Roger Hart: Monkees to His Madness (Part One)
Fans of 1960s pop are – to varying degrees – familiar with Paul Revere and the Raiders; the band enjoyed a long string of hit albums and singles that stretched into the 70s. And thanks to their high visibility via the weekday television program Where the Action Is, the Raiders influenced a generation, not least a younger legion of garage rock acolytes who’d find their own success in the 1980s and beyond.
But what many may not realize is that the band’s manager in those days – renowned Pacific Northwest DJ Roger Hart – had a significant role in the genesis of an even more popular group of the era.
Roger Hart and Paul Revere
When I first interviewed Hart, it was way back in early 2010. He was one of several key people interviewed for a story on a then-current Raiders compilation. I had a lot of ground to cover, and a specific subject area upon which I wished primarily to focus. So a tidbit of information he dropped – almost in passing – was greeted by me with little more than a, “Wow, really?” and then we moved on.
But 2013’s Monkees reunion (featuring for the first time the full and willing participation of the previously reluctant Michael Nesmith, along with surviving members Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork) got me thinking about Hart’s near-throwaway line. So I rang him up and requested a re-interview.
He agreed, but was a bit hesitant to get into the story; perhaps, I suspect, owing to modesty on his part, and a not wanting to create controversy. But when I assured him that I merely wanted more information on something we had already discussed (and that had, as it turned out, gotten brief mention in a 2010 piece I had written on the Raiders anyway), he let his guard down and recounted the tale of some nearly fifty years ago. I began by reminding him of what he had told me a few years ago, quoting from my Raiders feature that quoted him: In addition to their role as “house band” on Dick Clark‘s Where the Action Is…
The Raiders were considered for another TV project, but when that idea was fully developed it became The Monkees. “There was a feature that I had written and had given to ABC-TV,” Hart recalls. “It found its way to the folks that put the Monkees together. ABC wasn’t able to use my treatment – about five crazy guys – but the next thing you know, this little treatise called Madness became an ad in the Hollywood papers under the title ‘Madness – looking for actor-musicians.’”
Hart picks up the story in 2013. “I think it’s fascinating, and my comments are certainly not meant to make waves. In fact, when I found out what happened – from a[n unnamed] party at ABC Television in Los Angeles – I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. Gosh: I wish somebody’d said, “Neat idea, thank you.”’ But that was that.”
He mentions that today he often meets “collectors, people who collect records, teen magazines and such. And this one fellow, in recounting a bit of that story, said, ‘I have something you might be interested in.’ And he sent to me a copy of an ad that [Bob] Rafelson and Donny Kirshner, or at least Columbia Screen Gems…whomever, had put into one or several of the Los Angeles trades. And it was titled, Madness. In big letters. I have a copy of it.”
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