Tommy Boyce

It’s estimated that Tommy Boyce’s solo compositions and collaborative efforts have produced record sales over and above 85 million. Tommy and his partner Bobby Hart wrote the theme to Days of Our Lives (1965) and hits for guys like Andy Williams, Dean Martin, The Animals and Del Shannon in addition to scores and songs for television and films. They were even instrumental in lowering the voting age to 18. And then there’s The Monkees.

The career of Tommy Boyce begins as early as the late 1950s. In those days–before there was color TV–Tommy had established himself as one of the brightest young writers to ever come out of the legendary Brill Building days. His first big break came when he wrote “Be My Guest” for Fats Domino. He wrote the song alone but gave writing credit to the artist, as well as the person who helped him get the song to the artist. According to Caroline Boyce, Tommy said he never regretted sharing the writer’s income because it got his proverbial foot in the door.

In 1962 Tommy accepted an opportunity to move to New York and write for Ray Peterson and Curtis Lee. His collaboration with Lee resulted in Boyce’s second top ten song, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”. They followed this up with the single “Under The Moon Of Love” (both are available on the CD “The Best Of Curtis Lee”). In the spring of 1965 Bobby joined Tommy in California. One of their first writing assignments together was to compose the theme song for “Days of Our Lives”, which has been running on the program for over 30 years now. By 1966 Boyce and Hart had created the musical sound for four actors who played musicians in a weekly television sitcom. Breaking records around the world, “The Monkees” became a cult phenomenon second only in popularity perhaps (arguably) to Star Trek: The Original Series (1966). Boyce and Hart wrote a whopping 30 songs for the foursome, some of which they would later record themselves. When Tommy saw the popularity of The Monkees, he approached Bobby and the duo decided to start an act of their own. Fueled by their own growing teen magazine popularity for having been associated with The Monkees, they signed a deal with A&M Records. The two scored many chart successes of their own, including “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight?”, “Alice Long”, I’m Gonna Blow You A Kiss In The Wind”, and “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows”. They also appeared on shows like Bewitched (1964), I Dream of Jeannie (1965) and The Flying Nun (1967).

In 1968 the duo campaigned to support Robert F. Kennedy in his run for the Presidency, and they spearheaded the “Let Us Vote”, or “L.U.V.” campaign, which ultimately helped to lower the voting age to 18 in the US (it had been 21).

During the 1970s Tommy wrote the book “How To Write A Hit Song And Sell It” (published by Wilshire Books), which has inspired generations of new songwriters. His songwriting collaboration with Melvin Powers resulted in two songs hitting the country charts: “Who Wants A Slightly Used Woman” and “Mr. Songwriter”. It’s well known that Tommy would later re-team with Bobby in the newly re-formed Monkees revival, “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart”. What is NOT well known is that the group had its origin while going on a special trip to entertain at Vietnamese internment camps in the early 1970s. According to long-time friend and fellow musician Keith Allison, they went down there with people like Susan Sarandon, Beau Bridges and others. Later DJB&H would meet to discuss taking the act out on the road, and “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart” was born. They recorded two albums for Capitol Records in 1976 and embarked on a highly successful world tour to commemorate the tenth anniversary of The Monkees.

During the late 1970s Tommy moved to England, where he continued his success as a writer/producer. He made a dynamic impact in the UK music world producing such artists as Iggy Pop, Meat Loaf, The Pleasers, The Darts and Showaddywaddy. Tommy once again witnessed his songs hit the charts. In the 1980s he moved back to the United States and eventually settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he continued to write songs and delight audiences with surprise guest performances in the local clubs. Bobby and Tommy remained friends until Tommy’s untimely death in 1994. Bobby and Tommy recorded three albums together: “Test Patterns” “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” and “It’s All Happening On The Inside”. All of these titles are available on CD. Tommy recorded two solo albums: “Christopher Cloud – Blown Away”, featuring members of the group AIM, and the Australian four-track EP “Tommy Boyce and His Rockin’ Sixties Band” (as of 2019, these titles are NOT available on CD). Bobby is still very much involved in the business, composing for many varied projects.

Forty years later, the impact of Boyce and Hart still resonates. Tune into any oldies station, and at least once during the course of any given day you will very likely hear a Boyce and Hart composition.

Related Posts