The Monkees Never Relax

Says ‘Going Down’ co-songwriter Diane Hilderbrand

Diane Hilderbrand is 22, a songwriter and singer—and a talented girl. A lucky girl, too. For she has written songs for the Monkees. She’s known the boys for more than a year… and has been DATED by Peter Tork.

Which is where we come in. We met Diane, who wore white jeans, boots and a marvellous matey air, to talk about HER view of the boys. And let’s say from the start that she rates them “great guys”.

Diane’s been writing songs for about nine years. She wrote music for the “Flying Nun” television series, soon out on BBC-TV. And lyrics to a film “The Tiger Makes Out”, starring Eli Wallach. Now she’s under contract to Screen Gems. Much of her writing is for new groups, like the Stone Country.

BUT… it’s the Monkees we’re concerned about. Diane wrote “Early Morning Blues And Greens”, which Davy sings on the Monkees’ third album. She also wrote, with Jack Keller, “Auntie Grizelda”, often featured in the TV series. And with some blokes named Dolenz, Jones, Tork and Nesmith, “Going Down”, the ‘B’ side of their last record.

Met in TV studios

Here’s something else. Diane has recorded “Early Morning Blues and Greens” herself… it comes out in the States around now and is expected to be released in Britain soon. But let’s get on with the Monkee side of her career. Diane tells you in her own words…

“It was October, last year that I met them at the TV studios. They’d just seen ‘Early Morning Blues’ and it was Peter who asked me over to meet everybody. I know it sounds crazy but I’d met Peter before somewhere and for the life of me I couldn’t remember just where it was. Lester Sill, the company boss, took me over there.

“Anyway I just watched things progress. I had only the simple one-note music, of the song written down. But the boys wanted to do it. Only problem was that they didn’t know where or when.

“What I noticed first about the way they work is that they’re always being hassled by people. They really do lead very busy lives and everybody pulls and pokes at them when they’re out anywhere. So it’s pretty strict security on the set. But they’re real exuberant when they’re working. Actually, I must tell you that Peter came up to my office in the Screen Gems’ Building and we wrote a song together after work one day. Oh, it has these broken-down merry-go-round lyrics… guess we’ll call it ‘The Merry-Go-Round’. Peter had a couple of bars of the song going round in his head, so I got with him to finish it off.

“So it was Peter I got to know best. You know how people say Mike is a bit moody. Well, I went to Nashville where he was doing some sessions and I really got to know him well. And he’s great. You know he’s a boy from the South. Well, he told me: ‘It’s funny but everytime I come back to the South my I.Q. drops about twenty degrees’.

“Getting a Monkee to really relax is something else. Okay, it’s been said before, but they really are always in the TV studios, or recording. Or off on a tour somewheres. Of course they DO have some time to themselves, but there are always so many people around. They’re never left alone. They are on show all the time.

“Anyway, let’s get on. I know Davy to speak to, that’s about all. I like him in particular, as of the Monkees, but I don’t really know him. Get it? As for Micky, well—he’s on the go all the time. He burns up energy.

“But let’s talk about Peter a little longer. I’m not going to talk about his personal life because I feel that’s wrong. These guys have to work darned hard and they deserve some privacy…

“But I’ll say this—Peter is very deep. Moody. But whether he enjoys something or not depends a lot on how he feels. Like we went sometimes to places in Hollywood where you can get Southern grits, and ham hocks and food like that. Or we’d go to teen clubs, to watch some real teenage talent. One club was a coloured place. But somebody always wants an autograph. Peter’s great, though, for joining in things if he’s in the right mood.

“You know, I play guitar and he plays guitar and banjo. Well, you go to some of these clubs and there are always instruments lying around. So he’ll get up and start jamming. Like he’ll meet a guy from the Modern Folk Quartet and soon everybody’s joining in a session.

Dated Peter

“I dated Peter several times. But really when you go into it, the Monkees aren’t so much for going out. They just get some friends around them and have conversation and maybe a little jamming. I don’t want to sound all tied up with the Monkees because I’m under contract to the whole company. But I hear these criticisms of the Monkees and I shiver. You see when you’re successful, there’s always someone finding something wrong with you. They now know this. Especially as they are the MOST successful… phenomenal. That’s my personal comment. It always happens…

“You probably heard about the Hollywood Bowl. I went to see them in a show there. They have this big pool right in front of the stage. Normally they cover it up. So this time they didn’t figuring it’d keep the fans back. Anyway Micky does his James Brown bit and in rehearsal said he’d dive into the pool. Which he did. And immediately loads of fans started diving in after him… What a scene!!!

“Oh, gosh—back to Peter. He’s just got this Mercedes Sedan. But really he doesn’t spend much on himself—though he spends a whole lot on his friends. This guy is just TOO generous. Take clothes. He’s got a closet full of them that he doesn’t wear. But fans send him a lot of new clothes. His attitude is that if it suits him, he’ll wear it. Probably for ever. He thinks a lot of fans who go to all this trouble on his behalf.

“You know they were terribly impressed with meeting the Beatles when they were in London. I told Peter I was going to London and he said to send the Beatles his love. And really Peter, and the others, are interested in meditation—as from the Maharishi. I guess we see basic truth in his work and in his word… so we’re meditators.

“But when you meet the Monkees the big thing is their generosity. Like they bought a Mercedes for one of the secretaries on a recent tour. And Mike, at one date, sent out new cars to pick up lots of his relatives and he put them all up at a hotel for the night so they could see the show. Like he says: ‘If I don’t spend my money fast, I’ll be broke in five years’. That’s the way they all are. I could tell you about Mike buying a motor-bike for a friend and having it put there, all wrapped up, on this friend’s desk in his office. Only I couldn’t tell you EXACTLY what Mike wrote in the message—you couldn’t print it! But Mike is like that. He gets right to the point when he’s talking.

Helps friends

“And Peter has helped out friends all over the place. Sure he gets depressed. sometimes, but who wouldn’t in his position. You can’t keep on at full pelt all the time.

“They’re all different individuals. I mean, Micky has his house in Laurel Canyon, which is a very popular area. He’s a fanatic over improving everything and making it into a show place. But Peter doesn’t seem concerned about his home at all. It’s somewhere to live and to entertain friends and that’s about the total of it.

“I adore the Monkees as characters and people. I only hope I write some more songs which suit their style. But I want to try all things. In London, I wrote some material with Colin Forcey of the Spectrum…”

Which is where the so-friendly Diane went right after our chat. A good songwriter herself, she knows what a tough business it can be especially for those at the top.

A girl in a million—that about sums her up. After all, she’s not just a business acquaintance of the Monkees. She’s also a mate! ENDS

Magazine: Monkees Monthly
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Issue: 12
Publisher: Beat Publications Ltd.
Pages: 5–6