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Back in 1968 I was in a Melbourne band The Cherokees, and we were lucky enough to get the support for Monkees tour of Australia. Naturally it was a very exciting time as the Monkees were still at the peak of their success.
The tour was great fun, but about a year later I left the band to fulfill my long-time dream of travelling overseas – to London via USA. After a boat trip across the Pacific, and a month in the West Indies, I landed in Miami to travel around the States on a Greyhound bus, via the West Coast, across Canada, and on to New York to pick up another boat to England.
I had a phone contact for Marilyn Schlossberg, who was a PA on the Monkees tour – she worked for Bert Schneider and Bob Rafaelson – so when I arrived late one afternoon at the LA downtown bus station, I called her. She was very nice – remembered me from the tour – but said she was too busy to come and meet me – working on post-production for their first movie Easyrider – but she gave me Peter Tork’s number. His lady at the time, Rennie Stewart, kindly drove down to pick me up so I could stay a few nights at Peter’s house.
Coming from Australia I had never experienced the amazing ‘star’ scene of LA. Peter lived in a big house (on Mulholland Drive I think) and it was the classic Hollywood/hippie scene. Peter was rehearsing a new band and there were lots of people at the house including a very out-of it Jim Morrison (I didn’t know who he was at first). Singer Barry Maguire (Eve Of Destruction) had his Kombi van parked in the driveway.
The next day Davy came around to see Peter and we started chatting – and he suggested that this wasn’t really my scene – and kindly asked if I would like to come and stay at his house for a few days.
Davy’s wife Linda was great – a really beautiful person – and Talia was just a baby. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me – ensconced in the my guest house looking down on the lights of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood.
I ended up staying for about 2 weeks. Davy took me to lots of things – we went to visit Mike Nesmith where I met Harry Nilsson for the first time, We went to the Capitol Records recording studio where the boys were putting down some tracks – and to the Columbia Ranck where the Monkees filmed a TV commercial for Kool-Aid. And lots of social activities with Linda and Talia. And I got to hook up again with some of the crew who were on the Australian tour, like Bill Chadwick.
This was great experience for me as I was looking to move on from my band days and become a music director and I had begun to study arranging. Davy expressed interest in us working together again down the track as he pursued a solo career post Monkees. We got on so well – I think it was Davy’s Manchester working-class up-bringing which suited my laid-back Aussie way. I couldn’t thank Davy and Linda enough for having me at their house.
As I had a boat to catch in a few weeks time from New York to England, I eventually left to resume my Greyhound bus trip. Davy said we’d keep in touch as he was probably coming over to the UK in the next few months
I travelled up to Vancouver, across the Rockies to Montreal, then down through New England to New York – where I stayed for a few days with some friends I had met on my West Indies travels. I was travelling on the cheap, and as I had done in the south of USA, I slept on the bus every night (tried to sleep!!) and caught the odd shower at a bus station. I was pretty tired, but it was a great experience, meeting lots of interesting, and generally kind, people on the way.
After a few days in New York, staying at the house of some people I had met in the Carribbean, I set sail for Southampton.
I ended up staying in England for about 18 months, mainly sightseeing, but also doing some work as a music director for an Australian vocal group the Virgil Bros. (a la Walker Bros.). They were being managed by Bruce Welch from The Shadows, and we did shows in the working men’s clubs around England – mainly in the north.
I was having a great time. And Davy did come over a few times and we caught up for a few beers and a chat. Then when I had finally decided to end my travels and come back to Australia, Davy suggested I come via his place for a few weeks, as he was putting a band together to do some shows and would love me to be part of it as the MD. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity. I remember the band consisted of a lot of Davy’s friends – Lindy Getz (Drums) – ex Red Hot Chilli Peppers manager, Jim Loving (Bass), Dennis Larden (Guitar) – I think he later worked with Rick Nelson – and Don Johnson (Miami Vice) did back-up vocal on a few gigs.
So began a long and wonderful relationship. Again Davy (and Linda) kindly had me stay at their house again, and I became ensconced in the early 70′s entertainment scene in LA – which was a very exciting time.
Davy was now a solo artist and recording his first solo album – produced by Jackie Mills. Davy included a song I wrote “Sitting In The Apple Tree’ on his album, and later we co-wrote Manchester Boy. I was meeting some amazing artists and musicians and still studying arranging (with some help of next-door neighbour Benny Golson, an old tenor sax player and composer who was now an established arranger – for Quincy Jones among others).
Another neighbour was Phil Ochs – folk singer and political activist. One time when he was down in South America (running around with Che Guevara I think) Davy offered to mind his pet capuchin monkey. Davy and I had recently built a large coop in the backyard for Linda’s chickens, so Davy decided to put the monkey in there as well – give it more room to run around. However, the monkey decided to play a fun game – swing from a small tree and pluck the tail feathers from the chickens! The poor chickens freaked out and even stopped laying eggs – gee we laughed – but eventually the monkey had to go back into it’s own cage.
One day Davy asked me to write the charts/arrangements for 3 songs for a huge charity show he was doing at the LA Forum. I found out the backing band was Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra! Oh my god, I had never written for a string section before! But Davy was always supportive and encouraged me to do it.
I had a few weeks to prepare (with Benny’s help) and nervously fronted up to the rehearsal. I was introduced to Nelson Riddle, who asked me if I would like to conduct the band for the run-through – he wanted to go out back and listen to the baseball scores. I bravely accepted. I was terrified. As I had never done this before, I was pretty bad – every song gradually slowed down!
But we got through it, and Nelson then said I should lead the band again on the night! Wow, what a first induction into being a music director!! But I improved for the gig, and it was just another amazing experience for me. Davy was great on the night.
‘Daydream Believer’ had been used in a Kodak commercial in Japan, and consequently the song re-entered the Japanese charts, and suddenly Davy and the Monkees had become a big name again. Davy was asked to go over and do some shows, and naturally I went as his MD. And so I began an on-going association with Japan, which I really loved – the culture and especially the food! We would use a local band and I would rehearse them up before the shows. We had some great times there. We laughed so much.
At the end of one of the trips, Davy suggested we take a small holiday, so we caught the bullet train down to Hiroshima in the south, then on the a small island called Miyajima, in the Inland Sea. It was beautiful, very sacred to the Japanese with a temple at the top of the island, and a famous tori gate set in the harbour. There were tame deer wandering about the town.
One night Davy and I sat in our ryokan room in our kimonos and had a beautiful meal – lots of wonderful local seafood etc.. Wonderful until about 1:00am when I realised I had eaten a bad oyster or something, as I spent the rest of the night running to the toilet. I was really sick and wasn’t much better when we got back onto the bullet train next morning back to Tokyo. But Davy said he know a cure – eat a banana. So I did – 10 minutes later I was again racing up the train corridor looking for the toilet – great idea cowboy!!!
Back in LA life was great fun. I hung out everywhere with Davy – beers at the Troubadour with Mickey and friends – fish and chips at Santa Monica with Linda and Talia – lots of parties, especially at Mickey’s house. More shows with Davy and the band.
Eventually the US government revoked my visa and I had to return to Australia, after another fun trip to Tokyo at Christmas time.
Over the ensuing years, Davy and I kept in touch. He came to Australia a couple of times – once with peter – to do small tours, and we always met up and talked about the old days.
Then in 1987, following the success of a new record That Was Then This Is Now the Monkees had a revival in the US and Davy, Peter and Mickey went on the road again.
Shortly after they were set to tour Australia, and Davy called to ask if I would be the MD and put together a band. I was now working as a record producer and jumped at the chance. I chose my favourite session players, who did a great job, and the 3 boys were really pleased with band. The tour was a great success and, shortly after the Monkees returned home, I had another call from Davy asking if I would come and do a UK tour as rhythm guitarist and MD. Again we had a great time. David’s brother-in-law Ken from Manchester came on the tour as ‘security’ – some of the time I travelled with Ken and the tour accountant – other times Davy and I travelled in a Porsche he had at the time. One of my great music experiences happened on that tour – we played 2 concerts at the legendary Albert Hall – what a buzz! The wood-panelled walls of the backstage corridors and dressing rooms reeked of an amazing musical history.
Then a few months later I did it all again – this time a tour of the US and a few dates in Japan. It was an amazing time, and a great chance to get to know Peter and Mickey a lot better as well. There was a great spirit among the boys and the musicians on all the tours – something I try to engender as it is so critical for a successful and happy tour. And Davy was always incredibly supportive of what I was doing for the Monkees.
But there were some inevitable ructions among the 3 boys, and they decided to stop touring. I went back to Australia to resume my work as a record producer. Shortly after I got into managing country music singers.
Davy and I stayed in touch occasionally, and when I was in the Nashville years later, I called him up – he was in Kansas City playing the part of Fagin in a local production of ‘Oliver’. I flew in to meet up with him and we had a couple of fun days and nights – catching up on the old days. It was the last time I saw him.
I will always remember Davy as someone with an incredibly generous spirit – while there was no-one better at playing the fame game when he had to, he always had a common touch – and could empathise with everyone. As has been said many times – he brought so much joy to so many people.
Once, at the height of the Monkees success, he was driving home from the studio in LA and saw an old lady fall badly on the pavement. He stopped and helped her until an ambulance took her to hospital. She seemed to be alone and friendless – so the next day he visited her in hospital and brought her some flowers. And she never who he was – she didn’t know him from a bar of soap – no doubt just immensely thankful to the kind young man…..
Luv ya Cowboy!!