You know the song…
“Here We Come…Walking Down The street…We Get The Funniest Looks From Everyone We Meet…”
The Monkees were a pop culture phenomenon – a perfect blend of pop music and television comedy – all laced with a bit of psychedelic fun…so it’s sad to report that the “goofy” member of the band, Peter Tork has died…
RIP Peter Tork…
As reported by USA Today:
Tork’s cause of death is not yet public, though he was diagnosed with a rare tongue cancer, adenoid cystic carcinoma, in 2009.
Tork’s Monkees bandmate Micky Dolenz confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “There are no words right now…heart broken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.”
The band’s official Twitter also paid tribute to Tork with a clip of the singer. “@TorkTweet has passed peacefully at the age of 77. We’ll be remembering him throughout the day.”
Every generation has their pop culture icons to celebrate – those Singers, Musicians, TV and Movie Stars and Authors who speak to the era you grew up in – and it seems that The Monkees spoke to a 60’s generation that was going through flower power, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, desegregation and social strife…perhaps that’s why the band was a safe place to get away from the harsh realities of the time…
Peter Tork was the funny, goofy Monkee, but also a good Musician who continued to make music with the band and others throughout his life…here’s a look at the phenomenon that was The Monkees…and their unique creative collaboration with Jack Nicholson!
They were one of the 60’s most popular bands – and they made a movie, too – that was written by Jack Nicholson!
“Hey hey we are the Monkees, you know we aim to please. A manufactured image with no philosophies!”
Yes, that is Jack Nicholson sitting with The Monkees – listening as they play some classic Monkee music – and saying Jack’s lines, because he wrote the quote above!
Jack Nicholson, Screenwriter For The Monkees!
Yep, it’s true: Davy, Peter, Michael and Mickey all starred in a movie that was written by Jack Nicholson! Yes, it is time to share one of Jack Nicholson’s most obscure efforts – as a Screenwriter for The Monkees! Or, as Peter Tork would say:
“Let me tell you one thing son. Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor.”
Time To Celebrate “Head!”
If you haven’t heard of this cult classic slice of pop psychedelia, check out the movie trailer!
In the 60’s based on the phenomenon known as The Beatles, a smart US TV Producer decided to make a show about a pop band – and they created The Monkees:
They were an immediate pop sensation, with such classic hits as “Last Train To Clarksville”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and, of course:
“Hey Hey We’re The Monkees!”
After years on TV and a slew of hit songs,t he group decided to go in a more experimental direction, which led to:
Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Mike, Davy Jones: “Hey hey we are the Monkees, you know we aim to please. A manufactured image with no philosophies!”
The Monkees made a film that was one of the most neglected psychodelic gems of the “flower power” generation. Here is how the great website IMDB TRIES to explain the plot of “Head”:
“Running in from seemingly nowhere, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith & Peter Tork – better known collectively as The Monkees – disrupt a bridge opening ceremony. From where and why did they come to disrupt the proceedings? They were filming a series of vignettes in several different genres, including a wild west sequence, a desert war sequence, a Confederate war sequence, and a science fiction sequence.
They disagree with much of what is happening around them, and try to figure out how to escape the oppression they feel – symbolized by a big black box in which they are seemingly imprisoned – by the forces around. ”
Well, there you go – but really, does it matter what the plot is? It was a chance for Jack Nicholson to hang out with The Monkees, and write a screenplay for them! It included lines like this:
Peter Tork: “Everybody’s where they wanna be.”
Micky Dolenz: “That is a particularly inept thing to say, Peter, considering that we are in a vacuum cleaner.”
Here is some great trivia about the film: the movie’s origin was in Ojai, California, where The Monkees, producer/director Bob Rafelson and writer Jack Nicholson spent a weekend in a resort motel verbally tossing story ideas into a tape recorder. This became the script for the movie.
Co-writer Jack Nicholson actually compiled the movie soundtrack in its final form, with snippets of the movie dialogue between songs, and is so credited on the album cover. (When he saw Michael Nesmith at work in the studio and asked if he could help, Nesmith let him take over, because “I just want to go home”.)
Nicholson had unwavering enthusiasm for the movie, joining in a stickering campaign to promote the premiere, and declaring later that “I saw it, like, 158 million times, man. I loved it!”
A misleading ad campaign, combined with a poorly timed release date of 6 November 1968, two months after The Monkees TV show was canceled, led to a box office disaster. According to IMDB, “Head” only grossed $16,111 in ticket sales!
Cue The Special Box Set!
Although a huge bomb when it was released, time has been very good to “Head.”
The film is available on DVD with bonus material, and there is a huge box set with all of the film’s music, lots of outtakes, and bonus material!
I’m going to watch it again to honor Peter Tork, a great person who will be missed…RIP