click here It was a night of professionalism, with a few charming slip-ups for good measure. The shows were multimedia-based, with the music providing a soundtrack to spectacle. But what about the music, man? This burden has always weighed heavily on the Monkees, though maybe not all of them.
The Monkees in are too long in the tooth to cartwheel across the stage. They only resemble the Monkees of the days of romps if you squint. I showed my nearly five-year old daughter photos of the show, and she asked where Mike was. With the sparkly shoes. With the white hair. It was an evening for remembering lost youth, but also lost Monkee brothers.
Ever since, the song has been sung first by fans pulled from the crowd, and more recently by Dolenz, with room for the entire venue to join in. By now, the moment is familiar and expected. Dolenz and Mr. Jones were seasoned singers. As a child, Mr. But because studio musicians did the playing on the first two Monkees albums, the notion that they were not a real band persisted. Tork co-wrote some of them, and he shared lead vocals with Mr. The Monkees recorded for only three years before disbanding; their popularity faded after their TV show was canceled, and Mr.
Tork left the band in But the group enjoyed a revival in the s and reunited for numerous concerts and tours, although usually without Mr. He later formed a blues band, Shoe Suede Blues , with which he continued to perform and record until recently. Tork told The Courant, explaining his genre switch. Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born on Feb.
The family moved to Connecticut, where Peter graduated from high school in Storrs. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota, but left before graduating and moved to New York, where he performed in folk clubs in Greenwich Village and met another up-and-coming musician, Stephen Stills. In California, where both had relocated, Mr. But under the circumstances, they got the right guys. Mike was already a songwriter while the show was in production, yet the band was being handed songs — by other composers — to record. Did any of you resent that at any point? I wasn't much of a pop writer. I tended, and still do, toward country blues and lyrics with little moments in them — all pretty far off the pop songs of the '60s.
No resentment at all. I was hired to play a wacky drummer on a TV show. That's how I approached it, and to some degree, I still do. The Monkees, the way I looked at it, wasn't a band, it was a television show about a band. An imaginary band that existed only on that television show at that beach house, which was a set, and the adventures we had were imaginary, obviously. We would play these songs and say, "Yeah, that's a good song. Let's do it. Having great songs. That said, I wish we didn't have to go through the hassles we did to get to be musicians on the records.
I didn't have any desire to get rid of Don Kirshner.
Don had the magic touch. We just want to be the musicians. And we can bring something extra to these records and make them more fun for the audience. You bring the songs, we bring the fun.
Let's work together! A huff, at the time, was like a Smart Car now [laughs]. When we started producing our own ideas, we all would more or less agree. It was easy to arrive at who sang what song best. We improvised and made a lot of contributions. But in the studio, Mike and Peter certainly wanted to. Peter might tell you the story of going into one of the early sessions with his bass and they said, "What are you doing here? One of the first songs he submitted was "Different Drum," and they said, "That's not a Monkees tune" [laughs].
Eventually we had that big battle with Kirshner and the producers. We basically wanted to get some sort of control. Peter, not to stick with the resentment theme, but were you frustrated over the fact that the other three guys sang most of the songs? I did do the one song, "Your Auntie Grizelda," during the first two albums. On the second album, I had a few lines here and there, and I shared a lead vocal with Micky on "Words.
Did you know in advance that the creators of the TV show wanted you to be the One of the reasons I was able to play that character so well was that I'd been working on it for quite a while. From Headquarters on, we called all the musical shots. I think I'm not over-blowing my own horn when I say I had the broadest view of what a good arrangement is. If a song fell into a traditional format, if it came to us that way, we didn't have any arranging to do, except maybe what's going to be the opening lick.
But "Do we have an instrumental hook? How were the songs picked?
Also, were they ever written around the shows, or was it the other way around? The songs in the show weren't critical to the story lines, such as they were, and so almost any song would work in any show. And by the time we were producing the music ourselves, we were just using songs we liked. Mike, what impact did the success of the show have on you as a songwriter?
I fell into the folk scene early on because of the importance of the song and lyrics there and then followed that with some rock and roll and country efforts. When I got on the show, the pop community was strange to me and, by and large, didn't respond well to my songwriting or singing. The show didn't do anything to help that. I was always outside the main effort of the show's music.
I would've liked to have been more accepted as a pop song writer, but there was little I could do about it since I didn't know how to write a pop song. I love hearing other people sing my songs. Did you feel ignored or passed over when the Byrds, Dillards and other bands got credit for leading popular music in a country direction in , even though you'd already been writing and singing that sort of music with the Monkees?
I'm very comfortable with the music I made and when I made it. Micky, even though you're seen as the drummer in the Monkees, you started off as a guitarist. How did you get started?
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My first public appearance was at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. I was on a press junket for a TV series, Circus Boy , which was about a little kid in a circus who had a pet elephant. They put the elephant and me on a train, and we went across the country, doing press stops and public appearances.
I'd come out on stage with my little guitar and sing my songs, and the elephant would come on stage and do a bunch of tricks. So my first gig was opening up for an elephant [laughs].
But I started to get serious about classical guitar. I was learning Segovia stuff — I was only 12, but I was into it. I'd take my guitar to parties in high school, and I quickly discovered girls liked the Kingston Trio better than Segovia [laughs]. So I started learning folk music and some Peter, Paul and Mary. I went on the road with a couple of cover bands before the Monkees, mainly singing, but I'd pick up a guitar and play along. My Monkees audition piece was "Johnny B.
Goode" by Chuck Berry, which I still do in my show. Peter, you once said the live version of the band, based on the skills of each member, could have — and maybe even should have — been composed differently. Can you explain that? They should've been the rhythm section.