Jan 8, 2013

Boyce and Hart


Boyce and Hart barely rated a "wow!" in Tiger Beat.  Maybe they were too old, over 30 by 1968.

But they made a splash with gay kids, and not just because of the eye-appeal of their exceptionally tight white slacks.  While other musical duos like Simon & Garfunkel gazed at each other and occasionally placed a hand on shoulder, Boyce and Hart seemed to relish physical contact, always touching: hugging, arms around shoulders, legs draped over thighs.

Both had wives and talked about girls, but still, it wasn't hard to imagine them as boyfriends.







Arizona native Bobby Hart (bottom) and Virginia boy Tommy Boyce  (top) met in Los Angeles in 1958, when they were 19 and 20 years old.  Soon they were writing songs for Chubby Checker, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Del Shannon, and Dean Martin.  

But their biggest fame came in 1965, when they began writing the songs for The Monkees. They left  in 1966, after a dispute with producer Don Kirshner, but they remained close to the Monkees, who graciously gave them credit for writing such hits as "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I Wanna Be Free."




Boyce and Hart also performed, with three albums and five charting singles.  They appeared as themselves on three 1960s sitcoms: I Dream of Jeannie (1967), The Flying Nun (1970), and Bewitched (1970), and wrote the soundtracks of a dozen other programs, including Days of Our Lives, The Ambushers, and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.







The songs they wrote for others were often heterosexist, to meet the requirements of the music machiine of the era.  But some, deliberately or not, omitted pronouns:

It's so neat to meet you "Where the Action Is"
Say you'll always be my friend, because "I Wanna Be Free."

And some were about friends:

Just exactly what does trust mean?
Is it about being down with the scene?
Or is it about following your own true heart
And being true to your friends to the end from the start


They wrote over 300 songs together before breaking up in the early 1970s.  They reunited briefly in the 1975-77 to perform with Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones of The Monkees (calling themselves David, Micky, Tommy & Bobby).  But then each pursued his own projects.  They lived on opposite sides of the country, Boyce in Nashville, Hart in Los Angeles.

Tommy Boyce committed suicide in 1994.   Bobby Hart is currently working on a musical about their partnership; Sunshine Pop: Stories from the Boyce and Hart Music Machine.