The Glorious Corner: The Monkees “Head” 50th Anniversary, NYC DJ Tony Smith, Musician Dave Stewart and More

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The. Monkees

G.H. Harding 

HEAD AGAIN — Monkees Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz will be on hand for a Q&A session at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Nov. 1 when an American Cinematheque screening of the band’s 1968 feature Head commemorates the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.

The Pre-Fab Four’s big-screen debut was a self-referential and surrealistic picture starring the band – Nesmith, Dolenz, Peter Tork and the late Davy Jones – and featuring an eclectic cast that included Frank Zappa, Annette Funicello, Victor Mature, pro football linebacker Ray Nitschke, prizefighter Sonny Liston and topless dancer Carol Doda. Co-written by Bob Rafelson (who also co-produced the film with Bert Schneider) and Jack Nicholson, it marked Rafelson’s feature directing debut.

Shot following the cancellation of the Monkees’ popular NBC TV show, the movie, which premiered in New York on Nov. 6, 1968 — and in Hollywood two weeks later — sported a soundtrack that included songs by Harry Nilsson and the team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The psychedelic film’s accompanying album, which lacked the pop hooks of the band’s earlier hits, peaked at No. 45. Though initially a commercial flop, Head subsequently won admiration and a cult audience for its experimental style and tongue-in-cheek approach.

Nesmith and Dolenz launched a joint tour earlier this year, but it was cut short by Nesmith’s health concerns but will resume in March 2019.

Speaking of Dolenz, he was honored last week at L. A.’s LATTC College where he attended for a time right before his Monkees-success. Here he’s with LATTC’s David Ysais.

Tony Smith

SMITH SUCCESS — With Matt Tyrnauer’s Studio 54 movie a solid-success, we wanted to spotlight some other notable DJs from that legendary time in music. 54’s Richie Kaczor was a major, major force for sure, but another major talent at the time was one Tony Smith; who made his fame with DJ-stints at Xenon and the Funhouse. He’s also worked with CHIC-vocalist Kimberly Davis and producer Tony Moran. He produced a special remix of “My Fire” by Davis which reached #1 in the summer of 2017; as well as a remix of Davis’ “You’re Good For Me” which reached # 1 this past summer.

A Billboard Magazine Top Ten ​DJ (1976), one​​ can curently catch his Classic Beats & Rhythms sound each week on SiriusXM’s Studio 54 Channel 54, or at events he DJs live today.

Tony grew up in the projects of Lower East Side, NYC. His family and friends followed music, and his two older sisters sang in their own group. By the time Tony was 14, he had formed his own band. During breaks between band sets, he played records to keep the crowd buzzed. Getting people to groove and dance to his music immediately became a passion for Tony. As a teenager, he scoured the hottest record shops in the City, discovering the best of the latest records before they were widely known. It was on one of these forays that he met and became lifelong friends with fellow DJ, Danny Krivit.

​His perspective on mixing records changed dramatically in the early 1970’s, when he discovered the talents of David Rodriguez (Limelight), Richie Kaczor (Club Hollywood), and Nicky Siano (Roundtable).

His big break came in 1974 when, at the age of 19, he became the resident DJ at a new club called Barefoot Boy. Tony already had an extraordinary knowledge of music, and quickly the same DJ’s that he had found so inspiring, were coming to be schooled by him. He worked seven days a week and developed a special gift for reading a crowd, shaping the spirit of the night and taking the entire house on a journey.

Tony’s next big break was becoming a resident DJ at the Howard Stein and Peppo Vanini’s Xenon, which was clearly more commercial than where Tony was coming from, but Tony was always a musical educator and became a key to the club’s continued success. Being in such high demand, Tony was asked to do a number of remixes. His first was the rare underground classic: “I Don’t Wanna Lose It,” by Bambu. That success opened the door to more remixes, where he worked alongside such names as: Ecstasy, Passion & Pain, Arthur Russell, Michael Narada Walden, Tee Scott and, Krivit.

​At the start of the 80’s, Tony played at an array of clubs including Area, Limelight (on 6th Ave in NYC), Magique, Red Parrot, Underground, Visage, and even opening night at the Palladium.

Musically, times were changing as Tony began a stint at the Funhouse, which had a young crowd and was one of the very first Manhattan clubs to embrace electroand hip hop. A year and a half before its release, an early demo from Walter Gibbons and a unique record for its time, “Set It Off” by Strafe, clearly had Smith to thank for breaking it in NY.

Danny Krivit had given Tony his very first demo of “Rock The House” and credits Tony as the DJ who broke that record in NYC more than a year before its release.

A true pioneer, Tony is also a successful music producer, creating and remixing songs as Tony’s Soulbeats with some of the most famous artists in their worlds.

Dave Stewart

David Ysasis and Micky Dolenz

SHORT TAKES —Micky Dolenz appears at this weekend’s Hollywood Show in L. A. along with, Cindy Williams (with whom he did the play Comedy Is Hard in 2014); Supreme-Mary Wilson; Richard Dreyfuss; Linda Blair; Bruce McGill; James Darren; Mitch Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, among others. Check out their site here: http://hollywoodshow.com/main.php … Eurythmics co-founder and producer Dave Stewart and The Voice ‘s Audrey Morrissey said they’re glad they cleared up the legal issues around their show Songland after scoring an 11-episode order. The pair are in Cannes to promote the format internationally with NBC/ Universal launching the show to global buyers at a live performance at Mipcom.

The show has taken a long and slightly bumpy road to the screen. They originally produced a sizzle-reel back in 2015 with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine  and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder but a year later, when it was in the casting stage, the project came under intense scrutiny after an intellectual property attorney posted a warning about the onerous contract applicants were asked to sign giving up copyright on any submitted song. Stewart told Deadline, “The typical thing that everyone signs before they come on a TV show is a release but a lawyer thought we were releasing the song and giving it away.” Morrissey, added, “It was a casting questionnaire. The language was broad enough for people to misinterpret. I’m glad it happened at the beginning because we could refine it.” Songland, aims at giving talented up-and-coming songwriters the opportunity to collaborate with three music producers per episode who are responsible for today’s biggest hits. Stewart thinks it’s a different spin to shows like The Voice or The X Factor. “The people who come on the show, I guarantee you are much more likely to have a career as a songwriter than any other music show. You have an empathy immediately with these people, rather than they come on and sing ‘I Will Always Love You’,” he added. In each episode five songwriters will perform their original tracks in front of three top music producers and a major recording artist on an intimate soundstage. The first episode features three-time Grammy nominee Charlie Puth as the recording artist along with a panel of producer-songwriters that includes Grammy winner Tedder, singer and Grammy-nominated songwriter Ester Dean and Grammy-winning country singer-songwriter Shane McAnally. Each song’s lyrics, arrangements, beats, melody and story will be considered by the panel as producers discuss ways to creatively adapt them to better fit the style and sensibility of the recording artist of the week. After the performances, the recording artist will choose three songwriters to move forward to the studio and pair them each with the producer best suited to perfect their song. In the studio, the songs will take shape as the songwriter and producer duos work together to win over the recording artist. In the end, a winner will be chosen and their song will be recorded and released as the top artist’s next single … The Bee Gees 1997 album Still Waters, their 21st studio album, is quite an astounding piece of work. Re-discovering it was a joy. Featured cuts: “Closer Than Close” and “Irresistible Force.” The later produced by Hugh Padgham, and, reviews from last  week’s Blindspot … the first episode where Jane Doe’s evil-memory (as Remi) returns was savaged by viewers. I don’t think I ever read so many similar, negative reviews. Viewers hated the change and threatened to stop watching in droves.NBC must be pulling their hair out! Still great so far: NBC’s This Is Us and New Amsterdam, with Ryan Eggold – who is simply superb!

The BeeGees

Blindspot

 NAMES IN THE NEWS: Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Race Taylor; Scott Shannon; Louis Pulice; Matt Diamond; Duane Betts; David Spero; David Salidor; Keith Girard; Mark Bego; Brian Grazer; Jane Blunkell; Larson Sutton; Paul Petersen; Evan Agostino; Eppy; and, CHIP.

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