Like most US rock and pop groups of the sixties, the Monkees didn’t play on their hits, they only did the singing. They were in good company: The Beach Boys, the Mama & Papas, the Ventures, the Carpenters, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Byrds and many more relied on studio musicians.
In Hal Blaine’s biography (studio drummer from Los Angeles) there’s an amusing part about how the Monkees’ record company tried fighting the rumors that were going around in 1967, that the Monkees didn’t play their instruments on the records:
I remember one day in Studio A at RCA we were making Monkees records in a studio the size of an aircraft hangar, with all the doors locked and “closed session” signs all over. Next door, in Studio C, The Monkees sat at their instruments making music for the press. The studio bosses had set up the session to squelch the ugly rumors, and the boys gave a convincing performance. Eventually, things cooled down, and later that year I got a call from band member Michael Nesmith (he of the drawl and knit cap) asking me to contract some musicians for a few dates.
Order the book
Source: Hal Blaine / Mr. Bonzai: Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew, Rebeats Publications. Alma, Michigan, page 86
Typing Errors Helped Starting The Monkees’ Career
Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine
34 years after her death there’s finally a biography about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. It’s called Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 – 1973) was a great Gospel and Rhythm and Blues singer and an innovative guitarist. Her guitar style influenced Chuck Berry and her animated style of singing was picked up by Little Richard. She started her career in Pentecostal churches, performed with Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra, played the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and the Grand Ole Opry. All the same, her name has been forgotten for many years.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was not only a Gospel star, a guitar virtuoso, and a forerunner of Rock and Roll. She also was a dazzling personality. As a successful black musician and business woman who loved men and women, she definitively was ahead of her time. And like so many Gospel singers she was caught between religious and worldly music. Singing worldly music meant making more money and more fame, but losing the church audiences and having a guilty conscience. In the first two decades of her career Sister Rosetta Tharpe oscillated between worldly and religious music. Then, in the late fifties and through the sixties, she concentrated on Gospel again.
Gayle F. Wald wrote the biography. She’s an professor of English. Her academic background shines through, she relies on the facts and doesn’t get lost in speculations. She interviewed dozens of people who knew Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Wald doesn’t hide conflicting memories of the interviewees. She writes straight and unagitated. It’s a sober biography that gives plain information. Where the facts are concerned, the soberness is appropriate. Unfortunately the soberness also shows in the scarce number of pictures and the rudimentary discography.
Recommended Sister Rosetta Tharpe CD: The Gospel of Blues gives a good overview of Rosetta Tharpe’s music from 1938 – 1948.
Interesting reading: Article about Sister Rosetta Tharpe on East Bay Express.