The Monkees were an American pop rock band formed in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. The band consisted of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork. Spurred by the success of the television show of the same name, the Monkees were one of the most successful bands of the late 1960s. With international hits, four chart-topping albums and three chart-topping songs ("Last Train to Clarksville", "I'm a Believer", and "Daydream Believer"), they sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

The Monkees
The Monkees in 1966. Clockwise from top left: Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones.
The Monkees in 1966.
Clockwise from top left: Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones.
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California
Genres
Years active
  • 1966–1970[a]
  • 1986–1989
  • 1996–1997
  • 2001–2002
  • 2010–2021
Labels
Past members
Websitemonkees.com

The Monkees were originally a fictional band created for the NBC television sitcom of the same name. Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith and Tork were cast to portray members of a band in the sitcom. Music credited to the Monkees appeared in the sitcom and was released on LPs and singles beginning in 1966, and the sitcom aired from 1966 to 1968. At first, the band members' musical contributions were primarily limited to lead vocals and the occasional composition, with the remaining music provided by professional songwriters and studio musicians. Though this arrangement yielded multiple hit albums and singles, the band members revolted and, after a brief power struggle, gained full control over the recording process in 1967. For two albums, the Monkees mostly performed as a group; however, within a year, each member was pursuing his own interests under the Monkees' name, rendering the Monkees once again a group in name only. With widespread allegations that the band members did not play their own instruments—followed by the cancellation of The Monkees, diminishing success on the charts, and waning popularity overall—band members began to leave the group. The Monkees held a final recording session in 1970 before breaking up.

A revival of interest in the Monkees came in 1986, prompting a 20th anniversary reunion. Over the following 35 years, the Monkees periodically reunited for reunion tours, a major-network television special, and new studio albums. Following Jones's death in 2012 and Tork's death in 2019, Dolenz and Nesmith embarked on a farewell tour in 2021. The tour ended shortly before Nesmith's death at the end of the year.

History edit

Conception and casting edit

The Monkees were formed in the mid-1960s in Los Angeles.[5]

Aspiring filmmaker Bob Rafelson developed the initial idea for The Monkees in 1962 and tried selling it to Revue, the television division of Universal Pictures, but was unsuccessful.[6] In May 1964, while working at Screen Gems, Rafelson teamed up with Bert Schneider, whose father, Abraham Schneider, headed the Colpix Records and Screen Gems Television units of Columbia Pictures. Rafelson and Schneider ultimately formed Raybert Productions.[7] The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help! inspired Rafelson and Schneider to revive Rafelson's idea for The Monkees. As "Raybert Productions", they sold the show to Screen Gems Television on April 16, 1965.[8]

Rafelson and Schneider's original idea was to cast an existing New York folk rock group, the Lovin' Spoonful, who were not widely known at the time. After those plans fell through, Rafelson and Schneider focused on Davy Jones. In September 1964, Jones had signed to a long-term contract to appear in TV programs for Screen Gems, to make feature films for Columbia Pictures and to record music for the Colpix label.[9] His involvement with The Monkees was publicly announced on July 14, 1965.[10] Jones had previously starred as the Artful Dodger in the Broadway theater show Oliver!; for his work in Oliver!, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 1963.[11]

In September, 1965, Daily Variety[12] and The Hollywood Reporter[13] ran advertisements to cast the remainder of the band/cast members for the TV show. The advertisements each read as follows:

Madness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running parts for 4 insane boys, age 17–21. Want spirited Ben Frank's-types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview.[12][13]

Out of 437 applicants,[14] the other three chosen for the cast of the TV show were musician Michael Nesmith, musician Peter Tork, and actor/musician Micky Dolenz. Nesmith had been working as a musician since early 1963 and had been recording and releasing music under various names, including Michael Blessing and "Mike & John & Bill", and he had studied drama in college. Of the final three, Nesmith was the only one who actually saw the ad in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Tork, the last to be chosen, had been working the Greenwich Village scene as a musician and had shared the stage with Pete Seeger; he learned of The Monkees from Stephen Stills, whom Rafelson and Schneider had rejected as a songwriter. Dolenz was an actor (his father was veteran character actor George Dolenz) who had starred in the Screen Gems-produced TV series Circus Boy as a child, using the stage name Mickey Braddock. He had also played guitar and sung in a band called the Missing Links, which released one single, "Don't Do It".

Early years edit

Developing the music for their debut album edit

 
The Monkees' chairs

During the casting process, Don Kirshner, Screen Gems' head of music, was contacted to secure music for The Monkees pilot. Kirshner's Brill Building firm Aldon Music had an extensive portfolio of songwriters, many in need of work after the British Invasion had reorganized the American music scene; while several Aldon writers contributed songs to the Monkees during their existence, the bulk of the songwriting for the group fell upon Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, two songwriters who were only beginning to break through to success at the time.[15] Boyce and Hart contributed four demo recordings for the pilot.[16] One of these recordings was "(Theme From) The Monkees" which helped get the series the green light.[17]

When The Monkees was picked up as a series, development of the musical side of the project accelerated. Columbia-Screen Gems and RCA Victor entered into a joint venture called Colgems Records; the primary purpose of the venture was to distribute Monkees records.[18] Raybert set up a rehearsal space and rented instruments for the group to practice playing in April 1966,[19] but it quickly became apparent they would not be in shape in time for the series debut. The producers called upon Kirshner to recruit a producer for the Monkees' sessions.[20]

Kirshner called on Snuff Garrett, composer of several hits by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, to produce the initial musical cuts for the show. Garrett, upon meeting the four Monkees in June 1966, decided that Jones would sing lead, a choice that was unpopular with the group. This cool reception led Kirshner to drop Garrett and buy out his contract.[21]

Kirshner next allowed Nesmith to produce sessions, provided he did not play on any tracks he produced.[19] Nesmith did, however, start using the other Monkees on his sessions, particularly Tork as a guitarist.[22] Kirshner came back to the enthusiastic Boyce and Hart to be the regular producers, but he brought in one of his top East Coast associates, Jack Keller, to lend some production experience to the sessions.[19] Boyce and Hart quickly realized that, when together, the four actors fooled around and tried to crack each other up. Because of this, the producers often brought in each singer individually.[23]


The Monkees' debut and second albums were meant to be a soundtrack to the first season of the TV show, to cash in on the audience. In the 2006 Rhino Deluxe Edition re-issue of their second album, More of the Monkees, Nesmith stated that he was angered by the release of the first album because it portrayed the band as an actual rock-and-roll band and gave no credit to the other musicians involved in the project.[citation needed]

The Monkees' first single, "Last Train to Clarksville" b/w "Take a Giant Step", was released in August 1966, just weeks prior to the TV broadcast debut. In conjunction with the first broadcast of the television show on September 12, 1966, on the NBC television network, NBC and Columbia had a major hit on their hands.[24] The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending November 5, 1966.[25] The Monkees' debut album, The Monkees, was released a month later; it spent 13 weeks at No. 1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 78 weeks. Twenty years later, during their reunion, it spent another 24 weeks on the Billboard charts.[26]

Lineup configuration edit

 
Davy Jones and Peter Tork in 1966

In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a dilemma arose as to which of the four would portray the drummer. Both Nesmith (a skilled guitarist and bassist) and Tork (who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments) were peripherally familiar with the instrument, but both declined to give the drum set a try. Jones knew how to play the drums and tested well enough on the instrument; however, the producers believed that he would be virtually hidden from view behind a drum set due to his short stature. Thus, Dolenz (who knew only how to play the guitar) was assigned to become the drummer. Tork taught Dolenz his first few beats on the drums, enough for him to fake his way through filming the pilot. He was soon taught how to play properly.[27] The lineup for the TV show most frequently featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, Dolenz on drums and Jones as a frontman, singer and percussionist, despite the fact that this lineup did not correspond to the members' musical strengths. Tork was a more experienced guitar player than Nesmith, while Nesmith had trained on the bass. Also, while Jones had a strong lead voice and did sing lead on several Monkees recordings, Dolenz's voice is regarded, particularly by Nesmith, as distinctive and a hallmark of the Monkees' sound.[28][better source needed]

Unlike most television shows of the time, The Monkees episodes were written with many setups, requiring frequent breaks to prepare the set and cameras for short bursts of filming. Some of the "bursts" are considered proto-music videos, inasmuch as they were produced to sell the records. The Monkees Tale author Eric Lefcowitz noted that the Monkees were—first and foremost—a video group.[29]

Live performances and touring edit

Pleased with their initial efforts, Columbia (over Kirshner's objections) planned to send the Monkees out to play live concerts. The massive success of the series—and its spin-off records—created intense pressure to mount a touring version of the group. Against the initial wishes of the producers, the band went out on the road and made their debut live performance in December 1966 in Hawaii.[30]

The results of these live performances were far better than expected. Wherever they went, the group was greeted by scenes of fan adulation reminiscent of Beatlemania. This gave the singers increased confidence in their fight for control over the musical material chosen for the series.[31]

Independence edit

 
The Monkees in 1965

Conflict with Kirshner edit

In early 1967, controversy concerning the Monkees' studio abilities arose. Dolenz told a reporter that the Wrecking Crew provided the backing tracks for the first two Monkees albums, and that his position as drummer was simply because a Monkee had to learn to play the drums, and he only knew the guitar.[32] In the January 28, 1967, issue of Saturday Evening Post an article quoted Nesmith railing against the music creation process. "Do you know how debilitating it is to sit up and have to duplicate somebody else's records?" he asked. "Tell the world we don't record our own music."[33]

The band members were displeased that the music publishing company would not allow them to play their own instruments on their records or to use more of their own material. These complaints intensified when Kirshner moved track recording from California to New York, leaving the band out of the musical process entirely until they were called upon to add their vocals to the completed tracks. Nesmith, when asked about the situation by Rolling Stone magazine, said, "The [TV show's] producers [in Hollywood] backed us and David went along. None of us could have fought the battles we did [with the music publishers] without the explicit support of the show's producers".[34]

 
Publicity shot in 1967

On January 16, 1967, the Monkees held their first recording session as a fully functioning, self-contained band. The band recorded an early version of Nesmith's self-composed top 40 hit single "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", along with "All of Your Toys" and "She's So Far Out, She's In".[35] Also in January, Kirshner released the band's second album of songs that used session musicians, More of the Monkees, without the band's knowledge. The Monkees were annoyed at not having even been told of the release in advance, at having their opinions on the track selection ignored, at Kirshner's self-congratulatory liner notes and also because of the amateurish-looking cover art, which was merely a composite of pictures of the four taken for a J.C. Penney clothing advertisement. Indeed, the Monkees had not even been given a copy of the album; they had to buy it from a record store.[36]

The climax of the rivalry between Kirshner and the band was an intense argument among Nesmith, Kirshner and Colgems lawyer Herb Moelis, which took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel in January 1967. Kirshner had presented the group with royalty checks and gold records. Nesmith had responded with an ultimatum, demanding a change in the way the Monkees' music was chosen and recorded. Moelis reminded Nesmith that he was under contract. The confrontation ended with Nesmith punching a hole in a wall and saying, "That could have been your face!" However, each of the members, including Nesmith, accepted the $250,000 royalty checks (equivalent to approximately $2,200,000 in today's funds).[37][36]

Soon after, Colgems and the Monkees reached an agreement not to release material directly created by the group together with unrelated Kirshner-produced material. Kirshner immediately violated this agreement in early February 1967, when he released "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", composed and written by Neil Diamond, as a single with an early version of "She Hangs Out", a song recorded in New York with Davy Jones's vocals, as the B-side. (This single was only released in Canada and was withdrawn after a couple of weeks.[38]) As a result, Kirshner was fired from the project.[39]

Propelled by the band's second single, "I'm a Believer" b/w "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", More of the Monkees became the band's biggest-selling LP. The album spent 70 weeks on the Billboard charts, staying No. 1 for 18 weeks[40] and becoming the third-highest-selling album of the 1960s.[41] "I'm a Believer" was written by Neil Diamond. The Monkees' recording of the single hit the number-one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 31, 1966, remaining there for seven weeks.[42] "I'm a Believer" became the biggest-selling single for all of 1967.[43]

The Monkees' musical opportunities were open beyond their ability to capitalize. Screen Gems held the publishing rights to a wealth of material, with the Monkees being offered the first choice of many new songs. Due to the abundance of material numerous tracks were recorded, but dozens were left unreleased until Rhino Records started releasing them through the Missing Links series of albums starting in the late 1980s. (A rumor persists that the Monkees were offered "Sugar, Sugar" in 1967, but declined to record it. Producer and songwriter Jeff Barry, joint writer and composer of "Sugar, Sugar" with Andy Kim, has denied this, saying that the song had not even been written at the time.[44])

The Monkees' UK tour in 1967 received a chilly reception; the front pages of several UK and international music papers proclaimed that the group members did not always play their own instruments or sing the backing vocals in the studio. They were derisively dubbed the "Pre-Fab Four" and the Sunday Mirror called them a "disgrace to the pop world."[45] However, George Harrison praised the Monkees' self-produced musical attempts.[31] Peter Tork was later one of the musicians on Harrison's album Wonderwall Music, playing Paul McCartney's five-string banjo.[46] Nesmith attended the Beatles' recording session for "A Day in the Life" at Abbey Road Studios. At that time, he reportedly asked John Lennon, "Do you think we're a cheap imitation of the Beatles, your movies and your records?" Lennon replied, "I think you're the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers. I've never missed one of your programs".[31]

Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones edit

With Kirshner dismissed as musical supervisor, in late February 1967 Nesmith hired former Turtles bassist Douglas Farthing Hatlelid, who was better known by his stage name Chip Douglas, to produce the next Monkees album.[36] This album was to be the first Monkees album where they were the only musicians, outside of most of the bass and the horns. Douglas was responsible for both music presentation—actually leading the band and engineering recordings—and playing bass on most of Headquarters. This album, along with their next, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., served as the soundtrack to the second season of the television show.

In March 1967, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", composed by Nesmith and performed by Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and bassist John London, was issued as the B-side to the Monkees' third single, "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You", and it rose to No. 39 on the charts. The A-side rose to No. 2.[47]

Issued in May 1967, Headquarters had no songs released as singles in the United States, but it was still their third No. 1 album in a row, with many of its songs played on the second season of the television show. Having a more country-folk-rock sound than the pop outings under Kirshner, Sandoval notes in the 2007 Deluxe Edition reissue from Rhino that the album rose to No. 1 on May 24, 1967, with the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper released the following week, which moved Headquarters to the #2 spot on the charts for the next 11 weeks—the same weeks which became known by the counterculture as the "Summer of Love". A selection that Dolenz wrote and composed, "Randy Scouse Git", was issued under the title "Alternate Title" (owing to the controversial nature of its original title) as a single internationally, where it rose to No. 2 on the charts in the UK and Norway, and in the top 10 in other parts of the world.[48] Tork's "For Pete's Sake" was used as the closing theme for the television show. Nesmith continued in his country-rock leanings, adding the pedal steel guitar to three of the songs, along with contributing his self-composed countrified-rock song "Sunny Girlfriend". Tork added the banjo to the Nesmith-composed rocker "You Told Me", a song whose introduction was satirical of the Beatles' "Taxman".[49] Other notable songs are the Nesmith-composed straightforward pop-rock song "You Just May Be the One" (the only track from their peak years to feature the Monkees playing the same instruments they were shown to play on the television show), used on the television series during both seasons, along with "Shades of Gray" (with piano introduction written by Tork),[50] "Forget that Girl", and "No Time", used in the television show. The Monkees wrote five of the 12 songs on the album, plus the two tracks "Band 6" and "Zilch".

The Los Angeles Times, when reviewing Headquarters, stated that "The Monkees Upgrade Album Quality" and that "The Monkees are getting better. Headquarters has more interesting songs and a better quality level [than previous albums]... None of the tracks is a throwaway... The improvement trend is laudable."[51]

The high of Headquarters was short-lived, however. Recording and producing as a group was Tork's major interest and he hoped that the four would continue working together as a band on future recordings, according to the liner notes of the 2007 Rhino reissue of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. "Cuddly Toy" on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. marked the last time Dolenz, who originally played guitar before the Monkees, made a solo stand as a studio drummer.[52] In commentary for the DVD release of the second season of the show, Tork said that Dolenz was "incapable of repeating a triumph." Having been a drummer for one album, Dolenz lost interest in being a drummer and, indeed, he largely gave up playing instruments on Monkees recordings to session musicians like "Fast" Eddie Hoh. (Producer Chip Douglas also had identified Dolenz's drumming as the weak point in the collective musicianship of the quartet, having to splice together multiple takes of Dolenz's "shaky" drumming for final use.)

By this point, the four did not have a common vision regarding their musical interests, with Nesmith and Jones also moving in different directions—Nesmith following his country/folk instincts and Jones reaching for Broadway-style numbers. The next three albums featured a diverse mixture of musical style influences, including country-rock, folk-rock, psychedelic rock, soul/R&B, guitar rock, Broadway and English music hall sensibilities.

At the height of their fame in 1967, they also suffered from a media backlash. Nesmith states in the 2007 Rhino reissue of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., "Everybody in the press and in the hippie movement had got us into their target window as being illegitimate and not worthy of consideration as a musical force [or] certainly any kind of cultural force. We were under siege; wherever we went there was such resentment for us. We were constantly mocked and humiliated by the press. We were really gettin' beat up pretty good. We all knew what was going on inside. Kirshner had been purged. We'd gone to try to make Headquarters and found out that it was only marginally okay and that our better move was to just go back to the original songwriting and song-making strategy of the first albums except with a clear indication of how [the music] came to be... The rabid element and the hatred that was engendered is almost impossible to describe. It lingers to this day among people my own age." Tork disagreed with Nesmith's assessment of Headquarters, stating, "I don't think the Pisces album was as groovy to listen to as Headquarters. Technically it was much better, but I think it suffers for that reason."[53]

With Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., the Monkees' fourth album, they went back to making music for the television show, except that they had control over the music and which songs would be chosen. They used a mixture of themselves and session musicians on the album, including the Wrecking Crew, Louie Shelton, Glen Campbell, members of the Byrds and the Association, drummer "Fast" Eddie Hoh, Lowell George, Stephen Stills, Buddy Miles, and Neil Young—a practice that continued for all their studio albums except Justus.

Using Chip Douglas again to produce, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., released in November 1967[53] was the Monkees' fourth No. 1 album in a row, staying at No. 1 for 5 weeks,[38] and was also their last No. 1 album. It featured the hit single "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (#3 on charts) b/w "Words" (#11 on charts), the A-side had Nesmith on electric guitar/backing vocals, Tork on piano/backing vocals, Dolenz on lead vocals and possibly guitar and Jones on backing vocals;[48] the B-side had Micky and Peter alternating lead vocals, Peter played organ, Mike played guitar, percussion, and provided backing vocals, and Davy provided percussion and backing vocals.[54] Other notable items about this album is that it features an early use of the Moog synthesizer on two tracks, the Nesmith-penned "Daily Nightly", along with "Star Collector". All of its songs, except for two, were featured on the Monkees' television show during the second season.

The song "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?", recorded in June 1967 and featured on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., is seen as a landmark in the fusion of country and rock[55] despite Nesmith's prior country-flavored rock songs for the Monkees. Nesmith stated, "One of the things that I really felt was honest was country-rock. I wanted to move the Monkees more into that because ... if we get closer to country music, we'll get closer to blues, and country blues, and so forth. ... It had a lot of un-country things in it: a familiar change from a I major to a VI minor—those kinds of things. So it was a little kind of a new wave country song. It didn't sound like the country songs of the time, which was Buck Owens."[55]

Their next single, "Daydream Believer" (with a piano intro written by Tork), shot to No. 1 on the charts, letting the Monkees hold the No. 1 position in the singles chart and the album chart with Pisces simultaneously.[56] "Daydream Believer" used the non-album track "Goin' Down" as its B-side, which featured Nesmith and Tork on guitar with Micky on lead vocals.

During their 1986 reunion, both Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. returned to the charts for 17 weeks.[38]

The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees edit

No longer desiring to work as a group, the Monkees dropped Chip Douglas as a producer, and starting in November 1967, they largely produced their own sessions.[53] Although credited to the whole band, the songs were mostly solo efforts.[57] In a couple of cases, Boyce and Hart had returned from the first two albums to produce, but credit was given to the Monkees due to contractual requirements.[58]

Propelled by the hit singles "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri", along with Nesmith's self-penned top 40 hit "Tapioca Tundra", The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts shortly after it was released in April 1968.[59] It was the first album released after NBC announced they were not renewing The Monkees for a third season. The album cover—a quaint collage of items in a knickknack shelf—was chosen over the Monkees' objections. It was the last Monkees' album to be released in separate, dedicated mono and stereo mixes.[59] During the 1986 reunion, it returned to the Billboard charts for 11 weeks.[38]

Beyond television and Head edit

As the second season of the television series was being produced, the Monkees tired of the sitcom format and refused to participate in a third season without a major overhaul. NBC was not interested in making any changes, and so the series was cancelled in February 1968.

That same month, the Monkees began filming their feature film, Head. With Bob Rafelson as director and Bert Schneider as executive producer, the project was co-written and co-produced by Rafelson with a then-relatively unknown Jack Nicholson.

The film, conceived and edited in a stream of consciousness style, featured oddball cameo appearances by movie stars Victor Mature, Annette Funicello, a young Teri Garr (credited as "Terry Garr"), boxer Sonny Liston, famous stripper Carol Doda, Green Bay Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke, and musician Frank Zappa. It was filmed at Columbia Pictures' Screen Gems studios and on location in California, Utah, and the Bahamas between February 19 and May 17, 1968, and premiered in New York City on November 6 of that year (the film later debuted in Hollywood on November 20).

The film was the antithesis of The Monkees television show. Rafelson and Nicholson's "Ditty Diego-War Chant" (recited at the start of the film by the group) ruthlessly parodies Boyce and Hart's "Monkees Theme". A sparse advertising campaign (with no mention of the Monkees) hurt any chances of the film doing well, and it played briefly in half-filled theaters. In the DVD commentary, Nesmith said that everyone associated with the Monkees "had gone crazy" by this time. They were each using the platform of the Monkees to push their own disparate career goals, to the detriment of the Monkees project. Nesmith added that Head was Rafelson and Nicholson's intentional effort to "kill" the Monkees, so that they would no longer be bothered with the matter.[60]

A poor audience response at an August 1968 screening in Los Angeles forced the producers to edit the picture from its original 110-minute length. The 86-minute Head premiered in New York City on November 6, 1968; the film later debuted in Hollywood on November 20. It was not a commercial success. This was in part because Head comprehensively demolished the group's carefully groomed public image while the counterculture audience they had been reaching for rejected the Monkees' efforts out of hand. Receiving mixed critical reviews and virtually non-existent box office receipts, the film succeeded in alienating the band's teenage fanbase while failing to attract a more adult audience.[61] Rafelson and Schneider severed all ties to the band amid the bitterness that ensued over the commercial failure of Head. At the time, Rafelson told the press, "I grooved on those four in very special ways while at the same time thinking they had absolutely no talent."[60]

Released in October 1968, the single from the album, "The Porpoise Song", is a psychedelic pop song written by Goffin and King, with lead vocals from Micky Dolenz and backing vocals from Davy Jones, and it reached No. 62 on the Billboard charts[62] and No. 26 on the Canadian RPM charts.[63]

The soundtrack album to the movie, Head, reached No. 45 on the Billboard charts[64] and No. 24 in Canada.[65] Jack Nicholson assembled the film's soundtrack album, weaving dialogue and sound effects from the film in between the songs from the film. The six (plus "Ditty Diego") Monkees songs on the album range from psychedelic pop to straightforward rockers to Broadway rock to eastern-influenced pop to a folk-rock ballad. Although the Monkees performed "Circle Sky" live in the film, the studio version is chosen for the soundtrack album. The live version was later released on various compilations, including Rhino's Missing Links series of Monkees albums. The soundtrack album also includes a song from the film's composer, Ken Thorne.

The album had a mylar cover, to give it a mirror-like appearance, so that the person looking at the cover would see his own head, a play on the album title Head. Peter Tork said, "That was something special... [Jack] Nicholson coordinated the record, made it up from the soundtrack. He made it different from the movie. There's a line in the movie where [Frank] Zappa says, 'That's pretty white.' Then there's another line in the movie that was not juxtaposed in the movie, but Nicholson put them together in the [soundtrack album], when Mike says, 'And the same thing goes for Christmas'... that's funny... very different from the movie... that was very important and wonderful that he assembled the record differently from the movie... It was a different artistic experience."[66]

Over the intervening years Head has developed a cult following for its innovative style and anarchic humor. Members of the Monkees, Nesmith in particular, cite the soundtrack album as one of the crowning achievements of the band.

Later years and separation edit

 
1969 television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee

Tork's resignation, Instant Replay and The Monkees Present edit

Tensions within the group were increasing. Peter Tork, citing exhaustion, quit the band by buying out the last four years of his Monkees contract at $150,000 per year, equal to about $1,200,000 per year today.[when?] Tork departed shortly after the band's Far East tour in December 1968 and after the band completed work on their 1969 NBC television special, 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee (which rehashed many of the ideas from Head, only with the Monkees playing a strangely second-string role). In the DVD commentary for the television special, Dolenz noted that after filming was complete, Nesmith gave Tork a gold watch as a going-away present, engraved "From the guys down at work." Most of the songs from the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV Special were not officially released until over 40 years later, on the 2010 and 2011 Rhino Handmade Deluxe boxed sets of Head and Instant Replay.

Since each of the Monkees at this point were producing their own songs with very little of the other band members' involvement, they planned a future double album (eventually to be reduced to The Monkees Present) on which each Monkee would separately produce one side of a disc.

In February 1969, the Monkees' seventh album, Instant Replay, without Tork's involvement beyond playing guitar on "I Won't Be the Same Without Her", was released, which reached No. 32 on the charts,[67] and No. 45 in Canada.[68] The single from the album was "Tear Drop City", which peaked at No. 56 on the U.S. Billboard chart, No. 27 on the Canadian chart,[69] and No. 34 on the Australian chart.[70] According to Rhino Handmade's 2011 Deluxe Edition reissue of this album, Davy Jones told Melody Maker, "Half of the songs were recorded over the last three years, but there are also about six new ones." The Monkees wanted to please the original 1966 fans by offering up new recordings of some previously unreleased older styled songs, as well as gain a new audience with what they considered a more mature sound. Nesmith continued in his country-rock vein after offering straight ahead rock and experimental songs on the two prior albums.

Dolenz contributed the biggest and longest Monkees' production, "Shorty Blackwell", a song inspired by his cat of the same name.[71] Dolenz called it his "feeble attempt at something to do with Sgt. Pepper."[71] Jones contributed an electric guitar rocker, "You and I". Both Jones and Dolenz continued their role of singing on the pop songs. Lyrically, it has a theme of being one of the Monkees' most melancholy albums.

 
The Monkees (without Tork) performing on The Joey Bishop Show, backed by the Goodtimers, in 1969. The images of Jones and Dolenz were re-used for the cover art of the 1970 Monkees album Changes.

Throughout 1969 the trio appeared as guests on television programs such as The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Johnny Cash Show, Hollywood Squares, and Laugh-In (Jones had also appeared on Laugh-In separate from the group). The Monkees also had a contractual obligation to appear in several television commercials with Bugs Bunny for Kool-Aid drink mix as well as Post cereal box singles.

In April 1969, the single "Someday Man" b/w "Listen to the Band" was released,[72] which had the unique distinction of the B-side, a Nesmith-composed country-rock song, charting higher (No. 63) than the Jones-sung A-side (No. 81).[38][72] In Canada, "Someday Man" was No. 74[73] and "Listen to the Band" reached No. 53.[74]

The final album with Michael Nesmith from the Monkees' original incarnation was their eighth album, The Monkees Present, released in October 1969, which peaked at No. 100 on the Billboard charts.[72] It included the Nesmith composed country-rock singles "Listen to the Band" and "Good Clean Fun" (released in September 1969)[75](No. 80 Canada[76]) Other notable songs include the Dolenz composition "Little Girl", which featured Louie Shelton on electric guitar, joining Micky on acoustic guitar,[77] along with "Mommy and Daddy" (B-side to the "Good Clean Fun" single) in which he sang about America's treatment of the Native Americans and drug abuse, and in an earlier take, released on Rhino Handmade's 2011 Deluxe Edition of Instant Replay, sang about JFK's assassination and the Vietnam war. Jones collaborated with Bill Chadwick on some slower ballads, along with releasing a couple of older upbeat songs from 1966.

In the summer of 1969, the three remaining Monkees embarked on a tour with the backing of the soul band Sam and the Goodtimers. Concerts for this tour were longer sets than their earlier performances tours, with many shows running over two hours. Although the tour was met with some positive critical reception (Billboard in particular praised it), other critics were not favorable of the mixing of the Monkees' pop music with the Goodtimers' R&B approach. Toward the end of the tour, some dates were canceled due to poor ticket sales. The tour failed to re-establish the band commercially, with no single entering the Top 40 in 1969. Dolenz remarked that the tour "was like kicking a dead horse. The phenomenon had peaked".[78]

Nesmith's resignation, Changes and disbandment edit

On April 14, 1970, Nesmith joined Dolenz and Jones for the last time as part of the original incarnation of the Monkees to film a Kool-Aid commercial (with the then-newly introduced Nerf balls, thrown around a mock living room by the trio, available as a premium for Kool-Aid labels),[79] with Nesmith leaving the group to continue recording songs with his own country-rock group called Michael Nesmith & the First National Band, which he had started recording with on February 10, 1970.[80]

Nesmith's departure left Dolenz and Jones to record the bubblegum pop album Changes as the ninth and final album by the Monkees released during its original incarnation. By this time, Colgems was hardly putting any effort into the project, and they sent Dolenz and Jones to New York for the Changes sessions, to be produced by Jeff Barry. In comments for the liner notes of the 1994 re-release of Changes, Jones said that he felt they had been tricked into recording an "Andy Kim album" under the Monkees name. Except for the two singers' vocal performances, Changes is the only album that fails to win any significant praise from critics looking back 40 years to the Monkees' recording output.[citation needed] The album spawned the single "Oh My My", which was accompanied by a music film promo (produced/directed by Dolenz). Dolenz contributed one of his own compositions, "Midnight Train", which was used in the re-runs of the Monkees TV series. The "Oh My My" b/w "I Love You Better" single from the Changes album was the last single issued under the Monkees name in the United States until 1986.[81] Originally released in June 1970,[82] Changes failed to chart in Billboard's Top 200 until the Monkees' 1986 reunion, when it stayed on the charts for 4 weeks.[38]

September 22, 1970 marked the final recording session by the Monkees before the band broke up. On that date, Jones and Dolenz recorded "Do It in the Name of Love" and "Lady Jane".[83] The single was not mixed until February 19, 1971, and was released later that year as a single.[19] The two remaining Monkees then lost the rights to use the name in several countries, the U.S. included. The single was not credited to the Monkees in the U.S., but to a misspelled "Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones",[19] although in Japan it was issued under the Monkees' name.

Both Jones and Dolenz released multiple singles as solo artists in the years following the original breakup of the Monkees. The duo continued to tour throughout most of the 1970s.

Reunions and revivals edit

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart edit

Partly because of repeats of the television series The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits charted in 1976. The LP, issued by Arista Records (who by this time had possession of the Monkees' master tapes courtesy of their corporate owner, Screen Gems), was actually a re-packaging of an earlier (1972) compilation LP called Refocus that had been issued by Arista's previous label imprint, Bell Records. Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the "Golden Hits of the Monkees" show ("The Guys who Wrote 'Em and the Guys who Sang 'Em!"), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks. The tour also made stops in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. An album of new material was released under the name Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion, and Tork could not be located in time to be invited.[citation needed]

A Christmas single (credited to Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork due to legal reasons) was produced by Chip Douglas and released on his own label in 1976. The single featured Douglas' and Howard Kaylan's "Christmas Is My Time of Year" (originally recorded by a 1960s group Christmas Spirit), with a B-side of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (Douglas released a remixed version of the single, with additional overdubbed instruments, in 1986). This was the first (albeit unofficial) Monkees single since 1971. Tork also joined Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart on stage at Disneyland in Anaheim, California on July 4, 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage at the Starwood in Hollywood in 1977.

In a 1977 interview, Nesmith falsely claimed that the Monkees outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in 1967.[84] This inaccurate information was later repeated in newspapers and magazines.[85][86]

MTV and Nickelodeon reignite Monkeemania edit

Brushed off by critics during their heyday in the late 1960s as manufactured and lacking talent, the Monkees experienced a critical and commercial renaissance two decades later. A Monkees TV show marathon ("Pleasant Valley Sunday") was broadcast on February 23, 1986, on MTV. Nickelodeon began to run the Monkees' old television series daily. Such promotion helped to resurrect a smaller version of Monkeemania, leading to tour dates that grew from smaller to larger venues and became one of the biggest live acts of 1986 and 1987.

In February and March 1986, Tork and Jones played together in Australia. Then in May, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork announced a "20th Anniversary Tour" and began playing North America in June. In September 1988, the three rejoined to play in Australia, Europe, and North America, with that string of tours ending in September 1989.

The Monkees' original albums also began selling again, and a new greatest hits collection was issued, reaching platinum status.[87]

By this point, Nesmith was more amenable to a reunion, but was forced to sit out most projects because of prior commitments to his Pacific Arts video production company. However, he did appear with the band in a 1986 Christmas medley music video for MTV, and appeared on stage with Dolenz, Jones, and Tork at the Greek Theatre, in Los Angeles, on September 7, 1986. Nesmith again returned at the Universal Amphitheatre (Los Angeles) show on July 10, 1989, and took part in a 1989 dedication ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The sudden revival of the Monkees in 1986 helped move the first official Monkees single since 1971, "That Was Then, This Is Now", to the No. 20 position in Billboard Magazine. The success, however, was not without controversy. Jones had declined to sing on the track, recorded along with two other new songs included in a compilation album, Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees. Some copies of the single and album credit the new songs to "the Monkees", while others credit it to "Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (of the Monkees)". These recordings were the source of some personal friction between Jones and the others during the 1986 tour; Jones typically left the stage when the new songs were performed. However, Jones did participate in the follow-up album, 1987's Pool It!.

New Monkees edit

In 1987, a new television series called New Monkees appeared. Other than centering on a boy band quartet, it bore no resemblance to the earlier series or group. The New Monkees left the air after 13 episodes.

1990s reunions edit

In the 1990s, the Monkees continued to record new material. The band also re-issued all its original LPs on CD. Most of them included between three and six bonus tracks of previously unreleased songs or alternate takes; the first editions came with collectable trading cards.

The Monkees' eleventh album Justus was released in 1996. It was the first album since 1968 on which all four original members performed and produced, and it would be the last studio album in which all four Monkees directly participated (Jones's death would necessitate the use of archival recordings on later albums). Justus was produced by the Monkees, and all of its songs were written by one or two of the four Monkees. The album was recorded using only the four Monkees for all instruments and vocals, which was the inspiration for the album title and spelling (Justus = Just Us).

The trio of Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited again for a successful 30th anniversary tour of American amphitheaters in 1996. Nesmith joined them onstage in Los Angeles to promote the new songs from Justus. For the first time since the brief 1986 reunion, Nesmith returned to the concert stage for a tour of the United Kingdom in 1997, highlighted by two sold-out concerts at Wembley Arena in Wembley Park, London. In 1967, the Monkees had been the first group to headline on their own at the Empire Pool, as the Arena was then called.[88] This was followed by a 1997 US tour featuring Tork, Jones, and Dolenz.

The full quartet also appeared in an ABC television special entitled Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees, which was written and directed by Nesmith and spoofed the original series that had made them famous. Following the UK tour, Nesmith declined to continue future performances with the Monkees, having faced harsh criticism from the British music press for his deteriorating musicianship.[citation needed] Tork noted in a DVD commentary that in 1966, Nesmith had learned "a reasonably good version of the famous 'Last Train to Clarksville' guitar lick". However, Tork indicated that Nesmith was no longer able to play that guitar lick, so Tork took over the lead guitar parts.

Nesmith's departure from the tour was acrimonious. Jones was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as complaining that Nesmith "made a new album with us. He toured Great Britain with us. Then all of a sudden, he's not here. Later, I hear rumors he's writing a script for our next movie. Oh, really? That's bloody news to me. He's always been this aloof, inaccessible person... the fourth part of the jigsaw puzzle that never quite fit in."[89]

2000s reunions edit

After the 1997 tours, the group took another hiatus until they once again reunited in 2001 to tour the United States. However, this tour was also accompanied by public sniping. Dolenz and Jones had announced that they had "fired" Tork for his constant complaining and threatening to quit. Tork was quoted as confirming this, as well as stating that he wanted to tour with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues. Tork told WENN News that he "couldn't handle the backstage problems"; he added that because he was a recovering alcoholic, he was troubled by the overindulgence in alcohol by other members of the tour crew.[90] Tork later stated in 2011 that alcohol played only a small role in his 2001 departure. He added, "I take full responsibility for the backstage problems on the 2001 tour. We were getting along pretty well until I had a meltdown. I ticked the other guys off good and proper... I really just behaved inappropriately, honestly. I apologized to them."[91]

Jones and Dolenz went on to tour the United Kingdom in 2002, but Tork declined to participate. Jones and Dolenz toured the United States one more time as a duo in 2002, and then split to concentrate on their own individual projects. With different Monkees citing different reasons, the group chose not to mark their 40th anniversary in 2006.

45th anniversary tour and Jones's death edit

An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour (without Nesmith) commenced on May 12, 2011, in Liverpool, England,[92] before moving to North America in June and July for a total of 43 performances.[93] Monkees biographer Andrew Sandoval noted, "Once they hit the stage, the old magic was apparent. For the next three months...[they brought] the music and memories to fans in the band's grandest stage show in decades".[14] The tour grossed approximately $4 million.[94]

On August 8, 2011, the band canceled ten last-minute shows due to what was initially reported as "internal group issues and conflicts",[95] though Tork later confirmed "there were some business affairs that couldn't be coordinated correctly. We hit a glitch and there was just this weird dislocation at one point".[96]

Jones clarified that "the (45th Anniversary) tour was only supposed to go until July. And it was great, the best time we've had because we're all on the same page now. We jelled onstage and off. But then more dates were being added. And more... Some of these shows were 212 hours long... The audiences were great. But, let's face it, we're not kids."[97]

The 45th anniversary tour was the last Monkees tour with Jones, who died of a heart attack at age 66 on February 29, 2012.[98][99]

Reunion with Nesmith edit

On August 8, 2012, the surviving trio announced a series of U.S. shows for November and December, commencing in Escondido, California and concluding in New York City. The brief tour marked the first time Nesmith performed with the Monkees since 1997.[100] Jones's memory was honored throughout the shows via recordings and video. During one point, the band went quiet and a recording of Jones singing "I Wanna Be Free" played while footage of him was screening behind the band. For Jones's signature song, "Daydream Believer", Dolenz said that the band had discussed who should sing the song and had concluded that it should be the fans, saying "It doesn't belong to us anymore. It belongs to you."[101]

The fall 2012 tour was very well received by both fans and critics, resulting in the band's scheduling a 24-date summer tour for 2013. Dubbed "A Midsummer's Night With the Monkees", the concerts also featured Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork. "The reaction to the last tour was euphoric", Dolenz told Rolling Stone magazine. "It was pretty apparent there was a demand for another one."[102] A third tour with Nesmith followed in 2014.

In 2014, the Monkees were inducted into the Pop Music Hall of Fame at the 2014 Monkees Convention.[103]

Good Times! and 50th anniversary edit

Dolenz and Tork toured as the Monkees in 2015 without Nesmith's participation. Nesmith stated that he was busy with other ventures, although Dolenz said that he was welcome to join them.[104]

In February 2016, Dolenz announced that the Monkees would be releasing a new album, titled Good Times!, as a celebration of their 50th anniversary. Good Times! featured contributions by all three surviving members, as well as a posthumous contribution from Jones through vocals he had recorded in the 1960s.[105] The album was released in May 2016 to considerable success, reaching No. 14 on the Billboard 200[106] and receiving generally favorable reviews.

With the release of the album, the band, featuring Dolenz and Tork, commenced their 50th anniversary tour. Nesmith did not participate in most of the tour, again citing other commitments. He did, however, make a few appearances throughout the summer of 2016, appearing virtually via Skype to perform "Papa Gene's Blues" at one concert and in person for a four-song encore at another. In September, he replaced Tork on the tour for two dates while Tork attended to a family emergency. After Tork returned to the tour, Nesmith performed with the band for a concert at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood on September 16, which he stated would likely be his final concert appearance with the Monkees.[107] Dolenz and Tork's tour announced dates to the end of the year, including concerts in Australia and New Zealand.

The Mike and Micky Show, Christmas Party, and Tork's death edit

On February 20, 2018, a new tour was announced as "The Monkees Present: The Mike and Micky Show", their first tour as a duo; Tork was unable to participate due to health problems (a fact that was not revealed until after his death). Though the pair played Monkees music and promoted the tour under the Monkees banner, Dolenz and Nesmith respected Tork's absence by insisting that the shows be billed as a separate duo rather than being billed as official Monkees shows. Nesmith stated, "There's no pretense there about Micky and I being the Monkees. We're not."[108]

The tour was cut short in June 2018, with four shows left unplayed, due to Nesmith undergoing quadruple bypass heart surgery, following a health issue that had persisted since early in the tour. After a month-long stay in the hospital, he and Dolenz announced March 2019 as make-up dates for the missed shows,[109] and the tour was later extended to include Australia and New Zealand.

The Monkees released a Christmas album, Christmas Party,[110] on October 12, 2018. The album features a mix of holiday standards and original songs written by contemporary artists. In addition to newly recorded material from the three surviving Monkees, two previously recorded songs featuring vocals from Jones were also included.[111]

Tork died of cancer on February 21, 2019.[112]

Farewell tour and Nesmith's death edit

Following the success of the Mike and Micky Show, Dolenz and Nesmith announced a follow-up tour, An Evening with the Monkees, to begin in early 2020.[113] The tour was delayed, however, due the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced on May 4, 2021, that the rescheduled dates would be billed as a farewell tour. "The Monkees Farewell Tour" consisted of over 40 dates in the US from September to November; because of restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to play shows in Canada, the UK or Australia. The final date and final show for the Monkees Farewell Tour was held on November 14, 2021, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.[114][115]

In May 2021, Dolenz released a solo album, Dolenz Sings Nesmith, featuring songs written by Nesmith and produced by Christian Nesmith.[116]

Nesmith died of heart failure on December 10, 2021, less than a month after the final date of the 2021 tour.[117] Nesmith's death leaves Dolenz as the only surviving member of the Monkees. Tributes to Nesmith from other musicians, fans, and Dolenz were posted on social media.[118]

Micky Dolenz edit

"The Monkees Celebrated by Micky Dolenz" tour edit

 
Dolenz performing on "The Monkees Celebrated by Micky Dolenz" tour, 2022

In early 2022, Dolenz announced that he would embark on a "special series of concert dates in April 2022. Honoring the contributions of his bandmates – the late Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith & Peter Tork – in song and with personal multimedia footage of the legendary performers". Monkees manager and tour manager Andrew Sandoval stated that "We will be fully delving into The Monkees' songbook, as well as Micky's personal archive of films and photos to create a unique evening of memories..."[119] The official tour was set to start on April 5, 2022, with a pre-tour performance on "The Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise".[120]

Impact and legacy edit

The Monkees, selected specifically to appeal to the youth market as American television's response to the Beatles[121] with their manufactured personae and carefully produced singles, are seen as an original precursor to the modern proliferation of studio and corporation-created bands. But this critical reputation has softened somewhat, with the recognition that the Monkees were neither the first manufactured group nor unusual in this respect. The Monkees also frequently contributed their own songwriting efforts on their albums and saw their musical skills improve. They ultimately became a self-directed group, playing their own instruments and writing many of their own songs.

Andrew Sandoval wrote the following in The Hollywood Reporter:

[The Monkees] pioneered the music video format and paved the way for every boy band that followed in their wake, from New Kids on the Block to 'N Sync to the Jonas Brothers, while Davy set the stage for future teen idols David Cassidy and Justin Bieber. As pop stars go, you would be hard pressed to find a successful artist who didn't take a page from the Monkees' playbook, even generations later. Monkee money also enabled Rafelson and Schneider to finance Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces, which made Jack Nicholson a star. In fact, the Monkees series was the opening salvo in a revolution that brought on the New Hollywood cinema, an influence rarely acknowledged but no less impactful.[14]

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Davy Jones, who said, "We touched a lot of musicians, you know. I can't tell you the amount of people that have come up and said, 'I wouldn't have been a musician if it hadn't been for the Monkees.' It baffles me even now".[122]

The Monkees found unlikely fans among musicians of the punk rock period of the mid-1970s. Many of these punk performers had grown up on TV reruns of the series, and sympathized with the anti-industry, anti-establishment trend of their career. Sex Pistols and Minor Threat both recorded versions of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and it was often played live by Toy Love. Japanese new wave pop group the Plastics recorded a synthesizer and drum-machine version of "Last Train to Clarksville" for their 1979 album Welcome Back.

Glenn A. Baker, author of Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees, described the Monkees as "rock's first great embarrassment" in 1986:

Like an illegitimate child in a respectable family, the Monkees are destined to be regarded forever as rock's first great embarrassment; misunderstood and maligned like a mongrel at a ritzy dog show, or a test tube baby at the Vatican... The fact was ignored that session players were being heavily employed by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds and other titans of the age. However, what could not be ignored, as rock disdained its pubescent past, was a group of middle-aged Hollywood businessmen had actually assembled their concept of a profitable rock group and foisted it upon the world. What mattered was that the Monkees had success handed to them on a silver plate.[31]

Mediaite columnist Paul Levinson noted that "The Monkees were the first example of something created in a medium—in this case, a rock group on television—that jumped off the screen to have big impact in the real world."[123]

When commenting on the death of Jones on February 29, 2012, Time magazine contributor James Poniewozik praised the television show, saying that

... even if the show never meant to be more than entertainment and a hit-single generator, we shouldn't sell The Monkees short. It was far better TV than it had to be; during an era of formulaic domestic sitcoms and wacky comedies, it was a stylistically ambitious show, with a distinctive visual style, absurdist sense of humor and unusual story structure. Whatever Jones and the Monkees were meant to be, they became creative artists in their own right, and Jones' chipper Brit-pop presence was a big reason they were able to produce work that was commercial, wholesome and yet impressively weird.[124]

The band released four chart-topping albums and three chart-topping songs ("Last Train to Clarksville", "I'm a Believer", and "Daydream Believer"), and sold more than 75 million records worldwide.[125][126]

In popular culture edit

The Criterion Collection, which has a stated goal to release "a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, [and] has been dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements"[127] recognized the Monkees' film Head as meeting their criteria when they fully restored and released it on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010. They stated that Head was "way, way ahead of its time" and "arguably the most authentically psychedelic film made in 1960s Hollywood".[128] Head dodged commercial success on its release but has since been reclaimed as one of the great cult objects of its era."[129]

In the book Hey, Hey We're The Monkees, Rafelson wrote that, with Head, he explored unprecedented cinematic techniques, including filming actors underwater, the use of polarization, and inventing "double-matte experiences". "When it was shown in France, the head of the Cinematheque overly praised the movie as a cinematic masterpiece, and from that point on, this movie began to acquire an underground reputation."[130] In 2010, Nick Vernier Band created a digital "Monkees reunion" through the release of Mister Bob (featuring the Monkees),[131] a new song produced under license from Rhino Entertainment, containing vocal samples from the band's recording "Zilch". The contract bridge convention known as either Last Train or Last Train to Clarksville was so named by its inventor, Jeff Meckstroth, after the Monkees' song.[132]

Comic books edit

A comic book series, The Monkees, was published in the United States by Dell Comics, which ran for 17 issues from 1967 to 1969.[133]

In the United Kingdom, a Daily Mirror "Crazy Cartoon Book" featured four comic stories as well as four photos of the Monkees, all in black and white; it was published in 1967.

Biopic edit

In 2000, VH-1 produced the television biopic Daydream Believers: The Monkees' Story.[134] In 2002, the movie was released on DVD and featured both commentaries and interviews with Dolenz, Jones and Tork. The aired version did differ from the DVD release, as the TV version had an extended scene with all four Monkees meeting the Beatles, but with a shortened Cleveland concert segment. It was also available on VHS.

Musical edit

A stage musical opened in the UK at the Manchester Opera House on Friday March 30, 2012, and was dedicated to Davy Jones (the Jones family attended the official opening on April 3).[135] The production is a Jukebox musical and starred Stephen Kirwan, Ben Evans, Tom Parsons and Oliver Savile[135] as actors playing the parts of the Monkees (respectively Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith, Tork) who are hired by an unscrupulous businessman to go on a world tour pretending to be the real band. The show includes 18 Monkees songs plus numbers by other 60s artists. It ran in Manchester as part of the "Manchester Gets it First" program until April 14, 2012, before a UK tour.[135][136] Following its Manchester run, the show appeared in the Glasgow King's Theatre and the Sunderland Empire Theatre.[135]

Awards and achievements edit

Grammy Awards edit

The Grammy Awards is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. It shares recognition of the music industry as that of the other performance arts: Emmy Awards (television), the Tony Awards (stage performance), and the Academy Awards (motion pictures).

Year Category Nominated work Result
1967 Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording "Last Train to Clarksville" Nominated
Best Contemporary (R&R) Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental Nominated
1968 Best Performance by a Vocal Group "I'm a Believer" Nominated
Best Contemporary Group Performance (Vocal or Instrumental) Nominated

Notable achievements edit

Controversies edit

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame edit

Various magazines and news outlets, such as Time,[144] NPR,[145] The Christian Science Monitor,[146] Goldmine,[147][148] Yahoo! Music[149] and MSNBC[150] have argued that the Monkees belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1992, Davy Jones told People that he knew the Monkees would never make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[151] In June 2007, Peter Tork complained to the New York Post that Jann Wenner had "blackballed" the Monkees from being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tork contended that Wenner held a grudge against the Monkees because the band members did not always write their own songs or play their own instruments during their early years.[146]

Members edit

  • Micky Dolenz – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, drums, percussion (1966–1971, 1976, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001–2002, 2011–2021)
  • Davy Jones – lead and backing vocals, percussion, drums, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards (1966–1971, 1976, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001–2002, 2011–2012; his death)
  • Michael Nesmith – lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards, backing and lead vocals (1966–1970, 1986, 1989, 1996–1997, 2012–2014, 2016, 2018–2021; his death)
  • Peter Tork – bass, rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards, banjo, backing and occasional lead vocals (1966–1968, 1976, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001, 2011–2018; died 2019)

Timeline edit

Discography edit

Tours edit

  • North American Tour (1966–67)
  • British Tour (1967)
  • Pacific Rim Tour (1968)
  • North American Tour (1969) (Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith)
  • 20th Anniversary World Tour (1986) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • Here We Come Again Tour (1987–88) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork), for most of the 1987 shows, "Weird Al" Yankovic was the opening act.
  • The Monkees Live (1989) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • The Monkees Summer Tour (1989) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • Monkees: The 30th Anniversary Tour (1996) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • Justus Tour (1997)
  • North American Tour (1997) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • U.S. Tour (2001) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork; Tork removed from the tour partway through)
  • Monkeemania Returns Tour (2001–2002) (Dolenz, Jones)
  • An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour (2011) (Dolenz, Jones, Tork)
  • An Evening with The Monkees (Fall 2012) (Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork)[100]
  • A Midsummer's Night with the Monkees (Summer 2013) (Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork)
  • The Monkees Live in Concert (Spring 2014) (Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork)
  • An Evening with the Monkees (2015) (Dolenz, Tork)
  • 50th Anniversary Tour (2016) (Dolenz, Tork with selected appearances by Nesmith)
  • The Mike and Micky Show (2019) (Dolenz, Nesmith) (2019 dates billed as the Monkees)
  • An Evening with the Monkees (2020; postponed)
  • The Monkees Farewell Tour (Fall 2021)

Related non-Monkees tours edit

  • The Great Golden Hits of The Monkees (1975–77) (Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart)
  • Sound of The Monkees (1986; 1987) (Jones, Tork)
  • Micky and Davy: Together Again (1994–95) (Dolenz, Jones)
  • The Monkees Present: The Mike and Micky Show (2018–19) (Dolenz, Nesmith) (early dates billed as a Dolenz and Nesmith duo and not the Monkees)
  • Micky Dolenz Celebrates the Monkees (2022) (Dolenz)
  • The Monkees Celebrated by Micky Dolenz (2023) (Dolenz)

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Sources differ as to whether the band was formed in 1965 or in 1966. Furthermore, sources differ as to whether the band disbanded in 1970 or 1971.
  1. ^ Rozzo, Mark (August 19, 2021). "The Most Influential Pop-Rock Band Ever? The Monkees!". Vanity Fair.
  2. ^ "Dolenz sings Nesmith, and talks Monkees legacy". Goldminemag.com. August 5, 2021. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  3. ^ Sfetcu, Nicolae (2014). American Music. Nicolae Sfetcu. p. 166.
  4. ^ "A to Z of Psychedelia on 6 Music". BBC Sounds. July 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Monkees | Members, TV Show, Songs, Albums, & Facts". Britannica.com. September 21, 2023.
  6. ^ Sandoval (2005), p. 15.
  7. ^ Sandoval (2005), p. 18.
  8. ^ McVay, Benjamin (August 2, 2021). "THE MONKEES (1965-68) - A Cultural Phenomenon". Cinema Scholars.
  9. ^ Sandoval (2005), p. 19.
  10. ^ Sandoval (2005), p. 24.
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Further reading edit

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