AUSTRALIA & JAPAN 1968 (September - October 1968)
Landing in Tokyo
"The Monkees were late in arriving — 25 minutes late to be exact — but the wave of Monkee fanatics merely groaned its dissatisfaction at being stood up for so long. Sporadic screams of "We want The Monkees" and individual cries for each member of the quartet rose over the din of rustling miniskirts and the shuffle of feet.
When they did arrive, it was bedlam.
The group didn't disappoint the crowd...they continued through their repertoire of record hits with their amplifiers turned up so loud an earthquake was recorded in Hokkaido by mistake."
Last Train to Clarksville I Wanna Be Free D.W. Washburn Sunny Girlfriend Daydream Believer Cuddly Toy Salesman It’s Nice To Be With You Mary, Mary Cindy (Peter solo) Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky (Peter solo) Johnny B. Goode (Mike solo) Gonna Build a Mountain (Davy solo) I Got a Woman (Micky solo) I’m a Believer (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
THE TOUR SCHEDULE
September 18: Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia (2 shows) September 19: Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia (2 shows) September 21: Sydney Stadium, Sydney, Australia (2 shows) September 23: Festival Hall, Brisbane, Australia (2 shows) September 27: Centennial Hall, Adelaide, Australia (2 shows) September 28: Sydney Stadium, Sydney, Australia (2 shows) September 29: Sydney Stadium, Sydney, Australia (2 shows) October 3: Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan (2 shows) October 4: Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan October 5: Kokusai Hall, Kyoto, Japan October 7: Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan October 8: Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan
Onstage in Japan - Davy played bass when Peter moved to keyboards
In the fall of 1968, The Monkees found themselves at a sort of crossroads in their career. A third season of The Monkees television show had been rejected by both the band and NBC for different reasons. For the first time since 1966, The Monkees would not have prime time television exposure for their music. In the recording studio, they had moved away from the united group approach that existed during the sessions for the Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. albums. Furthermore, the band's popularity at home had cooled considerably, as its most recent single, "D.W. Washburn," released in the summer of 1968, barely cracked the Top 20 in the United States. However, The Monkees were about to debut their ambitious feature film in movie theatres and undertake a concert tour of Australia and Japan, their first visit to these countries since the dawn of Monkeemania. A series of Monkees television specials on NBC were in the works, and Davy Jones relayed to the Monkees Monthly publication in August that the band was interested in conducting a world tour over the course of the next year.
A tour of countries in the Far East had been in the planning stages for a while and was originally slated to visit Australia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Hawaii. In the end, only concerts in Australia and Japan were scheduled. As The Monkees and their tour party prepared to leave for the trip abroad on September 14, 1968, it was reported that their upcoming movie had finally been given a title (Head). Jack Nicholson, who served as a writer and a producer for the film, was busy assembling the film's unique soundtrack.
Melbourne press conference
The Monkees arrived in Sydney, Australia (after a brief layover in Fiji) on September 16 to a frenzied crowd of fans waiting at the airport. The band undertook a series of television interviews and held a press conference in Sydney, and later that day, in Melbourne. Footage of the Sydney press conference survives on film. Audio from these events and more can be heard on The Monkees Talk Downunder, originally released as a picture disc vinyl album in 1988. The album features the Sydney and Melbourne press conferences (a portion of the Sydney conference can be heard in a YouTube video on the bottom of this page), radio interviews, and comments from the individual Monkees. It was made available on compact disc in 1997.
Mike and Davy at Sydney Stadium
Marcie Jones and The Cookies, an all-girl pop quartet, opened for The Monkees on the Australian portion of the tour, as did The Cherokees, who also provided instrumental support during the solo segments. The tour started with the band playing four shows at Festival Hall in Melbourne on September 18 and 19. It moved to Sydney for two performances at Sydney Stadium before heading to Brisbane and Adelaide for a couple of shows a piece in each city. The Australian portion of the tour wrapped up back in Sydney, with four more concerts at Sydney Stadium on September 28 and 29. Tragically, during the second show on September 29, a young female fan collapsed and died the next day from heart failure. The Monkees were not made aware of the situation until reaching Japan. Beyond this very sad event, the fourteen Australian concerts were met with very large crowds and critical praise. On September 30, The Monkees traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the second leg of the tour, but were forced to stop in Hong Kong when their flight hit severe weather.
The Monkees live in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan Hall
Davy & Micky in Japan
Landing in Japan on October 1, The Monkees were greeted by a reported 10,000 fans at the Tokyo International Airport. Death threats had also been received, and as a result, security around the group was tightened during their stay in Japan. The first concerts took place in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, where The Monkees played three shows at Budokan Hall. The tour moved to Kyoto for a concert at Kokusai Hall and closed with performances at Festival Hall in Osaka on October 7 and 8. The Floral provided instrumental support during the solo spots. After the Japanese shows were completed, the original quartet would not perform together again in concert until 1986.
In Japan, one of the concerts was filmed (most likely during the two day, three concert stay at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, 1968) and later broadcasted on Japanese television. This recording, however, has never been officially released. The audio of it (straight from the video) does exist as a bootleg (portions of which can be heard below in YouTube clips, complete with Japanese introductions), but the video footage is presumed lost or destroyed.
The Far East tour of 1968 was extremely successful for The Monkees. Even though their popularity was beginning to fade in the United States, these concerts were a critical and commercial triumph. As the group prepares to leave Japan and return home, their new single, "Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)" enters the Billboard Hot 100. Their first (and only) feature film, Head, will premiere in New York City on November 6.