The Lewis and Clarke Expedition of 1967
The history of a forgotten band.
by Dr. Spin
April 19, 2004
In 1966, Columbia Pictures television studios (Screen Gems) created a TV show called “the Monkees.” Because the Monkees were supposed to be a “real” band, they had to produce real music and real records. Screen Gems collaborated with RCA to form a new label, Colgems, to handle all the Monkees record releases. Though the Monkees were the most famous artists at Colgems, they were not the only act signed to this label.
In 1967, a band called the Lewis & Clarke Expedition released their only album (self-titled) on the Colgems label. LCE was comprised of several members of the “San Antonio Mafia,” friends of Michael Nesmith from Texas, who worked for Screen Gems either as songwriters or stand-in/extras on the Monkees’ set. LCE paralleled the Monkees in many ways, though all members were actual musicians, and they were allowed to write most of their own material. LCE also had much of the same pop sensibilities in their music as the Monkees, though LCE took a decidedly more folk/country sound to their music. Clad in fringed-leather jackets, LCE’s image was of Native American/back-to-nature look that producers hoped would appeal to the hippie/folksy movement of 1967.
Despite creating some wonderful pop-rock, (including an earlier version of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “(The Lament Of) The Cherokee Reservation Indian”) the Lewis & Clarke Expedition never charted, mainly due Colgems focusing primarily on the Monkees. The band released a few non-album singles, but was pretty much done by 1968. Most of the band members went on to bigger and better things.
Travis Lewis had better success under his real name, Michael Martin Murphey, as a bona fide country artist. “Boomer” Clarke also had limited success under his real name, Owen Castleman. John London joined childhood friend Mike Nesmith, after Nesmith left the Monkees, to form the First National Band.
Like many obscure ‘60’s bands, the Lewis & Clarke Expedition’s music never made the leap from vinyl to digital; their music is, for the most part, lost for future generations. Those that still dig vinyl can find LCE’s original LP or 45’s for sale on eBay, or maybe one will pop up at your local used record store. Hopefully someday someone will pick up LCE’s recordings and release it digitally, even if it’s just one song on a “Lost Gems of the Sixties” compilation. Otherwise, the Lewis & Clarke Expedition will continue to remain nothing more than a footnote to the Monkees” history.
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Again with the Mitsubishi stuff!! What is the song used where the guy is out running errands and it appears that he is singing along with the song, but, actually he is reciting his list of items to buy? It sounds very reminiscent of a Clash song. Are you familiar with it?
Dear Unknown Mitsubishi Person,
I am familiar with the commercial, but not the song. However, with a little research, I found the song is called “Dance to the Underground” by Radio 4. Beyond that, I know nothing about the band or the song.
About the Author:
Dr. Spin is pretty sure Mistubishi won't use any songs by the Lewis & Clarke Expedition in their commercials.
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