Take Five: Tommy Boyce

Tommy Boyce died in 1994; had he lived, he would celebrate his 83rd birthday on September 29. He and Bobby Hart were one of the most successful songwriting duos of the 1960s, writing hit songs for The Monkees (”Theme From The Monkees,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and many others). But Boyce – with and without Hart – was responsible for quite a few hit songs for their own records and for other artists. Here are five great tunes from the pen of Tommy Boyce.

Fats Domino – “Be My Guest” (1959) After waiting outside the singer-pianist’s hotel room for six hours, 19-year-old Boyce convinced him to listen to his demo of this song. Fats liked it and recorded it, and the single made it to #8 on Billboard’s pop chart (and to #2 on the R&B chart).

Jay & the Americans – “Come a Little Bit Closer” (1964) Working with Bobby Hart and Wes Farrell, Boyce wrote this song and placed it with New York City rock and roll band Jay & the Americans. Though the band had been together since 1960, this single gave the group its best-selling hit. The single made it to #3 on the Billboard chart, and marked the first Top Ten hit for the Boyce and Hart songwriting team.

Paul Revere & the Raiders – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (1966) While this tune is most often thought of as a Monkees hit single, it was recorded first by Paul Revere and the Raiders, who released it on their Midnight Ride album in May 1966. The song soon became a staple, and has since been covered by countless groups, including – perhaps most memorably – the Sex Pistols.

Boyce and Hart – “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” (1967) Buoyed by their success as songwriters, Boyce and Hart landed a record deal with Herb Alpert’s and Jerry Moss’ A&M label. There they cut three successful albums between 1967 and 1969. This snappy tune – the title track from their second LP – would be the duo’s highest charting single, rising to the #8 spot on the Billboard singles chart.

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart – “I Remember the Feeling” (1976) By the mid 1970s, Boyce and Hart had both long since moved onto other pursuits, and the Monkees had broken up. But Two Monkees and the team who wrote many of their hits reunited, billing themselves as “the guys who sang ‘em and the guys who wrote ‘em,” waxing an album and embarking on a tour of U.S. amusement parks and concert halls, plus a tour of the Far East (documented on a live album). Most of their short-lived success came as a live act, but the band’s self-titled studio album featured this good-timing single.