BOYCE AND HART
by David Galassie
Nearly everyone remembers The Monkees from the '60s- the TV show,
Monkeemania, Davy Jones and all, but few understand the genius behind the
group, the songwriters who toiled to give The Monkees the hits with which
to be successful. Though many songsmiths were employed to make
Monkees the "overnight sensations" they became, the team of Tommy
Boyce and Bobby Hart standout. Why?
"Last Train to Clarksville?" A number 1 Boyce and Hart hit. "(I'm Not
Your) Stepping Stone?" The B-side of the mega-selling "I'm a Believer."
"Words?" The flip-side of "Pleasant Valley Sunday." "Valleri?" A number 3
pop hit. And at the height of their behind-the-scenes success with The
Monkees, when Mickey, Davy, Mike, and Peter rebelled against their
pre-fabricated image and began to write and produce their own songs,
Tommy and Bobby became recording artists themselves, putting out
three albums with top 10 hits like "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight"
and "Alice Long (You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend)." All told, Rolling
Stone reports they wrote over 300 songs and sold more than 42 million
records. Other estimates rate it at 85 million. Prolific?
They even penned the theme for a little NBC soap opera called "Days of
Our Lives" and that theme song has played every Monday through Friday
Based on the West Coast, they were the counterpart to all the Brill
Building talent that New York City had to offer, though some may argue,
without the staying power of a Gerry Goffin- Carole King or a Jeff
Barry-Ellie Greenwich team. Still, they had an ear for infectious Top 40
pop- the bouncy, bright melodies that later would be dubbed "sunshine
pop" and which would be the perfect segue into that later '60s
Tommy Boyce did have some success on his own before he ever met
Bobby Hart. He penned or co-wrote "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" for Curtis
Lee and "Be My Guest" for Fats Domino. He'd even written and recorded a
single, "I'll Remember Carol" which peaked at number 80 on the Billboard
charts in the fall of 1962. Yet, Bobby Hart was no slouch either, helping
write "Hurt So Bad" for Little Anthony and the Imperials.
They met around 1964 and soon after, authored "Come a Little Bit Closer"
for Jay and the Americans. In 1965, they signed with Screen Gems Music,
the music publishing arm of Columbia Pictures' TV production unit, Screen
Gems. Soon, their newest assignment would be to write music for a new 30
minute situation comedy to star four actors who would portray an
up-and-coming musical group on NBC.
They did it all (almost). Writing the songs, performing and producing
them initially, the Monkees themselves only had to sing over Boyce and
Hart's vocals when the time came to release the songs.
In 1967, the Boyce and Hart team set out on their own recording
journey, eventually producing three albums and even appeared on other
shows in the Screen Gems stable-
Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Flying Nun. Bobby Sherman's TV
show, "Getting Together" was reportedly based upon Boyce and Hart. Bobby
Sherman was portrayed as a songwriter along side Wes Stern as his partner
in the 1971 ABC sitcom.
About this time, however, the winds of musical change had begun to alter
the course of popular music and the duo split up. Later, they reunited
with former Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones in 1975, performing the
songs that made them all famous. Touring as "Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and
Hart," they recorded a few albums and toured extensively, even as far as
After a few years of this, they split again, but remained friends to the
end. In 1983, Bobby Hart was nominated for an Academy Award for his song
"Over You" for the film "Tender Mercies." Tommy Boyce continued to write
and produced for such acts as Iggy Pop, Del Shannon, and Meat Loaf,
working from the United Kingdom for a time.
Sadly, Tommy Boyce had struggled with depression since suffering a
brain aneurysm in 1993 from which he never fully recovered. He shot
himself to death in November 1994.
Bobby Hart remains involved in the music business today and is
currently working with producer Kevin T. Baldwin on a musical based on
his partnership with Tommy Boyce. The title is "Sunshine Pop - Stories
from the Boyce and Hart Music Machine."
After more than 40 years, the fruits of the Boyce and Hart partnership
are still heard everyday on oldies radio. Sunshine Pop indeed.
About the author: David Galassie is a human
resources specialist in Columbia, South Carolina. In his free time, he
pursues popular culture- comic books, animation art, and music. A
frequent contributor to Rewind the Fifties, he chronicles the more
notable acts of the 1960s as well as many obscure bands and one hit
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