In the week leading up to the debut of The Monkees television series on NBC, Micky, Davy, Mike, and Peter took part in a cross country promotional tour that made stops in Chicago, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Los Angeles radio station KHJ staged perhaps the most ambitious event of the tour on September 11, 1966. Contest winners rode on a train to the coastal town of Del Mar, California, which had been renamed 'Clarksville' for the day by the town's mayor. Landing on the beach in two helicopters and dressed in their signature double-breasted shirts, The Monkees met approximately 400 winners of KHJ's radio contest. After the event, the group traveled by train with the contest winners back to Los Angeles. On one of the train cars, The Monkees gave their first true live public performance. Micky Dolenz remembered the day in an interview with Rhino Records co-founder Harold Bronson. "Because we'd been rehearsing now for a few months as a band, they set up these instruments in an empty baggage car on this train, and on the way back we were gonna perform for these kids, who didn't know who we were, on songs nobody had heard before, in a train going 80 miles an hour up the coast. So it was, 'Take the last train to Clarksville,' and my drums were falling all over - nobody thought to tie the drums down." Their set included Michael's "Papa Gene's Blues" and a cover of Baker Knight's "She's So Far Out She's In," a song that was later performed during the first Monkees tour in late 1966/early 1967 (and tracked, sans vocals, during the Headquarters album sessions in early 1967). An episode of the television series was also screened for the contest winners.
This piece, from the February 1968 issue of Monkee Spectacular, looks back on that day.