Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! along with the group's first-ever holiday collection Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
"As many of you are aware, Adam had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and although he had been making some small improvements over the last few days, Adam's condition was critical and he was ultimately unable to recover from COVID-19 complications," read a statement on April 2 provided to CNN. "He was truly a prolific talent and even more so, a loving and devoted father, son and friend."
Adam was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy. Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show for which he composed more than 100 songs. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as They Might Be Giants, America, and Robert Plant.
Good Times!, The Monkees' first album of all new material since 1996's Justus, was produced by Schlesinger and included his own composition, "Our Own World," along with a song co-written with Micky Dolenz, a send-up of an oft-used phrase utilized by Dolenz over the years, "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 in June 2016.
Schlesinger appeared onstage with The Monkees in New York City during the group's 50th Anniversary Tour, performing "I Was There" and "Steppin' Stone."
Micky Dolenz remembered Adam in an interview with WCBS FM. "He was such a great guy, a gentleman, and funny, and so smart. And obviously an incredible producer, writer, performer. I wrote a song with him on Good Times! I just can't believe it. That's by far the closest person to me that's been affected [by COVID-19] and I think about him all the time. What a loss."
Schlesinger was effusive in his praise of Dolenz in a 2016 interview with Fast Company when talking about the recording sessions for Good Times! "Micky was a real workhorse, and I think he did more hours in the studio than all the other guys, in total, because he sang most of the songs. He was a real trooper, and his voice is incredible – in most cases, when you’re working with older singers, you’re having to transpose things lower, and in Micky’s case, we’re actually having to transpose things higher, because he’s got this incredible range."
Adam's collaboration with The Monkees on Good Times! was seemingly a high point in his career. "They were all incredibly easy and fun to work with," he told Fast Company. "Everybody has the attitude of 'let us know what we can do to help - here are some ideas, take them or leave them.' They're very collaborative."
The Monkees' official website paid tribute to Adam Schlesinger after the announcement of his death, while also highlighting his work on Good Times! "Even the most optimistic Monkees fan couldn’t have guessed just how wonderful an effort Schlesinger would help put together. It wasn't just a comeback album, it was an instant classic that was – without question – the best thing the band had released since the '60s."
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, whose song "Me & Magdalena" proved to be a highlight from Good Times!, also commemorated Adam.
"I never got to meet Adam," Gibbard relayed during an at-home live stream concert after Schlesinger passed. "We had a lot of connective tissue - a lot of friends in common - but we never had a chance to meet. But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he was integral in picking 'Me & Magdalena' for The Monkees to record four years ago."
"I always thought as one does in life that you have plenty of time to say thank you, or I love you, or to give somebody a compliment or what have you, but that day obviously did not come," said Gibbard. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful to him for helping me realize a lifelong dream, which was to write a song that would be recorded by The Monkees, a band I grew up listening to."
Adam Schlesinger returned to the producer's chair for The Monkees on Christmas Party in 2018. Schlesinger co-wrote one of the standout tracks on the holiday collection, "House of Broken Gingerbread," with novelist Michael Chabon.
Adam was survived by his two daughters, Sadie and Claire, his girlfriend Alexis Morley, his parents Barbara and Stephen Schlesinger, and his sister Lauren.
Listen to the latest podcasts from Rhino, NPR's Fresh Air, Zilch, Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King, and Rolling Stone as they honor the life and accomplishments of Adam Schlesinger.
Michael Nesmith's Videoranch is now taking pre-orders for the upcoming 2-LP vinyl release of The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show, and as an added bonus Nez will personally sign your copy of the album!
Michael will also be chatting live with Jodi Ritzen on Sunday, May 17 at 8 pm ET. Tune in live on Jodi's Facebook page for this special event!
Thanks a lot to longtime Live Almanac contributor Al Bigley for submitting this article where Nez opens up about the end of The Monkees while also discussing the group's 1968 feature film, Head, still under the working title of Changes, and much more.
"I thank you. The banjo thanks you."
- Peter Tork
Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Shank Hall / May 4, 1997
The Monkees are the featured story in the upcoming June 2020 issue of Goldmine. The magazine is available via Amazon Kindle, but as of this posting, Amazon still lists the May edition as the most current. Goldmine's website happens to be offering their May issue (featuring Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on the cover) as a complimentary digital download. Keep an eye on these links for future availability. And thanks to Scott Nelson for advising the Live Almanac about The Monkees' latest entry in Goldmine!
UPDATE 4/27/2020: The June 2020 issue featuring The Monkees is now available to purchase digitally via the Kindle edition on Amazon.
UPDATE 5/28/2020: The issue is now available as a complimentary download! And you can read the featured interview with Micky Dolenz on Goldmine's website.
"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."
If you are fan of The Monkees' 1987 album, Pool It! (and even if you are not), this edition of the Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King podcast will be sure to please! Listen as host Mark Kleiner inquires about the seemingly long-lost second version of "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" with the song's co-writer Dick Eastman and chats with '80s Monkees manager David Fishof about record label interest for Pool It! Mark also speaks with former Rhino Records graphic artist Lisa Sutton, who discusses the album cover photo session, and finally, there's a revealing interview with the LP's producer, Roger Bechirian.
But wait, there's more! Mark also debuts the previously unheard demo for "Heart and Soul," the first single issued from Pool It!
The long-running British monthly music magazine, Record Collector, highlighted The Mike & Micky Show album in its April 2020 issue:
Below you can find more reviews of the album, and be sure to check back for updates!
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."
The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show, featuring performances from the duo's concerts recorded throughout March 2019, has debuted on the April 18, 2020 edition of Billboard! Many thanks to John Hughes of Rhino Records for emailing the Live Almanac with all of the chart numbers found below.
The album opens at #178 on the Billboard 200, which ranks the most popular albums of the week, as compiled by Nielsen Music, based on multi-metric consumption (blending traditional album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums).
Billboard Top Album Sales
The Mike & Micky Show has also landed at a lofty #13 on the Top Album Sales chart, which measures the week's top-selling current albums across all genres, based on physical and digital download sales data only (no streaming included).
Even more impressive, the album has debuted at #2 on the Top Internet Albums chart, which ranks physical albums ordered through Internet merchants, and #3 on the Current Pop Albums chart.
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith's upcoming summer tour has received a high recommendation in the April 2020 issue of Rolling Stone in a section titled "Rolling Stone Recommends," featuring their top pop culture picks, including films, music, podcasts, and documentaries:
Micky and Michael's latest concert tour, "An Evening With The Monkees," originally set for April 2020, has been rescheduled for this coming July and September as a result of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus.
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!
Micky Dolenz talks about coronavirus, "The Mike & Micky Show" live album, and more in new round of interviews (UPDATED 6/12/2020)
With the tour currently on hold, Dolenz is home like the rest of us, waiting to see what happens with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Given my normal lifestyle, I have been living out of my suitcase for years and this is the first time in I don’t know how long that I unpacked my suitcase completely and brought it back into the garage,” he said. “So, I’ve been going through drawers I haven’t looked at in years and spending some fun time at home. And I love cooking, so taking some classes on the internet and cooking every night. I’m also planting my garden, and this year I might actually be around for the harvest.”
The Micky D Cocktail
* 2 ounces Tito’s Vodka
* "An insinuation" of St. Germain
* A muddled orange in shaker . . . strain into a rocks glass
* Drink and smile
ALERT!! Join a live chat with Micky Dolenz & Michael Nesmith at 5 pm ET (UPDATE: Watch the full session now on YouTube)
On the day of the release of their brand new concert album, The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show, Micky and Michael will take part in a live Q&A session with fans, hosted by The Monkees' official Facebook page while also streaming on YouTube (see below).
The duo will be remembering Adam Schlesinger, the producer of the group's last two albums, Good Times! (2016) and Christmas Party (2018), who passed away this week from complications related to coronavirus, and much more, at 5 pm ET and 2 pm PT.
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."
Live in 2021