita Train Whistle. Another interviewer on an our alternative rock music station knew Mike's solo career extremely well and did an hour long retrospective with him from The Monkees thru to 'Radio Engine.'"
Thanks to Tom Czarnota for all of the great information that inspired this blog post!
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