The Monkees Invade Cleveland
Updated: Jan 12
The Monkees recently announced their farewell tour, and they'll play Cleveland one last time on November 03, 2021 at MGM Northfield Park. Let's take a look back a their wild first visit to Cleveland on January 15, 1967.
The legendary Jane Scott of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was there at Public Auditorium to document the mayhem, which included fainting girls, police protecting the stage, and the ejection of disc jockeys!
WIXY 1260 sponsored the show and was emceed by the WIXY Supermen Al Gates, Dick "The Wilde Childe" Kemp, Larry Morrow, Bobby Magic, and Jerry Brooke.
WIXY 1260 just celebrated their first year on the air, and they were already taking the town by storm. A few months earlier, WIXY brought the Beatles to town as they played Cleveland Municipal Stadium, stealing the thunder from rival WHK, who first brought The Beatles to Cleveland in 1964.
WHK tried to fight back as three of the WHK Good Guys snuck in backstage, perhaps an attempt to one-up WIXY and get the Monkees to record some liners or perhaps do a quick interview. They didn't make it that far because they were quickly tossed out of Public Auditorium.
However, someone other than the WIXY Supermen did get to interview the Monkees before the show. Maureen McCloskey of Lakewood and Cathy Aranyos of Cleveland Heights (both 13 years old) won a contest on WIXY to meet and interview The Monkees in their ninth-floor suite at the Hotel Sheraton-Cleveland.
The bands opening for the Monkees were Bobby Hart and the Candy Store Prophets (Bobby Hart later of the duo of Boyce & Hart), Freddie Scott, and The Velvelettes.
Here's the setlist from that show - info courtesy of Monkeeslivealmanac.com
Last Train to Clarksville
She's So Far Out She's In (Mike lead vocal)
You Just May Be the One
I Wanna Be Free
(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love
Sweet Young Thing
I Can't Get Her Off My Mind
(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
East Virginia (or) Cripple Creek (Peter solo)
You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover (Mike solo)
The Joker (or) Gonna Build a Mountain (Davy solo)
I Got a Woman (Micky solo)
If I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Peter lead vocal)
Take a Giant Step
I'm a Believer
A few weeks later, rival radio station WKYC got in on the action by holding a contest with the winner flying out to Hollywood to meet The Monkees with former WIXY DJ Jack Armstrong. Since WIXY copyrighted his on-air name, Armstrong (born John Larsh) used the name Big Jack on WKYC. Larsh was on the air at WIXY until the first week of January 1967 when he crossed the street to do the 7-midnight shift on 50,000 watt WKYC.
During a 1997 WIXY Reunion Weekend on WMJI (Majic 105.7), Larsh remembers being in a restaurant in Cleveland when the Monkees showed up. He happened to have a tape recorder with him, and got all four of the Monkees to record liners. WKYC, then an owned and operated NBC radio station had union engineers working at the station. When they found out that a non-union non-engineer employee made the recording, Larsh was prohibited from using any of the recordings on the air.
Below is the entire Jane Scott story as published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on January 16, 1967. This image is used for historical preservation purposes only.
For all the radio aficionados reading this wondering what's on the other side of that Monkees contest promo? It's the WKYC Sound 11 Survey from February 24, 167.