Saturday, September 19, 2009

"A World Without Love"

"A World Without Love" is a song that was recorded by the English duo Peter and Gordon and released as their first single in February 1964, reaching #1 in the UK Singles Chart in April. The song was written by Paul McCartney and attributed to Lennon/McCartney. This song was never released by the Beatles and no known recording of the song by the group survives. The Peter and Gordon single included "If I Were You" written by the duo. It was later included on the duo's debut album in the UK, and in the US on an album of the same name. In June 1964, "A World Without Love" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Single by Peter and Gordon
B-side: "If I Were You"
Released: February 28, 1964 (UK), April 27, 1964 (US)
Format: 7"
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios: January 21, 1964
Genre: Pop
Length: 2:41
Label: Columbia DB7225 (UK), Capitol 5175 (US)
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: Norman Newell


"It's Only Love" Lyrics

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

As Released by the Beatles (1965)

I get high when I see you go by, my oh my
When you sigh my my inside just flies, butterflies.

Why am I so shy when I'm beside you?
It's only love and that is all
Why should I feel the way I do?
It's only love and that is all
But it's so hard loving you.

Is it right that you and I should fight, every night
Just the sight of you makes night-time bright, very bright.

Haven't I the right to make it up girl?
It's only love and that is all
Why should I feel the way I do?
It's only love and that is all
But it's so hard loving you.

Yes, it's so hard loving you, loving you - ooo.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Bony Moronie"

"Bony Moronie" is Larry Williams' third single, which has been covered many times, including a version translated into Spanish re-named "Popotitos." Williams' original peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #4 on the U.S. R&B chart. The song was performed live by the Beatles from 1957 to 1961.

Among the many artists who have covered the song are John Lennon for his 1975 album, Rock 'n' Roll, The Who as a live performance included on their 1994 album Thirty Years of Maximum R&B, Dr. Feelgood on their 1974 album, Down by the Jetty and Julie Covington for the 1977 Amnesty International benefit show The Mermaid Frolics.


* #4 (U.S. Billboard R&B)
* #14 (U.S. Billboard Hot 100)
* #45 (B-side (Billboard Hot 100))
* #11 UK Singles Chart

Single by Larry Williams
B-side: "You Bug Me Baby"
Released: 1957
Format: 7" single
Genre: Rock and roll
Label: Sepciality 615 (U.S.), London HLU 8532 (UK)
Writer(s): Larry Williams


"Only a Northern Song" Lyrics

by George Harrison

Original Manuscript (1967)

(1) If you're listening to this song
You may think the words are going wrong
But they're not. He wrote it like that

(2) If you're listening late at night
You may think the band is not quite right
But they are - they just play it like that

It doesn't really matter what chords I play
What words I say or time of day it is
As it's only a northern song

(3) If you think the harmony is a little dark
And out of key. You're correct -
There's nobody there -

As Released by the Beatles (1969)

If you're listening to this song
You may think the chords are going wrong,
But they're not, we just wrote it like that.

When you're listening late at night
You may think the band are not quite right
But they are, they just play it like that.

It doesn't really matter what chords I play
What words I say or time of day it is
As it's only a Northern song.

It doesn't really matter what clothes I wear
Or how I fare or if my hair is brown
When it's only a Northern song.

If you think the harmony
Is a little dark and out of key
You're correct, there's nobody there.

And I told you there's no-one there.

... Make it...

December 25, 1962 - Star-Club, Hamburg, Germany

The first show to have ever been recorded of the Beatles in Germany, starting off with "Be Bop A Lula," featuring Fred Fascher (brother of club owner Horst Fascher) on lead vocals:

"I Saw Her Standing There":

Horst Fascher on lead vocals for "Hallelujah, I Love Her So":

"Red Hot" (longest version available yet):


"Kansas City/Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!":

"Shimmy Like Kate":

"Red Sails in the Sunset":

A rare live performance of a Lennon/McCartney original, "Ask Me Why":

"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)":

"Twist and Shout":

"To Know Her Is To Love Her":

"Mr. Moonlight":

"A Taste of Honey":

"Falling In Love Again":

"I'm Talking About You":

"Roll Over Beethoven":

"Long Tall Sally":

"I Remember You":

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"A Taste of Honey"

"A Taste of Honey" is a pop standard written by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow. It was originally an instrumental track (or recurring theme) written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play A Taste of Honey (which was also made into a film with the same name in 1961). Both the original and a cover by Herb Alpert in 1965 earned the song Grammy Awards. A vocal version of the song, first recorded by Lenny Welch, became popular when it was recorded by The Beatles in 1963.

Instrumental versions

The original recorded versions of the song ("A Taste of Honey", "A Taste of Honey (refrain)" and "A Taste of Honey (closing theme)" appeared on Bobby Scott's 1960 album, also titled A Taste of Honey, on Atlantic Records (Atlantic 1355). After being used in the film, the composition won Best Instrumental Theme at the Grammy Awards of 1962.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass recorded the most popular instrumental version of this song with a a cover on their 1965 album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. This recording spent five weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart, reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and won three awards including Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1966.

Martin Denny and The Victor Feldman Quartet each scored minor hits in 1962 with their covers.

Acker Bilk released a version in the UK in January 1963, reaching #16 in the UK Singles Chart.

Paul Desmond recorded it on his album Glad to be Unhappy in 1963.

Trini Lopez included "A Taste of Honey" on his 1965 Reprise Records LP The Love Album.

Vocal versions

Lenny Welch recorded the first vocal version. It was released as a single in September 1962 on the Cadence label and included on his 1963 album Since I Fell for You. This version also credits Lee Morris as a writer but it is not known if it was he who provided the lyrics. This credit does not appear on any covers of the song, with only Marlow/Scott credited.

The Beatles performed the song in their live repertoire from 1962, adopting Lenny Welch's adaptation, slightly changing the lyrics in the chorus. A version from this time was released in 1977 on the album Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962. As the instrumental version by Acker Bilk was popular in the UK at the time, the song was chosen to be recorded for their 1963 debut album Please Please Me. The Beatles also performed "A Taste of Honey" on many BBC radio shows, including Here We Go, Side by Side and Easy Beat. In 1967, Paul McCartney would write “Your Mother Should Know” based on a line taken from the screenplay of the same name.

Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her debut solo album The Barbra Streisand Album, released in 1963.

Tony Bennett reached #94 in the US with a vocal version in 1964.

Carola recorded a popular Finnish version, "Hunajainen", in 1965.

Allan Sherman recorded a parody version called "A Waste of Money".

Television and film

The original instrumental version appears on the soundtrack to the 1961 film of the same name.

The Rascals and Vincent Gallo recorded the song on the soundtrack of the 1998 film LA Without a Map.

The song is used for the theme of the UK comedy series Hardware.

Song by Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass
Album: Whipped Cream and Other Delights
Released: April 1965 (LP); 1990 (A&M Records CD); March 2005 (Shout! Factory CD)
Recorded: 1965
Genre: Jazz; Instrumental pop
Length: 2:43
Label: A&M Records; Shout! Factory
Writer: Bobby Scott/Ric Marlow
Producer: Herb Alpert; Jerry Moss

Song by The Beatles
Album: Please Please Me
Released: March 22, 1963 (mono), April 26, 1963 (stereo)
Recorded: February 11, 1963
Genre: Rock and roll
Length: 2:01
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Bobby Scott/Ric Marlow
Producer: George Martin


"It Won't Be Long" Lyrics

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

As Released by the Beatles (1963)

It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah)
Till I belong to you

Every night when everybody has fun
Here am I sitting all on my own

It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah 9yeah)
Till I belong to you

Since you left me I'm so alone (you left me here)
Now you're coming, you're coming on home (now you're coming on home)
I'll be good like I know I should (yes, you're coming on home)
You're coming home, you're coming home

Every night the tears come down from my eye
Every day I've done nothing but cry

It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah)
Till I belong to you

Well since you left me I'm so alone (you left me here)
Now you're coming, you're coming on home (now you're coming on home)
I'll be good like I know I should (yes, you're coming on home)
You're coming home, you're coming home

So every day we'll be happy, I know
Now I know that you won't leave me no more

It won't be long yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
It won't be long yeah (yeah)
Till I belong to you - ooo.

John Lennon's Record Collection: Gary "U.S." Bonds - Quarter to Three

Part of this melody ended up in Lennon's song "Meat City" on the Mind Games LP in 1973.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Blue Suede Shoes"

"Blue Suede Shoes" is a rock and roll standard written and first recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955. The 12-bar blues is considered one of the first rockabilly (rock and roll) records and incorporated elements of blues, country and pop music of the time. The song was part of the Beatles' live repertoire from 1957 to 1962.


Johnny Cash planted the seed for the song in the fall of 1955, while Perkins, Cash, Elvis Presley, and other Louisiana Hayride acts toured throughout Texas and the South. Cash told Perkins of a black airman whom he had met when serving in the military in Germany. He had referred to his military regulation air shoes as "blue suede shoes." Cash suggested that Carl write a song about the shoes. Carl replied, "I don't know anything about shoes. How can I write a song about shoes?"

When Perkins played a dance on December 4, 1955, he noticed a couple dancing near the stage. The girl was gorgeous, he thought, and the boy wore blue suede shoes. As they danced the boy cautioned his date "don't step on my suedes." Perkins was bewildered that a guy would value shoes over a beautiful girl.

Later that night, while in bed, Perkins began working on a song based on that incident. His first thought was to frame it with a nursery rhyme. He considered, and quickly discarded "Little Jack Horner..." and "See a spider going up the wall...". Then settled on "One for the money..." Leaving his bed and working with his Les Paul guitar, he started with an A chord. After playing five chords while singing "Well, it's one for the money... Two for the show... Three to get ready... Now go, man, go!" and broke into a boogie rhythm. He quickly grabbed a brown paper potato sack and wrote the song down, writing the title out as "Blue Swade, S-W-A-D-E". "I couldn't even spell it right," he later said.

The song was recorded weeks later, and producer Sam Phillips suggested that Perkins's line "go boy go" be changed to "go cat go."

Success of Perkins' Sun Records release

The Sun recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" was released on January 1, 1956. Two copies of the song on 78 rpm records arrived broken. Perkins soon discovered that the song was only available in the newer 7" microgrooved 45 rpm format. Meanwhile, in both Jackson, where Perkins lived, and in Memphis, radio stations were playing the flip side of the record, "Honey Don't." In Cleveland, Ohio, however, disc jockey Bill Randle was featuring "Blue Suede Shoes" prominently on his nightly show, and before January was over, the Cleveland distributor of the record asked Phillips for an additional 25,000 copies of the record.

"Shoes" became the side of choice throughout the South and Southwest. On February 11 it was the #2 single on Memphis charts, was number one the next week, and remained there for the next 3 months. Perkins made four appearances on the Big D Jamboree on radio station KRLD (AM) in Dallas where he played the song every Saturday night, and was booked on a string of one nighters in the Southwest. The Jamboree emanated from the Dallas Sportatorium with about four thousand seats, and it sold out for each of Perkins' performances. Music shops in Dallas ordered a huge number of records, and at one point the record was selling at a rate of 20,000 copies per day.

A Song Hits review of the song, published February 18 stated that "Perkins has come up with some wax here that has hit the national retail chart in almost record time. Interestingly enough, the disk has a measure of appeal for pop and r.&b. customers."

On March 17, Perkins became the first country artist to reach the number three spot on the rhythm & blues charts. That night, Perkins and his band first performed "Blue Suede Shoes" on television on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee (coincidentally, Presley was on Stage Show that same night, singing the song again).

Perkins was booked to next perform the song on The Perry Como Show on NBC-TV on March 24, but on March 22 he and his band members had a serious automobile accident on the way to New York City, resulting in the death of a truck driver and the hospitalization of both Perkins and his brother. While Perkins recuperated from the accident, "Blue Suede Shoes" rose to number one on most pop, R&B, and country regional charts. It also held the number two position on the Billboard Hot 100 and country charts. Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" held the number one position on the pop and country charts, while "Shoes" did better than "Heartbreak" on the R&B charts.

By mid-April, more than one million copies of "Shoes" had been sold. "Blue Suede Shoes" was the first million selling country song to cross over to both rhythm and blues and pop charts.

Sam Phillips retained the rights to the song, although it was represented by the New York house of Hill and Range as part of the agreement when Phillips sold Presley's contract. Perkins would not acquire the rights to "Shoes," along with all of his Sun Records songs until 1977.

Presley and Blue Suede Shoes

Recording cover versions of songs was standard practice during the 1940s and 1950s, and "Blue Suede Shoes" was one of the first tunes RCA wanted their new performer, Elvis Presley, to record. "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Shoes" rose on the charts at roughly the same time. RCA, with its superior distribution and radio contacts, knew it could probably steal a hit record from Phillips and Perkins. For his part, when Presley who knew both Perkins and Phillips from his days at Sun Records gave into pressure from RCA, he requested that they hold back his version from release as a single. The Elvis version features two biting guitar solos by Scotty Moore, along with Bill Black on bass, and D.J. Fontana on drums.

According to Scotty Moore, when the song was recorded, "We just went in there and started playing, just winged it. Just followed however Elvis felt." According to reports confirmed by Sam Phillips, RCA producer Steve Sholes agreed not to release Presley's version of the song as a single while Carl's release was hot.

Presley performed the song on national television three times in 1956. The first was on February 11 on the CBS-TV program Stage Show. He performed it again on his third Stage Show appearance on March 17, then again on the Milton Berle Show on April 3. On July 1, Steve Allen introduced Elvis on the Steve Allen Show, and Presley, appearing in formal evening wear, stated "I think that I have on something tonight that's not quite right for evening wear." Allen asked, "What's that, Elvis?" "Blue suede shoes" was the answer, as he lifted his left foot to show the audience. Presley mentions blue suede shoes a second time on this show. In a song during the "Range Roundup" comedy skit with Steve Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca, he delivers the line, "I'm a warnin' you galoots, don't step on my blue suede shoes."

Moore has said that Elvis recorded the song to help out Perkins after his accident. "Elvis wasn't really thinking at that time that it was going to make money for Carl; he was doing it as more of a tribute type thing. Of course Carl was glad he did. It really helped as his record started going down."

"Blue Suede Shoes" was the first song on the first groundbreaking album Elvis Presley, which was released in March. RCA released two other records with "Blue Suede Shoes" the same month: one an Extended Play with 4 songs, and a 2x extended play version with 8 songs.

RCA released the Presley version as a single on September 8. This single reached #20, whereas the Perkins version had topped the chart.

In 1960, Presley re-recorded "Blue Suede Shoes" for the soundtrack of the film G.I. Blues. While Elvis' character's group "The Three Blazes" plays a ballad at a Frankfurt night club ("Doin' The Best I Can" by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman), a bored GI plays "Blue Suede Shoes" by Elvis Presley on the juke box, remarking that he wants "to hear an original". When another soldier tries to unplug the juke box, the entire place erupts into a fight. This studio re-recording marked one of only a few occasions in Presley's career in which he agreed to re-record a previously issued song.

Other 1956 recordings

"Blue Suede Shoes" was recorded and released many times in 1956. February releases were by Delbert Barker and the Gateway All Stars on the Gateway and Big Hits labels, Thumper Jones (George Jones), Hank Smith, and Buzz Williams. RCA Victor released a Pee Wee King version on March 3 of that same year, the same date as a Capital release by Bob Rubian. These releases were followed closely by the March 10 releases of a Boyd Bennett version on King, and the Columbia release of a Sid King version. Decca, too, released a version by Roy Hall, and the Dot label then released a recording by Jim Lowe.


"Blue Suede Shoes" is often referenced in other songs including Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" with "I'm giving you the warning, don't you step on my blue suede shoes."

"Blue Suede Shoes" was chosen as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 1986 Perkins' version was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2006. The board selects songs on an annual basis that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

In 2004, Perkins' version was ranked number 95 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It is his only song on that list. Presley's recording of the song was also on the list at number 423.

In 1999, National Public Radio included "Blue Suede Shoes" in the "NPR 100," in which NPR's music editors sought to compile the one hundred most important American musical works of the 20th century.

The song is referenced in the Beastie Boys song Johnny Ryall from their album Paul's Boutique. The title character, a homeless man, "claims that he wrote the Blue Suede Shoes".

Selected list of recorded versions

The song is a rock and roll standard and has been performed and recorded by many artists, including:

* 1955 Carl Perkins, US #1
* Buddy Holly as recorded on the Buddy Holly Story compilation.
* 1956 Elvis Presley
* 1958 Cliff Richard
* 1969 The Beatles, during the "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions
* 1969 Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys in the rock and roll medley Good Old Rock & Roll
* Count von Count on Sesame Street
* Eddie Cochran
* Jimi Hendrix
* Johnny Rivers, US #38, 1973
* 1969 John Lennon covered it live in Toronto
* Bill Haley & His Comets Haley recorded "Blue Suede Shoes" on two occasions: in 1960 for US Warner Bros. Records and again in 1972 for Swedish Sonet Records.
* Albert King "Blues For Elvis: King Does The King's Things" (Stax 1970)
* Lemmy and The Upsetters with Mick Green
* Black Sabbath (back when they were known as Earth)
* Billy "Crash" Craddock on the album Live!
* Brian Setzer
* Jerry Lee Lewis
* The Toy Dolls
* Helloween
* Stray Cats
* Los Super Reyes
* Hurriganes

Cultural references

* Marc Cohn makes a reference to "Blue Suede Shoes" in his song "Walking in Memphis."
* Langston Hughes created a short story titled, "Thank You, Ma'am," mentioning Blue Suede Shoes.
* Chuck Berry mentions "Blue Suede Shoes" in his song "Roll Over Beethoven" in the lines: "Early in the mornin'/I'm a'givin you the warnin'/Don't you step on my blue suede shoes." "Roll Over Beethoven" has been covered by many other artists including the Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra.
* Buddy Holly's recording "Rock Around with Ollie Vee" contains the lyric "Ollie Vee says she's gonna do me right tonight / I'm gonna wear my blue suede shoes tonight."
* Larry Williams, in the song "Short Fat Fannie", mentions "Blue Suede Shoes."
* King Crimson refer to the "old fruitjar" in their song "Easy Money."
* The David Essex song "Rock On" mentions about jumping up and down in her "Blue Suede Shoes."
* Blue Suede Shoes is also the title of a 1980 documentary film about the British rockabilly scene.
* The Nintendo DS game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney makes a reference to the song, in a sequence where the character mistakenly refers to Detective Gumshoe as "Detective Suedeshoes."
* Brian Setzer also refers to it in The Stray Cats' song Built for Speed.
* Gene Summers and Shawn Summers refer to "Blue Suede Shoes" in their song "Gonna Drive 'em Up A Wall" with the lyric "gonna slick up my hair wear my blue suede shoes/gonna rock all night to the boppin' blues." ("Reminisce Cafe" CD, 2008)
* The Motörhead song "Just 'Cos 'You've Got the Power" makes a reference to "Blue Suede Shoes."
* In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, blue suede shoes can be both stolen from some houses and taken off the bodies of some non-player characters that the player kills.
* The game World of Warcraft has a pair of Blue Suede Shoes dropping from Kaz'rogal, a raid boss in the game's expansion The Burning Crusade.
* In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a cheat code BLUESUEDESHOES can make all pedestrians look live Elvis.
* The first song of Chuck E. Weiss's album Extremely Cool is called "The Devil with Blue Suede Shoes."

Single by Carl Perkins
B-side Honey Don't
Released January 1, 1956
Format 7" single
Recorded December 19, 1955
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:14
Label Sun Records
Writer(s) Carl Perkins
Producer Sam Phillips

Single by Elvis Presley
from the album Elvis Presley
B-side: "Tutti Frutti"
Released: September 8, 1956
Format: 7" single
Recorded: January 30, 1956
Genre: Rock and roll
Length: 1:58
Label: RCA Records
Writer(s): Carl Perkins
Producer: Steve Sholes


Beatles Covers: Jimi Hendrix Experience - Day Tripper

"Old Brown Shoe" Lyrics

by George Harrison

Original Manuscript (1969)

I'd like a love that's right but right is only half of what's wrong
I want a short haired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long
and now I'm steppin' out this old brown shoe, and baby I'm in
love with you
and I'm so glad you came here - it won't be the same here, now I'm
tellin' you

If I grow up I'll be a singer, wearing rings on every finger
not worrying what they or your say - I'll live and love and maybe someday
who knows? maybe; you'll still comfort me

I'm going to hold you tight and I never want to let you loose
You know you hold me up each time they try to drag me down
and when I see your smile replacing every thoughtless frown
You've got me escaping from this zooand baby I'm in live with you

I woke up last night there were people knocking on my home

I'd like a love that's right - but right is only half of what's wrong
I want a short haired girl - who sometimes wears it twice as long...
and I'm steppin' out this old brown shoe and baby I'm in
love with you

As Released by the Beatles (1969)

I want a love that's right
But right is only half of what's wrong
I want a short-haired girl
Who sometimes wears it twice as long

Now I'm stepping out this old brown shoe
Baby, I'm in love with you
We're so glad you came here
It won't be the same now I'm telling you.

Though you pick me up
From where some try to drag me down
When I see your smile
Replacing every thoughtless frown.

Got me escaping from this zoo
Baby, I'm in love with you
So glad you came here
It won't be the same now that I'm with you.

If I grow up I'll be a singer
Wearing rings on every finger
Not worrying what they or you say
I'll live and love and maybe someday
Who knows baby, you may comfort me (hey).

I may appear to be imperfect
My love is something you can't reject.
Changing faster than the weather
If you and me should get together,
Who knows baby, you may comfort me (hey).

I want that love of yours
To miss that love is something I'd hate.
Make an early start
Making sure that I'm not late (hey).

For your sweet top lip I'm in the queue
Baby, I'm in love with you.
So glad you came here
Won't be the same now that I'm with you.

I'm so glad you came here
It won't be the same now that I'm with you (yeah, yeah, yeah).

Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow, do - do - do
Do - dow...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"The Inner Light" Lyrics

by George Harrison

As Released by the Beatles (1968)

Without going out of my door
I can know all things on earth.
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of heaven.

The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows.

Without going out of your door
You can know all things on earth.
Without looking out of your window
You can know the ways of heaven.

The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows.

Arrive without travelling.
See all without looking.
Do all without doing.

Beatle People: The Monkees

The Monkees were a pop singing quartet assembled in Los Angeles in 1966 for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The primary members were Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, who were the public face of a music production system under the supervision of Don Kirshner. At the start, the band members provided vocals, and were given some performing and production opportunities, but they eventually fought for and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band's name. The group undertook several concert tours, allowing an opportunity to perform as a live band as well as on the TV series. When the show was canceled in 1968, the band continued releasing records until 1970. In the 1980s, the television show and music experienced a revival, which led to a series of reunion tours, and new records featuring various incarnations of the band's lineup.


Aspiring filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider were inspired by the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night to develop a television series about a fictional rock 'n' roll group.

Developing a live act

In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a dilemma arose as none of the four was an actual drummer. Both Nesmith, a guitarist, and Tork, who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments, declined to give the drum set a try. Jones tested well initially as a novice drummer, but the camera could barely capture him behind the drums due to his short stature. Thus, Dolenz was assigned to become the drummer. Tork taught Dolenz his first few beats on the drums and the producers hired him a teacher.

Unlike most television shows at the time, the Monkees episodes were written with many "setups," requiring frequent breaks to prepare the set and cameras for short bursts of filming. Some of the "bursts" are considered proto-music videos, inasmuch as they were produced to sell the records. The four actors would spend 12-hour days on the set, many of them waiting for the production crew to do their jobs. Noticing that their instruments were left on the set unplugged, the four decided to turn them on and start playing.

After working on the set all day, the Monkees (usually Dolenz) would be called in to the recording studio to cut vocal tracks. As the Monkees were essentially the creation of the recording studio, there were few limits on how long they could spend in the recording studio, and the result was an extensive catalogue of unreleased recordings.

Pleased with their initial efforts, Columbia, over Kirshner's objections, planned to send the Monkees out to play live concerts. The massive success of the series and its spin-off records created intense pressure to mount a touring version of the group. Against the initial wishes of the producers, Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith, and Tork went out on the road and made their debut live performance in December 1966 in Hawaii.

The band had no time to rehearse a live performance except between takes on set. They worked on the TV series all day, recorded in the studio at night, and slept very little. The weekends were usually filled with special appearances or filming of special sequences.

These performances were sometimes used during the actual series. The episode "Too Many Girls (Fern and Davy)" opens with a live version of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" being performed as the scene was shot. One entire episode was filmed featuring live music. The last show of the premiere season, "Monkees on Tour", was shot in a documentary style by filming a concert in Phoenix, Arizona.

On tour

In commentary tracks included in the DVD release of the first season of the show, Nesmith stated that Tork was better at playing guitar than bass. In Tork's commentary, he stated that Jones was a good drummer and had the live performance lineups been based solely on playing ability, it should have been Tork on guitar, Nesmith on bass, and Jones on drums, with Dolenz taking the fronting role, rather than as it was done with Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, and Dolenz on drums. (Jones mostly played maracas and tambourine, filling in briefly for Dolenz on drums on a song and for Tork on bass when he played keyboards.) The four Monkees performed all the instruments and vocals for most of the live set. The most notable exceptions being during each member's solo sections where during the December 1966-May 1967 tour, they were backed by the Candy Store Prophets. During the summer 1967 tour of the United States and Great Britain (from which the Live 1967 recordings are taken), they were backed by a band called the Sundowners. In 1968, the Monkees toured Australia and Japan.

The results were far better than expected. Wherever they went they were greeted by scenes of fan adulation. This gave the singers increased confidence in their fight for control over the musical material chosen for the series.

With Jones sticking primarily to vocals and tambourine (except when filling in on the drums when Dolenz came forward to sing a lead vocal), the Monkees' live act constituted a classic power trio of electric guitar, electric bass, and drums (except when Tork passed the bass part to Jones or one of the Sundowners in order to take up the banjo or electric keyboards).

Meet the Beatles

Critics of the Monkees observed that they were simply the "prefab four", a made-for-TV knockoff of the Beatles, but the Beatles took it in stride, and made the Monkees welcome when they visited England. John Lennon publicly compared the Monkees' humor to The Marx Brothers. George Harrison praised their self-produced musical attempts, saying "When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best" (Peter Tork was later one of the musicians on Harrison's Wonderwall Music, playing Paul McCartney's five-string banjo).

During the time when the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Monkees were in England and met the Beatles at a party and Nesmith attended the "A Day in the Life" sessions at Abbey Road Studios; he can be seen in the Beatles' home movies, including one scene where he is conversing with Lennon (who called him Monkee Man). Dolenz was also in the studio during a session, which he mentioned while broadcasting for WCBS-FM in New York (incidentally, he interviewed Starr on his program). McCartney can be seen in the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S. singing the "(Theme from) The Monkees" while backstage.

End of the Kirshner Hit Factory

The Monkees had complained that the producers would not allow them to play their own instruments on their records. This campaign eventually forced the series' musical coordinator Don Kirshner to let the group have more participation in the recording process (against his strong objections). This included Nesmith producing his own songs, and band members making instrumental contributions. The Monkees were capable of playing their own instruments on the recordings and they had written some material, but, except for the few songs forced through by the Monkees' campaigning, they were not allowed by Kirshner to play or use their own material. Led by Nesmith, the band eventually rebelled against Kirshner, who was later fired.

The animosity between Kirshner and the Monkees began in the very early stages of the band. The Monkees' off-screen personalities at the time were much like what became their on screen image (except for Peter). This included the playful, hyper-active antics that are often seen on screen. Apparently, during an early recording session, the four Monkees were clowning around in the studio. The antics escalated until Micky Dolenz poured a Pepsi on Kirshner's head (Micky at the time not knowing Kirshner by sight).

Nesmith and Tork were particularly upset when they were on tour in January 1967 and discovered that a second album—More of The Monkees—had been released without their knowledge. The Monkees were annoyed at not having even been told of the release in advance, at having their opinions on the track selection ignored, and also because of the amateurish-looking cover art, which was merely a composite of pictures of the four taken for a J.C. Penney clothing advertisement. Indeed, the Monkees had not even been given a copy of the album; they had to buy it from a record store.

The climax of the rivalry was a rather intense argument between Nesmith and Kirshner Colgems lawyer Herb Moelis, in January 1967, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Kirshner had presented the group with royalty checks and Nesmith presented an ultimatum, demanding a change in the way the Monkees' music is chosen and recorded. Moelis reminded Nesmith that he was under contract. The confrontation ended with Nesmith punching a hole in a wall and saying, "That could have been your face, m_____! (All of the band members, including Nesmith, took the royalty checks, however.) "

Kirshner's firing came in early February 1967 when an agreement was reached between Colgems and the Monkees to release material directly created by the group in addition to Kirshner-produced material. Kirshner broke this agreement when he released "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," a Neil Diamond composition, as a single with "She Hangs Out," a song recorded in New York with Davy Jones vocals, as the flipside. When the single was discovered, Kirshner was immediately fired.

Kirshner was reported to have been incensed by the group's unexpected rebellion, especially when he felt they lacked the musical talent, and were hired specifically for their acting ability, alone. This experience led directly to Kirshner's later venture the Archies, which was an animated series – the "stars" existed only on animation cels, with music done by studio singers, and obviously could not seize creative control over the records issued under their name.

Screen Gems held the publishing rights to a wealth of great material, with the Monkees given first crack at many new songs. Their choices were not unerring; the band turned down "Sugar, Sugar," which became one of the biggest hits of 1969 when Kirshner recorded it with studio musicians and released it under the name of the Archies. A rumor circulated that "Sugar Sugar" was actually recorded with session musicians and Davy Jones providing all the vocals that was never released. However, when asked Jones confirmed that Kirshner had offered it to them, but stated he never recorded it. The Monkees never had to record a song they truly disliked, as Dolenz affirmed on The Larry King Show in 1987 (they would sometimes lampoon songs during takes, though; their lighthearted version of "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" ended up being picked for the group's first album).

Monkees controlled music

On their third album, Headquarters (produced by Chip Douglas and issued in May 1967), the four Monkees wrote and played on much of their own material. Nearly all vocals and instruments on Headquarters were performed by the four Monkees (the exceptions being only a few small parts usually filled by producer Chip Douglas). The album shot to No. 1, but was quickly eclipsed the following month by a milestone cultural event when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Following Headquarters, they began what they referred to as "mix mode" where they played their own instruments but also continued to employ session musicians. The Monkees continued using additional musicians (including The Wrecking Crew, Louie Shelton, members of the Byrds and the Association, drummer "Fast" Eddie Hoh, and Neil Young) throughout their recording career, especially when the group became temporarily estranged after Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. and recorded some of their songs separately.

The high of Headquarters was short-lived, however. Recording and producing as a group was Tork's major interest and he hoped that the four would continue working together as a band on future recordings. However, the four did not have enough in common regarding their musical interests. In commentary for the DVD release of the second season of the show, Tork said that Dolenz was "incapable of repeating a triumph." Having been a musician for one album, Dolenz no longer was interested in being a drummer, and largely gave up playing instruments on Monkees recordings. (Producer Chip Douglas also had identified Dolenz's drumming as the weak point in the collective musicianship of the quartet, having to splice together multiple takes of Dolenz's "shaky" drumming for final use.) Nesmith and Jones were also moving in different directions, with Nesmith following his country/folk instincts and Jones reaching for Broadway-style numbers.

While the first two albums, produced under Kirshner's direction, constituted prime examples of the traditional American pop music industry, with its Brill Building composers and its skilled studio session players, the next three albums, while not shining as brightly in terms of polished commerciality, constituted high class, original examples of the individual Monkees' country-rock, folk-rock, psychedelic rock, soul/R&B, guitar rock, Broadway, and English music hall sensibilities. Tork, free from Kirshner's restrictions, contributed some of the most memorable and catchy instrumental flourishes, such as the piano introduction to "Daydream Believer" and the banjo part on "You Told Me." Nesmith dove into his country sensibilities, producing a roots sound for popular consumption and contributed his idiosyncratic poetry as lyrics to several pieces. Jones and Dolenz's vocals continued to shine, even after Head, when the project was clearly falling apart.

When the Monkees toured Britain in 1967, there was a major controversy over the revelation that the group did not always play all of their own instruments in the studio, although they did play them all while touring (except for the solo segments, which used backing band the Candy Store Prophets). The story made the front pages of several UK and international music papers, with the group derisively dubbed "The Pre-Fab Four." Nevertheless, they were generally welcomed by many British stars, who realized the group included talented musicians and sympathized with their wish to have more creative control over their music.

Many Monkees fans argued that the controversy unfairly targeted the band, while conveniently ignoring the fact that a number of leading British and American groups (including critical favorites such as the Byrds and the Beach Boys) habitually used session players on their recordings. This commonplace practice had previously passed without comment. However, the Beatles had led a wave of groups who provided most of their own instrumentation on their recordings (although they at times used additional musicians such as Eric Clapton and Billy Preston to augment the Beatles' own instrumentation) and wrote most of their own songs. The comic book quality of their television series (where they mimed song performances out of necessity) brought additional scrutiny of the Monkees' recorded music. But both supporters and critics of the group agree that the producers and Kirshner had the good taste to use some of the best pop songwriters of the period. Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and many other highly regarded writers had songs recorded by the Monkees.

In November 1967, the wave of anti-Monkee sentiment was reaching its peak while the Monkees released their fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. In liner notes for the 1995 re-release of this album, Nesmith was quoted as saying that after Headquarters, "The press went into a full-scale war against us, talking about how 'The Monkees are four guys who have no credits, no credibility whatsoever and have been trying to trick us into believing they are a rock band.' Number one, not only was this not the case, the reverse was true. Number two, for the press to report with genuine alarm that the Monkees were not a real rock band was looney tunes. It was one of the great goofball moments of the media, but it stuck."

The Monkees went back into the recording studio, largely separately, and produced a large volume of recordings, material that eventually turned up on several albums. In April 1968, 'The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees' was released. Being released after the final season of the television series (the series was cancelled in February 1968), this was the first Monkees album not to hit No. 1, but it still went gold. The album cover—a quaint collage of items looking like a display in a jumble shop or toy store—was chosen over the Monkees' objections.

Beyond television

During the filming of the second season, the band tired of scripts which they deemed monotonous and stale. They had already succeeded in eliminating the laugh track (a then-standard on American sitcoms), with the bulk of Season 2 episodes sans the canned chuckles. They proposed switching the format of the series to become more like a variety show, with musical guests and live performances. This desire was partially fulfilled within some second season episodes, with guest stars like musicians Frank Zappa, Tim Buckley and Charlie Smalls (composer of The Wiz), performing on the show. However, NBC was not interested in eliminating the existing format, and the group had little desire to continue for a third season.

After the television show was canceled in February 1968, Rafelson directed the four Monkees in a feature film, Head, originally titled "Untitled." The film was executive-produced by Schneider and co-written and co-produced by Rafelson with a then relatively unknown Jack Nicholson. Rumors abound that the title was chosen in case a sequel was made. The advertisements would supposedly have read: "From the Producers who gave you HEAD."

Nicholson also assembled the film's soundtrack album. The film, conceived and edited in a stream of consciousness style, featured oddball cameo appearances by movie stars Victor Mature, Annette Funicello, a young Teri Garr, boxer Sonny Liston, famous stripper Carol Doda, and musician Frank Zappa. It was filmed in Screen Gems Studios and on location in California, Utah, and The Bahamas between February 19 and May 17, 1968 and premiered in New York City on November 6 of that year (the film later debuted in Hollywood on November 20).

Head was not a commercial success, in part because it was the antithesis of The Monkees television show, intended to comprehensively demolish the group's carefully-groomed public image. Rafelson and Nicholson's "Ditty Diego-War Chant" (recited at the start of the film by the Monkees), ruthlessly parodies Boyce and Hart's "Monkees Theme." A sparse advertising campaign (with no mention of the Monkees) squelched any chances of the film doing well, and it played only briefly in nearly-empty cinemas. In commentary for the DVD release, Nesmith said that by this time, everyone associated with the Monkees, including the four Monkees, "had gone crazy." They were each using the platform of the Monkees to push their own disparate career goals, to the detriment of the Monkees project. Indeed, Nesmith said, Head was Rafelson and Nicholson's intentional effort to "kill" the Monkees, so that they would no longer be bothered with having to deal with the matter. Tork said in DVD commentary that everyone had developed such difficult personalities that the big-name stars invited as guests on the show would invariably leave the experience "hating everybody."

Over the intervening years Head has developed a cult following for its innovative style and anarchic humor, and the soundtrack album (long out of print, but re-released by Rhino in the '80s and now available in an expanded CD version) is counted among their most adventurous recordings. Members of the Monkees, Nesmith in particular, cite Head (the first Monkees album not to include any Boyce and Hart compositions) as one of the crowning achievements of the band. The highlights include Nesmith's "Circle Sky," an all-out rocker, Tork's psychedelic "Can You Dig It?," "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" and the Goffin/King composition "Porpoise Song."

The Monkees had several international hits which are still heard on pop and oldies stations. These include "I'm a Believer," "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Despite their seemingly permanent reputation as a made-for-TV act, their hits and many lesser recordings present an enduring quality that has earned respect over the years.

Six albums were produced with the original Monkees lineup, four of which went to Number 1 on the Billboard chart. This success was supplemented by a series of successful world concert tours. But tensions within the group were increasing, and Peter Tork quit shortly after the band's Far East tour in December 1968, after completing work on their 1969 NBC television special, 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee, which rehashed many of the ideas from Head, only with the Monkees playing a strangely second-string role. In DVD commentary for the television special, Dolenz noted that after filming was complete, Nesmith gave Tork a gold watch as a going-away present, engraved "From the guys down at work."

The remaining Monkees had decided to pursue their musical interests separately since Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones Ltd. they were no longer in the studio together -- and planned a future double album (eventually to be reduced to The Monkees Present) on which each Monkee would separately produce one side of a disc. No longer getting the group dynamic he wanted, and pleading "exhaustion" from the grueling schedule, Tork bought out his remaining contract.

Reduced to a trio, the remaining members went on to record Instant Replay and The Monkees Present. Throughout 1969, the trio would appear as guests on various television programs such as The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Johnny Cash Show, Hollywood Squares, and Laugh-In. The Monkees also had a contractual obligation to appear in several television commercials with Bugs Bunny for Kool-Aid drink mix as well as Post cereal box singles.

In the summer of 1969 the three Monkees embarked on a tour with the backing soul band Sam and the Goodtimers. The concerts for this tour were longer sets than their earlier concert tours: many shows running over two hours. Unfortunately the 1969 Monkees' tour was not all that successful; some shows were cancelled due to poor ticket sales. In March 1970, Nesmith left the group, leaving only Dolenz and Jones to record Changes as the Monkees. By this time, Colgems was hardly putting any effort into the project, and they sent Dolenz and Jones to New York for the Changes sessions, to be produced by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. In comments for the liner notes of the 1994 re-release of Changes, Dolenz and Jones said that they felt they had been tricked into recording an "Andy Kim album" under the Monkees name. Except for the two singers' vocal performances, Changes is the only album that fails to win any significant praise from critics looking back 40 years to the Monkees' recording output. This would also mark the last official Monkees single 'Oh My My' which also became the last Monkees music film promo (produced by Micky).

After a 1971 single ("Do It In The Name Of Love" b/w "Lady Jane"), the Monkees lost the rights to use the name; in several countries, the USA included, the single was not credited to the Monkees but to Dolenz and Jones. The duo continued to tour throughout most of the 1970s but were unable to use the "Monkees" name.

Due in part to repeats of The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits charted in 1976. The LP, issued by Arista, who by this time had custody of the Monkees’ master tapes, courtesy of their corporate owner, Screen Gems, was actually a re-packaging of an earlier (1972) compilation LP called Refocus that had been issued by Arista's previous label imprint, Bell Records, also owned by Screen Gems. Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the "Golden Hits of The Monkees" show ("The Guys who Wrote 'Em and the Guys who Sang 'Em!"), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks, as well as making stops in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. They also released an album of new material as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart (they could not use the Monkees name due to legal reasons). Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion. Tork claimed later that he had not been asked, although a Christmas single (credited to Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork) was produced by Chip Douglas and released on his own label in 1976. The single featured Douglas' and Howard Kaylan's "Christmas Is My Time Of Year" (originally recorded by a 1960s supergroup, Christmas Spirit), with a B-side of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (Douglas released a remixed version of the single, with additional overdubbed instruments, in 1986). Tork also joined Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart on stage at Disneyland on July 4, 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage at the Starwood in Hollywood, California in 1977.

Other semi-reunions occurred between 1970 and 1986. Peter Tork helped arrange a Micky Dolenz single, "Easy On You"/"Oh Someone" in 1971. Tork also recorded some unreleased tracks for Nesmith's Countryside label during the 1970s, and Dolenz (by then a successful television director in the United Kingdom) directed a segment of Nesmith's NBC-TV series Television Parts, although the segment in question was not included when the series' six episodes aired during the summer of 1985.

1980s reunions

Brushed off by critics during their heyday as manufactured and lacking talent, The Monkees experienced a critical and commercial rehabilitation two decades later. A Monkees TV show marathon ("Pleasant Valley Sunday") was broadcast on 23 February 1986 on the video music channel MTV. In February and March, Tork and Jones played together in Australia. Then, starting in May, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork made a "20th Anniversary Tour." MTV promotion resurrected a smaller version of Monkeemania, and tour dates grew from smaller to larger venues.
Album cover for Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees, released at the height of the Monkees' 1986 revival. (l to r: Jones, Tork, Nesmith, Dolenz)

Producer David Fishof reunited the trio which became one of the biggest live acts of 1986 and 1987, with their original albums selling again, and a new greatest hits collection reaching platinum status. Mike Nesmith appeared onstage with Dolenz, Jones, and Tork twice, both times in Los Angeles: at the Greek Theatre on September 7, 1986, and at the Universal Amphitheatre on July 10, 1989. By now, Nesmith was amenable to a reunion, but forced to sit out most projects because of prior commitments to his bustling Pacific Arts video production company. However, he did appear with the band in a 1986 Christmas medley music video for MTV, and took part in a dedication ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when the Monkees received a star there in 1989. Because his mother Bette Nesmith Graham was the inventor of Liquid Paper, Nesmith was wealthy and had little financial need to join in Monkees-related projects.

The sudden revival of the Monkees in 1986 helped move the first official Monkees single since 1971, "That Was Then, This Is Now," to the #19 position in Billboard. The success, however, was not without controversy. Davy Jones had declined to sing on the track, recorded along with two other new songs included in a compilation album, Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees. Some copies of the single and album credit the new songs to "the Monkees," others as "Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (of the Monkees)." Reportedly, these recordings were the source of some personal friction between Jones and the others during the 1986 tour. A new album by the touring trio, Pool It! (the Monkees' 10th), appeared the following year and was a moderate success. From 1986 to 1989, the Monkees would conduct major concert tours in the United States, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Europe.

In 1986, a new television series called The New Monkees appeared. Four young musicians were placed in a similar series based on the original show, but "updated" for the 1980s. The show, its accompanying album and the New Monkees themselves all sank without a trace. (Neither Bob Rafelson nor Bert Schneider were involved in the development or production of the series, although it was produced by "Straybert Productions" headed by Steve Blauner, Rafelson and Schneider's partner in BBS Productions.)

Beginning in February 1987, Tork and Jones played in Australia together. When they began playing North America in June, they were joined by Dolenz and in September 1988, the three rejoined to play Australia again and then Europe and then North America, with that string of tours ending in September 1989. On July 9, 1989, the three were joined in Los Angeles by Nesmith, the first time all four played together since 1986.

1990s reunions

In 1993, Dolenz and Jones worked together on a television commercial, and another reunion tour was launched with the two of them in 1994.

In the 1990s, the Monkees continued to record new material, Their 11th album, Justus, was released in 1996. It was the first since 1968 on which all four original members performed and produced. Justus was produced by the Monkees, all songs were written by one of the four Monkees, and it was recorded using only the four Monkees for all instruments and vocals, which was the inspiration for the album title and spelling (Justus = Just Us).

The trio of Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited again for a successful 30th anniversary tour of American amphitheaters in 1996, while Nesmith joined them onstage in Los Angeles to promote the new songs from Justus. For the first time since the brief 1986 reunion, Nesmith returned to the concert stage for a tour of the United Kingdom in 1997, highlighted by two sold-out concerts at Wembley Arena in London. The full quartet also appeared in an ABC television special — Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees, written and directed by Nesmith — spoofing the original series that had made them famous. Nevertheless, following the UK tour, Nesmith declined to continue future performances with the Monkees, having faced harsh criticism from the British music press for his deteriorating musicianship. Tork noted in DVD commentary that while in 1966, Nesmith had learned a reasonably good version of the famous "Last Train to Clarksville" guitar lick, that in 1996, Nesmith was no longer able to play it, and Tork had to take over the lead guitar parts.

Nesmith's departure from the tour came with acrimony in the press. Jones was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as complaining that "He made a new album with us, he toured Great Britain with us ... Then all of a sudden, he's not here. Later, I hear rumors he's writing a script for our next movie. Oh, really? That's bloody news to me ... He's always been this aloof, inaccessible person ... the fourth part of the jigsaw puzzle that never quite fit in."

2000s reunions

Tork, Jones, and Dolenz toured the United States in 1997, after which the group took another hiatus, until the three regrouped again in 2001. Dolenz, Jones, and Tork toured the United States from March through September 2001. However, this tour was also accompanied by public sniping. Dolenz and Jones had announced that they had "fired" Tork for his constant complaining and threatening to quit. Tork himself was quoted as saying that, besides wanting to go on tour with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues, he was also troubled by the overuse of alcohol by others on tour. WENN News quoted Tork as saying:

"Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones fired me just before the last two shows of our 35th anniversary tour. I'm both happy and sad over the whole thing. I always loved the work onstage - but I just couldn't handle the backstage problems. I'd given them 30 days notice that I was leaving so my position is that I resigned first and then they dropped me. Thank God I don't need the Monkees anymore. ... I'm a recovering alcoholic and haven't had a drink in several years. I'm not against people drinking - just when they get mean and abusive. I went on the anniversary tour with the agreement that I didn't have to put up with drinking and difficult behavior offstage. When things weren't getting better, I gave the guys notice that I was leaving in 30 days for good."

Jones and Dolenz went on to tour the United Kingdom in 2002, but Tork declined to participate. Jones and Dolenz toured the United States one more time as a duo in 2002, and then split to concentrate on their own individual projects.

With different Monkees citing different reasons, the group chose not to mark their 40th anniversary in 2006, and it seems doubtful that the Monkees will be sighted again.

In June 2007, Tork complained to the New York Post that Jann Wenner had blackballed the Monkees from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Tork claimed:

Wenner "doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether the Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there because of a personal whim." Tork believes Wenner doesn't like the fact that the Monkees, who were originally cast as actors for a TV sitcom, didn't play their own instruments on their first two records. "Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the big deal? Everybody else does it.' Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007."

Over the years, the Monkees, in interviews and commentary have at times expressed admiration for each other's talents and contributions. However, by 2008, it seemed that their relationships had soured again. In a March 2008 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Jones spoke bitterly about his fellow ex-Monkees, their failure to get into the Hall of Fame, and the unlikelihood that there would be another reunion.. The Sun's Rob Hiaasen quoted Jones:

Hiaasen: Any chance of a Monkees reunion?

Jones: I wouldn't think so.

With keeping myself clean and in good shape, I can't be responsible for Peter, Mike and Micky and their behavior. I'm not saying they have bad behavior, but it just takes one occasion where somebody has something to say and everybody gets blamed. I can't be responsible for Peter's mouth or Mike's mouth or Micky's mouth. They have to be able to feel the same way about me. So I'd rather do it myself.


The Monkees, selected specifically to appeal to the youth market with their manufactured personae and carefully produced singles, are seen as an original precursor to the modern proliferation of studio and corporation-created bands. But this critical reputation has softened somewhat, with the recognition that the Monkees were neither the first manufactured group nor unusual in this respect. The Monkees also frequently contributed their own songwriting efforts on their albums and saw their musical skills improve. They ultimately became a self-directed group, playing their own instruments and writing many of their own songs.

The Monkees found unlikely fans among musicians of the punk rock period of the mid-1970s. Many of these punk performers had grown up on TV reruns of the series, and sympathized with the anti-industry, anti-Establishment trend of their career. Sex Pistols and Minor Threat both recorded versions of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and it was played live by Toy Love. The Japanese new wave pop group The Plastics recorded a synthesizer and drum-machine version of "Last Train to Clarksville" for their 1979 album "Welcome Plastics."

In 1985, Monte Landis, who had appeared in almost every episode of the television series, had a cameo in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, a feature film comedy in the style of the Monkees' television show, and his appearance suggests the producers wanted Pee-wee's Big Adventure to have a connection to it.

In 1988 Run DMC recorded "Mary, Mary" on their album Tougher Than Leather. Australian indie-rock bands of the 1980s such as Grooveyard ("All The King's Horses"), Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers ("Mary Mary", "For Pete's Sake" and "Circle Sky") and The Upbeat and The Mexican Spitfires ("Mary Mary") performed Monkees cover versions. Cassandra Wilson had an indie hit with "Last Train to Clarksville" in 1995. The alternative rock group Smash Mouth had a hit with "I'm a Believer" in 2001 (and featured in the blockbuster computer-animated movie Shrek). Japanese popsters Shonen Knife recorded "Daydream Believer". Indie group Carter USM recorded "Randy Scouse Git" (a.k.a. Alternate Title). 1980s psychedelic rock band Bongwater, featuring Ann Magnuson and Mark Kramer, recorded "You Just May Be The One" and "The Porpoise Song". The Monkees also had a big influence on Paul Westerberg, lead singer/songwriter for The Replacements. "Daydream Believer" and "You Just May Be The One" are staples at his live shows. Also, the doom metal band from Chicago, Trouble, had recorded a cover of "The Porpoise Song" on their 1996 album, Plastic Green Head. Lid, a psychedelic metal band, including Eric Wagner, the vocalist from Trouble, and Danny Cavanaugh, guitar player from the UK band Anathema, recorded a cover of "Randy Scouse Git" on their album, In The Mushroom.

The band's legacy was strengthened by Rhino Entertainment's acquisition of the Monkees' franchise from Columbia Pictures in the early 1990s. The label has released several Monkees-related projects, including remastered editions of both the original television series and their complete music library, as well as their motion picture Head.

In the 1990s, three of the Monkees had minor roles in the family sitcom Boy Meets World. Tork played Topanga's father Jedidiah; Jones played Reginald, an old friend from Europe; Dolenz played Gordy, Mr. Matthews' best friend. In the one episode that the three were in together, they performed "My Girl."

In 1991, a feature film called Daydream Believer (known as The Girl Who Came Late in some markets) was released in Australia.

Jones, Tork and Dolenz also feature memorably as themselves in The Brady Bunch Movie. Jones is invited by Marcia to appear as the surprise star guest at the High School prom. After a difficult start, he proves a surprise hit with the modern-day audience. Later, the Bradys themselves perform "Keep On Dancing", a 1960s-style 'groovy' song, in the evening's "Search for a Star" talent contest. Everyone is surprised when they win the award, until it is revealed that the judging panel consists of Jones, Tork and Dolenz.

David Bowie, already under contract to record his debut album, was forced to adopt the stage name of "Bowie" in order to have any chance of having his music released in the U.S.; his legal name being David Robert Jones. During the early 1960s, Bowie was performing either under his own name or the stage name "Davie Jones", and briefly even as "Davy Jones", creating confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. To avoid this, in 1966 he chose "Bowie" for his stage name, after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie and his famous Bowie knife.

In 2005, eBay used "Daydream Believer" as the theme for a promotional campaign

In 2006, Evergreen used "Daydream Believer" in their adverts, however the lyrics were adapted for the product.

Report of Cancer

On March 3, 2009, Peter Tork reported on his Web site that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, a slow-growing form of head and neck cancer. Tork underwent extensive surgery March 4 in New York City. A preliminary biopsy discovered that the cancer had not spread beyond the initial site.

"It's a bad news, good news situation," explains Tork, "It's so rare a combination(on the tongue) that there isn't a lot of experience among the medical community about this particular combination. On the other hand, the type of cancer it is, never mind the location, is somewhat well known, and the prognosis, I'm told, is good."

Notable achievements

* Had the top-charting American single of 1967 ("I'm a Believer"). (Billboard No 1 for 7 Weeks) with "Daydream Believer" tied for third.
* First band to use a Moog Synthesizer in a top-10 album (used on "Star Collector", "Daily Nightly" and "Love Is Only Sleeping" from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., released in November of 1967).
* Gave the Jimi Hendrix Experience their first US concert appearances. It should be noted that Hendrix's heavy psychedelic guitar and sexual overtones did not go overly well with the teenage girl audience.
* Compelled another David Jones to change his surname to Bowie to avoid being confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees.
* The Monkees reunion tour was the largest grossing tour of 1986.
* Introduced Tim Buckley to a national audience, via his appearance in the series finale, "The Frodis Caper."
* The Monkees outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in 1967.
* Last music artist to win the MTV Friday Night Video Fights by defeating Bon Jovi 51% to 49%.
* First music artist to win two Emmy awards.
* First actual live concert footage to be featured in a motion picture (Head, 1968).
* Had 7 albums on the Billboard top 200 chart at the same time (6 were re-issues during 1986/87).
* The Monkees are one of only nine artists achieving number-one hits in the United States and United Kingdom simultaneously
* More of The Monkees spent an amazing 70 weeks on the Billboard charts becoming the 12th biggest selling album of all time (
* Four number one albums in a year span. The only act to have their first four albums go to number 1 on the Billboard charts.
* Held the number one spot on the Billboard album chart for 31 consecutive weeks.
* Held the record for the longest stay at number one for a debut record until 1982 when Men At Work's debut record Business As Usual broke that record.


* The Monkees (1966) #1
* More of The Monkees (1967) #1
* Headquarters (1967) #1
* Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1967) #1
* The Birds, The Bees & the Monkees (1968) #3
* Head (1968) #45
* Instant Replay (1969) #32
* The Monkees Present (1969) #100
* Changes (1970) (Originally did not chart, but the Rhino reissue in 1986 reached #152)
* Pool It! (1987) #72
* Justus (1996) #200


There was also "The Monkees" comic published by Dell which ran from 1-17 (1967-1969) as well as a Daily Mirror "Crazy Cartoon Book" (2/6, now 12.5p) which had four comic stories as well as 4 photos of The Monkees, all in black and white. Published 1967.


The Dream Is Over

By Peter McCabe and Robert Schonfeld / September 5, 1971

Int.: So the dream is over, the Beatles have split up and you're now a separate entity from Paul McCartney. How does it feel?

John: Well, it's not over yet. With the court case, it could go on for years. And I guess every time I put a record out they'll compare it to Paul's.

Int.: Does that bother you?

John: Sure. What's the fucking point? You might as well compare me with Grand Funk Railroad or something.

Int.: You've been especially vocal lately about the way the Beatles' business was run in the past.

John: Well, look what happened. With Northern Songs, we ended up selling half our copyrights forever. We lost 'em all and Lew Grade's got 'em. It was bad management. We have no company. That's where Brian Epstein fucked up. Who got the beneift? Not us. I mean, since you ask, in retrospect he made mistakes. But to us he was the expert. I mean, originally he had a shop. Anybody who's got a shop must be all right.

Int.: People say it was Epstein who kept you together as the Beatles. What was the mood like among you all after the Beatles stopped touring and before Brian died?

John: Well, after we stopped touring, it always seemed embarrassing. Should we have dinner together? It always got so formal that none of us wanted to go through with it anymore.

Int.: How come it got so formal?

John: Because when you don't see someone for a few months, you feel stilted and you have to start again.

Int.: So things were breaking down before you met Yoko, and before Paul met Linda?

John: It had broken down before that. There was a Liverpool clique thing, and everybody who worked for us was from Liverpool. But that togetherness had gone a long time before Yoko. We were really all on our own, just living in separate vacuums.

Int.: So let's talk about the Beatles' breakup, and the falling out between you and Paul. A lot of people think it had to do with the women in your lives. Is that why the Beatles split up?

John: Not really. The split was over who would manage us, Allen Klein or the Eastmans, and nothing else really, although the split had been coming from Pepper onwards.

Int.: Why, specifically?

John: Well, Paul was always upset about the White Album. He never liked it because on that one I did my music, he did his, and George did his. And first, he didn't like George having so many tracks, and second, he wanted it to be more a group thing, which really means more Paul. So he never liked that album, and I always preferred it to all the other albums, including Pepper, because I thought the music was better. The Pepper myth is bigger, but the music on the White Album is far superior, I think.

Int.: That's your favorite, of all the Beatle albums?

John: Yeah, because I wrote a lot of good shit on that. I like all the stuff I did on that, and the other stuff as well. I like the whole album. I haven't heard it in a long time, but I know there's a lot of good songs on it. But if you're talking about the split, the split was over Allen and Eastman.

Int.: You didn't like Lee Eastman, Linda's father, nor John Eastman, Linda's brother, and the Eastmans didn't like you bringing in Allen Klein to manage you. . . .

John: The Eastmans hated Allen from way back. They're from the class of family . . . like all classes, I suppose, they vote like Daddy does. They're the kind of kids who just think what their fathers told them.

Int.: But for a while you got along with Linda.

John: We all got along well with Linda.

Int.: When did you first meet her?

John: The first time I saw her was after that press conference to announce Apple in America. We were just going back to the airport and she was in the car with us. I didn't think she was particularly attractive, I wondered what he was bothering having her in the car for. A bit too tweedy, you know. But she sat in the car and took photographs and that was it. And the next minute she's married him.

Yoko: She's not the kind of woman who would antagonize other women. She is a nice person who is uptight like her brother, John, but not that uptight. There was a nice quality about her. As a women she doesn't offend you because she doesn't come on like a coquettish bird, you know? So she was all right, and we were on very good terms until Allen came into the picture. And then she said: "Why the hell do you have to bring Allen into it?" She said very nasty things about Allen, and I defended Allen each time she said something about him. And since then she never speaks to me.

Int.: Yoko, you weren't with John the first time he met her?

Yoko: No. The first time I met her was when she came to the EMI studio. And you know, when Beatles are recording, there's very few people around, especially no women. If a young woman comes into the room, everybody just sort of looks at her. So I was there, and the first thing Linda made clear to me - almost unnecessarily - was the fact that she was interested in Paul, and not John, you know? So I thought that was nice. She was sort of presupposing that I would be nervous. Not that I showed I was nervous at all. She just said, "Oh, I'm with Paul." Something to that effect.
I think she was eager to be with me, and John, in the sense that Paul and John are close, we should be close too. And couple to couple we were going to be good friends. We went to their house. . . .

John: We stayed there. We lived there.

Yoko: Well, that was not when Linda was around.

John: Oh, that was before Linda, yes.

Yoko: And Linda cooked for us. We had nice dinners together, things like that. And she was pregnant, so it was hard for her to cook. She had a big tummy and all that. But she was doing it, and it was nice.

Int.: Did you think she was a good photographer, Yoko?

Yoko: I never judged her, or even observed her, from that point of view. I'd never really seen any of her photographs.

John: We had heard stories aobut her hanging around - what was it? - Ramparts and Life magazine. Always trying to get in, and nobody wanting her because they didn't think she was a particularly good photographer. . . .

Yoko: They were sufficient photographs. And really, it's unfair to ask me about them because I'm a perfectionist about artists, and there are very few artists that I respect anyway. It has to be someone really special for me to say that I admire his or her art.

Int.: So what was Paul's attitude to you as you got to know him, as things progressed?

Yoko: Paul began complaining that I was sitting too close to them when they were recording, and that I should be in the background.

John: Paul was always gently coming up to Yoko and saying: "Why don't you keep in the background a bit more?" I didn't know what was going on. It was going on behind my back.

Yoko: And I wasn't uttering a word. It wasn't a matter of my being aggressive. It was just the fact that I was sitting near to John. And we stood up to it. We just said, "No. It's simply that we just have to come together." They were trying to discourage me from attending meetings, et cetera. And I was always there. And Linda actually said that she admired that we were doing that.

John: Paul even said that to me.

Int.: So did all this contribute to the split, to Paul leaving the group?

John: Well, Paul rang me up. He didn't actually tell me he'd split, he said he was putting out an album [McCartney]. He said, "I'm now doing what you and Yoko were doing last year. I understand what you were doing." All that shit. So I said, "Good luck to yer."

Yoko: So there really was a lot of misunderstanding, you know.

Int.: And the family thing was a factor? Things you'd said about the Eastmans?

John: Yeah, it's like anybody. If there's anything to say about my family, I'll say it myself. But don't you.

Int.: And Linda didn't like this?

Yoko: I didn't know that. I thought she was one very unusually obedient daughter who was completely controlled by her father, you know?

Int.: Was it the suddenness of Linda's arrival on the scene that disrupted things?

John: Well, Paul had met her before [the Apple press conference], you see. I mean, there were quite a few women he'd obviously had that I never knew about. God knows when he was doing it, but he must have been doing it.

Int.: So, John. You and Paul were probably the greatest songwriting team in a generation. And you had this huge falling out. Were there always huge differences between you and Paul, or was there a time when you had a lot in common?

John: Well, we all want our mummies - I don't think there's any of us that don't - and he lost his mother, so did I. That doesn't make womanizers of us, but we all want our mummies because I don't think any of us got enough of them.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there - but Paul always wanted the home life, you see. He liked it with daddy and the brother . . . and obviously missed his mother. And his dad was the whole thing. Just simple things: he wouldn't go against his dad and wear drainpipe trousers. And his dad was always trying to get me out of the group behind me back, I found out later. He'd say to George: "Why don't you get rid of John, he's just a lot of trouble. Cut your hair nice and wear baggy trousers," like I was the bad influence because I was the eldest, so I had all the gear first usually.
So Paul was always like that. And I was always saying, "Face up to your dad, tell him to fuck off. He can't hit you. You can kill him [laughs], he's an old man." I used to say, "Don't take that shit off him." Because I was always brought up by a woman, so maybe it was different. But I wouldn't let the old man treat me like that. He treated Paul like a child all the time, cut his hair and telling him what to wear, at seventeen, eighteen.
But Paul would always give in to his dad. His dad told him to get a job, he fucking dropped the group and started working on the fucking lorries, saying, "I need a steady career." We couldn't believe it - my Aunt Mimi reminded me of this the other night - he rang up and said he'd got this job and couldn't come to the group. So I told him on the phone, "Either come or you're out." So he had to make a decision between me and his dad then, and in the end he chose me. But it was a long trip.
So it was always the family thing, you see. If Jane [Asher] was to have a career, then that's not going to be a cozy family, is it? All the other girls were just groupies mainly. And with Linda not only did he have a ready-made family, but she knows what he wants, obviously, and has given it to him. The complete family life. He's in Scotland. He told me he doesn't like English cities anymore. So that's how it is.

Int.: So you think with Linda he's found what he wanted?

John: I guess so. I guess so. I just don't understand . . . I never knew what he wanted in a woman because I never knew what I wanted. I knew I wanted something intelligent or something arty, whatever it was. But you don't really know what you want until you find it. So anyway, I was very surprised with Linda. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd married Jane Asher, because it had been going on for a long time and they went through a whole ordinary love scene. But with Linda it was just like, boom! She was in and that was the end of it.

Int.: Did Paul put Jane off for many years, when she wanted to get married?

John: I have no idea. We never discussed our private lives like that. I never asked him. We'd got over "did you get a bit of tit?" and "what's happening?" All that scene. We didn't talk about it.

Int.: So Paul split, and your falling out was essentially with him?

John: Right.

Int.: So what made you decide not to participate in the Bangladesh concert with George and Ringo at Madison Square Garden? I mean, you were rather conspicuously absent.

John: Well, Allen [Klein] was putting it around that I ran off to England, so I wouldn't be there for the concert. But I told George about a week before it that I wouldn't be doing it. I just didn't feel like it. I just didn't want to be rehearsing and doing a big show-biz trip. We were in the Virgin Islands, and I certainly wasn't going to be rehearsing in New York, then going back to the Virgin Islands, then coming back up to New York and singing. And anyway, they couldn't have got any more people in, if I'd been there or not. I got enough money off records and I don't feel like doing two shows a night.

Int.: So what did you think of the concert?

John: I didn't see it. I mean, I haven't seen the movie. It seemed like a great success, you know. It seemed like a great success, you know. Newspaperwise it turned out great, and it seems like they got a lot of money. So it seemed all right, and from the reports of people there it seemed fine too. I didn't think much more about it really.

Int.: So when you say you don't feel like doing two shows a night, does this mean we've seen the end of live performances from John Lennon?

John: Oh, no. I want to do a big show. I feel like going out with Yoko. It's possible that a museum show of Yoko's, which is going on in Syracuse this October, will tour America, and it's possible that we'd be in the same town. The museum show is a really far-out scene, so if we do that, and if we are playing in the same place, we really could blow the town out.
See, George came up with a good idea after the concert, which I heard from Allen - I haven't talked to George about it - which was to take a big tour out, and do one show for free and one show for money, in each city. I thought that was good. Then I thought; "Well, fuck it. I don't want to earn any more money. I get enough off records. I don't want to do a big Apple/Beatle tour," because the thing I didn't like about the Bangladesh concert was that it was "the Beatles playing," and whatever it was they played, it wasn't the Beatles. So then I thought, "I'll go out on me own and take me own people with me."

Int.: So who would you take on tour with you ideally?

John: Well, I'd like to go on the road with Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, Yoko, and Eric Clapton, if I can get him out of his house. And maybe when we've got it together, we'd decide if we'd want any saxophones or any kind of jazz like that. Or we might just play village squares or a nightclub.

Int.: Do you have any regrets about not doing the Bangladesh concert?

John: Well, in a way I regretted it. It would have been great, you know. And at first I thought: "Oh, I wish I'd been there. You know, with Dylan and Leon [Russell]. . . . . they needed a rocker, and everybody was telling me, "You should have been there, John." I mean, Leon's a good rocker, but people were telling me, "You should have been there to weigh it up." But I'm glad I didn't do it in a way, because I didn't want to go on as the Beatles. And with George and Ringo there it would have been that connotation of Beatles - now let's hear Ringo sing "It Don't Come Easy." And that's why I left it all, so I wouldn't have to do all that. I don't want to play "My Sweet Lord." I'd as soon go out and do exactly what I want.

Yoko: Because we want to give them reality, you know. Not . . . "Oh, God."

John: And that is a conflict with George.

Int.: Since you mentioned that you'd go out ont he road with Jim Keltner, a drummer, is that any reflection on Ringo's drumming?

John: Oh, no. I love his drumming. I think Keltner is technically a bit better, but Ringo is still one of the best drummers in rock.

Int.: John, you've said a couple of times already that you "get enough off records," yet not too long ago you were saying that you weren't anything like as rich as people thought you were. Are you rich enough finally?

John: Well, I do have money for the first time ever, really. I do feel slightly secure about it, secure enough to say I'll go on the road for free. The reason I got rich is because I'm so insecure. I couldn't give it all away, even in my most holy, Christian, God-fearing, Hare Krishna period. I got into that struggle: I should give it all away, I don't need it. But I need it because I'm so insecure. Yoko doesn't need it. She always had it. I have to have it. I'm not secure enough to give it all up, because I need it to protect me from whatever I'm frightened of.

Yoko: He's very vulnerable.

John: But now I think that Allen Klein has made me secure enough, it's his fault that I'll go out for free.

Int.: Well, I thought I can't really go on the road and take a lot of money. (A) What am I going to do with it? And (B) how could I look somebody in the eye? Why should they pay? I've got everything I need. I've got all the fucking bread I need. If I go broke, well, I'd go on the road for money then. But now I just couldn't face saying, "Well, I cost a million when I sing. It costs that much for me to sing for you."

Yoko: It's criminal.

John: Which is bullshit, because I want to sing. So I'm going out on the road because I want to this time. I want to do something political, and radicalize people, and all that jazz, and this would be the best way. So now I feel like going out on the road. I feel like going out with Yoko, and taking a really far-out show on the road, a mobile, political, rock and roll show, a mobile, political Plastic Ono Bandshow. . . .

Yoko: With clowns as well.

John: . . . and have something going on in the foyer, and something going on in the audience, and not just everything on stage.

Int.: When you say political, what do you mean exactly?

John: Well, I mean political, because everything I do is political. I would take people with me who could speak to the kids, who could speak to them in the foyer, catch them on the way out. Panthers. Weathermen. They can hand all their gear out.

Int.: You want to create a riot in each town?

John: No, I don't want to create a riot or a fight in each town, but I just really want to paint it red.

Int.: So would these be big dates?

John: I don't know. I really haven't thought how to do it. You know what I was thinking - I know I've told you this before - when Paul's going out on the road, I'd like to be playing in the same town for free next door! And he's charging about a million to see him. That would be funny. And of course he's going to think that I'm going out on the road because he's said he's going out on the road, but it'd be a natural thing after Bangladesh.

Yoko: The point is, I really believe that whatever you have, if you don't do as much as you can or have, then you're guilty of not giving. Like, our position is, I come from the East, he comes from the West, a meeting of East and West, and all that. And to communicate with people is almost a responsibility. We actually are living proof of East and West getting along together. It's very important. We are responsible to give whatever we have, or whatever we know.

John: That's why I thought, I can't really go on the road and take a lot of money.

Yoko: No, we can't do that. If you have a lot to give, you have to give. Also, think of the laws of nature. In economic and political and all situations, high water falls low, you know. And if our cup is full, it's going to flow. It's natural for us to give because we have a lot. If we don't give, in a sense that's going against the laws of nature. And in order to go against the laws of nature, you have to use tremendous energy, unnecessary energy, in order to keep it like that, in order to keep that money. That would be very bad for us, and we're not going to do that. If we have more than we need moneywise, we'd rather let the money flow out naturally, you know.

Int.: That's a pretty generous sentiment.

Yoko: It's just wisdom, you know.

John: The wisdom of the East.

Yoko: And if people don't have that wisdom - well, what I mean is - if you're using all that unnecessary energy, it's going to get back at you one way or another. You're going to get cancer or something. And it just isn't worth it.

Int.: From what we've been reading, you are still asked regularly for a lot of money from various underground and leftist causes. Do you always give?

John: Well, I always take care of the underground, whatever I'm doing. And if they get in trouble, I lend them money or invest in them or whatever, because I think they're important. I get asked every two days for at least five thousand pounds, and I usually give it because it's usually somebody that I want to help. So I'm going to try to set up a foundation that can be small, a John and Yoko one, and we might take a dollar a head or anything that's donated at concerts. That would go to this. And then I can pay all these Oz undergrounds, and Clydeside workers, and Timothy Learys, that all want money out of me. And I might be able to fix it up taxwise.
George wants to do a foundation, too, but we'll keep it separate because he might want to give it to Hare Krishna, and I won't.

Int.: So you're going to tour for free, and you're going to give a lot of money away. How is your manager, Allen Klein, reacting to all this generosity?

John: I said to Allen, "You're going to get twenty percent of nothing." And I want him to run the tours because he knows how to do it. I said, "Look, I hope you won't mind, but you know George's idea about the concerts? Well, I've decided to do it all for nothing. And I'm sorry, but you're getting twenty percent of nothing." He said, "Oh, I don't mind." I don't know whether he did or not. Maybe he thinks he'll sell some comics on the side. He'll have thought of something.

Int.: Let's talk about Allen Klein because, as you said, the big factor in the Beatles' breakup was the question of who would manage you, Klein or the Eastmans. You, George, and Ringo wanted Klein, and Paul wanted his in-laws. What made you opt for Klein?

John: Well, Allen's human, whereas Eastman and all them other people are automatons. Sure you can hurt Eastman's feelings, or anybody's feelings, but you can tickle Allen, and I can't imagine tickling Eastman.

Yoko: No sense of humor, Eastman's lot.

John: And when Allen's not doing his bit, he's one of the lads, you know. I would go on holiday with Allen, because he's a lad, he pisses about. When him and his crew go on tour, they piss about like school kids, pretending to be deaf and dumb, whatever kind of crazy thing. He's always having fun, trying to go into hotels with the wrong clothes, wearing crazy clothes. Just games like that. So he's good fun to be around, you know.

Yoko: Actually, he's shy and quiet.

John: And so insecure. He was an orphan. How insecure can you get, with nothing to hang on to?

Yoko: Can you imagine? He has to be a genuis to make money. He was a penniless orphan.

John: And it's so easy to hurt him. It's just like Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol is a very sensitive guy, and if your tone of voice isn't right on the phone, he can get very upset and hurt, and think you're attacking him. Well, Allen's just as bas as Andy Warhol. If you don't say it right, he gets very upset, he thinks you don't like him anymore. And I say, "That was a joke. I didn't mean that."

Yoko: But aside from that, he's a shy guy, very quiet inside. He talks a lot, but inside he's very quiet.

John: And like I say, he likes haivng a laugh with the lads, that sort of thing, whereas you can't imagine them others doing anything but playing golf or crushing beetles.
And one of the early things that impressed me about Allen - and obviously it was a kind of flattery as well - he went through all the old songs we'd written, and he really knew which stuff I'd written. Not many people knew which was my song and which was Paul's, but he'd say, "Well, McCartney didn't write that line, did he?" And I'd say, "Right," you know, and that's what really got me interested [in him], because he knew what our contributions were to the group. Most people thought it was all Paul, or all George Martin. And he knew all my lyrics, and he understood them, not that there's much to understand, but he was into it, and he dug lyrics. So I thought, "Well, anybody who knows me this well, just by listenings to records, is pretty perceptive."

Yoko: Very perceptive.

John: Because I'm not the easiest guy to read, although I'm fairly naive and open in some ways, and I can be conned easily. But in other ways I'm quite complicated, and it's not easy to get through all the defenses and see what I'm like. Klein knew me quite well, without even meeting me. Also he knew to come to me and not to go to Paul, whereas somebody like Lew Grade or Eastman would have gone to Paul.
So he knew that to get in he'd have to come through me. Mind you, he'd been sounding out Mick Jagger and Keith, and all them, saying, "Who runs what?"

Int.: So it's been a few years now since Allen Klein took over managing you and George and Ringo. What's your opinion of him as a manager?

John: Well, I love him, you know. I mean, he really has made me secure enough. I do have money for the first time ever, really. Sometimes he makes me very angry, like when he's pissed off, or pretends he's busy. At any rate, apart from that, I like him, you know. He's a great guy, highly sensitive, highly intelligent. He's not avant-garde or anything like that, he doesn't know from Adam. And it irritates me sometimes when I try and sing him a song before recording, and he can't hear it until it's a finished record. Or if I show him some rushes from a film, and he can't see it until it's a finished film. But apart from that I like him. I don't think he's robbing me, you know. I think he deserves twenty percent because that's his price.

Yoko: He's very creative.

John: He's a creative artist in the way that he will put people together, like Phil Spector and me, which was initially his doing. He tried to create a Rolling Stones/Beatles empire, which might have been a good thing in the early days.

Yoko: Not now.

John: Yeah, but it might have been a good thing. And that's the kind of thing he likes doing, you know. I believe him when he says he looks after Sam Cooke's old father. [Klein managed Sam Cooke, who was shot to death in a motel room.] I think he's a sentimental Jewish mommy, you know. He's got his bad points. He'll be there, and then he's gone, things like that. But he's got a lot of responsibility, and a lot of shit in his head. And it's people like him, or even Brian Epstein, who wasn't quite as clever as Allen, who can't delegate in a way. I know because even if I have a very intelligent assistant, if I piss off, it never gets done.

Int.: Let's talk a bit about Paul's aversion to Klein. From what we've read it seemed as if this wasn't there in the beginning, even though Paul wanted the Eastmans to run things. But it came on later as things progressed. And yet despite this, we gather that Klein was still hoping that Paul would return to the group.

John: Oh, he'd love it if Paul would come back. I think he was hoping he would for years and years. He thought that if he did something, to show Paul that he could do it, Paul would come around. But no chance. I mean, I want him to come out of it, too, you know. He will one day. I give him five years, I've said that. In five years he'll wake up.

Int.: And yet Paul did pretty well from a number of deals Klein negotiated before Paul filed suit to dissolve the group partnership. And not the least of these was the renewed recording contract with EMI, which gave you all much higher royalties. What else was Klein doing to try and lure Paul back?

John: [laughs] One of his reasons for trying to get Paul back was that Paul would have forfeited his right to split by joining us again. We tried to con him into recording with us too. Allen came up with this plan. He said, "Just ring Paul and say, 'We're recording next Friday, are you coming?' " So it nearly happened. It got around that the Beatles were getting together again, because EMI heard that the Beatles had booked recording time again. But Paul would never, never do it, for anything, and now I would never do it. I'm not going to go on a concert tour with Paul, George, and Ringo, because I'm not going to resurrect that.

Int.: But Klein is still hoping?

John: He said to me, "Would you do it, if we got your immigration thing fixed? Or if we could get rid of the drug conviction?"

Yoko: And people don't understand, you know. There're so many groups that constantly announce they're going to split, they're going to split, and they can announce it every year, and it doesn't mean they're going to split. But people don't understand what an extraordinary position the Beatles are in, you know. In every way. They're in such an extraordinary position that they're more insecure than other people. And so Klein thinks he'll give Paul two years Lindawise, you know. And John said, "No, Paul treasures things like children, things like that. It will be longer." And of course, John was right.

Int.: We've heard that Klein has said that Linda and you, Yoko, were a large reason for the Beatles' breakup?

Yoko: Yeah, I don't like it when Allen insinuates that Linda and me, being women, didn't get along, and that this was the cause of the split. It just isn't true.

John: Allen tries hard to understand Yoko and her work, but it's a struggle for him. He doesn't understand it. And it's taken him a long time to come around and realize she just isn't another chick, you know.

Yoko: Can you imagine that? John had a fever once and was asleep upstairs, and Allen visited us and was talking to me. And he said, "Well, you know, if I get to manage John and all that, if it works out that way, then I don't mind if John has a little fun on the side with you." He took me as a groupie chick, you know.

John: Because all the women he'd ever met with the groups were chicks.

Yoko: And I'm a Japanese girl, you know. That bit. So I thought, "What the hell. He didn't discover me yet."

John: He realizes she's intelligent. I think he knows you're proud. Now he's realizing she's not a chick. And if anything, at least his equal.

Yoko: I was laughing. I wasn't insulted. I thought, "My God, I must look young." I was almost flattered.

Int.: Still, in regard to Klein, there had been a tremendous outpouring of negative publicity about him, especially in the English press. And this went on for some time, as he was going after the Beatles. Didn't that bother you, or at least give you cause for reservation?

John: Well, he's a businessman. I feel sorry for him in the way I have some sympathy for Yoko, because it's difficult with all the attacks in the press. And the English do hate Americans and Jews, especially ones who are going to come in and make money in their little Wall Street, you know. They already beat Allen out once when he was trying to buy a music-publishing company. They clubbed together and got rid of him. So okay, he's probably cut many peoples' throats. So have I. I made it too. I mean, I can't remember anybody I literally cut, but I've certainly trod on a few feet on the way up. And I'm sure he did. I don't think he deserves the shit he gets thrown at him, and if time proves me wrong in the end, so be it. I think he deserves what he earns, and I do have more money.

Int.: You were making comparisons earlier between Klein and Brian Epstein. I want to talk more about Epstein later, but could we go on with the comparison?

Yoko: Well, Klein has this reputation as a whacky businessman, but I tell you, he's too conservative in many ways. That may surprise people but it's true. Klein's attitude is, he goes for the top people, right? He doesn't go for anybody but the top . . . Rolling Stones, Beatles, et cetera. Which is all very good, but at the same time that means he doesn't take any risks.

John: He wouldn't have recognized us at the Cavern. And like the film El Topo . . . we talked him into buying it, but he took our word that it was a good film.

Yoko: He would have been the guy who turned down the Beatles. . . .

John: No, he wouldn't. He can spot a good song when he hears it.

Int.: Aren't you really saying that he can only see the dollar signs?

Yoko: Right.

John: That's what it is.

Int.: Let's go back to that comparison with Epstein. You mentioned something about delegating.

John: Yeah. Well, Brian couldn't delegate, and neither can Allen. But what I was sawing was, I understand that because when I try and delegate it never gets done properly. Like with my albums and Yoko's, each time I have to go through the same process: check if it was sent to so-and-so. Did this happen? Get the printing size right. I want it clear and simple and all that. Like for an advert. I have to go through the same jazz all the time. It's never a lesson learned.

Int.: Let's get back to talking about the group, and the four different personalities involved. When we've asked about the split, people give many different reasons for it. Neil Aspinall, you old Liverpool friend and managing director of Apple, said you were like guys going through war on those tours, and when you came back, you found out you were very different people. I asked Lee Eastman for his view of the split, and what it was that prompted Paul to file suit to dissolve the Beatles' partnership, and he said it was because John asked for a divorce.

John: Because I asked for a divorce? That's a childish reason for going into court, isn't it? Have you talked to Lee Eastman for your book?

Int.: Yes.

John: Did he get angry and yell at you?

Int.: He got pretty heated once on the phone.

John: Good; that's shows I'm not making it up. Because I'm the only one who's ever talked about it.

Int.: What was it like for you when the court case was on, with all the publicity?

John: Well, when it first started, I got on a boat and went to Japan for two weeks, and nobody could get in touch with me. They got me in Miami, then I got to Japan and I didn't tell anybody I'd arrived. We just pissed off up in the hills and nobody could find us. Then suddenly I get these calls from the lawyer, fucking idiot. I didn't like his voice, as soon as I heard him, you know. A sort of upper-class Irish-English voice. Fuck. And then he insisted I come home. I could have done it all on the fucking phone. And I came home and we were having meetings all the time with these counsels, every other day, and it went on for weeks and weeks. George and Ringo were getting restless and didn't want to do it anymore. And then George would say, "I've had enough. I don't want to do it. Fuck it all. I don't care if I'm poor." George goes through that every now and then. "I'll give it all away." Will he fuck? He's got it all charted up, like monopolo money.

Int.: Let's talk a bit about George. He's perhaps the most enigmatic Beatle. Are you saying George is more conventional than he makes himself out to be?

John: There's no telling George. He always has a point of view about that wide, you know. [John places his hands a few inches apart.] You can't tell him anything.

Yoko: George is sophisticated, fashionwise. . . .

John: He's very trendy, and he has the right clothes, and all of that. . . .

Yoko: But he's not sophisticated, intellectually.

John: No. He's very narrow-minded and he doesn't really have a broader view. Paul is far more aware than George. One time in the Apple office in Wigmore Street, I said something to George, and he said, "I'm as intelligent as you, you know." This must have been resentment, but he could have left anytime if I was giving him a hard time.