Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart are most famous for writing some of The Monkees’ biggest hits, including (I’m Not) Your Stepping Stone (US, No. 20), Theme From The Monkees (No.8 in Australia) and Last Train To Clarkesville, a US No.1. In fact all Monkees’ albums apart from the soundtrack to the movie Head, had Boyce and Hart songs on them.
Despite their successes with the band Don Kirshner, musical supervisor for the show fired them claiming they were using studio time to record their own songs. Boyce and Hart did in fact release their own records during the late sixties and had hits in their own right. They made three albums, Test Patterns (1967) I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite? (1968) and It’s All Happening On The Inside (1969), the latter featuring their biggest solo hit, Alice Long that reached No.8 in the US charts. In 1976, long after The Monkees had broken up, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart released an album under their own names.
Boyce and Hart wrote and performed, sang and played, wrote for Pop bands The Leaves and Paul Revere And the Raiders, the first band to release (I’m Not) Your Stepping Stone just 6 months earlier in May 1966. They wrote for The Partridge Family, they performed on the popular TV shows Bewitched and I Dream Of Genie they were involved in Dean Martin’s Matt Helm movies – as a songwriting team they sold 42 million records.
Still, it wasn’t all about them, they also recognised the qualities in other writers. In the sixties it was common for a great songwriter to record other great songwriter’s songs. It wasn’t about who wrote it, it wasn’t about getting the credit or getting the royalties, it was about the quality of the composition. So here they are doing a Stones’ song, Jumpin’ Jack Flash from their It’s All Happening On The Inside album (1969). This version is so personalised and different from the original and yet so full of the Sixties spirit. (On the same album they recorded Standing In The Shadows Of Love, a hit for The Four Tops in 1968, written by Holland Dozier Holland). It wasn’t like they needed songs, they had so many of their own and this interesting arrangement of Jumpin’ Jack Flash tells you something about their quality control and respect for the work of others.
Although Boyce and Hart got together with Dolenz and Jones in 1976, their songwriting partnership ended at the beginning of the seventies and they went their separate ways. Tragically following a brain aneurysm Boyce committed suicide, taking his own life in November 1994 – Boyce And Hart’s songs live on.