Pop & Hiss

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The Monkees' Moog synth: from John Lennon to Bobby Sherman

September 25, 2009 |  3:47 pm

Some music fans might be surprised to find a track by the Monkees on Rhino Records’ new four-CD box set documenting the mid-‘60s L.A. music scene, “Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968.” The group was such a product of TV that it sometimes to get overlooked as being part of the city’s music community.

But the “Nuggets” producers included “Daily Nightly,” recorded in 1967, on the disc titled “The Studio Scene," which charts how pop musicians were expanding the boundaries of what could be accomplished in recording studios. The CD booklet describes the Monkees' track as significant because it “features Micky Dolenz playing the first-ever Moog synthesizer on a pop record.”

I ran into Dolenz on Tuesday night in the parking lot outside Amoeba Music, which was holding a “Nuggets” record release event with performances by several acts who are represented on the box. “Ahh, my little Moog synthesizer,” said Dolenz, who didn’t sing Tuesday night but attended to visit with some old friends and well-wishers.

“It was actually a pretty difficult thing to use,” he said, recalling how those first-generation synthesizers had to be physically rewired for every different sound the musician might want to use. “I threw a party for John Lennon one night, and he sat there at the Moog for four hours making flying saucer sounds. It was great for flying saucer sounds.”

I immediately wondered what became of that particular Moog, given its role in a bit of rock history.

“I sold it to Bobby Sherman,” Dolenz said. “I think he still has it.”

--Randy Lewis