For a few years in the halcyon days of the sixties, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were on top of the world. Singers, songwriters and producers, Boyce and Hart – individually or collectively – were behind some of the most enduring hits of that era or any other: “Last Train to Clarksville,” “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Hurt So Bad,” “I Wanna Be Free,” “Valleri,” “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” and of course, the immortal “Theme from The Monkees.” As if turning out hits for The Monkees and so many others wasn’t enough, Tommy and Bobby recorded three hip albums for A&M Records as a performing duo. They reached the Top 10 in 1967 with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite,” which crackles with youthful abandon, energy and, frankly, a killer AM radio-ready hook. Yet the Boyce and Hart story isn’t as well-known as the team’s most famous songs. That’s all about to change, however, with the upcoming release of Boyce and Hart: The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em. And this feature-length documentary needs your help.
The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em, for the first time, fixes the spotlight on the lives and career of Tommy Boyce (who died in 1994) and Bobby Hart (who is very much alive and a key participant/narrator in the film). It’s not Boyce and Hart’s first brush with the silver screen; the team wrote music for such motion pictures as The Ambushers and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. On television, the duo also had a high profile. Not only were they The Monkees’ favorite and most recorded songwriters, but the telegenic tunesmiths made appearances on I Dream of Jeannie (opposite no less a personage than Phil Spector!), The Flying Nun and Bewitched. On the latter sitcom, Tommy and Bobby played what was arguably their grooviest concert ever – at the otherworldly affair for the elite “in crowd” of witches and warlocks, The Cosmos Cotillion! Elizabeth Montgomery even joined them during the episode to perform their 1969 single “A Kiss in the Wind” as good witch Samantha’s deliciously scheming cousin Serena. Samantha hoped to send those “howling hippies” back to Earth, but even she couldn’t help dancing along!
In addition to their work onscreen and on record, Boyce and Hart also were active participants in the sixties political revolution. Their final A&M single was entitled “L.U.V. (Let Us Vote),” and advocated for the right of teenagers to vote and the voting age to be reduced to eighteen. But by the end of the decade, the duo had broken up, torn apart by personal and professional conflicts. In the mid-seventies, however, they were reunited with The Monkees’ Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart, touring around the world and releasing both a studio and a live album. After the new group disbanded, they turned their attention once again to solo endeavors. Hart went on to receive an Academy Award nomination in 1983 for his song “Over You” for the film Tender Mercies; Boyce contributed to a number of recordings by artists including Iggy Pop and Darts.
The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em is a labor of love for writer-subject Hart, writer-producer-director Rachel Lichtman and writer-producer Andrew Sandoval. On such indispensable projects over the years as Varese Sarabande’s 1995 various-artists compilation The Songs of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and 2005’s A&M anthology I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight: The Best of Boyce and Hart – not to mention the numerous Monkees projects which he has spearheaded for the Rhino label – Sandoval has kept the B&H flame burning bright. The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em promises to raise the duo’s profile even higher. According to the film’s official information, it has been compiled from “never-before-seen home movies, photographs and audio interviews combined with one-of-a-kind archival television clips, set against the Boyce and Hart songs that outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined in 1967.” No, that’s not a misprint! Narrator Bobby Hart is joined in the film by Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Kim Fowley and Keith Allison, all of whom have given new interviews. (Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Allison is also the subject of Real Gone Music’s recent release In Action: The Complete Columbia Sides Plus! for which I provided the liner notes based on an interview with Keith. It features “Action Action Action” and “I Wanna Be Free,” both penned by Boyce and Hart!) Vintage commentary from the late Boyce is also featured as an integral part of the film.
Where do you come in? Hit the jump for full information on how you can be a part of this important undertaking!
The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em has established a fundraising page at Indiegogo. According to the production team, “this film is now near completion and almost ready for release. As a self-funded project it is set for festival screenings and public distribution, but not without your help. The film requires the finishing funds to license the rare television footage and music, mix the sound and complete final editing. This is a brief but crucial campaign to get this project to the screen. Time is of the essence; without your help this film cannot be completed. Fans of The Monkees, songwriting, the 1960s, vintage popular culture, Los Angeles and music history – we need your support!”
The campaign to support The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em concludes tomorrow evening, Tuesday, April 15 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Incentives are offered at levels from $25 to $1,000.00 including rare, out-of-print t records and books, and autographed swag from Micky Dolenz and Bobby Hart himself! You could even find yourself on the receiving end of a phone call from Bobby! Don’t miss that last train to Clarksville; check out the documentary’s Indiegogo page right here to see how you can contribute and to view the movie trailer. The team behind this exciting new film might even blow you a kiss in the wind!
For more on Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, you can visit the official Boyce and Hart website! We also recommend the following releases:
The Songs of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (Amazon U.S.)