1969 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR Dolenz, Jones, and Nesmith (March - December 1969)
"On the whole, their show is immensely interesting. It is exciting to see three performers, who could have rested on their laurels, have the nerve and artistic integrity to change a successful style. The new Monkees have risen to the challenge and are succeeding beautifully."
-Seattle Times review of The Monkees' performance at the Seattle Center Coliseum on March 30, 1969
THE SET LIST
(Photo by Henry Diltz)
I'm a Believer Pleasant Valley Sunday Tapioca Tundra I Wanna Be Free Show Me (Micky lead vocal) A Man Without a Dream Daydream Believer Goin' Down Someday Man Listen to the Band Don't Wait For Me Get On Up (or) Summertime (Micky solo) For Once in My Life (Davy solo) Johnny B. Goode (Mike solo) I'm a Believer (reprise / R&B version with Micky and Davy trading verses)
"Last Train to Clarksville" was played on different nights. "Salesman" was performed in Honolulu, Hawaii in April 1969. "Mommy and Daddy" was reportedly performed in Salt Lake City, Utah in December 1969.
In December 1968, during the filming of what would become the band's April 1969 NBC television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, Peter Tork made it clear that he was leaving The Monkees. Unhappy that the group dynamic that had surrounded the Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. recording sessions had dissipated, Tork completed his final Monkees project as the year closed, leaving Micky, Davy, and Michael to carry on as The Monkees. "I didn’t care about all the acclaim. I wanted to record all my life," Peter told Ann Moses at the time. "The pressure was awful," he continued, saying that "the only time that I was really happy was when we were recording the Headquarters album. The concerts were fun, but during the concert tours you are removed from your friends except for the guys." Peter also voiced frustrations about the group's late-1968 tour of Australia and Japan. "The last tour...wasn't fun because I felt hideously under-rehearsed. I was constantly pushing for rehearsals, and they were constantly saying, 'Well, like, later.' We couldn't get together." After the filming of the TV special, Micky, Davy, and Michael presented Peter with a gold watch with the inscription, "From the guys down at work." Peter was both sentimental and apprehensive about his departure from The Monkees. "They're very talented guys. Mike is one of the funniest people I've ever known. Micky is even funnier, and Davy is just as cute as a button. Who could ask for anything more? I'm both really relieved and really, really apprehensive. I'm terribly glad and also terribly sad."
In early 1969, both Nesmith and Jones were upbeat about the group's future after Peter's exit. "It was no surprise when Peter left. There were no arguments," Mike told the New Musical Express. "It is a fact that Peter's leaving has had the reverse effect, in that it has brought us together more. We lean on each other more, and now we believe we can develop each of our talents within the context of The Monkees." Davy concurred with Nesmith. "The Monkees are more together than ever before...There have been a lot of people who have taken credit for our success. We've known where we've been at since the beginning, and the fact that we're now one less only makes us much tighter."
Billboard magazine reported in February 1969 that a tour of the United States in the spring was being planned to aggressively promote the band's latest single, "Teardrop City," and album, Instant Replay. The tour would be a new, more soulful direction for The Monkees as they melded their style with that of Sam & The Goodtimers, a seven-piece rhythm and blues band. Mike had watched the Goodtimers perform at the Red Velvet club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and came away impressed by the group, who had formerly supported Ike and Tina Turner. The Goodtimers were asked to join the tour and open the shows, while also providing instrumental backup for The Monkees throughout their performance. (Other bands along with The Goodtimers were also featured on the bill throughout the tour as opening acts.) "It was a very interesting time, " Nesmith told Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval. "Somebody said get a band together. So we put this black R&B band together - and it was just totally weird. But it wasn't any weirder than Jimi Hendrix opening for us." Rehearsals began in March with their first joint performance occurring in Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 29, 1969. Mike played guitar throughout the show, while Micky and Davy shared center stage, adding tambourine or maracas on select songs. Micky played the drums only during his solo number and Davy occasionally played his customized Gretsch bass guitar.
(From the collection of Kevin Schmid)
Sam & The Goodtimers consisted of Sam Rhodes (lead vocals), Willie Webb (guitar), Tony Burrell (bass), Clifford Solomon (sax), Mack Johnson (trumpet), Thomas Norwood (drums), and Ernest Lane (keyboards). The combination of The Monkees' pop/rock sound with the R&B flavor of the Goodtimers made for a unique sounding and diverse presentation. Years later, Rhodes remembered the experience fondly. "It was a great cultural mix," Rhodes said. "It really was clicking. The show was dynamite. We blended with them so well!" Rhodes was also impressed with Nesmith's guitar work, saying that "Mike's guitar was very soulful and very funky. Nesmith was the glue that held them together musically."The concerts were staged to be more like a revue, and featured cover songs like The Esquires' "Get on Up," Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," the jazz standard "Summertime," Stevie Wonder's “For Once In My Life,” and Joe Tex's "Show Me." Brand new film footage shot by Micky, Davy, and Mike was projected on a screen behind the band. Mixed in during the course of the show were comedy bits and the solo spots. This would be the last Monkees tour until 1986.
Early reviews for The Monkees in concert in 1969 noted the group's more individualistic approach. "The Monkees have changed," wrote The Seattle Times after their appearance at Washington's Seattle Center Coliseum. "Since their series ended last spring, Micky, Mike, and Davy have progressed from a single product labeled 'Monkees' to a trio of individualistic artists who perform together as an act. Rather than having one type of music, their revue consists of three types built around the individual taste and talent of each performer. Micky concentrates on rhythm and blues, backed by one of the best bands in that field, Sam & The Goodtimers...Davy presents a nightclub style. He sings lyrical love songs such as 'For Once in My Life' and his image is more sophisticated than when he did teen rock. Mike is basically oriented towards country music. He performs alone on acoustic guitar and sings in a sort of Hank Williams style." Despite a somewhat radical new approach to their live show, The Monkees received positive reviews in the early going. "The overall effect of the change is that the group as a whole is more satisfying to listen to, and their concert is far more interesting to attend...The program is more a stage production than a typical rock concert," observed The Seattle Times. "The Monkees are in the process of succeeding...Their performance is not without minor flaws. But on the whole, their show is immensely interesting. It is exciting to see three performers, who could have rested on their laurels, have the nerve and artistic integrity to change a successful style. The new Monkees have risen to the challenge and are succeeding beautifully."
The Monkees with Johnny Cash
With their own television series finished, it was the goal of The Monkees in 1969 to maintain a high profile on the road and on television to promote the band's latest musical offerings. However, their popularity had cooled considerably and their ability to sell concert tickets and records had suddenly diminished. Even though the trio made promotional appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (audio of this appearance can be heard below in a YouTube video), Laugh-In, The Joey Bishop Show (YouTube audio available below), The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and The Johnny Cash Show (also seen below singing a stately version of "Nine Times Blue"), the 1969 tour was poorly attended at most dates, though several stops did indeed play to a packed house. A proposed British tour was scheduled, then postponed, and later canceled altogether.
Although Billboard praised The Monkees' new concert show as a gutsy and daring adventure, other critics came away confused by the mixing of The Monkees' pop sensibilities with the heavy R&B lounge flavor of The Goodtimers. "We all had a good time on the tour," said Nesmith in the liner notes for the Instant Replay compact disc release in 1995, but "it was tough out there." Despite their heavy touring schedule and multiple high-profile TV appearances, no Monkees single entered the Top 40 in 1969 (though the Instant Replay album managed to climb to #32). Years later, Dolenz expressed fond recollections of working with the Goodtimers but surmised that the audience must have been confused by the pairing of such different musical styles. The 1969 tour, Dolenz said, "was like kicking a dead horse. The phenomenon had peaked."
Davy, Mike and Micky rehearse for their appearance on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
Fan club postcard (From the collection of Kevin Schmid)
As the tour continued across North America through the end of the year, some shows, including a concert at Forest Hills Stadium in New York City, site of triumph for The Monkees in 1967, were canceled, most likely due to poor ticket sales. Two more singles, "Listen to the Band"/"Someday Man" and "Good Clean Fun"/"Mommy and Daddy" stalled on the charts. The Monkees Present album followed in October 1969 but barely cracked the Top 100, despite a heavy cross promotion with Kool-Aid. In November, Michael began to make it known that he would be departing The Monkees over the next several months to form a new group, which would become The First National Band. Dolenz, Jones and Nesmith performed their last concert together on December 6, 1969 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Micky and Davy confirmed that they would continue as The Monkees for any remaining projects. The duo released the album Changes in May 1970. The Monkees were officially disbanded by the end of 1970.
With the Goodtimers on the Joey Bishop Show
One concert from this tour (thought to be the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas at the Century II Convention Center) does exist as bootleg, but it’s an absolutely horrible recording (audio available below) usually sought after for historical purposes only. For years there have been rumors that the band recorded a show on this tour, but no tapes have ever turned up. In an online interview with Micky in 2005, he said no audio exists of the '69 shows. "We never recorded that," Dolenz recalled. "I recorded Sam & The Goodtimers as an act, and was trying to sell them to a record company. But we never recorded - I wish we had, it was funny, it was really great having that band, they were a great band." Andrew Sandoval agreed with Micky about the nonexistence of 1969 live audio. "Certainly there’s no tape of a 1969 show in the Monkees vault. What Micky says…that he taped them (The Goodtimers) at that Souled Out Club in Los Angeles…makes a lot of sense," the Monkees historian said in a 2005 interview. "I tried to do research about that club. I found out where it was but there were never any advertisements or listings of who played there in that time period, so it was hard to say when the Goodtimers played there or when The Monkees might have come to see them. It seems more and more that if there had been a recording it would have shown up by now. It’s been a long time, you know?” Amazingly, silent footage of The Monkees performing on August 25, 1969 at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto did eventually surface on YouTube (and can be seen below).
Sam & The Goodtimers continued to perform together after touring with The Monkees throughout 1969. They eventually disbanded in 1972. Webb, Solomon, and Johnson went on to become respected session musicians who played with various R&B artists. Rhodes himself attended a Monkees reunion concert years later, saying "the band really sounded good. Peter Tork is very good on the guitar."
(A special thank you to Andrew Sandoval for a lot of the information found in the 1969 North American Tour summary. His book researched and detailed this year in Monkees history like never before. Thanks also to Joe Alterio. The pictures of Sam & The Goodtimers that appear below are from Joe's personal collection, as are the rare pictures of The Monkees performing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 22, 1969. Joe interviewed Goodtimer Sam Rhodes in 1997 and parts of that interview were also referenced for this section.)
For more pictures, articles and information about the 1969 tour, scroll through blog posts here.
"The de-emphasis of the group image and the boosting of solo careers seemed indicative of The Monkees' current fling. I'm sure Nesmith would have liked to do more things on unamplified guitar, as he did of 'Don't Wait For Me,' a plaintive country tune. Jones's 'For Once In My Life' belter was that kind of a performance that one might find on a Broadway stage. And Micky's preoccupation with soul was in the limelight time and time again." -Honolulu Advertiser review of The Monkees' concert at the Honolulu International Center Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 19, 1969
PERFORMANCE ON THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW
The Monkees performing Michael Nesmith's "Nine Times Blue" on July 19, 1969
LATE 1968/1969 PHOTO GALLERY
SAM & THE GOODTIMERS
Few examples of The Monkees performing live with Sam & The Goodtimers in 1969 have survived. Below is an audio recording of their appearance on The Joey Bishop Show on April 24, 1969. Included in their performance that evening were "I'm a Believer," and both sides of their latest single, "Someday Man" and "Listen to the Band."
Micky Dolenz discusses the 1969 tour with Sam & The Goodtimers in 1996
(Above) In this mid-2000s interview conducted by Andrew Sandoval, Michael Nesmith discusses Sam & The Goodtimers, the group's 1969 appearances in Mexico, and more about the 1969 tour. (Podcast courtesy of Monkees.com)
Mike and Davy in Mexico
1969 MONKEES ALBUMS & SINGLES
Instant Replay (February 1969)
The Monkees Present (October 1969)
"Teardrop City"/"A Man Without a Dream" single, released in February 1969
"Listen to the Band"/"Someday Man" single, released on April 15, 1969
"Good Clean Fun"/"Mommy and Daddy" single, released in September 1969
Ad published in the February 15 & 22, 1969 issues of Billboard (Courtesy of Monkee45s.net)
An ad for the Instant Replay album, most likely from Record World magazine
New Music Express ad for the "Teardrop City" single (March 22, 1969 issue). Note that it references visiting Britain in May, but the proposed tour was later canceled
April 26, 1969 Billboard ad for the "Someday Man"/"Listen to the Band" single
September 6, 1969 Cashbox ad for "Good Clean Fun"/"Mommy and Daddy" single
(Above) Silent film footage from August 2, 1969 at Mollenkopf Stadium in Warren, Ohio
(Above and Below) This is silent footage of The Monkees performing on August 25, 1969 in Toronto at the Canadian National Exhibition
Photos of The Monkees on and off stage in 1969 are more scarce in comparison to their earlier tours in the 1960s. (Click all photos to enlarge)
Here's Davy and Mike backstage at the Jackson Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi on May 3, 1969.
(Mississippi photos by Gary Flumm)
(All Virginia photos by Dick Boushell)
These photos were taken in Virginia Beach, Virginia at The Dome on June 13, 1969.
(Milwaukee photos are from the collection of Joe Alterio)
The Monkees perform in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 22, 1969
The YouTube video below contains a rare radio spot featuring The Monkees from 1969. The trio are guests on radio station KLEO promoting their concert at the Century II Convention Center in Wichita, Kansas on May 10.
The audio file above is a commercial on radio station KYA promoting the concert at the Oakland Coliseum on November 30 (the second to last date of the 1969 tour). Note the mention of the concert being recorded (but no official recording has ever seen the light of day).
The audio clips below come from the only known bootleg of the 1969 tour (thought to have been recorded at the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas at the Century II Convention Center). "Tapioca Tundra" (left) and "I'm a Believer" (right) can be heard here. It's an absolutely horrible recording that I'm only posting for the historical curiosity of it. (Be sure to turn up the volume on your speakers.)
(Below) The Monkees appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on June 17, 1969. They sang two songs, "Daydream Believer," and "Goin' Down," and were later interviewed by Carson. The trio was backed by their 1969 touring band, Sam & The Goodtimers. No video of this appearance exists.
(Below) This audio comes from the only known bootleg recording of The Monkees' 1969 tour, thought to be the May 10, 1969 performance in Wichita, Kansas. Spliced together here are some of the best audible fragments of the bootleg. (Be sure to turn up the volume on your speakers.)
More audio from The Monkees' 1969 tour can be found here.
THE TOUR PROGRAM
THE MONKEES IN NORTH CAROLINA
No longer a member of The Monkees in 1969, Peter Tork made relatively few public appearances that year. He formed a new group, Release, but nothing was ever formally recorded.
July 1969 Tiger Beat (Courtesy of Troy Maynus)
(From the collection of Joe Alterio)
Peter with Reine Stewart at the Renaissance Fair in May 1969 (From the collection of Joe Alterio)
In one of his first post-Monkees TV appearances, Peter was a guest on "Happening '69" in July 1969.