The Monkees were an American rock and pop band originally active
between 1966 and 1971, with subsequent reunion albums and tours in the
decades that followed. They were formed in
Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob
Bert Schneider for the American television series The
Monkees which aired from 1966 to 1968. The musical acting quartet was
composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork;
and British actor and singer Davy Jones. The band's music was
initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner, backed by the
songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.
The four actor-musicians were allowed only limited roles in the
recording studio for the first few months of their five-year career as
"the Monkees". This was due in part to the amount of time required to
film the television series. Nonetheless, Nesmith did compose and
produce some songs from the beginning, and
Peter Tork contributed
limited guitar work on the sessions produced by Nesmith. They
eventually fought for the right to collectively supervise all musical
output under the band's name. The television show was canceled in
1968, but the band continued to record music through 1971.
A revival of interest in the television show came in 1986, which led
to a series of reunion tours and new records. The group reunited and
toured several times with varying degrees of success.
Davy Jones died suddenly on February 29, 2012, but the surviving
members reunited for a tour in November–December 2012 and
again in 2013 for a 24-date tour.
The Monkees continued to tour
through their 2016 50th Anniverary, with Dolenz and Tork forming the
core of the band and Nesmith continuing to join them occasionally.
Dolenz described the Monkees as initially being "a TV show about an
imaginary band… that wanted to be the Beatles that was never
successful". Ironically, the actor-musicians became one of the most
successful bands of the 1960s.
The Monkees have sold more than 50
million records worldwide and had international hits,
Last Train to Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday",
"Daydream Believer", and "I'm a Believer". Newspapers and magazines
reported that the Monkees outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones
combined in 1967, but Nesmith claims in his autobiography
Infinite Tuesday that it was a lie that he told an Australian
2 Developing the music for their debut album
3 From television to concert stage
3.1 On tour
4 Kirshner and More of the Monkees
5.1 Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones
5.2 The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
6 Beyond television
6.2 Early 1969: Tork's resignation, Instant Replay and The Monkees
6.3 April 1970: Nesmith's resignation and Changes
7 Reunions and revivals
7.1 Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart
7.2 MTV and
Nickelodeon reignite Monkeemania
7.3 New Monkees
7.4 1990s reunions
7.5 2000s reunions
7.6 2010–2011 reunions
7.7 Death of Jones and reunion with Nesmith
Good Times! and 50th anniversary: 2015-present
8.1 Studio recordings controversy
8.1.1 Timeline for the studio recordings controversy
8.2 Meeting the Beatles
8.3 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
9 Originally unreleased recordings
10 Band members
11 Impact and legacy
11.1 In popular culture
12 Notable achievements
14.1 Related non-Monkees tours
19 See also
21 External links
Bob Rafelson developed the initial idea for The
Monkees in 1962, but was unsuccessful in selling the series. He had
tried selling it to Revue, the television division of Universal
Pictures. 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
The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night inspired Rafelson and Schneider
to revive Rafelson's idea for The Monkees. As "The Raybert Producers",
they sold the show to
Screen Gems Television on April 16, 1965.
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. However,
John Sebastian had already signed the band to a
record contract, which would have denied
Screen Gems the right to
market music from the show.
On July 14, 1965,
The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter stated that future band
member Davy Jones was expected to return to the United States in
September 1965 after a trip to England "to prepare for [a] TV pilot
Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson". Jones had previously starred
Artful Dodger in the
Broadway theatre show Oliver!, which
debuted on December 17, 1962, and his performance was later seen on
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as the Beatles' first appearance
on that show, February 9, 1964. He was nominated for a Tony Award for
Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 1963. In September 1964 he was
signed to a long-term contract to appear in TV programs for Screen
Gems, make feature films for
Columbia Pictures and to record music for
the Colpix label. Rafelson and Schneider already had him in mind
for their project after their plans for the Lovin' Spoonful fell
through; when they chose him, he was essentially a proto-star looking
for his lucky break.
On September 8–10, 1965, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter
ran an ad to cast the remainder of the band/cast members for the TV
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
Out of 437 applicants, the other three chosen for the cast of the
TV show were Michael Nesmith,
Peter Tork and 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 had studied drama in college. Of the
final four, 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 TV series Circus Boy as a child, using
the stage name Mickey Braddock, and he had also played guitar and sung
in a band called the Missing Links before the Monkees, which had
recorded and released a very minor single, "Don't Do It". By that time
he was using his real name; he found out about
The Monkees through his
Developing the music for their debut album
The Monkees' chairs
During the casting process Don Kirshner, Screen Gems' head of music,
was contacted to secure music for the pilot that would become The
Monkees. Not getting much interest from his usual stable of Brill
Building writers, Kirshner assigned Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to the
project. The duo contributed four demo recordings for the
pilot. One of these recordings was "(Theme From) The Monkees"
which helped get the series the green light.
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 primarily to
distribute Monkees records. Raybert set up a rehearsal space and
rented instruments for the group to practice playing in April
1966, 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.
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. Kirshner next allowed Nesmith to produce sessions,
provided he did not play on any tracks he produced. Nesmith did,
however, start using the other Monkees on his sessions, particularly
Tork as a guitarist. 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.
Boyce and Hart
Boyce and Hart observed quickly that when brought
into the studio together, the four actors would fool around and try to
crack each other up. Because of this, they would often bring in each
According to Nesmith, it was Dolenz's voice that made the Monkees'
sound distinctive, and even during tension-filled times Nesmith and
Tork sometimes turned over lead vocal duties to Dolenz on their own
compositions, such as Tork's "For Pete's Sake", which became the
closing title theme for the second season of the television show.
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, Mike Nesmith stated, "The first album shows up and I look at
it with horror because it makes [us] appear as if we are a rock 'n'
roll band. There's no credit for the other musicians. I go completely
ballistic, and I say, 'What are you people thinking?' [The powers that
be say], 'Well, you know, it's the fantasy.' I say, 'It's not the
fantasy. You've crossed the line here! You are now duping the public.
They know when they look at the television series that we're not a
rock 'n' roll band; it's a show about a rock 'n' roll band. ... nobody
for a minute believes that we are somehow this accomplished rock 'n'
roll band that got their own television show. ... you putting the
record out like this is just beyond the pale." Within a few months of
their debut album, Music Supervisor
Don Kirshner would be forcibly
dismissed and the Monkees would take control as a real band.
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. The first
long-playing album, The Monkees, was released a month later, spent 13
weeks at #1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 78 weeks. Twenty
years later, during their reunion, it would spend another 24 weeks on
the Billboard charts. This first album is also notable, in addition to
containing their debut single, for containing band member Nesmith's
first foray into country-rock, "Papa Gene's Blues", which mixed
country, rock and Latin flavors.
From television to concert stage
Publicity shot in 1967
In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a
dilemma arose as to which of the four would be 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 initially on
the instrument, but the producers felt that, behind a drum kit, the
camera would exaggerate his short stature and make him virtually
hidden from view. Thus, Dolenz (who only knew 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, but he was soon taught how to play properly. Thus, 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. This, however, is in opposition to the lineup which
would have made the most sense based upon the members' musical
strengths. For example, Tork was actually a more experienced guitar
player than Nesmith, while Nesmith had at one time specifically
trained on the bass. While Jones certainly had a strong lead voice and
sings lead on several Monkees recordings, Dolenz's voice is regarded,
particularly by Nesmith, as one of the most distinctive in popular
music history and a hallmark of the Monkees' sound. This
theoretical lineup was actually depicted once, in the music video for
the band's song "Words", which shows Jones on drums, Tork playing lead
guitar, Nesmith on bass and Dolenz fronting the group. In concert
appearances Tork also took much of the guitar duties, even in
appearances with Nesmith, and Dolenz often plays rhythm guitar on
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 Monkees Tale author Eric Lefcowitz noted that the
Monkees were—first and foremost—a video group. The four actors
would spend 12-hour days on the set, many of them waiting for the
production crew to do their jobs. Noticing that their instruments were
left on the set unplugged, the four decided to turn them on and start
After working on the set all day, the Monkees (usually Dolenz or
Jones) would be called into the recording studio to cut vocal tracks.
As the band was essential to this aspect of the recording process,
there were few limits on how long they could spend in the recording
studio, and the result was an extensive catalogue of unreleased
1969 television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
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.
They had no time to rehearse a live performance except between takes
on set. They worked on the TV series all day, recorded in the studio
at night and slept very little. The weekends were usually filled with
special appearances or filming of special sequences. These
performances were sometimes used during the actual series. The episode
"Too Many Girls (Fern and Davy)" opens with a live version of "(I'm
Not Your) Steppin' Stone" being performed as the scene was shot. One
entire episode was filmed featuring live music. The last show of the
premiere season, "Monkees on Tour", was shot in a documentary style by
filming a concert in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 21, 1967. Bob
Rafelson wrote and directed the episode.
In DVD commentary tracks included in the Season One release, Nesmith
admitted that Tork was better at playing guitar than bass. In Tork's
commentary he stated that Jones was a good drummer, and had the live
performance lineups been based solely on playing ability, it should
have been Tork on guitar, Nesmith on bass and Jones on drums, with
Dolenz taking the fronting role. The four Monkees performed all the
instruments and vocals for most of the live set. The most notable
exceptions were during each member's solo sections where, during the
December 1966 – May 1967 tour, they were backed by the Candy
Store Prophets. During the summer 1967 tour of the United States and
the UK (from which the Live 1967 recordings are taken), they were
backed by a band called the Sundowners.
The Monkees toured Australia
and Japan in 1968. The results 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
With Jones sticking primarily to vocals and tambourine (except when
filling in on the drums when Dolenz came forward to sing a lead
vocal), the Monkees' live act constituted a classic power trio of
electric guitar, electric bass and drums (except when Tork passed the
bass part to Jones or one of the Sundowners in order to take up the
banjo or electric keyboards).
Kirshner and More of the Monkees
The Monkees in 1967
Andrew Sandoval noted in Rhino's 2006 Deluxe Edition CD reissue of
More of the Monkees
More of the Monkees that album sales were outstripping Nielsen
ratings, meaning that more people were buying the music than watching
the television show, which meant that the producers decided that more
attention needed to be paid to the music and that more music needed to
be produced for more albums. Sandoval also noted that their second
album, More of the Monkees, propelled by their second single, "I'm a
Believer" b/w "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", became the biggest
selling LP of their career, spending 70 weeks on the Billboard charts,
staying No. 1 for 18 weeks, becoming the third biggest selling
album of the 1960s and also returning to the charts
in 1986 for another 26 weeks.
At the time songwriters
Boyce and Hart
Boyce and Hart considered the Monkees to be
their project, with Tommy Boyce stating in the 2006 Rhino reissue of
More of the Monkees
More of the Monkees that he considered the Monkees to be actors in the
television show, while
Boyce and Hart
Boyce and Hart were the songwriters and
producers doing the records. They wanted Micky to sing the faster
songs and have Davy sing the ballads. He also stated in the liner
notes that he felt that Michael's country leanings didn't fit in with
the Monkees' image, and although he thought that Peter was a great
musician, he had a different process of thinking about songs that
wasn't right for the Monkees. Music Coordinator Kirshner, though,
realizing how important the music was, wanted to move the music in a
newer direction than
Boyce and Hart
Boyce and Hart to get the best record, and so he
decided to move the production to New York where his A-list of
However, the Monkees had been complaining 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 until they were
called upon to add their vocals to the completed tracks. This campaign
eventually forced Kirshner to let the group have more participation in
the recording process. Dolenz's initial reaction, mentioned in the
2006 Rhino CD reissue of More of the Monkees, was "To me, these were
the soundtrack albums to the show, and it wasn't my job. My job was to
be an actor and to come in and to sing the stuff when I was asked to
do so. I had no problem with that . . . It wasn't until Mike and Peter
started getting so upset that Davy and I started defending them . . .
they were upset because it wasn't the way they were used to making
music. The artist is the bottom line. The artist decides what songs
are gonna go on and in what order and who writes 'em and who produces
'em." Nesmith, when asked about the situation, in Rolling Stone
magazine, said, ". . . We were confused, especially me. But all of us
shared the desire to play the songs we were singing. Everyone was
accomplished--the notion [that] I was the only musician is one of
those rumors that got started and won't stop--but it was not true . .
. We were also kids with our own taste in music and were happier
performing songs we liked--and/or wrote--than songs that were handed
to us . . . 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
Four months after their debut single was released in September 1966,
on January 16, 1967, the Monkees held their first recording session as
a fully functioning, self-contained band, recording 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". Four days later, on January 20, 1967, their debut self-titled
album made its belated release in the UK (it was released in
October '66 in the U.S.). This same month Kirshner released their
second album of songs that used session musicians, More of the
Monkees, without the band's knowledge. Nesmith and Tork were
particularly upset when they were on tour in January 1967 and
discovered this second album.
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.
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 $1,800,000 in today's
Kirshner's dismissal came in early February 1967, when he violated an
Colgems and the Monkees not to release material
directly created by the group together with unrelated
Kirshner-produced material. Kirshner violated this agreement 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' vocals, as the B-side. This
single was only released in Canada and was withdrawn after a couple of
Kirshner was reported to have been incensed by the group's unexpected
rebellion, especially when he felt they had "modicum talent" when
compared to the superstars of the day like
John Lennon and Paul
McCartney. In the liner notes for Rhino's 2006 Deluxe Edition CD
reissue of More of the Monkees, Kirshner stated, "[I controlled the
group] because I had a contract. I kicked them out of the studio
because I had a TV show that I had to put songs in, and to me it was a
business and I had to knock off the songs." This experience led
directly to Kirshner's later venture, The Archies, which was an
animated series—the "stars" existed only on animation cels, with
music done by studio musicians, and obviously could not seize creative
control over the records issued under their name.
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 left
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.
"Here, I'm going to make you a big star ... and you don't have to pay
any dues. ... For that, you're going to get no respect from your
contemporaries." ... To me, that was the cruelest thing. 
Phil Spector, 1968
Pop Chronicles interview.
Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones
The Monkees wanted to pick the songs they sang and play on the songs
they recorded, and be the Monkees. 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, which 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.,
would serve as the soundtrack to the second season of the television
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
Issued in May 1967, Headquarters had no songs released as singles in
the United States, but it would still be 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 would
knock Headquarters to the #2 spot on the charts for the next 11 weeks,
the same weeks which would become 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. Tork's
"For Pete's Sake" would be used as the closing theme for the
television show. Nesmith would continue 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". Other notable songs are the Nesmith-composed
straightforward pop-rock song "You Just May Be the One", used on the
television series during both seasons, along with "Shades of Gray"
(with piano introduction written by Tork),) "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." 
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. would mark the last time Dolenz,
who originally played guitar before the Monkees, would make a solo
stand as a studio drummer. 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 (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
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.
They would use this strategy of themselves playing, plus adding
session musicians (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)
throughout their recording career, relying more on session musicians
when the group became temporarily estranged after Pisces, Aquarius,
Capricorn & Jones Ltd. and recorded some of their songs
Chip Douglas again to produce, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn &
Jones Ltd., released in November 1967  was the Monkees' fourth
No. 1 album in a row, staying at No. 1 for 5 weeks, 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; 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. 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 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."
Their next single, "Daydream Believer" (with a piano intro written by
Tork), would shoot 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. "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. would return to the charts for 17
The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
Davy Jones and
Peter Tork in 1966
The Monkees decided that they no longer needed
Chip Douglas as a
producer, and starting in November 1967, they largely produced their
own sessions. Although credited to the whole band, the songs were
mostly solo efforts. In a couple of cases,
Boyce and Hart
Boyce and Hart had
returned from the first two albums to produce, but credit was given to
the Monkees. It was also during this time that Michael Nesmith
recorded his first solo album, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, a big
band jazz instrumental collection of interpretations of Nesmith's
compositions, arranged by the jazz musician Shorty Rogers. Praised in
Los Angeles Times by the author of The Encyclopedia of Jazz, jazz
critic Leonard Feather wrote "Verbally and musically, Mike Nesmith is
one of the most articulate spokesmen for the new and literate breed of
pop musicians who have spring from the loins of primitive rock. [The
album] with its carriage trade of symphony, rock, country, western,
and swing, and with jazz riding in the caboose, may well indicate
where contemporary popular music will be situated in the early
Considered by some to be the Monkees' "White Album" period (for
example, Sandoval mentions this in the liner notes of Rhino Handmade's
2010 Deluxe reissue of the album), each of the Monkees contributions
reflected his own musical tastes, which resulted in an eclectic album.
Micky sang the pop songs (e.g., "I'll Be Back Upon My Feet"), and
performed a double-vocal with Mike on the Nesmith/Allison composed
"Auntie's Municipal Court". Davy sang the ballads (e.g., "Daydream
Believer" and "We Were Made for Each Other") and Nesmith contributed
some experimental songs, like the progressive "Writing Wrongs", the
unusual hit song "Tapioca Tundra", and the lo-fi 1920s sound of
"Magnolia Simms". This last song is notable for added effects to make
it sound like an old record (even including a "record skipping"
simulation) made before the Beatles "Honey Pie", which used a similar
Propelled by the hit singles "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri", along
with Nesmith's self-penned top 40 hit "Tapioca Tundra", The Birds, The
The Monkees reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts
shortly after it was released in April 1968. 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
looking like a display in a jumble shop or toy store—was chosen over
the Monkees' objections. It was the last Monkees' album to be released
in separate, dedicated mono and stereo mixes. During the 1986
reunion, it would return to the Billboard charts for 11 weeks.
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During the filming of the second season, the band became tired of
scripts which they deemed monotonous and stale. They had already
succeeded in eliminating the laugh track (a then-standard on American
sitcoms), with the bulk of Season 2 episodes airing minus the canned
chuckles. They proposed switching the format of the series to become
more like a variety show, with musical guests and live performances.
This desire was partially fulfilled within some second-season
episodes, with guest stars like musicians Frank Zappa,
Tim Buckley and
Charlie Smalls (composer of The Wiz) performing on the show. However,
NBC was not interested in eliminating the existing format, and the
group (except for Peter) had little desire to continue for a third
season. Tork said in DVD commentary that everyone had developed such
difficult personalities that the big-name stars invited as guests on
the show would invariably leave the experience "hating everybody".
Screen Gems and NBC went ahead with the existing format anyway,
commissioning Monkees writers Gerald Gardner and
Dee Caruso to create
a straight-comedy, no-music half-hour in the Monkees mold; a pilot
episode was filmed with the then-popular nightclub act the Pickle
Brothers. The pilot had the same energy and pace of The Monkees, but
never became a series.
In June 1968, Music Supervisor
Lester Sill chose to release the two
non-album tracks "D.W. Washburn" b/w "It's Nice To Be With You" as the
Monkees' next single. The Leiber/Stoller-penned A-side would break
into the Top 20, peaking at No. 19 on the charts.
The Monkees was canceled in February 1968, Rafelson directed the
four Monkees in a feature film, Head. Schneider was executive
producer, and the project was co-written and co-produced by Bob
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, boxer Sonny Liston, famous
stripper Carol Doda, Green Bay Packer 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
The film was not a commercial success, in part because it was the
The Monkees television show, intended to comprehensively
demolish the group's carefully groomed public image. 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) squelched
any chances of the film doing well, and it played in briefly in
half-filled movie theaters. In the DVD commentary, Nesmith said that
by this time, everyone associated with the Monkees "had gone crazy".
They were each using the platform of the Monkees to push their own
disparate career goals, to the detriment of the Monkees project.
Indeed, Nesmith said, Head was Rafelson and Nicholson's intentional
effort to "kill" the Monkees, so that they would no longer be bothered
with the matter. Indeed, 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."
Released in October 1968, the single from the album, "The Porpoise
Song", is a psychedelic pop song written by Goffin/King, with lead
Micky Dolenz and backing vocals from Davy Jones, and it
reached number 62 on the Billboard charts.
The soundtrack album to the movie, Head, reached No. 45 on the
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 straight ahead 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 would later be
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."  The soundtrack album is a cult favorite among the
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.
Early 1969: Tork's resignation, Instant Replay and The Monkees
Tensions within the group were increasing. Peter Tork, citing
exhaustion, quit by buying out the last four years of his Monkees
contract at $150,000 per year, equal to about $1,000,000 per year
today. This was shortly after the band's Far East tour in December
1968, after completing 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." (Tork kept the back,
but replaced the watch several times in later years.) Most of the
songs from the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV
Special would not be
officially released until over 40 years later, on the 2010 and 2011
Rhino Handmade Deluxe boxed sets of Head and Instant Replay.
Since 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. The single from the album was "Tear Drop City", which
peaked at No. 56 on the U.S. Billboard chart and No. 34 on the
Australian chart. 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. Nesmith stated in Rhino Handmade's 2011 Deluxe Edition
reissue, "I guess it was the same embryo beating in me that was
somewhere in Don Henley and
Glenn Frey and Linda Ronstadt and Neil
Young. Everybody who was hanging out in those times. I could just feel
this happening that there was this thing. So, I headed off to
Nashville to see if I couldn't get some of the Nashville country thing
into the rock 'n' roll or vice versa. What I found was that Nashville
country was not the country that was going to be the basis of
country-rock and that it was Western, Southwest country. It was coming
much more out of the Southern
California scene. I ended up with a lot
of Dobro, mandolin, banjo, and things that were hard-core mountain
music stuff ... the Nashville cats were so blown out by playin' this
kind of music. They loved it, for one thing."
Dolenz contributed the biggest and longest Monkees' production,
"Shorty Blackwell", a song inspired by his cat of the same name.
Dolenz called it his "feeble attempt at something to do with Sgt.
Pepper."  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
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.
The Monkees also had a contractual
obligation to appear in several television commercials with Bugs Bunny
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, 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 (#81).
The final album with
Michael Nesmith from the Monkees original
incarnation would be their eighth album,
The Monkees Present, released
in October 1969, which peaked at No. 100 on the Billboard
charts. It would include the Nesmith composed country-rock singles
"Listen to the Band" and "Good Clean Fun" (released in September
1969). Other notable songs include the Dolenz composition "Little
Girl", which featured
Louie Shelton on electric guitar, joining Micky
on acoustic guitar, 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 Monkees embarked on a tour with the
backing of the soul band "Sam and the Good-Timers". The concerts for
this tour were longer sets than their earlier concert tours, 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, and 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."
April 1970: Nesmith's resignation and Changes
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), 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. His first album with his own band was called Magnetic
South, and at the time he left the Monkees in April, he was recording
songs for his second album with The First National Band, called Loose
This 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.
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 would be the last single issued
under the Monkees name in the United States, until 1986.
Originally released in June 1970, Changes would first chart in
Billboard's Top 200 during the Monkees' 1986 reunion, staying on the
charts for 4 weeks.
September 22, 1970 marked the final recording session by the Monkees
in their original incarnation, when Jones and Dolenz recorded "Do It
in the Name of Love" and "Lady Jane". Not mixed until February 19,
1971, and released later that year as a single ("Do It in the Name Of
Love" b/w "Lady Jane"), 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", although in Japan it
was issued under the Monkees' name.
Jones released a solo album in 1971, titled Davy Jones, featuring the
single "Rainy Jane" / "Welcome to My Love". Both Jones and Dolenz
released multiple singles as solo artists in the years following the
original break-up of the Monkees. The duo continued to tour throughout
most of the 1970s.
Reunions and revivals
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart
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, who by this time had
custody 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, also owned by Screen Gems.
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, as well as
making stops in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. They also
released an album of new material as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.
Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion. Tork claimed later that
he had not been asked, although a Christmas single (credited to Micky
Dolenz, Davy Jones and
Peter Tork due to legal reasons) was produced
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 on July 4, 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage
at the Starwood in Hollywood in 1977.
Other semi-reunions occurred between 1970 and 1986. Tork helped
arrange a Dolenz single, "Easy on You"/"Oh Someone" in 1971. Tork also
recorded some unreleased tracks for Nesmith's Countryside label during
the 1970s, and Dolenz (by then a successful television director in the
United Kingdom) directed a segment of Nesmith's NBC-TV series
Television Parts, although the segment in question was not included
when the series' six episodes aired during the summer of 1985.
Nickelodeon reignite Monkeemania
Brushed off by critics during their heyday as manufactured and lacking
talent, the Monkees experienced a critical and commercial
rehabilitation two decades later. A Monkees TV show marathon
("Pleasant Valley Sunday") was broadcast on February 23, 1986, on the
then five-year-old MTV video music channel. In February and March,
Tork and Jones played together in Australia. Then in May, Dolenz,
Jones, and Tork announced a "20th Anniversary Tour" produced by David
Fishof and they began playing North America in June. Their original
albums began selling again as
Nickelodeon began to run their old
series daily. MTV promotion also helped to resurrect a smaller version
of Monkeemania, and tour dates grew from smaller to larger venues and
became one of the biggest live acts of 1986 and 1987. A new greatest
hits collection was issued, reaching platinum status.
By now, Nesmith was amenable to a reunion, but 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. In September 1988, the three rejoined to play
Australia again, Europe and then North America, with that string of
tours ending in September 1989. Nesmith again returned at the
Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, show on July 10, 1989 and took
part in a dedication ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when the
Monkees received a TV star there in 1989.
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", others as
Micky Dolenz and
Peter Tork (of the Monkees)". Reportedly, these
recordings were the source of some personal friction between Jones and
the others during the 1986 tour; Jones would typically leave the stage
when the new songs were performed.
The 1980s reunion tours were the most lucrative venture the three had
ever seen in their days as the Monkees, far surpassing the money they
had made in the 1960s. Nesmith had little financial need to join in
Monkees-related projects, mostly as his mother Bette Nesmith Graham
was the inventor of Liquid Paper, leaving Nesmith over $25 million
upon her death in 1980.
A new album by the touring trio,
Pool It! (the Monkees' tenth),
appeared the following year and was a moderate success. From 1986 to
1989, the Monkees would conduct major concert tours in the United
States, Australia, Japan, and Europe.
Main article: New Monkees
In 1987, a new television series called
New Monkees appeared. Four
young musicians were placed in a similar series based on the original
show, but "updated" for the 1980s. The
New Monkees left the air after
13 episodes. (Neither
Bob Rafelson nor
Bert Schneider were involved in
the development or production of the series, although it was produced
by "Straybert Productions" headed by Steve Blauner, Rafelson and
Schneider's partner in BBS Productions.)
In the 1990s, the Monkees continued to record new material. In 1993,
Dolenz and Jones worked together on a television commercial, and
another reunion tour was launched with the two of them in 1994. Rhino
Records (which in August 1994 acquired the complete Monkees back audio
and video catalog, as well as the rights to the Monkees name and
official logo, under an agreement with Rafelson and Schneider)
re-issued all the original LPs on CD, each of which included between
three and six bonus tracks of previously unreleased or alternate
takes; the first editions came with collectible trading cards.
Dolenz, Jones and Tork appeared in a 1995 episode of Boy Meets World,
but not as themselves; Tork appeared in two episodes as Topanga
Lawrence's father Jedediah.
Their eleventh album Justus was released in 1996. It was the first
since 1968 on which all four original members performed and produced.
Justus was produced by the Monkees, all songs were written by one of
the four Monkees, and it 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, while 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. This was a very fitting venue, as from 30 June to 2 July
1967 the Monkees had been the first group to headline on their own at
the Empire Pool, as the Arena was then called.
The full quartet also appeared in an ABC television special titled
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. Tork noted in DVD commentary that "In
1966, Nesmith had learned a reasonably good version of the famous
Last Train to Clarksville' guitar lick, but in 1996, Mike was no
longer able to play it" and so Tork took over the lead guitar parts.
Nesmith's departure from the tour was acrimonious. Jones was quoted by
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."
Tork, Jones, and Dolenz toured the United States in 1997, after which
the group took another hiatus until
2001 when they once again reunited
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 saying that, as well as the fact he wanted to tour with his
own band, "Shoe Suede Blues." Tork told WENN News he was troubled by
the overindulgence in alcohol by other members of the tour crew:
Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones fired me just before the last two shows of
our 35th anniversary tour. I'm both happy and sad over the whole
thing. I always loved the work onstage—but I just couldn't handle
the backstage problems. I'd given them 30 days notice that I was
leaving so my position is that I resigned first and then they dropped
me. Thank God I don't need the Monkees anymore...I'm a recovering
alcoholic and haven't had a drink in several years. I'm not against
people drinking—just when they get mean and abusive. I went on the
anniversary tour with the agreement that I didn't have to put up with
drinking and difficult behavior offstage. When things weren't getting
better, I gave the guys notice that I was leaving in 30 days for
Tork later stated in 2011 that the alcohol played only a small role
and Tork then said, "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 and it was
a serious mistake on my part. I was not in charge of myself to the
best of my ability – the way I hope I have become since. I really
just behaved inappropriately, honestly. I apologized to them." 
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.
In October 2010, Jones stated that a reunion marking the band's 45th
anniversary was a possibility. Noted Monkees biographer Andrew
Sandoval commented in
The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter that he "spent three
years cajoling them to look beyond their recent differences (which
included putting aside solo projects to fully commit to the
An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour commenced on
May 12, 2011 in Liverpool, England, before moving to North America
in June and July for a total of 43 performances. Sandoval noted,
"Their mixed feelings on the music business and their long and winding
relationship weighed heavily, but 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. Images from their series and films flashed on a huge screen
behind them; even Rolling Stone, whose owner, Jann Wenner, has vowed
to keep them out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gushed."
Nesmith did not take part in the tour, which grossed approximately $4
On August 8, 2011, the band cancelled ten last-minute shows due to
what was initially reported as "internal group issues and
conflicts", 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." 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 gelled onstage and off. But then more
dates were being added. And more. And then the next thing we knew,
they were talking about Japan, Australia, Brazil, and we were like,
'Wait a second. This is turning into something more than a tour.' We
were doing 40 songs a night, plus other material. Some of these shows
were 21⁄2 hours long. Then there was the travel, getting to the
next venue with no time to revive. The audiences were great. But,
let's face it, we're not kids."
Death of Jones and reunion with Nesmith
The 45th anniversary tour would be the last with Jones, who died of a
heart attack at age 66 due to atherosclerosis on February 29,
2012. Soon thereafter, rumors began to circulate that Nesmith
would reunite with Dolenz and Tork in the wake of Jones' death.
This was confirmed on August 8, 2012, when the surviving trio
announced a series of U.S. shows for November and December, commencing
California and concluding in New York City. The brief
tour marked the first time Nesmith performed with the Monkees since
1997, as well as the first without Jones. Jones' 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'
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
The Fall 2012 tour was very well received by both fans and critics,
resulting in the band scheduling a 24-date summer tour for 2013.
Dubbed "A Midsummer’s Night With the Monkees", 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." A third tour with Nesmith
would follow in 2014.
In 2014, the Monkees were inducted into the Pop Music Hall of Fame at
the 2014 Monkees Convention. At the convention the band announced
a 2014 tour of the Eastern and Midwestern US.
Good Times! and 50th anniversary: 2015-present
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's always invited." 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!, produced by
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, features
contributions by all three surviving members, as well as a posthumous
contribution from Jones. The album was released in May 2016 to
considerable success, reaching No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and
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
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. Dolenz and Tork's tour announced dates to the end of
the year, including concerts in Australia and New Zealand.
After the end of the 50th Anniversary Tour, Dolenz, Tork, and Nesmith
spent 2017 engaging in solo activities. In 2018, Nesmith toured with a
revived version of the
First National Band and stated that he was in
negotiations with promoters to tour again with Dolenz later in the
summer. On February 20, the tour was announced as "The Monkees
Present: The Mike and Micky Show", their first tour as a duo. The pair
will play Monkees music and promote the tour under the Monkees banner,
but Nesmith stated that "there's no pretense there about Micky and I
being the Monkees. We're not."
Studio recordings controversy
Controversy hit early in 1967 concerning the Monkees' studio
abilities. Dolenz told a reporter that the Wrecking Crew provided the
backing tracks for the first two Monkees albums, and that his origin
as a drummer was simply that a Monkee had to learn to play the drums,
and he only knew the guitar. A January 28, 1967 Saturday Evening
Post 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." The whistle-blowing on themselves
worked to force producer
Don Kirshner out of the project, and the band
took creative control for its third album.
But the Monkees toured the U.K. in 1967 and found a chilly reception.
The front pages of several U.K. 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
London Sunday Mirror
called them a "disgrace to the pop world."
Jimi Hendrix was their
tour-opener that year, and he told Melody Maker magazine, "Oh God, I
hate them! Dishwater… You can't knock anybody for making it, but
people like the Monkees?" Dealing with the controversy proved
challenging on the television series. Episode No. 31 "Monkees at the
Movies" first aired April 1967, and
Bob Rafelson asked the group about
accusations that they did not play their instruments in concert.
Nesmith responded, "I'm fixin' to walk out there in front of fifteen
thousand people, man! If I don't play my own instrument, I'm in a lot
of trouble!" But the "Devil and Peter Tork" episode serves as a
parable, as a Kirshner-like producer has Tork sign over his soul to be
a success as a musician.
In November 1967, the wave of anti-Monkee sentiment was reaching its
peak while they released their fourth album Pisces, Aquarius,
Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. The liner notes for the 1995 re-release of
this album quote Nesmith: "The press went into a full-scale war
against us, talking about how '
The Monkees are four guys who have no
credits, no credibility whatsoever and have been trying to trick us
into believing they are a rock band.' Number 1, not only was this not
the case; the reverse was true. Number 2, for the press to report with
genuine alarm that the Monkees were not a real rock band was looney
tunes! It was one of the great goofball moments of the media, but it
stuck." Davy Jones stated in 1969 to Tiger Beat, "I get so angry
when musicians say, 'Oh, your music is so bad,' because it's not bad
to the kids. Those people who talk about 'doing their own thing' are
groups that go and play in the clubs that hold 50 people, while we're
playing to 10,000 kids. You know, it hurts me to think that anybody
thinks we're phony, because we're not. We're only doing what we think
is our own thing."
Rolling Stone reported on October 11, 2011 that Tork still feels that
the Monkees do not get the respect that they deserve. "The Monkees'
songbook is one of the better songbooks in pop history," he says.
"Certainly in the top five in terms of breadth and depth. It was
revealed that we didn't play our own instruments on the records much
at the very moment when the idealism of early
Beatlemania in rock was
at its peak. So we became the ultimate betrayers."
Timeline for the studio recordings controversy
1962: Jones lands the part of Michael in the stage show Peter Pan, in
which he is coached on the tone of his voice. Later that year, he
lands the role of the
Artful Dodger in the Broadway musical production
of Oliver! Nesmith receives his first guitar during Christmas of
1962. He will build his proficiency with it to rehabilitate his
hands after they are injured. Tork takes part in folk ensembles.
The initial idea for
The Monkees is developed
1963: Tork moves to New York's Greenwich Village to play in various
folk groups in music "basket" houses, where money is collected after
each performance. While still performing in the musical Oliver!,
Jones makes his first studio recordings of demonstration tapes of his
singing. He is also nominated for a Tony award. Nesmith
performs solo and with folk groups and releases his first
1964: Dolenz plays guitar and sings in his first band, the Missing
Links. Dolenz had started playing Spanish guitar when he was
10–12 years old. Jones signs recording contract with Colpix
Records. He appears on
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show on the same night as
the Beatles. This will bring him to the attention of Bob Rafelson
and Bert Schneider. Nesmith wins Headliner of the Year talent contest
performing with John London. Tork tours with folk group.
1965: Jones's first singles and album are released. He appears on
Dick Clark's Where the Action Is. Nesmith releases more singles
and plays with folk group. He records for Colpix. Record
World gives one of Nesmith's singles a four star review. He
appears on a couple of TV shows performing music. Tork still
performs in Greenwich Village clubs. Dolenz sings on stage.
At the end of the year, the four Monkees are cast in the TV show.
Rafelson: "It's often been said that the Monkees were manufactured,
but the term irritates me just a little bit.
The Monkees were more
like a Japanese marriage: arranged. In America and elsewhere the
divorce rate is pretty high, but in Japan things go better." 
The Monkees begin rehearsing as a band to produce music
for the upcoming TV Show and records. Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork were
all experienced guitar players, but no one had experience playing the
drums. Jones had been a singer on Broadway, but lacked any experience
with any musical instruments. Producer
Ward Sylvester tells Tork that
he would have signed the band even without a TV show.
May 1966: Filming for the TV show starts, taking 12 hours a day for
the cast of the Monkees. The public is informed in the beginning that
the Monkees are "manufactured", as seen in this Washington Post
report: "The series stars a fearsome foursome in the Monkees, a wholly
manufactured singing group of attractive young men who come off as a
combination of the Beatles, the Dead End Kids and the Marx Brothers.
Critics will cry foul. Longhairs will demand, outraged, that they be
removed from the air. But the kids will adore the Monkees [...] unlike
other rock 'n' roll groups, the boys had never performed together
before. Indeed, they'd never even met [...] they've been working to
create their own sound." 
June 1966: Although the producers want the Monkees to create their own
music, they had not progressed enough by this point and still lacked
the "upbeat, young, happy, driving, pulsating sound" that they
desired. Dolenz stated, "I'm sure that Rafelson and Schneider said
in all honesty, 'Yeah, don't worry, when we start going you're gonna
record your own tunes and it will be wonderful.' But the things get
caught up in the inertia of the moment. NBC gets involved. RCA gets
Screen Gems gets involved. Millions and millions of dollars
are on the line [...] people aren't as forthcoming. Mike's style was
very distinct, country-western, Peter was very folk-rock, neither of
which at the time would have been considered mainstream pop. Davy
would have done all Broadway tunes [...] I ended up singing the leads
[...] pop-rock was more my style."  However, they used selections
of Nesmith's authorship and composition from the beginning.
June 10, 1966: The Monkees' first recording sessions take place. These
sessions feature members of the Wrecking Crew, a group of studio
Los Angeles who would play on several Monkees album
tracks, mostly those produced by Nesmith. These sessions were
unsuccessful, however, and most future sessions in 1966 would feature
the Candy Store Prophets, a studio band led by Boyce & Hart.
June 25, 1966: Nesmith produces his first Monkees track in a recording
studio, his two self-composed songs "All the King's Horses", "The Kind
of Girl I Could Love", plus "I Don't Think You Know Me", as a way for
Raybert Productions to fulfill their promise to him to allow him to
produce and record his own music. He is not allowed to play the
July 1966: Various producers from Boyce & Hart to Jack Keller to
Nesmith continue to record sessions. Nesmith gets all four members to
sing on his productions. On July 18, 1966 Nesmith also gets Tork to
play guitar on the songs he is producing for the first time.
Sessions continue in this manner, with the hired producers Boyce &
Hart and Jack Keller and Monkees member Nesmith producing/recording
songs in the studio through November 1966.
August 1966: The Monkees' first single is released.
September 1966: The Monkees' TV show premieres.
October 1966: The Monkees' debut album is released. Group member
Nesmith, in particular, is angered when he sees the album cover,
because he thinks it makes it look like they played all of the
October 2, 1966:
The Monkees give their first public interview, which
appears in The New York Times, in which Jones is asked if the big push
for the Monkees is fair to the real rock groups, to which he responds,
"... That's the breaks, but you can't fool the people, you really
October 24, 1966: Newsweek interviews the Monkees. They are asked how
the music is created. Davy Jones tells them, "This isn't a rock 'n'
roll group. This is an act." 
The Monkees perform live in concert starting December
3, 1966. TV Week in the meantime, interviews Rafelson about why the
Monkees' public access to interviews is limited, wondering if it could
be related to embarrassing questions regarding their musical prowess,
to which Rafelson assures that they do all of their own playing and
singing. He also states that interviews are almost impossible due
to them spending 12 hours a day filming the TV show, 4 hours
recording, rehearsing for concert tours, and spending some weekends
making personal appearance tours. During this time frame, the
Monkees are generally barred from making television appearances on
shows outside of their own, as Raybert fears the group's
December 27, 1966:
The Monkees are again interviewed about their music
in Look magazine. Tork responds, "We have the potential, but there's
not time to practice."  Dolenz says, "We're advertisers. We're
selling the Monkees. It's gotta be that way."  Nesmith says,
"They're in the middle of something good and they're trying to sell
something. They want us to be the Beatles, but we're not. We're us.
We're funny." 
December 28, 1966: Weekly Variety reports that the Monkees are selling
faster than the Beatles did at their launch.
January 1967: The Monkees' second album is released while they were on
tour, without the Monkees' knowledge. This upsets Nesmith and Tork, as
they had been told that they were going to be doing their own
album. Dolenz and Jones are initially indifferent because to them,
coming from the acting world, it was just a soundtrack to the TV show
and they were doing their job by singing what they were asked to sing.
But when they saw how angry Nesmith and Tork were, they too joined in
January 16, 1967: Four months after their first single is released,
the Monkees hold their first recording session as a self-contained,
fully functioning band.
January 28, 1967: Band member Nesmith speaks to the Saturday Evening
Post in an expose, stating, "The music had nothing to do with us. It
was totally dishonest. Do you know how debilitating it is to sit up
and have to duplicate somebody else's records? That's really what
we're doing. The music happened in spite of the Monkees. It was what
Kirshner wanted to do. Our records are not our forte. I don't care if
we never sell another record. Maybe we were manufactured [...] Tell
the world we're synthetic because [...] we are. Tell them the Monkees
are wholly man-made overnight, that millions of dollars have been
poured into this thing. Tell the world we don't record our own music.
But that's us they see on television. That show is really a part of
us. They're not seeing something invalid." Decades later, Nesmith
reflected, "The press decided they were going to unload on us as being
somehow illegitimate, somehow false. That we were making an attempt to
dupe the public, when in fact it was me that was making the attempt to
maintain the integrity. So, the press went into a full-scale war
against us. Telling us the Monkees are four guys who have no credits,
no credibility whatsoever, who have been trying to trick us into
believing that they are a rock band. Number one, not only was it not
the case, the reverse was true. Number two, [for] the press to report
with genuine alarm that the Monkees were not a real rock band was
looney tunes. It was one of the great goofball moments of the media,
but it stuck."
February 4, 1967: Although the Monkees have continued to play and
record their own music for their upcoming album, Jones records some
songs with hired producer Jeff Barry.
February 1967: Kirshner works behind the Monkees' backs to release
another single without the band's knowledge.
February 25, 1967: Jones is interviewed for the New Musical Express,
and says, "I can only speak for myself. I am an actor and I have never
pretended to be anything else. The public have made me into a rock 'n'
roll singer. No one is trying to fool anyone! People have tried to put
us down by saying we copied the Beatles. So, all right, maybe the
Monkees is a half-hour Hard Day's Night. But now we read that the Who
are working on a TV series around a group. Now who's copying who?"
February 27, 1967: Kirshner is dismissed as Music Coordinator for the
Monkees, primarily due to his handling of the third
would-be-but-withdrawn single from the Monkees.
Lester Sill takes his
The Monkees continue recording their own songs, with them
playing instruments, getting ready for their next album. In the
meantime, the Nesmith-penned "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" is released
as part of the Monkees third single, which features the Monkees
playing as a self-contained band, which becomes a top 40 hit.
May 1967: The Monkees' first self made album, Headquarters, is
After Headquarters, the Monkees started using a mixture of themselves
playing along with other musicians, including members of the Wrecking
Candy Store Prophets
Candy Store Prophets along with other musicians such as
Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Harry Nilsson; but they still wrote,
sang, produced, and played on their remaining albums, except for their
final offering from the original incarnation in 1970, Changes, which
was recorded after Nesmith and Tork had left the group and featured
Dolenz and Jones singing to the backing tracks of what Jones referred
to in the liner notes of the 1994 reissue that album as "a rejected
Andy Kim album". In the same liner notes, Jones stated that he was
unhappy about that recording and claimed that it was not a real album.
The final album featured one Dolenz composition.
Tork commented on some of the controversy when writing about Jones's
death: "When we first met, I was confronted with a slick,
accomplished, young performer, vastly more experienced than I in the
ways of show biz, and yes, I was intimidated. Englishness was at a
high premium in my world, and his experience dwarfed my entertainer's
life as a hippie, basket-passing folk singer on the Greenwich Village
coffee house circuit. If anything, I suppose I was selected for the
cast of 'The Monkees' TV show partly as a rough-hewn counterpart to
David's sophistication. [...] the Monkees—the group now, not the TV
series—took a lot of flack for being 'manufactured,' by which our
critics meant that we hadn't grown up together, paying our dues,
sleeping five to a room, trying to make it as had the Beatles and
Rolling Stones. Furthermore, critics said, the Monkees' first
albums—remember albums?—were almost entirely recorded by
professional studio musicians, with hardly any input from any of us
beyond lead vocals. I felt this criticism keenly, coming as I did from
the world of the ethical folk singer, basically honoring the standards
of the naysayers. We did play as a group live on tour."
Meeting the Beatles
Critics of the Monkees observed that they were simply the "Pre-Fab
four", a made-for-TV knockoff of the Beatles; however, the members of
the Beatles themselves took it in their stride and even hosted a party
for the Monkees when they visited England. The party occurred during
the time when the Beatles were recording album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band; as such, the party inspired the line in the Monkees'
tune "Randy Scouse Git", written by Dolenz, which read, "the four
EMI are sitting stately on the floor."
George Harrison praised their self-produced musical attempts, saying,
"It's obvious what's happening, there's talent there. They're doing a
TV show, it's a difficult chore and I wouldn't be in their shoes for
the world. When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be
the best." (Monkees member
Peter Tork was later one of the
musicians on Harrison's album Wonderwall Music, playing Paul
McCartney's five-string banjo.)
Nesmith attended the Beatles session recording for single "A Day in
the Life" at Abbey Road Studios; he can be seen in the Beatles' home
movies, including one scene where he is talking with John Lennon.
During the conversation, Nesmith had reportedly asked Lennon "Do you
think we're a cheap imitation of the Beatles, your movies and your
records?" to which Lennon assuredly replied, "I think you're the
greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers. I've never missed one
of your programs." Nesmith wrote about this encounter on Facebook:
When the Beatles were recording Sgt. Peppers, Phyllis and I spent a
few days with John and wife
Cynthia Lennon at their home, and one in
the studio with "the boys." That's where those pictures of John and I
come from—the "Day in the Life" session. The minute I had the
wherewithal—cachet and money—I raced to
London and looked up John.
During the '60s it seemed to me
London was the center of the World and
the Beatles were the center of
London and the Sgt Pepper session was
the center of the Beatles. It was an extraordinary time, I thought,
and I wanted to get as close as I could to the heart of it. But like a
hurricane the center was not stormy or tumultuous. It was exciting,
but it was calm, and to an extent peaceful. The confidence of the art
permeated the atmosphere. Serene—and really, really fun. Then I
discovered the reason for this. During that time in one of our longer,
more reflective, talks I realized that John was not aware of who the
Beatles were. Of course he could not be. He was clueless in this
regard. He had never seen or experienced them. In the strange paradox
of fame, none of the Beatles ever saw the Beatles the way we did.
Certainly not the way I did. I loved them beyond my ability to express
it. As the years passed and I met more and more exceptional people
sitting in the center of their own hurricane I saw they all shared
this same sensibility. None of them could actually know the force of
their own work.
Dolenz was also in the studio during a Sgt. Pepper session, which he
mentioned while broadcasting for radio
WCBS-FM in New York
(incidentally, he interviewed
Ringo Starr on his program). On February
21, 1967, he attended the overdub and mixing session for the Beatles'
"Fixing a Hole" at EMI's Abbey Road studio 2.
During the 1970s, during Lennon's infamous "lost weekend", Lennon,
Ringo Starr, Micky Dolenz,
Harry Nilsson and
Keith Moon often hung out
together, and were collectively known in the press as "The Hollywood
Paul McCartney can be seen in the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S.
singing "Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees", the theme from The Monkees
television show, while backstage.
The Monkees "Cuddly Toy" and "Daddy's Song" were written by songwriter
Harry Nilsson. "Cuddly Toy" would be recorded several months before
Nilsson's own debut in October 1967. At the press conference
announcing the formation of Apple, the Beatles named Nilsson as both
their favorite American artist and as their favorite American group.
Derek Taylor, the Beatles' press officer, had introduced them to
Ringo Starr joined Davy, Peter and Micky to film a Pizza Hut
Julian Lennon was a fan, stating at the time of Davy Jones' passing,
"You did some great work!"
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
In June 2007, Tork complained to the
New York Post
New York Post that Jann Wenner
had blackballed the Monkees from the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
Cleveland, Ohio. Tork stated:
[Wenner] doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees
fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether the Monkees belong
in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there
because of a personal whim. Jann seems to have taken it harder than
everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the
big deal? Everybody else does it.' [Uses studio artists or backing
bands.] Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in
1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007.
Facebook post, Nesmith stated that he does not know if the
Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame because he can only see the impact
of the Monkees from the inside, and further stated: "I can see the HOF
(Hall of Fame) is a private enterprise. It seems to operate as a
business, and the inductees are there by some action of the owners of
the Enterprise. The inductees appear to be chosen at the owner's
pleasure. This seems proper to me. It is their business in any case.
It does not seem to me that the HOF carries a public mandate, nor
should it be compelled to conform to one."
In 1992, Davy Jones spoke to People magazine, stating "I'm not as
wealthy as some entertainers, but I work hard, and I think the best is
yet to come. I know I'm never going to make the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame, but maybe there's something else for me in show business. I've
been given a talent—however big or little—that has given me many
opportunities. I've got to try to use it the best way I can. A lot of
people go days without having someone hug them or shake their hand. I
get that all the time."
Micky Dolenz said, "As far as the Rock & Roll Hall of
Fame I’ve never been one to chase awards or anything like that;
it’s never been very important to me. I was very proud to win an
Emmy for The Monkees, having come out of television as a kid. When we
won the Emmy for best TV show in ’66 or ‘67 that was a huge
feather in my cap. But I’ve never chased that kind of stuff. I’ve
never done a project and thought, “What do I do here to win an
award?” Specifically as far as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
I’ve been very flattered that the fans and people have championed
the Monkees. Very flattered and honored that they do. If you know
anything about the organization, and I’ve done charity work for the
foundation, the Hall of Fame is a private club. It’s like a country
club and they have the right to do that; that’s their prerogative.
That’s their private club. That’s kind of how I feel about
Various magazines and news outlets, such as Time, NPR radio,
The Christian Science Monitor, Goldmine magazine, Yahoo
Music and MSNBC  have argued that the Monkees belong in the
Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Originally unreleased recordings
Beginning in 1987,
Rhino Records started to make available previously
unreleased Monkees recordings on a series of albums called Missing
Links. Having numerous quality songwriters, musicians, producers and
arrangers—along with high budgets—at their hands while making
albums during the 1960s, the band was able to record as many songs as
the Beatles in half the time.
The three volumes of this initial series contained 59 songs. These
include the group's first recordings as a self-contained band,
including the intended single "All Of Your Toys," Nesmith's Nashville
sessions, and alternate versions of songs featured only on the
television series. The Listen to the Band box set also contained
previously unreleased recordings, as did the 1994-95 series CD album
reissues. Rhino/Rhino Handmade's Deluxe Edition reissue series has
also included alternate mixes, unreleased songs, and the soundtrack to
33⅓ Revolutions per Monkee.
Micky Dolenz – vocals, drums, percussion, guitar, synthesizers
(1966–1971, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001–2002, 2011–2016)
Peter Tork – bass guitar, vocals, guitar, keyboards, banjo
(1966–1968, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001, 2011–2016)
Davy Jones – vocals, percussion, drums, guitar, piano
(1966–1971, 1986–1989, 1996–1997, 2001–2002, 2011–2012; died
Michael Nesmith – guitar, vocals, keyboards, harmonica
(1966–1970, 1986, 1989, 1996–1997, 2012–2014, 2016)
Impact and legacy
The Monkees, selected specifically to appeal to the youth market as
American television's response to the Beatles 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.
Noted Monkees and 1960s music historian
Andrew Sandoval noted, in The
Hollywood Reporter, that the Monkees "pioneered the music video format
[and band member Mike Nesmith dreamed up the prototype for what would
become MTV] and paved the way for every boy band that followed in
their wake, from
New Kids on the Block
New Kids on the Block to
'N Sync to 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."
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," Jones added. "I met a
guy from Guns N' Roses, and he was overwhelmed by the meeting, and was
just so complimentary."
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. The 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 rise of the pre-fab four coincided
with rock's desperate desire to cloak itself with the trappings of
respectability, credibility and irreproachable heritage. 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. Indeed, it was not so much
righteous indignation but thinly disguised jealousy which motivated
the scornful dismissal of what must, in retrospect, be seen as
entertaining, imaginative and highly memorable exercise in pop
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."
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
Both the style and substance of the Monkees were imitated by American
Big Time Rush
Big Time Rush (BTR), who performed in their own television
series which -- by admission of series creator Scott Fellows -- was
heavily influenced by the Monkees. Similarly to the Monkees, Big Time
Rush featured a "made-for-tv" boy band often caught in a series of
misadventures, hijinks, and somewhat slapstick comedy. The show, now
in reruns but still hugely popular on Teen Nick, is highly stylized
and patterned after the Monkees, even capped with similar cartoonish
sound effects. Like the Monkees, BTR has also seen critical and
commercial success in America and worldwide through album, singles and
high TV ratings worldwide."
In popular culture
The highly respected Criterion Collection, whose stated goal is 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
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", Head dodged commercial success on its release but has
since been reclaimed as one of the great cult objects of its era."
In the book, Hey, Hey We're The Monkees, Rafelson explains, "[Head]
explored techniques on film that hadn't been used before. The first
shot of Micky under water is a perfect example. Now you see it on MTV
all the time, but it was invented for the movie [...] I got two
long-haired kids out of UCLA who created the effects that the
established laboratory guys said couldn't be done. We invented
double-matted experiences. Polarization hadn't been used in movies
before. [...] 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." In 2010,
Nick Vernier Band created a digital
"Monkees reunion" through the release of Mister Bob (featuring the
Monkees), 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
Last Train to Clarksville was so named by its inventor, Jeff
Meckstroth, after the Monkees' song.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix Experience their first U.S. concert tour
exposure as an opening act in July 1967. Jimi Hendrix's heavy
psychedelic guitar and sexual overtones did not go over well with the
teenage girls in the audience, which eventually led to his leaving the
Gene Roddenberry was inspired to introduce the character of Chekov in
Star Trek TV series in response to the popularity of Davy Jones,
complete with hairstyle and appearance mimicking that of
The only recording act to have four No. 1 albums in a 12-month
(changed from 1 year to avoid confusion with a calendar year)
In 2014 the Monkees were inducted into America's Pop Music Hall of
Music Business Association (Music Biz) honored the Monkees with an
Outstanding Achievement Award celebrating their 50th anniversary on
May 16, 2016.
The Monkees discography
The Monkees (1966)
More of The Monkees
More of The Monkees (1967)
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1967)
The Birds, The Bees & the Monkees (1968)
Instant Replay (1969)
The Monkees Present
The Monkees Present (1969)
Pool It! (1987)
Good Times! (2016)
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)
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
Monkeemania Returns Tour (2001–2002) (Dolenz, Jones)
An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour (2011) (Dolenz,
An Evening with The Monkees
An Evening with The Monkees (Fall 2012) (Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork)
A Midsummer's Night with the Monkees (Summer 2013) (Dolenz, Nesmith,
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
Related non-Monkees tours
The Great Golden Hits of
The Monkees (1975–77) (Dolenz, Jones, Boyce
The Monkees (1986; 1987) (Jones, Tork)
Micky and Davy: Together Again (1994–95) (Dolenz, Jones)
The Monkees Present: The Mike and Micky Show (2018) (Dolenz, Nesmith)
There was also "The Monkees" comic published in the United States by
Dell Comics, which ran for seventeen issues from 1967 to 1969. 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.
VH-1 produced the television biopic Daydream Believers: The
Monkees' Story. 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
A stage musical opened in the UK at the
Manchester Opera House
Manchester Opera House on
Friday March 30, 2012, and was dedicated to Davy Jones (the Jones
family attended the official opening on April 3). The production
Jukebox musical and starred Stephen Kirwan, Ben Evans, Tom
Parsons and Oliver Savile 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.
Manchester run, the show appeared in the Glasgow King's
Theatre and the Sunderland Empire Theatre.
Baker, Glenn A. (1986). Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees.
Plexus Publishing. ISBN 0-312-00003-0.
Baker, Glenn A. (2000) . Monkeemania: The True Story of the
Monkees. Plexus Publishing. ISBN 0-85965-292-0.
Falkenberg, Lise Lyng (2001).
The Monkees - caught in a false image.
Underskoven. ISBN 87-90767-31-4.
Falkenberg, Lise Lyng (2012).
The Monkees - caught in a false image.
Smashwords/Amazon. ISBN 978-1-4764-2233-6.
Gilliland, John (1969). "Revolt of the Fat Angel: Some samples of the
Los Angeles sound" (audio). Pop Chronicles.
Lefcowitz, Eric (2010). Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-For-TV
Band. Retrofuture. ISBN 0-86719-338-7.
Lefcowitz, Eric (1985).
The Monkees Tale. Last Gasp.
Lefcowitz, Eric (1989) .
The Monkees Tale. Last Gasp.
Bronson, Harold (1996). Hey, Hey We're the Monkees. General Publishing
Group, Inc. ISBN 1-57544-012-1.
Sandoval, Andrew (2005). The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the 60s
TV Pop Sensation. Thunder Bay Press. ISBN 1-59223-372-4.
Book: The Monkees
The Monkees episodes
^ a b c d e Sandoval, Andrew (2005). The Monkees: The day-by-day story
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^ Smith, Liz (May 4, 2012). "Sofia Vergara, Raquel Welch: Like Mother,
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^ a b c d Sandoval (2005), p. 36.
^ a b c d e f g h Sandoval (2005), p. 84.
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^ As Nesmith pointed out to Eric Lefcowitz in The Monkees' Tale, "I
wasn't the only musician and I wasn't much of a musician. Peter was a
better musician than I was by several orders of magnitude."
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^ a b Gilliland 1969, show 44,track 2.
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^ Sandoval (2005), p. 249.
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^ Sandoval (2005), p. 38.
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^ Sandoval (2005), pp. 43–71.
^ Lefcowitz noted, in The Monkees' Tale, that the Monkees displayed a
lack of decorum at a meeting of television affiliates that led at
least five such, in key markets, to reject the show without even
seeing it. This meant that the show, popularity and awards aside, was
never to crack the top 25 of the Nielsen ratings.
^ a b Sandoval (2005), p. 65.
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1982: Asia – Asia
1983: Thriller – Michael Jackson
1984: Thriller – Michael Jackson
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston
Slippery When Wet
Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi
1988: Faith – George Michael
1989: Don't Be Cruel – Bobby Brown
Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 – Janet Jackson
Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey
Ropin' the Wind
Ropin' the Wind – Garth Brooks
1993: The Bodyguard – Soundtrack
1994: The Sign – Ace of Base
Cracked Rear View
Cracked Rear View – Hootie & the Blowfish
Jagged Little Pill
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
1997: Spice – Spice Girls
1998: Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture – James Horner
1999: Millennium – Backstreet Boys
2000: No Strings Attached – NSYNC
2001: 1 – The Beatles
The Eminem Show
The Eminem Show – Eminem
Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Get Rich or Die Tryin' – 50 Cent
2004: Confessions – Usher
The Massacre – 50 Cent
Some Hearts – Carrie Underwood
2007: Daughtry – Daughtry
As I Am
As I Am – Alicia Keys
2009: Fearless – Taylor Swift
2010: I Dreamed a Dream – Susan Boyle
2011: 21 – Adele
2012: 21 – Adele
The 20/20 Experience
The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake
2014: Frozen – Soundtrack
2015: 1989 – Taylor Swift
2016: 25 – Adele
2017: Damn – Kendrick Lamar
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