Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were successful rock-and-roll performers and prolific songwriters in the 60's. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, they wrote more than 300 songs and sold more than 42 million records.
Tommy Boyce was born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1939 and Bobby Hart in Phoenix the same year.
Producer Stan Schulman caught the act of an unknown talent, Curtis Lee, in a Long Beach rock-and-roll show in 1961 and brought him to the Brill Building in New York. Under the guidance of legendary record producer Phil Spector, Lee recorded his only two hit songs -- Under The Moon Of Love and Pretty Little Angel Eyes. Both had been written by Tommy Boyce and Curtis Lee. The first hit for the songwriting duo of Boyce and Hart was Lazy Elsie Molly by Chubby Checker in 1964, followed by Jay and the Americans' Come A Little Bit Closer, which was a top ten record later in the same year.
Television producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson came up with the idea of casting a rock-and-roll band that could star in its own televison series on NBC. They ran an ad in Variety and selected four young men to serve as members of the band: Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Micky Dolenz. They produced a pilot and called the group the Monkees. It was Boyce and Hart who did the songs for the pilot in 1966, including the singing. When rock impressario Don Kirschner was brought in to handle the music for the show, he told Boyce and Hart they didn't have a proven track record as producers and they were off the project, except as songwriters. As the show's first air date loomed, one music producer after another was acquired and then rejected for the project, while Tommy Boyce kept telling Kirschner that he and Bobby could handle it. Kirschner finally gave them a chance, Boyce and Hart recorded vocals and backing tracks for the first album, and then the Monkees recorded lead vocals.
The first big hit for the Monkees, one that was written by Boyce and Hart, was Last Train to Clarksville, a song that went all the way to number one on the charts shortly after the premiere of the TV show in the Fall of 1966. It was aided by exposure on national televison and an advertising blitz. The songwriting duo came up with more hits for the Monkees -- songs that were sung by the Monkees themselves and produced using studio musicians. As their popularity increased, the Monkees began to talk about writing and producing their own songs. The response of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart was to become recording artists themselves.
Boyce and Hart recorded an album of songs, Test Patterns for A & M, and in 1967 and 1968 they put three songs in the top forty: Out & About, I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight [which went top ten], and Alice Long [You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend]. More albums were released, such as I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight, and It's All Happening On The Inside [which was titled Which One's Boyce And Which One's Hart? in Canada].
The Monkees TV show was dropped by NBC in 1968, and the group disbanded the following year. Things started to change for Boyce and Hart. The music scene itself was changing in the late 60's, as their bouncy pop tunes were overtaken by what was known as progressive rock.
In the mid-70's, Boyce and Hart joined with two members of the Monkees who had liked their songs, Micky Dolenz and Davey Jones. They began to tour as a show called Golden Greats of the Monkees, and recorded an album Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.
Boyce eventually moved to England and worked on songs with Richard Hartley and with artists such as the Darts, Iggy Pop, and Meatloaf. He later came back to the United States. In 1994, Tommy Boyce committed suicide in the living room of his Nashville home.
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