Monkees “Theme Song”
Monkees “Last Train to Clarksville”
Monkees “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” (Originally Paul Revere and the Raiders)
Jay & the Americans “Come a Little Bit Closer”
Curtis Lee “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”
Little Anthony & the Imperials’ “Hurt So Bad”
Fats Domino “Be My Guest”
Boyce & Hart “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite”
I would guess that most of the visitors to the GMC will recognize the above as a list of big hit records from the Sixties, but do you know what they have in common? It’s simple. The last song listed, by the singing duo of Boyce & Hart, is the key, because those same guys wrote all these hit songs. Most of them they wrote as a team, but each had individual successes too. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were two of the best songwriters in the music of that era, masters of what is sometimes called “sunshine pop”.
Although they found their biggest success in the Los Angeles area, Hart hailed from Phoenix and Boyce from Charlottesville, Virginia. Both had earlier experience as singers and occasional songwriters, but when they ran into each other in New York in the early Sixties it turned out to be the proverbial magic moment, because they soon began to write some really good songs. But it was a couple of years later when they struck gold. They were picked to write a lot of the music for the Monkees TV show and the group’s debut album.
It was a hectic few years of dealing with the volatile members of the group, but they continued to work with the Monkees, not only furnishing music but also producing some of their albums. They also wrote some music for movies and TV, and even made cameos a time or two. Flush with success, in 1967 the duo began recording for themselves, hitting the charts in a big way with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite”. However, it would be their only hit and by the end of the decade they split up and went their separate ways.
They briefly reunited in the Seventies as part of a group formed by a couple of ex-Monkees (Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones), but pretty much continued to take separate paths in later years. Both found a level of success as producers, recording artists, and songwriters before eventually fading from view. Boyce suffered from depression and took his own life in 1994, but at last report Hart is still around. Together, they wrote over 300 songs during their careers.
2 thoughts on “Masters Of Sunshine Pop”
Thinking back I’m surprised they didn’t have more success themselves. Boyce and Hart wrote some good pop songs… Last Train to Clarksville is an almost perfect pop song along with Steppin’ Stone.
Yeah, I have to confess that the Monkees are favorites of mine — much underappreciated because of how they were formed — and “Clarksville” was one of their best.