Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jane Badler!

You probably know Jane Badler as Diana on the mid-80s TV show "V" if you know her at all. I, however, am an eternal fan because she was "Shannon Reed" on the 1989-1991 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE series.
When the new M:I series premiered in the fall of 1988, actress Terry Markwell played Casey, the lone woman of the team. Her back-story was that she had helped out the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) when her fiance had been killed. She appeared in the first eleven episodes. In the 11th, "The Fortune," Casey is murdered by guest-star Barbara Luna. Shannon Reed is then asked to fill-in temporarily; by the end of that particular mission she is made a permanent replacement.

In real-life, Markwell wanted off the series, so the producers made the historical decision to actually have a spy killed and disavowed, then hired Badler.
The original 1988 cast with Terry Markwell
I don't know if it was timing or because Markwell was unhappy, but the remaining episodes with Jane Badler seemed much more fun and exciting than the first ten. Perhaps the producers realized that they had to write a stronger female role, and did so? Maybe Markwell, who retired from acting soon after leaving M:I, was not a strong enough actress for the role? All I know is, Jane Badler did a heck of a job in the role after Terry Markwell left. 
One of the best episodes from the second season has Shannon posing as a NASA scientist to try to ferret out a turn-coat on the space shuttle campus. Then, when she is preparing for a test flight, the spy actually causes the shuttle to lift off, with her on it! The trailer for the episode makes it look incredibly stupid (ala Spies In Space), but the story itself makes plenty of sense. Years before Sandra Bullock did it in GRAVITY, Jane Badler was convincing as a woman out in space trying hard not to lose her head. She owned that episode.

After V and M:I, Badler worked mostly in Australia as an actress and as a singer (she has recorded two albums, and sang in atleast two M:I episodes). She was recently a guest-star on the updated V series, but I unfortunately didn't get a chance to watch that.

Happy Birthday, Jane Badler! 
with co-star Phil Morris

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Mike and Davy!

December 30 is the birthday of both Robert Michael Nesmith AND David Thomas Jones. Mike was born on December 30, 1942 and Davy followed three years later.

According to history, more than 400 young men tried out for The Monkees' casting call. How odd is it that *two* of the guys who made it share the same birthday? Of course, Davy Jones was already contracted Screen Gems records, so he was already in. But then producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson chose Mike. And this is why the Monkees' fourth album was called Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. Until I knew that Davy and Mike were *both* Capricorns, I though Davy was getting the short-end of the stick.
Did you see what I did there? I made a short joke.

Although Davy and Mike shared a birthday, that's about all they shared. Mike was tall and Texan. Davy was short and British. Mike was "the musician" of the group. Davy was the "Broadway actor" of the group (he  played The Artful Dodger in OLIVER! before joining the Monkees). Mike was "the leader." Davy was mostly just a "follower," not wanting to rock the boat.
 Oddly enough, because Micky sang most of the songs and Peter didn't sing almost any, Mike and Davy were responsible for many of the best Monkees songs.
Don't believe me? Well, Davy sang lead on I Wanna Be Free, Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), A Little Bit Me, Forget That Girl, Shades of Gray, Daydream Believer, Cuddly Toy, Star Collector, and Valleri.

Mike sang (and usually had a hand in writing) Papa Gene's Blues, Sweet Young Thing, You Told Me, You Just May Be The One, The Door Into Summer, What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round, and Listen To The Band.
David Bowie changed his name because his birth name was "Jones."

Michael Nesmith's mother was a secretary who created "Liquid Paper."

Davy Jones, of course, passed away on February 29, 2012. I still can't believe he's gone. He's eternally young and fun on the endless reruns of THE MONKEES. And of course, with all the great music.  

Happy Birthday, Mike Nesmith! 
May you enjoy many many more!

Happy Birthday, Davy Jones! 
We miss you, sir.... 

"You Just May Be The One" was written by Mike and recorded for the HEADQUARTERS album in March, 1967. 

"Daydream Believer" went to Number One in the US the week of Dec 2, 1967. Another reason to make December Monkee Month! It was written by former Kingston Trio member Jon Stewart.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas....

This song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine for the 1944 movie, Meet Me In St. Louis.  The film stars Judy Garland as one of the daughters of a family getting ready to move out of St. Louis just as the 1904 World's Fair is coming to town. The authors were told to write a song that was *not* overly celebratory. According to Hugh Martin's book, The Boy Next Door, one original lyric went as follows,
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past / Have yourself a merry little Christmas / Pop that champagne cork / Next year we may all be living in New York."
However, according to Martin, Judy Garland, her co-star Tom Drake, and the director, Vincente Minnelli, all objected to such depressing lyrics. Martin eventually did change these lines, changing "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" to "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight".

In 1957 Frank Sinatra recorded his Christmas album, A Jolly Christmas. He asked Martin to change "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." Martin changed it to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough." Since then, most versions you hear include this lyric instead of the original.

However, I'm a fan of the original, so-called "darker" version. I haven't put much emphasis on Christmas being this ultimate day of happiness since I was a kid. It is a wonderful time of the year, sure, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of everything. As I got older, I began to appreciate the season and not The Day. Specifically, as I have gotten older and seen my loved ones spread out around the world, I truly appreciate the "we have to muddle through somehow" sentiment. This touches me more than a lyric about putting another shiny ornament on a tree does. This year, especially, this sentiment hits close to home.

So here's Judy Garland singing the original, from Meet Me In St. Louis, directed by her soon-to-be husband, Vincente Minnelli.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, everybody.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Monkees "'Riu Chiu"

During the two years that THE MONKEES was on television, they only did one holiday-themed episode: "The Christmas Show," which first aired in the US on December 24, 1967. It's about the Monkees being hired to baby-sit spoiled rich kid (Butch Patrick) while his aunt takes a holiday cruise. The boys at first try to entertain him and then, when they realize he has none, they try to instill a little holiday spirit in him. Butch Patrick, famous as "Eddie" from THE MUNSTERS, resists their efforts. The boys keep at him, however, and he eventually sees the error of his ways, letting a little more love into his heart. 

The episode is pure Monkees: an abundance of slap-stick with a thick layer of heart. They mean well. You can certainly see that at this point the show was trying to practice what it preaches: money isn't everything (they lose the money they get for the gig by paying various doctor bills and department store damages), but Love is. Also, Love saves the day. It still holds up, some 40 plus years later.

The episode ends with a beautiful a capella version of a 16th century Spanish song, "Riu Chiu." I researched this song and it is about the birth of Jesus. I have never heard this song before or since, but evidently it is a well-known folk or chorus song. It's a beautiful tune, and with this performance alone doubters should stop hating the Monkees. They are obviously singing here, and singing well. 

If you want to read the lyrics or see a translation, visit this Tradition In Action homepage. 

Happy Christmas! 
God Bless Us, Everyone!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cheril Kay Burbage (1934-2013)

My mother passed away last night. She was 79 years young.

She grew up the eldest of seven children. Her father told her that she was unattractive (homely, I believe was the word she would use when she told us the story) so she had better go to school. He thought she had better become a music teacher to support herself because she would die an old maid.

My grandfather was an idiot. 

My mother did go to college and studied music; not to become a music teacher, but to get away from her parents. She was doing fine on her own until she met a friend of her cousin's while she was working as a waitress at a Howard Johnson's restaurant.Those crazy kids fell in love and decided to marry as soon as he was out of the service and she had graduated. However, her father heard about their engagement and decided to stop paying the bills. Norman suggested that they get married earlier so his GI benefits would kick in and finish paying for her school. They were married on Groundhog Day February 2, 1957. According to my mother, *her* mother told people they moved the wedding up because my mother was pregnant.

My sister Connie was born in March, 1958. Just in case you're keeping track. She was followed by my other sister JoAnne in August 1959. After a few years to catch their breaths my brother Brad was born in February 1963. And the way my dad tells it, he was so happy to have a boy that by the time I came along, he seriously didn't care what I was, one way or another! When I "bookended" two girls and two boys he said he was the happiest man on Earth.

By the time I was old enough to go to school, my mother was getting her Masters in education. She eventually became a teacher and taught elementary school. She was a teacher for more than twenty years.

Growing up surrounded as she had been by small minds filled with racism and anti-semitism, she embraced friends of all creeds and colors, and taught her children to do the same.

My mother loved music. Although she did not want to teach it, she did play the piano and insisted that all of us play some musical instrument. I played the clarinet and then the violin through junior high school. She also had all sorts of musical albums around the house. I learned about Frank Sinatra, Mitch Miller, Tom Lehrer, Rogers & Hammerstein, Victor Borge, and countless other groovy acts besides Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, and Gilbert & Sullivan.

My mother was a veracious reader. She read constantly and wanted all of us to know books as our friends. She taught me how to read personally, and I still remember the very first book "we" ever read together. It was about Casey The Horse.

My mother was a strong female role model. She helped my two sisters to grow up to be independent. And she tried to make my brother and I appreciate strong, intelligent women.

When I came back to the United States in 2001 my mother was beginning to exhibit a mild case of dementia. In the past twelve years it got progressively worse. It never got to the point where she did not recognize me or my siblings, but she *did* forget who my wife and daughter were. Several years ago she had a long conversation with my wife about living in Japan, then told her, "My son is married to a Japanese woman. You should all get together." That about broke my heart.

My mother finally started to forget to eat and drink. She was never a big woman, and never had much of an appetite. She did like good food, but not much of it. Recently she was never hungry, and forgot to eat and drink regularly. She developed severe dehydration several times in the past few years. When I last saw her at Thanksgiving she was admitted into the hospital because she had fainted due to dehydration. She rallied for the past few days, but last night, after nearly 80 years of adventure, her body simply gave up.

Good-bye, Mom. We'll miss you.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"The Being Known As Wonder Girl...."

art by Mike Allred
I don't know if I first heard the song "Randy Scouse Git" by The Monkees on their TV series or as a song  on their third album, Headquarters. I just remember listening to it and being surprised to catch the phrase, "the being known as Wonder Girl is speaking, I believe..." I was a big fan of the DC Comics' super-hero group The Teen Titans, and Wonder Girl is a member of that group. I, of course, assumed that Micky was singing about *this* Wonder Girl.
The Monkees circa summer 1967
The Teen Titans made their debut in The Brave And The Bold #54 (June 1964) as the trio of Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad. This one-and-done story was a hit, so a year later the trio was joined by Wonder Girl for their first appearance as Teen Titans in The Brave And The Bold #60 (June 1965). Writer Bob Haney added her to make the trio an actual team (instead of long-established Green Arrow side-kick Speedy), which added a sense of fun to the three boys. However, there was one problem: Wonder Girl was originally Wonder Woman as a girl! Much like Superboy is just stories of Superman as a boy, there was no way that Wonder Girl could actually co-exist with Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash while her adult self was attending JLA meetings with Batman, Aquaman, and the Flash!
art by Dan Jurgens
Eventually the writers and editors moved to correct their error. In Teen Titans #22, Marv Wolfman gave the details: Wonder Woman had found a baby in an apartment on fire. Her parents were dead and all identifying papers were burned. So Wonder Woman took the girl to Paradise Island, where she was adopted by Queen Hippolyta. She grew up and was given super-strength by the Amazons. Eventually, she became Wonder Girl and followed in the footsteps of her "sister."
art by Nick Cardy
Unfortunately, several years later DC Comics decided that Wonder Woman hadn't existed at that time, so Wonder Girl became Troia instead. Eventually her original origin was re-established, so never mind. Then Wonder Girl was "killed" but got better a few years later. So never mind about that, either. Finally, DC re-booted their entire universe, and the being known as Wonder Girl no longer exists at all. If it makes anyone feel any better, there is no Kid Flash, Aqualad, or Speedy, either. It's kind of a lonely comics universe right now.
art by George Perez
As for the song "Randy Scouse Git" (British slang for "Drunken Horny Idiot"), Micky wasn't really writing about the the Teen Titans, but you probably already guessed that. In the book The Monkees author Andrew Sandoval writes, "Throughout the evening, Michael, Micky, Peter, and Chip (Douglas, the producer) run through a new song of Micky's that was written during and about his recent trip to London. Micky: 'It was the morning after The Beatles had thrown us a party at some club. I had some girl with me and my friend was in the room and we were just sittin' around. I was literally just making it up as I went along. It's not very significant but mentions The Beatles, and it mentions this girl that I was with at the time who later on was to become my first wife. She's the girl in the limousine...Well, I'd written the song in England and when I got back we were just sitting around in the studio doing Headquarters and I started playing it. I don't recall specifically how we managed to get the arrangement together, but it was a pretty collaborative effort at the time with Chip Douglas.'" That girl became Micky's wife, Sarah Juste. So she was his Wonder Girl, for sure.

The video features probably the most famous 2nd season "set piece" of blue lines around various other rainbow lines. Besides being seen here, it was also uased in the "Daydream Believer" video.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lynda Day George!

Tomorrow Dec 11 is Lynda Day George's birthday. The actress most famous as spy "Casey" in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE on seasons six and seven (1971-1973) was born in 1944 in Texas.

Lynda Day George was the first actress I ever knew from MISSION, as I started watching the show in its last season. In high school I had a photo of the leads from the last year on my wall. It wasn't until I was in college and happened across reruns of the original MISSION that I first learned about Barbara Bain, Lee Meriwether, Lesley-Ann Warren, and Barbara Anderson, the previous female spies. Now that I have seen all seven seasons, I think Barbara Bain (seasons 1-3) had the best episodes, but I will always have a soft pot in my heart for Lynda.

Happy Birthday, Lynda Day George! 

Here's an extended scene of Lynda from the last season episode, KIDNAP. In this episode IM leader Jim Phelps has been kidnapped and held for ransom. The rest of the team has to acquire a bit of evidence that is locked in a bank's safe deposit box...so Lynda poses as a rich widow with asthma in order to break in. You can catch a bit of her Texas twang while she's talking.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville"

There is an interesting story about "Last Train to Clarksville," the Monkees' first Number One hit it the US. Writers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart came up with the song in the summer of 1966. In The Monkees by Andrew Sandoval,  Hart is quoted as saying, "As I was pulling into my carport I was punching the radio stations and I heard just the tail end of "Paperback Writer" for the first time....I thought they were saying, 'take the last train....' to something. Then of course a couple of days later I heard the whole song and  I realized it wasn't about a train....So, I just had it in the back of my mind. Then we were coming down to the end of producing the first album and we needed another song or two. So I said I had this idea and Tommy and I got together and did it really quickly. "

The song was released on August 16, and by the week of November 5, 1966 it was Number One.

When I was a kid I was not a huge fan of this song; maybe because they played it all the time. I liked more of the Monkees' less popular songs. Now, though, I really like it. Did you ever happen to notice that it's about a guy meeting up with his girlfriend before he gets shipped off, presumably to Vietnam? It's actually a pretty deep song about loneliness, duty, and love. Give it a listen.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Helaine Henning 1965-2005

 Today is the anniversary of the passing of my good friend Helaine. It seems odd to me to think about her as being gone. She was never very good at writing letters or keeping in touch, so it's almost as if she's still out there, just never taking the time to pick up the phone or put pen to paper. Typical Helaine. I know it's ridiculous, but every time I hear a Steeley Dan song I think of her. Or when I hear most Prince songs. Or when I see cheesy horror movies like Poltergeist or The Thing. Or dozens of other things.

I would have thought that as I get older and more people I know or respected or loved shuffle off this mortal coil, that dealing with death would become easier. Yet somehow, it doesn't. Is that good, or bad? I'm reminded of that famous line from The Wizard of OZ: "Now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking."

Here's to you, Helaine. Hope you have the high Space Invaders score in Heaven.

RIP Helaine Henning 
Three of the women I love most in the world, circa 1995

Soon after Helaine died I happened across this song by one of my favorite singers, John Mellencamp. It's a remake of a 1963 song recorded by Skeeter Davis. I had read that it was written from someone who had lost someone, and used that pain to write a love song. (Sylvia Dee, who had lost her father, wrote it with Arthur Kent). Listening to it, it *sounds* like a mournful song, and not just a "s/he broke up with me" song. Now, I can't hear it without missing Helaine. I deleted it off my itunes library because I just can't stand to hear it if I'm not ready for it. It's beautiful, and oh, so sad....

Friday, December 6, 2013

All About Eve (Best Picture 1950)

All About Eve is probably the quintessential drama from the golden age of Hollywood. It has wonderfully scripted characters, a terrific plot, and an engrossing narrative. It stars Bette Davis in one of her best-known roles, as Margo Channing, reigning diva of Broadway. Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, an ingenue who is brought into the heady realm of Broadway and ends up causing all sorts of waves. 
The film begins with Eve about to win an award for acting, and George Sanders as critic Addison DeWitt begins to tell us "all about eve." Then the narration is picked up by Celeste Holm, who plays Margo's best friend, Karen Richards. She is married to Margo's favorite playwright, Lloyd Richards (played by Hugh Marlowe.) The last main character is a producer, Bill, played by Gary Merrill. Bill is not producing the play that Margo is currently in, but he is her boyfriend slash fiance. Karen brings Eve backstage to meet Margo one night after a performance. They all take an immediate liking to star-struck, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Eve, and Margo ends up hiring Eve as her secretary. She becomes Margo's confidante and constant companion. However, when Eve starts wearing Margo's older dresses and calling Bill "on behalf" of Margo, Margo gets angry. The last straw is when Bill and Eve spend too much time together to suit Margo's jealousy. The two women have a falling out, even as the producer of the play makes Eve Margo's under-study. Karen innocently helps Eve actually go on-stage by creating a reason for Eve to be late to the theatre. Eve gets a taste of adulation from an audience, and she begins to fight for more.
Part of the charm of the film is in the way the story unfolds, literally. One character's action causes an unimagined re-action from someone else until we eventually go full circle and see Eve win the award from the first scene. You can watch a different character each time you watch it and notice something new. I don't want to spoil too much of the story for you if you have not seen it, but I will try to give you an example of what I mean. At the awards ceremony we only see Karen, Addison, and Margo as we wait for Eve to win her award. As the flashback is shown, there is a possibility that Margo and Bill have broken up, and Karen and Lloyd have gotten a divorce. Is this why we don't see them at the beginning? This is a nice touch that you wouldn't notice the first time you watch it. 
One of the themes of the film is "What price fame?" Margo has it, yet seems on the verge of losing it; Eve doesn't have it at the beginning, but wants it and seems willing to do almost anything to get it. The flip side of this is "What is happiness?" At the beginning Margo believes "fame = happiness", but by the end of the movie she no longer thinks this (as I am sure you would guess!). Another theme is femininity, and how it affects relationships. Bill is several years younger than Margo, who is in all aspects a diva. With the addition of the younger, more beautiful Eve to the group Margo begins to lose her self-confidence regarding her beauty. Margo believes that Bill is interested when Eve throws herself at him; Bill, however, tells her in no uncertain terms that Eve is not his type. He and Margo fight, but it's clear to everyone (except maybe Eve and  Margo) that he really does love her, not Eve, in spite of Margo not being as beautiful or classically attractive as Eve is! Similarly, Karen and Lloyd fight, but it's clearly a mature and loving relationship that Eve absolutely cannot understand.
The film is famous for several reasons, not least of which is Bette Davis. She seems to be portraying herself in several scenes; her cattiness and self-confidence was, or atleast became, a huge part of who "Bette Davis" was as a celebrity. Plus she really was married to Gary Merrill, so it was fun to watch them interact on screen, too. (They married after making this film together.) Although the film is called All About Eve, it really should have been called All About Margo, as she is the soul of the film and everything revolves around her.
All About Eve is also famous for getting a record-setting 14 Academy Award nominations, of which it won six, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders). Both of its main actresses (Davis and Baxter) were nominated, as were both of its supporting actresses (Holm, and Thelma Ritter as Margo's dresser). This is the second year for Joseph Mankiewicz to win for both Best Screenplay and for Best Director. This is the only time the same man won both awards two years in a row.  
Bette Davis and Thelma Ritter

If you're interested in a slice of life of actors and Broadway, you will enjoy this film. Even if you are not interested in that subject matter, the story and acting are enough to keep your interest. By the way, Marilyn Monroe makes a very striking appearance as an up-and-coming starlet in this film. So if you're a Marilyn fan, you should see this film. Really, if you like movies, this is one of those films that you should see, just because.
All About Eve
*Academy Award Best Picture of 1950*
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Directed  by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Here's the trailer for the Blue-Ray release.
Funny how Marilyn Monroe gets top billing over Gary Merrill and Celeste Holm,
who are both on screen MUCH longer than Marilyn is! 

Also Nominated:
(in alphabetical order)
Born Yesterday
Father of the Bride
King Solomon's Mines
Sunset Boulevard
Well I have seen *most* of these films. I haven't seen Father of the Bride or King Solomon's Mines. Bride stars Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. It was remade recently with Steve Martin; I didn't see that one, either. Solomon stars Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger; I went to borrow this at the library but it was not available. Born Yesterday won Judy Holliday the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Broderick Crawford's ditzy girl-friend who smartens up via William Holden's tutoring. Holden also was hanging out on Sunset Boulevard, being a gigolo to Gloria Swanson. They were both nominated, but neither won. Also worth mentioning is Harvey, which won Josephine Hull the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as James Stewart's aunt. You may also recognize her as one of Cary Grant's murderous aunts in Arsenic And Old Lace.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paul Norris RIP (1914-2007)

graphic by Rob Kelly (art by Paul Norris)
 On December 5, 2007, the creator of Aquaman, Mr. Paul Norris, passed away. He was 93 years young.

Paul Norris was a staff artist at National Comics in 1941 when he was assigned a new back-up strip in the pages of MORE FUN COMICS #73. Norris had already made something of a name for himself by illustrating The Sandman and Sandy, the Golden Boy. Well, in this issue Mr. Norris made history! Aquaman made his debut in this issue, cover-dated November 1941. And although this was before the United States had entered World War II, Aquaman was already protecting refugees from Nazis!

Norris only stayed on the character he co-created for less than a year, but he set the tone and style of the character that has endured for more than seventy years.

I thought I had a copy of the whole story, but I could not find it to scan it for this article. So I'm including pages I *could* find. And I am now intent on tracking down a reprint copy of this issue! 

I did not know that Paul Norris was born in Greenville, Ohio. I've been to that town quite a few times! Next time I go I will have to visit the city hall and try to get them to create a real Aquaman museum or something!

Rest in Peace, Paul Norris
 ...and thank you! 

For another point of view on Mr. Norris' passing, please read my buddy Rob's Paul Norris obit on The Aquaman Shrine from 2007.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Monkees First Concert 12-3-66

...Continuing our Monkee Month, today is the anniversary of the very FIRST Monkees concert: December 3, 1966 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

When The Monkees premiered on TV in the fall of 1966, there were plans for NBC-TV's recording company, Screen Gems, to release their music. However, because the four leads were so busy actually filming the series, only the vocals belonged to them (and sometimes not even then; the background vocals were not always the boys). Famously, Glen Campbell was one of their initial guitarists.

However, as soon as they were making actual music, the critics started arguing that the band was "The Pre-Fab Four." To begin to "own" their own identities, the four began to practice every night after they had completed filming on the series. Because they had no actual shared musical history, the group went "Off Broadway" to debut their show; hence the trip to Honolulu.

The show was a huge success, and the surviving members are still touring to this day.

Thank you, Monkees!
Heres' the last episode of their first season, The Monkees On Tour. There is some fun concert footage, from when the concert tour went to Phoenix.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December is MONKEES Month!

Because of three very important events that occurred in the history of the super-group The Monkees in the month of December, we are going to be celebrating the group ALL MONTH LONG!

First of all, a brief introduction. When The Beatles hit big (they were huge, by the way) they made a movie called A Hard Day's Night. This Richard Donner film about the daily lives of pop stars was also a huge success. Producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider decided to come up with a similar idea for US television. So on September 8, 1965 they placed an ad in Daily Variety for an open audition for musicians and singers for acting roles. Eventually they chose David Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith. The series The Monkees premiered in September 1966 on NBC-TV, and the world would never be the same.

The Monkees recorded as a pseudo-real rock band and eventually became a real presence in the musical world. They had a dozen popular songs and three Number One USA songs: Last Train to Clarksville, Daydream Believer, and one of my all-time favorite songs, I'm A Believer. It was originally written by Neil Diamond (check out *his* version of this song here if you're a Neil Diamond fan) but the Monkees made it their own. It premiered on The Monkees TV show and was released in the fall of 1966; it hit the top spot in December 1966 and was Number One for seven weeks, making it in some lists I've seen the Number One Hit of 1966.