OBITUARIES : Tommy Boyce

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Pop-song writing became an accepted art-form during the hit-hungry Sixties. Due reverence had long been shown the composers of popular songs that had become the "standards" of previous decades. However the age of Rodgers and Hart was rapidly supe rseded by equally celebrated partnerships, like Goffin and King, and Lennon and McCartney. The new writers provided songs that suited the times, and a new generation of wildly disparate and highly individual performers. One of the most prolific and succe ssful songwriters of the Sixties was Tommy Boyce, who provided the television stars the Monkees with some of their greatest hits.

Boyce formed a song-writing, singing and production partnership with Bobby Hart, and they had hits in their own right as well as providing material for a wide range of bands and artists.

Tommy Boyce was born in 1944 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Developing an early talent for singing and writing, he teamed up with Hart, from Phoenix, Arizona. In 1966 they wrote "Last Train to Clarksville" and "The Monkees Theme", for the young American band then being groomed for a ground-breaking situation comedy television series.

The Monkees were designed to provide America's alternative to the Beatles, and the best available talent was assembled to boost their chances. Boyce and Hart were appointed music producers of the show The Monkees by Don Kirshner, head of Screen Gems. Among other celebrated composers who worked on the project were Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Neil Diamond.

The television series, featuring Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz, was a huge success, both in the United States when it was launched on NBC and on networks around the world. "Last Train to Clarksville", the Monkees' debut single, became a No 1 hit in the US, and earned the group their first Gold Disc. The Monkees' cry of "No, no, no!" seemed a direct answer to the Beatles' "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

The single also hit the UK charts, in February 1967, when it climbed to No 23. Boyce later wrote "Valleri", which became the Monkees' sixth million- selling single. It was No 3 in the US and No 12 in the UK charts in March 1968.

At the same time Boyce and Hart enjoyed their own record successes. They had a Top 40 hit in the US with "Out & About" in August 1967, followed by "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite", which reached No 8 in the Billboard chart in January 1968. In August the same year another Boyce and Hart collaboration, "Alice Long (You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend)", peaked at No 27.

Boyce later worked with the composer Curtis Lee and they wrote "Under the Moon of Love", a big hit for the British rock revivalists Showaddywaddy. Among other million-selling, award-winning songs Boyce composed with his partners were "Pretty Little AngelEyes", "Come a Little Bit Closer", and "Peaches 'n' Cream".

The Monkees' career had foundered in the early Seventies as various members began to quit the group, but in 1975 the group discussed reforming. Eventually Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz got together with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to start a two-year tour commemorating the Monkees' career. They also signed to Capitol records and released an album, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart. Throughout the Eighties there was a great revival of interest in the Monkees television shows and their records.

Chris Welch

Tommy Boyce, songwriter: bom Charlottesville, Virginia 29 September 1944; married; died Nashville, Tennessee 23 November 1994.