Sad, sad, sad, is all I can say. Many do not recall Peter Tork. One of the original and only, Monkees. Though it has been said, none of the Monkees knew how to play an instrument. That is just untrue. They however, never played together as a band…when the series first came together.
Peter Tork died of tongue cancer today. Another hetero crush has passed away.
A large problem the Monkees faced was accusations that none of them could play a musical instrument, because the music on their first records was mostly made by studio musicians. Nesmith and Dolenz played guitar, and Dolenz took drum lessons, so he could play drums on camera. Tork played guitar, keyboards and banjo. Jones learned to play drums and guitar, and a custom bass guitar was made specially for him. He also played percussion instruments, like tambourine.
The band had little experience playing together though, and were not able to make the music needed to begin the show. The producers planned at first to use prerecorded music, and went ahead with that plan. Don Kirshner had good instincts for knowing what would sell well, and took charge of the recordings, limiting the input the Monkees themselves had in making the music. For most of the first season’s songs, the members only sang, and did not play on the records. Boyce and Hart also noticed that when all four Monkees were together in the studio, they would try to make each other laugh during takes, and things did not get done. They began bringing the band to record in ones and twos. Kirshner also okayed Nesmith to produce two of his own songs, for each Monkees album. Nesmith could choose musicians and sing, but could not play on the records himself.
In time, the band improved musically, and wanted another chance to play on their own recordings. They also began to perform live for audiences. Kirshner would not change his mind, issued a whole album without even telling the band, and planned to issue a new single. Nesmith argued with Kirshner and his attorney (putting his own fist through a wall to show his anger), and called a press conference, telling the media about his unhappiness with how the music was made. Many people thought this proved the Monkees were phonies, and did not deserve to be popular. To prove themselves, the Monkees recorded a new single, then a new album, with each member playing instruments. Their new records did not sell as well as their first ones, but they felt better knowing the music was really theirs, and they still had hit records.
Kirshner issued the single “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” (written by Neil Diamond), without getting an OK first. This was reason enough to fire him from the Monkees production team. Kirshner’s career was not harmed, and he went on to produce other music his way, including songs for The Archies. He later hosted a show, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, which featured bands in a live setting.