Friday, August 1, 2008

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart - Out & About

I'm sending this one out to Larry over at Iron Leg for his love of 60's pop and psych...

Tommy Boyce (born Sidney Thomas Boyce, September 29, 1939, Charlottesville, Virginia; died November 23, 1994) and Bobby Hart (born Robert Luke Harshman, February 19, 1939, Phoenix, Arizona) were a songwriting duo, best known for the songs they wrote for The Monkees.

Hart's father was a church minister. Hart served in the Army after leaving high school, and on discharge travelled to Los Angeles seeking a career as a singer. In the early 1960s, he met Tommy Boyce, who was already on his way to being a successful songwriter.

Their partnership made a breakthrough with a song recorded by Chubby Checker, "Lazy Elsie Molly", in 1964. They went on to write hits for Jay & the Americans ("Come a Little Bit Closer"), Paul Revere and the Raiders ("(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone") and The Leaves ("Words"). The latter two songs provided the Monkees with hit B-sides in 1967. The duo also wrote the theme song to the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives".

In late 1965, they wrote, produced and performed the soundtrack to the pilot of The Monkees, including singing lead vocals (which were later replaced, once the show was cast). In 1966, despite some conflicts with Don Kirshner, who was the show's musical supervisor, they were retained in substantially the same role. It was Boyce and Hart who wrote, produced and recorded (with the help of their band, the Candy Store Prophets) backing tracks for a large portion of the first season of The Monkees, and the band's accompanying debut album. The Monkees themselves re-recorded their vocals over Boyce and Hart's when it came time to release the songs, including both "(Theme from) The Monkees" and "Last Train to Clarksville", the latter of which was a huge hit.

When the Monkees began to record and produce their own material for their third album, and Boyce and Hart were ousted as producers, they were not sure how the band felt about them personally. Attending a Monkees show, though, they were spotted in the audience, and singer Davy Jones invited them up onstage, to introduce them: "These are the fellows who wrote our great hits — Tommy and Bobby!" Every original Monkees album (except for the Head soundtrack) included songs by the duo.

Boyce and Hart also embarked on a successful career as recording artists in their own right, releasing three albums on A&M Records: Test Patterns, I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight, and It's All Happening on the Inside (released in Canada as Which One's Boyce and Which One's Hart?). The duo also had several hit singles; the most well-known of these were "Out and About," "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," "Alice Long" and "I'm Gonna Blow You A Kiss in the Wind", which they performed on the television show Bewitched. They also appeared on other TV shows including The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie.

They also were involved with producing music for motion pictures for Columbia Pictures. The motion pictures include two "Matt Helm" movies ("The Ambushers" and "Murderer's Row"), "Winter A-Go-Go" and "Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows".

In 1971 a sitcom named Getting Together appeared on ABC-TV, starring Bobby Sherman and Wes Stern as two struggling songwriters, who were friends of The Partridge Family (and were introduced on their show). The series was reportedly based loosely on Boyce and Hart's partnership. At this point, they decided to work on various solo projects.

In the mid-1970s, Boyce and Hart reunited with Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz, performing the songs Boyce and Hart had written for The Monkees a decade before. They toured amusement parks and other venues throughout America, Japan and other locations from July 4th, 1975 to early 1977, including being the first American band to play in Thailand. The group also recorded an album of new material for Capitol Records in 1976. Legally prohibited from using the Monkees name, they released the album and toured as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart. A live album was also recorded in Japan, and was eventually released in the United States on compact disc in the mid 1990s. During this time, DJB&H were met by thousands of the same screaming fans who had followed the Monkees 10 years previously as well as younger second generation fans. These tours also coincided with the syndication of the Monkees TV series and helped bolster the sales of Arista's release of "The Monkees - Greatest Hits".

DJB&H also starred on their own TV special called "The Great Golden Hits of the Monkees Show". It was created during 1976 which included a "Boyce & Hart Medley" of songs they wrote as well as the songs they produced for the Monkees. Unfortunately, it did not feature songs from the new album. The show aired in syndication only, despite the production being worthy of network TV.

In 1979 Boyce formed his own band, called The Tommy Band, and toured the UK as support to Andrew Matheson (ex-Hollywood Brats). The tour was largely ignored by the public especially in Middlesbrough where just one person paid to watch the show.

The duo did reunite during the late 1980's resurgence of the Monkees. They performed live and signed autographs. They remained friends unlike most other artists and proved they could work together after many years.

After a stint living in the UK, Tommy Boyce returned to live in Nashville, Tennessee, where he struggled with depression, and later suffered a brain aneurysm. In 1994, he shot himself in the sitting room of his house.

Hart was nominated for an Oscar in 1983 for his song "Over You", written for the film Tender Mercies.

According to the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Boyce and Hart wrote more than 300 songs, and sold more than 42 million records as a partnership.

Their song "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" was covered by the Sex Pistols and hardcore punk band Minor Threat on their album In My Eyes.

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart - Out & About

1 comment:

Funky16Corners said...

Thanks for teh dedication (you're a regular Casey Kasem). Great tune - which I never heard before. Kind of a Paul Revere & the Raiders lite.