Take a group of four lads, just starting out in the pop music business. More than likely, nobody tells them what to do. Nobody bothers them until they find just the right formula to achieve success in whatever aspect of the business appeals to them most. They can, in short, run themselves. Managers and advisers are not really needed.
Now take a group that has made it big, at international level. Take, in short, the Monkees. Once you’re big you have to put yourselves in the hands of agents, accountants, managers, publicity people… and you have to learn to avoid the hangers-on.
The Monkees themselves have plenty of advisers; shrewd folk who know show business inside out. Know all the wrinkles, as they say. And bang, to an extent, goes that early freedom. Schedules have to be planned well ahead.
BUT… we wondered just WHAT the Monkees would most like to do, given complete freedom. In other words, forget problems over money, over bookings, over policy. Forget everything except their own personal ambitions. As a group. A group with a very big name.
How to find out? Ask the boys. Ask, first, Micky Monkee. “I think I speak for the three of us on this subject”, quoth he, “That’s on account of the fact that we’re often talking about what we wanna do in the future.”
Said Micky: “Our ultimate aim is to put on a whole show, based on Comedy, in a Broadway theatre… and then transfer it to the West End of London. You get all these kitchen-sink sort of plays, but we figure that the people wanna laugh as well. We would like to be a completely self-contained unit. People have been very complimentary about our stage show as it is now, but there are a lot of things we can do between us that nobody has seen as yet.
“This sort of show, with all sorts of crazy things happening, has been done before. By the Marx Brothers, I guess, or by that crew who set up ‘Hellzapoppin’. But we’d get it right up to date. Real modern grooving, and with a musical content as well. I guess it is a natural development. You start out with a half-hour on television and then you extend it to an hour-long show for touring and then you wanna go the whole hog and put on a complete evening’s entertainment at one of the top theatres.
“We’d plan to do most of the writing ourselves, dream up zany ideas for ourselves, use every bit of the stage to get ourselves across as people. That way, too, we’d get to play to audiences of ALL ages and that would do us a lot of good, because you know how some of the older folk put down Pop groups, and Rock outfits, as being somehow kinda freaky”.
As an afterthought, Micky steamed in with: “But don’t think for a moment that we’d forget about recording. In our new dream career, we’d still find time to go on tour and still make plenty of records. But it would give us a real thrill to be able to produce a whole sound-track original-cast album of ourselves performing from the stage of one of Broadway’s most legitimate theatres.”
But will it ever happen? Said Micky: “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed. Point is that as you know we have so many other commitments right now. Like planning our future tours everywhere and keeping up to schedule with our recording work. But we can dream like anybody else and we’re just telling you what we’d MOST like to do for ourselves.”
The magic words “touring in your part of the world” set the boys off on another tack. They were positively glowing with enthusiasm to tell us, and through us YOU, what we can expect in the Autumn when they come storming ’cross the Atlantic. Davy first: “We’ll do at least one hour and twenty minutes on tour. Wild horses won’t drag out of me the whole story of what we plan to do, but it’s a whole new production compared with what we did last time at Wembley Pool.
“We have our own little orchestra to work with us. It’ll be a complete revue. Stacks of changes of costume… Boy, we REALLY have got some interesting clothes to wear. And we can promise that nobody is gonna get bored, because the aim is action all the way. Just everything done at full speed, only occasionally slowing it down for a quiet ballad, or a show tune, or something. Now let Mike tell you a bit about HIS side of things, ’cos we regard him as the Music Monkee. Not the Mad Monkee, like Micky. Here’s Mike…”
An immediate slowing down of talking speed. Says Mike: “As the others have been just lounging around, mostly talking, I’ve been DOING. Spending hours in the studios getting little sound effects on tape, so we can work them into the act. It’ll all add to the surprise effect, I hope, and keep the action going. Nope, I’m not telling you what it’s all about. Just that when you think you’re coming to a lull in the show, something kinda explodes from the tape machine. And that’ll be me, friends. The product of my own studio.
“I get a kick out of fooling around. Recording things like the waves lapping on a beach, then putting down something that is totally different. Sort of electronic music, only using things other than musical instruments.
“But all three of us have also been out on locations, making film clips that we’ll be showing on screen during the show. Some of them are very funny, some a bit sad, but again the idea is to put on a complete show that reaches out and grabs you. Something essentially for the eyes as well as the ears.”
And back to Davy again: “What we want to get across to people in the show is that we’re the old Monkees, but also the new Micky, Mike and Davy as individuals. You see, we have something that a lot of the other teams don’t have. We’ve all come through as separate characters and I guess that’s mostly due to the television exposure. But take a look through the charts and see some of the groups that are making it big. And then think how many of them have it made when it comes to putting a name to each of the members.
“Here, in the States, everybody knows Mick Jagger, that’s for sure. But when it comes to remembering the other Stones, fitting names to faces, then it gets difficult. But we are all known as individuals, so on stage we can cash in on that.”
So now we’ve talked about what the Monkees WILL HOPE to be doing even later on. Talking to the boys, one thing came through, loud and clear. Roughly it’s this: “Yep, we know we’ve been rather quiet during the past year, but there have been reasons and there have been problems and there has been reorganization. Anyway, there is always a danger in over-exposure. But now we’re back in full swing and even more ambitious in the sort of entertainment we aim to provide, And this is not just shooting a line.
“And we look forward to meeting all of you in your own towns and cities within just a few months.”
To which WE all say: “We’ll keep a welcome waiting…”