Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last Train to Clarksville

They called them the Prefab Four, the Monkees, a TV group that cashed in on the Beatles mop-top image in the mid-sixties. Actors who were hired to do a comedy show: Micky Dolenz, Michael NesmithPeter Tork, and Davy Jones

Davy was the cute one.

The show took off, and there was a string of top forty hits spawned by it. Nesmith could play guitar and Tork had some keyboard skills. Dolenz (cast as the drummer) didn't play. Jones had been a singer in Britain. The music director/producer Don Kirshner didn't think they had the wherewithal to actually lay down instrumental tracks on their records, so he hired studio musicians (see my post on The Wrecking Crew), over which the four sang. 

The songs were bubblegum-ish, but they had a beat, and they were part of the sixties soundtrack: "Last Train to Clarksville", "I'm A Believer", "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Daydream Believer" Sold millions and millions of records, and for a while, Daydream Believer was in my guitar repertoire. So sue me. 

Eventually, Nesmith forced a showdown, demanding that they be allowed to play their own instruments. Kirshner was fired; Dolenz learned drums, and the others tuned up their game to do just that. They toured at the end of the show's run, and broke up, got back together, some of them, for the reunion tour(s) and were still going at that when Jones died today from an apparent heart attack while visiting his horses at a ranch in Florida. 

Adios, Davy. 

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