Michael Murphey’s first big break came through his friend Michael Nesmith….who had become part of the popular television musical group, The Monkees…..when Nesmith asked Murphey to write them a song for the next Monkees album….and Murphey composed “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round”….as the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. sold over five million copies for the Monkees.
Murphey formed the Lewis & Clarke Expedition with Boomer Castleman….and recorded one album for Colgems Records….self- titled Michael Martin Murphey….as this was the company that also released the Monkees’ LPs. They had a modest hit with “I Feel Good (I Feel Bad)”….when Boomer Castleman went on to find success with his controversial song “Judy Mae”….and as the writer and producer of the million selling novelty hit “Telephone Man” for singer Meri Wilson.
In 1968, Murphey moved to Wrightwood….which was a village in the San Gabriel Mountains….while being adjacent to the Mojave Desert of California….where he worked on his songwriting….and based on the success of his songs….that’s when he signed a contract with the Screen Gems movie company that was the publishing arm of Columbia Pictures. Some of his songs were recorded by Flatt and Scruggs, Bobbie Gentry and Kenny Rogers….who recorded an entire album of Michael Murphey songs called The Ballad of Calico….which was all about a Mojave Desert ghost town….plus, Murphey wrote some additional songs for The Monkees….but grew disillusioned with the poor financial rewards and the Southern California music scene….and that is when Michael Martin Murphey came home to Texas….as seen in this video herewith where Murphey & The Great American Honky Tonk Band sing “Good Whiskey Never Let’s You Lose Your Place” live on stage at Austin City Limits in 1981.