Keith Altham’s American Scene

Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith

LONDON (via New York, San Francisco, Monterey and Los Angeles)—Thanks to SONNY & CHER for being Sonny and Cher at home . . . to JILL GIBSON and LOU ADLE for driving me back to my obscure Monterey motel . . . to PAPA JOHN and MAMA MICHELLE for the hospitality of their Bel Air mansion with tea and sympathy . . . to FLIP’s STEVE KAHN and his lovely wife EVY for their friendship and anti-biotics . . . to MIKE NESMITH for his patience and good manners . . . to MICKY DOLENZ and PETER TORK for being so friendly . . . to ART GARFUNKEL for the dangling conversation . . . and to PAUL SIMON for the advice . . . to GRACE SLICK of THE JEFFESON AIRPLANE (“Aerobuzzer”) for being more human than “flower spirit” at the Fillmore . . . to CHARLIE GREENE and BRIAN STONE for the ride, laughs had music . . . to TRACY THOMAS, for being young . . . to DEREK TAYLOR for his patience and criticism . . . and, most of all, to BRUCE JOHNSTON of THE BEACH BOYS for making five days in Los Angeles so memorable. Finally my thanks to all those Americans who were kind to an Englishman 5600 miles away from home!

Home again in London, trying to sort out all the memories. With your permission, would like to share them with you.

NEW YORK—Where JIMI HENDRIX was voted “the man most unlikely to get a cab anywhere.” You’ve got problems if you’re not wearing a tie and an executive face. And Jimi’s green scarf, black velvet jacket and floral shirts were just not transportable! Where I saw RITCHIE HAVEN by accident and just listened and listened. I am not alone in my admiration of this man, for later in Monterey, MONKEE PETER TORK told me: “I believe Ritchie Haven is a genius—that’s what I believe.”

SAN FRANCISCO—Where the mists roll in off the hills and they were playing SCOTT McKENZIE’s record more times than we get through the National Anthem in England. Where JIMI had a little sulk when he discovered that I had left his “Mad” magazine in my New York hotel room. Where THE ANIMALS and I visited the Planetarium to see a show on UFOs.

MONTEREY—Where, in the Pop Festival offices, I met MAMA MICHELE, who referred my request for passes to another girl, who referred me to LOU ADLER, who remembered me from England, who referred me to PAPA JOHN, who referred me to MAMA MICHELLE, who typed out my pass!

“The Beatles are here! The Beatles are here!” were the most consistent rumours but THE BEATLES were not there. And ROLLING STONE BRIAN JONES, who was there, was able to tell me wy [sic]. “I phoned Brian Epstein on Friday night,” he said. “Unfortunately, The Beatles have to record their single ‘All You Need Is Love’ for sattelite [sic] transmission and they will not be able to come.”

The Beatles weren’t there, but THE MONKEES were, and Micky and I spent 15 minutes talking about The Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’ album. “Aren’t you going to ask me about Sammy?” he said with a wicked grin. I replied “No” unless he wanted to talk about his private life. “Thanks,” he said. “I just hope the press in England haven’t been giving her a bad time. Poor Sammy!”

Met PETER TORK the second evening of the Festival, and he told me why he didn’t like interviews. “A reporter’s job is to extract information or news upon subjects which quite often we do not wish to talk,” Peter said. “I hate being put in a package with a label round my neck.”

Peter mentioned how much he liked Ringo’s track on The Beatles’ album, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” and that the entire album was the most advanced pop album ever. One of the things that impressed me most was that on the few occasions when he was challenged by an official he never declared, “I’m Peter Tork of The Monkees,” but patiently dug out his official pass card.

The honors on the final night of the Festival went to THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS. They have a once-in-a-lifetime magic with numbers like “I Call Your Name” and “California Dreaming,” which is now a reality for me.

LOS ANGELES—Met in this unbelievable city by BRUCE JOHNSTON in his Thunderbird. Visited JOHN and MICHELLE, had breakfast with MIKE LOVE, went to a party with SONNY & CHER, danced at The Daisy with LULU (while BOBBY DARIN and BARBRA STREISAND were just a few feet away), and much, much more. But these are other stories of great length and it would take all of FLIP to relate them. Perhaps another time.

Next time—next month in FLIP—this column will again take its usual shape.

Thank you.

Magazine: Flip
Publisher: Kahn Communications Corporation
Pages: 40–41