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Beatland Books

Dear Beatland Reader:

Well, I promised to write you from the road and here I am, eight miles high, in flight to Burbank. I have left the Monkees’ tour for a few days to take care of Beatland Books business. After several false flags, I was told your books would be arriving today at the shipper (hence my leaving the Monkees for a day or two) and as my flight was delayed, so I have found the books are too.

As the plane took off, I shot out a very quick email wondering if there would be no end to these delays. The customs broker has now said a trucker would try and pull the Beatland container tonight for delivery in the morning. If everyone can just cross their fingers and toes, maybe our wait will be over. Seriously though, I am starting to take these delays very personally and honestly feel a bit down about this uncertain process. However, the books are done and ready to go as soon as I can get my hands on the finished product. I have been told by my printer and the fulfillment house that this is just how things are right now. Their other clients are having terrible delays, but the trust all of you have all placed in me to deliver is something I think of every day. Many have written me privately to say they are okay with waiting, but I am just so ready to fulfill my end of the bargain.

The Monkees On Tour

This is the 21st Monkees Tour since 1966 and my 8th as their show producer & manager. Micky has been on all 21 tours and Michael has been on 10. The dates the Monkees are doing now are a mixture of shows scheduled in 2019 and newer ones. With the rise of the Delta variant, our plans have been fluid. Getting over the tremendous anxiety of rehearsals to being in contact with large crowds for the first time in two years has been overwhelming.

My job for the Monkees is currently a 24-hour-a-day affair. Michael is an early riser, so a call may come from him at 7am with a question or a personal dilemma. Meanwhile, Micky is a late riser and has trouble sleeping, so he may want to talk down show order or setlist concerns up to about 2am. And in between we usually ride to the next town directly overnight. So, I may be up at 4am handing out hotel keys as our buses arrive. My right-hand man for many of these tours, Dan Mapp, is an excellent tour manager and has a lot of personal experience with the Monkees. I have learned from him never to freak out over all the many bumps we encounter. We must consider all possibilities of helping our friends do their best on and offstage.

When I wrote the original Monkees book 16 years ago, I had touring experience as a member of Dave Davies’ band (I was rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist). Still, the last ten years of touring with the Monkees has given me a deeper insight into their characters and informed me of the depth of their artistry. Now when I describe a song or session, it might very well be one I know every fiber of – from hearing the raw session tape to actually going through it chord by chord with the Monkees. This most recent tour even has me acting in the role of scratch vocalist, singing leads for the band or with Micky & Michael to work off of during soundcheck and rehearsals.

Yesterday, we were at a circular theatre (like the one in Head) and got into a discussion of the chords of “Papa Gene’s Blues” with Michael. His son, Christian, wondered if it was a Bm or B7 in the turnarounds. Michael explained it was a passing Bm and we corrected our charts. A similar thing happened years ago with “Listen To The Band.” Peter Tork was flummoxed that he’d been playing the wrong chords for several decades (in Nesmith’s absence).

The tide is turning and the shows are getting better and better as much of the rust from lockdown has been shaken off. And we are constantly trying to refine what we are doing. Michael hasn’t been playing guitar so far and is less mobile, but he is starting to stand up more and being on the road has given him a spring to his increasing steps.

The other night he told the audience in San Jose, “These concerts are life giving.” I think he was speaking for so many of us. His spirit is so different now that he made it out his front door. His performances of “While I Cry” are becoming a very special part of the shows. There is really something more personal and intense about the performances overall on this final Monkees tour.

I think it is clear to the audiences that more than anything we are all doing this tour because we want to. Our window is this window and this is a final wave goodbye. Last night onstage, Michael clasped his hands together in prayer as Micky sang “As We Go Along.” It was really a spiritual moment for a group of unlikely friends brought together in a surreal setting. The cyclical theme of Head and the Monkees’ quest to escape may have found an ending. They are at peace with what they created and the roles they played and the music they made.

On a more mundane note, because of motion sickness concerns, I had to help move the venue’s rotating stage by hand every four songs. Most days I am not heads in the cloud or soaking in the sights. I am usually figuring out placement of items onstage, what time Michael & Micky go on, booking air travel or collecting money for their business manager. It is a point of pride for me to look out for them. And suffice to say: the same guy who turns the stage for the fans will also make sure you get your books, no matter what. Thank you for your love and support as we near the conclusion of this remarkable story.

- Andrew Sandoval

Beatland Books

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