Andrew Sandoval manages the Monkees, but that’s just one of many roles he occupies in the group’s vast universe. He’s also the guy who oversees their album reissues, spearheads their new albums, produces their tours, and picks out the songs they play every night out on the road. If that’s not enough, he’s also the world’s foremost Monkee historian and author of the 2005 book The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation.
It’s the definitive account of their history that draws from countless sources, but last year he came across 2,000 pages of legal documents from 1967 that cast their saga in an entirely new light, especially their quest to break free from producer Don Kirshner and make their own music. He initially attempted to fold the new info into the existing text of his Day-by-Day book, but it ultimately proved to be impossible and he started the entire project again from scratch.
The result is The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story, a 732-page book that arrives in June. It’s packed with previously unseen photos and documents, and is available for preorder on Sandoval’s website. The window to place an order closes on March 22nd.
We spoke to Sandoval, also a musician who’s released records under his own name, about his history as a Monkees fan, how he transitioned into the role of their manager, and the group’s plans to say goodbye with one final tour.
When did you become a Monkees fan?
I can sort of pinpoint it to 1977 when I was about five years old. I saw them on television locally in Los Angeles, Channel 11. They were re-running the TV series. I liked the music a lot since I was already really interested in the Beatles. I grew up in a household with a lot of music. My parents were huge Beatles fans.
Seeing more music that was like the Beatles on television was very exciting, but the music was unavailable, for the most part. There was a greatest-hits record that had come out the year before, but I had no idea. I know that now. But my dad went to the record store to try and get me Monkees records and couldn’t. He went to a secondhand record store and saw someone try to trade them in, but they were virtually worthless in the Seventies.
He followed the guy out of the store and bought the records from him. And so I grew up with the first five Monkees records because my dad was tenacious about getting me those records. And my childhood was full of records. When I grew up, I realized the Monkees had records that went beyond those. But not until the Eighties did I figure that out since there wasn’t a lot of information.
And then I got more into trying to figure out more about the recordings and unreleased recordings. I was hanging out at the Rhino Record Store in Westwood and I met some of the people who worked for the Rhino label. I begged for a job. By 1989, I was working on my first Monkees compilation record, which was Missing Links Volume Two. That’s when I was 17.
What was your role in the creation of that album?
Initially it was as “spectator” since I had a fanzine at the time that I started when I was 14. I just wanted to write about music so badly. I wanted to communicate with people about music, but there was no outlet for somebody my age. I’d go to record stores and talk to people and they would just zone out on me. I didn’t have any friends that were into the Sixties music like I was growing up. It was a tough path. I figured, “Maybe if I can advertise that I know something about music, I can meet more people.” That’s why I was doing fanzines.
I went and interviewed Davy Jones in 1988. He was my first Monkee that I interviewed. From there I was talking to Bill Inglot at Rhino Records about reissues and Monkees reissues specifically. I did an article about him and I started attending some sessions and seeing the original tapes and seeing the session tapes.
I became fascinated. As the year wore on, he said, “I got you a job to write the liner notes.” That was thrilling, my first professional writing job. As it turned out, because he was working on so many records at the same time, and was so successful, he was definitely open to input and collaboration. He said, “Do you have any ideas for what songs should go on the record?” I said, “Yeah. I have a sequence in mind.”
I wasn’t trying to take on that position, but I was just excited, as I am today, about the music and presenting it in the best possible way. I am the co-producer on that compilation when I was 18 and the liner-notes writer. It was very generous of Bill and the people of Rhino to let me in. I basically quit college and just went to work on reissues until this time, and I’m almost 50 now.
It’s the dream of so many hardcore fans to get their hands on the master tapes and hear music nobody has ever heard, stuff that’s just been sitting in a vault for decades. It must have been thrill after thrill.
It has been. It’s also been a challenge to temper my fandom with my professionalism. That’s how I managed to sustain what I’m doing because I try and be as diplomatic and honest as possible with the artists and show my respect, which has allowed me access to a lot of catalogs and a lot of vaults and a lot of information over the years.
Briefly, what kept your interest in the Monkees alive during all those years when they were deeply uncool and nobody cared about them? What kept you on board?
It’s the same thing that keeps me on board now. Their story is so interesting. Because their records were meant as ephemeral records, they were just sort of a cash-in to go with the TV show. And then they became wildly successful, and the band became a performing, writing, and recording band from it. It has an interesting trajectory.
And then because they didn’t stay successful and they did so many weird, artistic things later on, it just continues to fascinate me. As I fell deeper into the story, I realized it was so heavily documented at the time by contemporary press, by the music press. It was mostly negative, but still an insane amount of coverage. All of that could be collected together in one place, and that’s part of what I’ve done in my book.
The real interesting thing is that I’ve been able to meld that public story with the private story. That’s not of their personal lives, but of the business of the Monkees. I’ve listened to all of their original session tapes. I’m the only person alive who has listened to every single one of them. There is literally 400 or 500 reels of tape to go through.
Not just using that as the basis, but going to the AFM [American Federation of Musicians] and getting their records of who played on the sessions, and then matching those up with the tapes to see what was accurate. Many times, people that didn’t actually play on the record would be credited on the session sheets or their performances didn’t make it on. The record company, RCA, kept recording documents as well.
I took all of those things. And then over a 30-year period, I also interviewed the four Monkees, the creators of the television show, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, and the producers, like Jeff Barry and Chip Douglas. Out of the blue, when my first book came out, Don Kirshner called me and was like, “I really like your book. I want to talk to you.” Over a long period of time, I managed to really reach out to a lot of people. And the story continues to fascinate.
What brought about this new edition of the book?
About 18 months ago, when I was gearing up to do this revision of it, I thought it would be a simple thing where I corrected a few things and added a little bit to the end and put it back out since it’s been out of print for a decade. And out of the blue, a collector came to me and said, “Hey, I found this deposition and I bought it off of eBay. Does this have any interest to you?” I said, “I’m really not sure. Just give me a few pages of it and I’ll read it.”
It turned out to be a real bombshell. It was Davy Jones speaking under oath in May of 1967, when the Monkees were at their height, about their relationship with each other, their relationship with Don Kirshner, the creators of the show, and why they so very badly wanted to be a group in their own right and his feelings about it.
It had a case number. And through that case number, I tracked it to the Southern District of New York and I went and looked at the original paperwork relating to the case and the other depositions. This was in February 2020, right before COVID hit. I got on a plane and looked at over 2,000 pages of documents.
It told a totally different story about the Monkees than the one I knew. It had more nuances, more life, and also wasn’t the recollections of people after the fact that I’d been relying on. Thirty years, 40 years removed from the original event, even 20 years, there’s a great deal of drift in the retelling of a story. This was right in the middle of when things happened and weeks after some really, really important things happened in their career.
Tell me some of the biggest revelations you learned from these legal documents and deposition transcripts.
Specifically, the [January 1967] meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel between Don Kirshner and the Monkees. It had been written for years that Michael Nesmith punched his fist through the wall and there was this discord with the Monkees. I never knew exactly why. There had been stories that it was about one thing or another. What I got from the paperwork is Don Kirshner’s point of view, Davy Jones’ point of view, Micky Dolenz’s point of view, and Michael Nesmith’s point of view.
I found that it was rooted in the production of their biggest hit, “I’m a Believer.” It was all about something that had gone on while making that song. Originally, Michael Nesmith was going to sing lead on that song, and I had no idea. The actual reel where he’s singing didn’t survive, but I managed to find photos of the session. You can see his mood change time goes by. I found out that he left the session quite early and Micky went and sang it, and it became one of the biggest selling records of 1967.
That was just part of it. The Monkees did get together later and do [their own recordings], but they weren’t fully united in it. There was real dissension between them about whether this was right move since they were so successful. They really took the criticisms to heart. Their personal feelings were really laid out, but they weren’t laid out to me as I’ve heard them for 30 years. They were laid out as the men they were when they made the music. It’s really different.
I’ve always heard that Davy was basically on the same page as them. This shows he was doubtful that changing up the formula was a smart move.
For sure. Even after Headquarters was completed, they go to Canada and he calls the album their “ego music.” It’s like Mike Love and Pet Sounds in a way. I’m not putting it on the same level, but it’s a similar thing. He also said that if they got out their third single, “A Little Bit You, a Little Bit Me” sooner, they might have beaten the Beatles up the charts with “Penny Lane.” He thought maybe the Beatles would fade and the Monkees would take over.
Obviously, his bandmates felt differently. They were in England and Michael Nesmith spent the weekend with John Lennon at his home. Micky Dolenz was at Paul McCartney’s home. The Beatles had no reason to invite these people into their homes other than they seemed to really like them. That’s another interesting story. Why did George Harrison get Peter Tork to play banjo on his first solo work, Wonderwall [Music]? Why is Davy Jones at the sessions for “Revolution #1”?
It wasn’t because the Beatles needed the Monkees. It was because they liked them. They were internally liked by a lot of people. It was more accepted than is known. The hip, outer world thought, “The Beatles must hate these guys” or “The Byrds must hate these guys.” But Michael Nesmith was onstage with the Byrds in 1968, playing steel guitar.
Why did you decide to start the book from scratch rather than update your original day-by-day book?
I tried to shoehorn in the new information I had gleaned and I couldn’t find a graceful way of doing that. I realized it really was worth a re-write. The things I had known about the Monkees and the trajectory was different. My timing was off. The things I had surmised from my previous research were off. Now I actually had things in their own words and I could tell the story more through their voice and less through mine.
You’re proving that primary-source documents are invaluable when conducting research. People’s memories are much more fallible than they realize. They also have reasons, conscious or unconscious, as to why they skew stories in one direction or another.
Yeah. You can see that through the book. The book goes up to 1970. They discuss some of the events later in their career. It’s interesting to hear how they feel about them in 1970. Their thoughts would continue to change. My basis for a lot of my research is my love of the Beatles. I looked at Mark Lewisohn’s work, especially what he did with Tune In. I thought, “Here is somebody that is pulling from so many different places and showing us something we don’t know about something that we really love.” That was my goal.
I’m amazed at the level of detail. It’s every studio session, every TV taping, every concert …
Yeah. And when I did the first book, I kind of built my own library because if you go to a library, you can’t see 16 or Tiger Beat or Fave! or Flip. I bought all those things. I have full runs of those monthlies from eBay that I bought. And I love the U.K. music press. They have a weekly music press when ours is monthly, for the most part. I have every NME from the Sixties and Record Mirror, Music Echo, and Melody Maker. All of those helped me since they’d all cover the same thing, but in a slightly different way. Each newspaper would get something different. And then there’s Cash Box, Record World, and Billboard. They all had something. If you take all these little dots and put them together, you have an amazing portrait of something that was, again, not meant to be taken that seriously.
But the fans have taken it seriously. They do love this, and I love the story. I think it’s one of the most fascinating ones in popular music and I’ve studied the Everly Brother, the Kinks, the Bee Gees and all these other people. I’ve looked at them in depth, and the twists and turns in the Monkees story, how it could have failed and gone to pieces so many times, it’s just so fascinating to me.
You’re also proving how limited the internet is as a research tool. The vast majority of the world’s information isn’t online. It’s in libraries or hidden away in various archives and courthouse file departments. There’s so much you just can’t find online.
I would agree. There has been a significant influx of newspaper archives that have come online in the past 15 years that I didn’t have access to originally. That was extremely helpful to corroborate sources. Getting it from more than one place is important to me. But using reporting, like you would in a normal story, but applying it to the Monkees, which is not a normal story, that was the goal. I took it very seriously and pulled out all the stops to figure out where everything was. And certainly my access to the tapes and all these other things over the years put me in a position that’s completely different than any other biographer.
You’re self-publishing this. Can you talk about that?
Yeah. I am self-publishing, primarily because I know no publisher would publish a book of this length. It’s going to be 732 pages. They would need me to cut it down to make it accessible to a wider audience. I know the Monkees have a core audience of a few thousand people and I’ve already reached some of them, but I want to do a book that wouldn’t cut corners. I also wanted to do the printing of the book at a very high level. Just because the subject matter wasn’t of a mainstream nature, I didn’t want to short-change it. The book will be available in a variety of editions, deluxe ones at that, printed in a beautiful color.
What’s your current role in the Monkee world? Are you their manager technically?
Technically, I am for all intents and purposes. But I’m often just called their producer because I think it’s just a carryover and what they’re really comfortable with, being that Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider essentially managed them in the Sixtes. They had outside people working for them often, but the producers of the television show made sure the Monkees didn’t have access to too many people that would change their minds about things that their company Raybert needed.
I negotiate their deals. I produce their concert tours. I oversee their record releases. I do all the normal things a manager would do, but they call me their producer and that’s fine with me. I’m just happy to tend to the Monkees and give them respect.
When did you start serving them in this capacity?
About 10 years ago. I had been their A&R person at Rhino for a number of years. I would regularly speak to all four of them. Micky Dolenz called me one day and said, “I think you’re the only person on the planet who can pick up the phone on any given day and talk to all four of us. We haven’t been on tour in 10 years. Why don’t you think about getting everybody together? But each individual needs time and respect to think about it.”
That was a two-year process. That culminated in the 2011 Monkees tour with Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz. That was a tour where we worked on the set list and got them to do a lot more interesting songs and brought back multi-media to their shows, which they had in the Sixties. And from there, I sort of spearheaded the concert tours that went forth, and I was involved in some of the solo things, like Michael Nesmith’s First National Band tour in 2018.
It’s been a long, really lifelong journey with them, and a very interesting one. It’s not one I anticipated, expected, or even lobbied for. It just so happened that we got along and I saw the potential that they have always had.
There have been so many moments where it seemed like the group was definitely done. Before the 2011 tour, it had been 10 years and it seemed like they were done. When Davy died in 2012, it seemed like they were done. When Michael Nesmith said he was done touring, it seemed like they were done. When Peter Tork grew ill, it seemed like they were done. When Nez had his heart attack, it seemed like they were done. But somehow, it just keeps going.
Right. I’m always one to say that they have a right to their feelings at the time, but their feelings often change. Being such a student of their history, I bring that sort of understanding to my role as their producer. I don’t jump to any conclusions.
Most of the other people that have worked on their management in the past have given up on them because they require a lot of attention and time, and the return is only going to be so much. If you have a number of other clients, you can only do so much for them. For them, the Monkees have been a speculative sport. “I can make X amount of dollars on the Monkees, but those guys are a pain in the ass. One tour and I’m done.”
With me, it’s been more like, “I care about these people as human beings. I know they have a great audience. Let’s do it.”
You even make their set lists, right?
You’ve lived so many dreams of every young Monkees fan. It’s nuts when you stand back and think about it. You didn’t just enter their world, you run it.
It’s weird. But the Monkees is a weird thing. I always look at the Monkees as the Campbell’s Soup can. It’s this pop-art thing. If you look at it more like an art thing, which is how they see it, it can have amazing possibilities. They are the least pretentious band I’ve ever had any dealings with, and I’ve worked with a lot of artists. They have this great spirit when they get into a creative mood.
But when I was first watching their television show, I had no idea that I’d be involved. I almost did it out of a sense of duty. Seeing all this discord and seeing this failure to communicate, I was thinking, “I communicate with them. I understand them. I want to help them.”
Are you hopeful the fall tour is going to happen?
I’m hopeful and I’m more hopeful each day. We certainly have the bookings. We have a lot more bookings that haven’t been announced yet, but we’ve been reluctant to announce anything while people are hurting or struggling to make ends meet. We are hoping to have a larger announcement in a couple of months about our touring.
And with the vaccine rollout, we’re reasonably optimistic that we will be seeing people. And it will be great. Michael and Micky have both been vaccinated. They have been wanting to do this work. We’ve been talking through this whole period. That’s part of why the hope to do it one more time is definitely high up on their list.
Will it be a farewell tour?
Yes. I think this next tour will be a winding down of their activities.
I’m a believer, no pun intended, that they belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’d still like to hear your best argument as to they why they do, so we have it on record.
People from the Hall of Fame might think they are nominating a group that was somehow fake or illegitimate. In 1968, Phil Spector said, “The reason people don’t like the Monkees is because they didn’t pay their dues.” But if you read my book, you learn that they may not have paid their dues as a unit as the Monkees initially, but they were all paying their dues well before the Monkees, struggling to make ends meet, and to find a voice.
They did that and they helped along so many other creative people. They were a juggernaut not only for the four individuals, but for Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who went on to make great movies. They canonized some of the great songwriters of the era, Boyce and Hart, Goffin and King, Harry Nilsson, [Neil] Sedaka. They also worked with producers and so many other people enter into their story. Their nomination wouldn’t be for the Monkees as four individuals. It would be for the entire thing and what they did for music. They inspired and influenced so many people to pick up instruments and made it look like it would be fun.