Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and recorded during two sessions at RCA Studios in Hollywood in August 1966, the original version of "Valleri" features Davy Jones on lead vocals.
Noted session musician Louie Shelton provided the ace guitar work, and he was joined on guitar by Wayne Erwin and Gerry McGee, along with Larry Taylor (bass), Billy Lewis (drums), and Gene Estes (tambourine).
Andrew Sandoval wrote the following about the first recorded version of "Valleri" in the More of The Monkees deluxe edition liner notes:
Another Boyce and Hart session on August 6 produced the similarly anthemic “Valleri.” As Bobby Hart remembers, “‘Valleri’ was specifically written for them. We actually wrote it in the car going up Mulholland from Woodrow Wilson and Laurel Canyon over to the house that [Don Kirshner] was renting in the suburbs.” Written at Kirshner’s request, “Valleri” followed one of Donnie’s formulas for success: using a girl’s name in the title line. “I knew with the right lyric line it would be a hit for The Monkees,” says Kirshner of the results. “Because every Valleri would buy it, and every girl would relate . . . I was very hot and high on getting a girl’s song, ‘cause the formula had worked for me with [Neil] Sedaka.”
Even so, Kirshner passed on “Valleri” as the group’s next single, and only after he exited The Monkees project was the song revived for a surefire hit. “It should have been the next single,” remarks Hart. “When they needed a single a couple singles down the line, they had us go back into the studio and re-cut. We couldn’t use the original for some unknown reason, but they let us go back in without credit and try to duplicate it. [The original recording] was a better version.”
Sandoval also wrote about the circumstances that led to the song being revived and officially released. The second attempt of "Valleri" became a hit in early 1968. From the liner notes of the 1994 CD release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
“Valleri” was The Monkees’ final Top 10 placing, and like many of their recordings, the song was featured on the group’s show far in advance of its official release. Notably, “Valleri” achieved near-legendary status when regional DJs who pirated the song from the television show, aired their homemade recordings, creating public demand for the song’s release. The main reason the song was not originally issued was The Monkees’ concern that all future tracks bear their collective production credit. Bobby Hart recalls . . . "We originally cut ‘Valleri’ just prior to the point when we were dismissed as producers. Over a year later Lester Sill came back to us and said that they wanted to recut ‘Valleri,’ but we couldn’t use the original track because we were the credited producers on it. They wanted us to go back in and make it sound as close to the original as possible and not take producer’s credit on it.”
In Memoriam: Michael Nesmith
Dolenz sings Nesmith - The EP