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The Monkees’ songs gained traction when The Rolling Stones were already a major force on the pop charts. In the same vein, The Rolling Stones have a connection to The Monkees’ first No. 1 song. Notably, a major industry songwriter compared the Prefab Four’s fans to The Rolling Stones’.
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote “Last Train to Clarksville” together under the name Boyce & Hart. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed making the song with studio engineer David Hassinger.
“We hit it off with David right away and soon discovered that his confidence, skill, and personality would be the safety net we needed to allow us to relax and have fun in the studio,” Hart wrote. “We gave him our trust, and he helped to create an atmosphere of confidence for two young producers on their first big studio assignment.”
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Hart discussed what happened when “Last Train to Clarksville” was coming together in the studio. “While we were producing Monkee tracks in Studio A, Andrew Loog Oldham was making Rolling Stones records in Studio B with Mick [Jagger], Keith [Richards], and the boys,” Hart recalled. “Outside, in two lines, two distinctly different types of fans waited for a chance to catch a glimpse of their respective musical idols.”
Hart compared the two groups of fans. “The fans in The Monkees line were decidedly younger, more suburban, and more innocent-looking,” Hart opined. “Stones fans were ‘hippie’ types who looked like they belonged right where they were, on the Sunset Strip.”
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“Last Train to Clarksville” became a massive hit in the United States. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week, staying on the chart for 15 weeks. “Last Train to Clarksville” appeared on the album The Monkees. The album was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks, staying on the chart for 102 weeks in total.
The Official Charts Company reports “Last Train to Clarksville” was less prominent in the United Kingdom. The song hit No. 23 there and stayed on the chart for seven weeks. Meanwhile, The Monkees was No. 1 there in the U.K. It stayed on the chart for 37 weeks in total.
“Last Train to Clarksville” was a chart juggernaut and it has an interesting connection to The Rolling Stones.
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