If you’re as popular a world figure as the Monkees, just snatching a few days off “away from it all” can be quite a problem. So many people—photographers, reporters, producers, fans and just plain old friends—want to know just what you’re up to, where you can be contacted, how much time you can spare them.
Around Christmas and the New Year, Davy and Peter managed to get clear of recording and television work. They flew in, independently, to London and then played it by ear. Here’s a movement-by-movement report of what happened, done with the full blessing of the boys who are most anxious that you, the REAL fans, are kept in the picture about Monkee business.
Well, Davy flew into London Airport on December 24. On arrival, he said: “I don’t want to be a drag but I’d like to have as much time as possible just to myself. I couldn’t make it earlier than Christmas Eve but I didn’t want the fans to know the time of arrival because it’s not right that they should spend part of the Christmas holiday away from their families and just hanging about a draughty old airport.”
And Davy had his eyes on a real old English Christmas with HIS folks up in Manchester. Within an hour or so of landing from America, he was on another plane for Manchester. As he said: “I get this funny feeling of excitement in my stomach whenever I get back home after a long spell away. I love America but the old saying is very true, there’s no place like home.”
It was all very hush-hush. His dad knew he was coming but he kept the news to the immediate family folk. So Davy could, just for a change, have a few hours to himself, not talking business but recalling Christmasses of years back. He certainly had a lot to remember…
As he told his dad: “Christmas is what you’re used to. You can have a real good time back in California but it’s not the same because of the warm weather and the different atmosphere. This is the REAL Christmas, just your own people, holly and mistletoe, some turkey and some good old English Christmas pud.” And so the holiday went on, for alas! only a few days. We respect Davy’s privacy… just let’s say he enjoyed himself in the same way as a million other families in the North of England.
On December 29, he flew in to London to meet up with Peter Tork. They both stayed at the Mayfair Hotel and talked about what they would do for the next few days. Both were understandably tired after their non-stop activities of 1967. They agreed to play it by ear… just accept things as they came up and not get involved in the sort of timetable which would have meant no holiday at all for the two stars.
They went to the New Year’s Eve party at London’s Speakeasy Club, Peter making only a brief visit. You know Peter—he likes getting out and about on his own, making acquaintance with the locals wherever he finds them, He’d been boning up on London history—he’s a very keen reader of serious books—and there were a lot of sights he’d marked down as musts.
But Davy had a lively time at the “Speak”. Beautifully sun-tanned, he mingled with a group of stars, like Eric Burdon, Jimi Hendrix, Tommy Steele. And another visitor was Lionel Bart, who wrote that musical “Oliver” which helped make Davy a big stage star even in the days before the Monkees. Nobody tried to eavesdrop. Nobody made any big announcements. Davy was left to enjoy himself exactly as he wanted.
In his deep-red shirt and black trousers, Davy welcomed in the New Year with his usual enthusiasm. He spent quite a lot of time talking to Adrienne Posta, young British singer who is building a big name for herself in movies like “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”. And then, again with no star-type fanfares, Davy was gone… back to his hotel to meet more friends and later to get some sleep.
Oh, yes—both Monkees spent an evening at the Lotus House, a top Chinese restaurant in the Edgware Road—just a stone’s throw from Marble Arch. Davy knew this eating-house of the stars from his old days in London and insisted that Peter tried the speciality spare-ribs with a VERY special sauce. And later that evening a big limousine drove slowly past Trafalgar Square, where thousands were gathering to welcome in the New Year. The car windows were darkened… nobody could see in. Imagine the cheers that would have gone up if the crowds had known that it was Davy and Peter, soaking up a bit more atmosphere of London town!
Next day Davy flew out to St. Moritz for a few days’ skiing. Again, the arrangements and flight times were kept secret. Of course he was recognised by lots of people, but he avoided the crowd scenes.
Which left Peter as the only Monkee then resident in London. He stayed on at the Mayfair. He accepted an invitation to appear on “Top Of The Pops”, from the BBC-Television studio at Shepherds Bush. He turned up, with only minutes to go before the show started, had a quick chat with compere Jimmy Savile and then went on for one of the most memorable shows in the series… the floor manager said afterwards that they’d had about 600 telephone calls from viewers saying how great the show was.
Peter’s appearance was a nice tribute to producer Johnny Stewart, leaving the show after 400 performances in charge of most of the world’s top pop stars. Pete clowned around, put on his “gorilla-type” faces for photographers, back-chatted with Jimmy Savile. And afterwards we noted he stayed behind in the studio until every single request for autographs had been settled. A nice change from some of the big names who rush away immediately the show is over.
Peter looked great in his orange trousers and flowered shirt and he carried a sort of male hand-bag, of tasselled leather… no pockets in his trousers so he carried money, comb, papers etc in the bag.
But all good things have to come to an end. Posing for a few final pictures, Peter rushed along a corridor, nipped in to say goodbye to Jimmy Savile and shake him warmly by the hand, and then he was gone in the same black limousine with the dark-stained windows. Off, eventually, to a party given by producer Clive Donner after the world premiere of his film “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”. And there Peter mingled with star guests like Michael Caine.
Peter also attended a Press reception in his honour, held by RCA Records at the Decca offices in Great Marlborough Street.
One incident did mar the last few days of his visit. A group of over-enthusiastic Monkee fans accidentally smashed a plate-glass window in the Mayfair Hotel where Peter was staying, which upset the management. So the easy-going Peter hopped across to the other side of Regents Park to spend the last couple of days in the Royal Lancaster, finally flying out on Tuesday January 9th.
Meanwhile, Davy had been winter sporting in Switzerland in St. Moritz. He flew back to London, then out again to Paris and back again to London on January 10th. Then finally the word came from Hollywood that they wanted him to fly back to start working on more recording sessions and he, too, boarded a plane at London Airport on Sunday Jan 14th and flew back to the West Coast of America.