Segarini – Another Monkee Leaves the Circus and Farewell to The Queen of Yonge Street

I should be inured to these events by now.

We all should be …especially if you were around when the celebrities we lose, (seemingly daily as time goes by) were in their heyday. When they were new. Fresh. When you were in your formative years and the movies you saw, the television shows you watched, and the music …most importantly, the music …became the snapshots of your life. And the more distance between then and now, the more faded those snapshots of your youth and your informative years become, the more cherished and loved are the words, music, and pictures they contain.

…and people you never met, never spoke to, never knew at all, became as close to you as family. Sometimes even closer.

And now they are passing away. Reminding us of our own mortality, taking back our youth, and breaking our hearts.

At one time The Monkees, love them or not, were the biggest, most popular band in the world. They even managed to outsell The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined at one point.

That …is BIG.

And wither the Beatles?

With The Beatles, pop culture became the rudder that continues to steer the world today.

I don’t think anyone ever knew the names of every member of Elvis’ band, or the Four Seasons, but that changed with the British Invasion. Who doesn’t (or didn’t) know John (the Smart Beatle) Paul (the Cute Beatle) George (the Quiet Beatle) and Ringo (the Funny Beatle)?

…and the Monkees instantly had that close connection with not only their fans, but most of the populace under the age of 30.

The misconception that the Monkees television show created demand for all the number one and top 10 singles the band released continues to this day.

The fact is, “Last Train to Clarksville” entered the charts before the TV show even aired, and was number one when the show debuted.

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That The Monkees television series was cancelled after two seasons (mainly due to the Powers That Be growing weary of the bands’ desire to evolve musically and spiritually LIKE The Beatles) was a travesty. The Pre-Fab Four were also moving AWAY from the template with their own musical direction. …and when the show was relegated to the still growing heap of worthy shows blown off by executives’ ego-driven conceit that they knew best, or were miffed because their ‘creative’ ideas were rebuffed by the actors, (who had grown and evolved and demanded changes) some people shrugged it off, but millions thought the cancellation was a tragedy.

They were wrong.

The REAL tragedy was the ill conceived and idiotic decision by one man, Bill Drake, (the Father of Top 30 radio and the ‘Boss Jocks’ who populated them) when his influential and powerful radio stations quit playing their records because the show got cancelled.

Just as the band became a REAL band in every sense of the word.

Richard Chamberlain never became a real doctor.

John Wayne never became a real cowboy.

Raymond Burr never became a real lawyer.

…and Ray Walston never became a real Martian.

But Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork became an honest-to-goodness, solid, live, band.

And even though they were writing great songs (imagine the material from Mike Nesmith’s ground breaking long form video “Elephant Parts” being Monkees singles.)

Mike Nesmith – Magic

Mike Nesmith – Sunset Sam

…and they still had the best pop song writers like Goffin/King, Boyce and Hart, and legendary teams who sprang from the Brill Building era, willing and able to write for them, they got dumped off of the airwaves on a whim by people whose main concern was cash and control.

This is still a major problem.

Same shit.

Different day.

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Peter Tork’s character in The Monkees was that of the film version of Ringo Starr.

The Sad Sack.

The Sweet Bumbling 2nd Stringer.

The Wingman.

…and the lost puppy, hiding under the car in the garage during a thunderstorm.

If there was a word for his persona, it would be “endearing” a personality stew of Gilligan, Ringo, Mr. Bean, and your dim but adorable best friend.

Peter brought pathos and heart to the Monkees antics. A subtle and humourous spin on the silliness that his character sometimes created but was always in the centre of.

Tork, in real life, was a well liked, savvy, party thrower and confidante to people like Steven Stills and Uber-Hip Jimi Hendrix, who probably spent more time with Tork in L.A that anybody else in the higher echelons of rock,

When Mickey (Dolenz) and he showed up at The Monterey Pop Festival, a gig deemed too hip for a Monkees performance, they hung out with David Crosby, Cass Elliott, and others who were friends back in Southern California  Here’s a short clip of a very comfortable Peter Tork doing the honours when it came time for Buffalo Springfield to be introduced to an audience outside of their well established fan base in Los Angeles.

Instant credibility for the Monkee AND Springfield.

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A Little History

With everyone in L.A that read the trades (including people like Stephen Stills) auditioning for one of the 4 lead roles in The Monkees, the decision to put these four individuals together must have been quite a process, and carried out by some people who knew what they were doing. 

Diane Clatworthy, the President of The Family Tree Fan Club (!) called me in Stockton, where I was still living prior to relocating to Laurel Canyon and Hollywood, where I had been spending most of my time, and insisted I come down and go to the audition as well, but the Tree had a busy schedule and lots of gigs, so I took a pass.

They got the right guys and made history, and would have made the same decisions whether I had been there or not.

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Like Glenn Frey, Tork’s passing hit me a lot harder than Bowie’s and others …mostly because of the mutual friends we had, and the shared experience of  being in L.A at the same time, when Sunset Strip was the centre of the Pop Culture Universe in  the Lower 48, and music was the driving force behind everything and everyone in L.A at the time. All of us looking for the Dream, totally immersed and motivated by the music, the moment, and the madness.

Peter Tork was deeper than you would think.

A man who battled demons like so many of us, and fought hard enough to survive and was strong enough to move past the glory of success and the nightmare of what followed, and managed to be what we all eventually aspire to.

A good person with family and friends, and enough courage to set aside the triumphs and failures of the past and soldier on.

Peter Tork deserves our respect and earned his place in the history of rock and roll, and though he might not have the stature or spotlight of a Bowie or a Bonham or a Harrison, he occupies the same hallowed space that they reside in. So, a tip of the hat, and thanks for all the laughs and music, and say hello to Davy and the rest for us. And when Hendrix, Cass, Glenn, and the rest of the Canyon Crowd show up poolside when you’re settled, know you are remembered and missed as much as they are.

Safe travels, Monkee Man.

If You Would Like to Know More ….

Peter Tork on Peter Tork

The Rolling Stone Interview

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/peter-tork-monkees-lost-interview-1960s-797309/?fbclid=IwAR2XdywtEJWzr4ph2zKmQLzHJ_ACgs68nXJQFLWllaqsyMtwiPvTqP4BJeU

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A Quick Goodbye to the Queen of Yonge Street

Earlier today, I learned of the passing of Toronto Legend Jackie Shane.

Fortunately, Music Historian, Rob Bowman, had just completed an extensive interview with the reclusive and ground breaking performer.

I never got to see her perform. she was a regular performer in Toronto long before I arrived here, but I made it a point to become familiar with her music years ago, not because of the stories I heard in Toronto, but a mention in passing from a young singer I produced in San Francisco named Sylvester.

I do not recall what the conversation was, but I do remember Syl dropping the name a few times with respect in her voice.

She and Jackie had a lot in common.

…and both bravely followed their muse and their hearts and became who they were destined to be.

Jackie’s music, what there is available, will be easy to find online now, but you may never find any of Syls.

This is the demo I produced way back in 1969 0r ’70 with Tower of Power providing the backing and Syl owning a Neil Young classic.

All 6′ 2″, of her, taller in heels, bringing soul and groove to a folk rocker’s diatribe aimed at the Southern Men who decried people like Jackie and Syl.

At least that’s what it became in Sylvester’s able hands.

Goodnight Ladies.

And Bless you both.

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Segarini’s regular columns will make you a Daydream Believer

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

 

2 Responses to “Segarini – Another Monkee Leaves the Circus and Farewell to The Queen of Yonge Street”

  1. When it came to the Monkees, if you didn’t know, you never will. But I did, and this one is gonna sting for quite some time….

    • I agree, Ms. Parker.
      BTW …tried to watch that Bohemian Rhapsody movie. Might have made it through the whole thing if it would have had a decent soundtrack.
      Did those kids finally make enough money to get the singer’s teeth fixed?

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