Hey Hey, It's The Monkees!
With the success of The Beatles came an idea for a sitcom about four comedic musicians ala Three Stooges-style and their adventures. “The Monkees” premiered in 1966 and was on TV until 1968. The audience fell in love with Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith. MTV revived the sitcom again back in 1986 and a whole legion of new fans were born again, with reunion tours and new records.
The Pre-Fab Four (as they were known) experienced their own sort of Beatlemania, with thousands of crazed, female fans. They even outsold The Beatles and Rolling Stones with album sales in 1967 due to their hit show. But, the only contribution to the records at that time were their voices as they had session players provide the music.
The show produced some #1 hit singles; like “I’m a Believer”, “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Little Bit Me, Little Bit You”, and “Pleasant Valley Sunday”. For a ‘make-believe band’, they sold over 75 million records worldwide and had sold-out tours during their peak.
With the initial concept coming from the success of The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” film, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to begin the auditions for the Fab Four-like actors. English singer and actor Davy Jones was actually on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as The Beatles did their first American appearance. He was at the time the ‘Artful Dodger’ in Oliver, performing on Broadway. Mike Nesmith was a musician and studied drama in college. Micky Dolenz was a child actor and had a band before the show. Peter Tork was a musician and songwriter from the Greenwich Village scene and the last to be chosen for the show.
On September 12, 1966, the first episode of “The Monkees” was aired by NBC and in a very short time the show was a hit, both in the US and the UK. The Monkees were the pioneers of music video, their show was made up of them performing songs while being filmed ‘monkee-ing around’. Even John Lennon was a fan of the show, due to the zany comedy and groovy music.Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were hired as the songwriters for the show, and also as producers. Neil Diamond, Goffin and King along with Neil Sedaka also provided their talent as songwriters.
Here are some samples of their hilarious quotes from the show:
Peter: Cross at the green, not in between!
Davy: He's been out in the sun too long.
Micky: He was no bargain in the shade.
Mike: Welcome to Swineville, Peter, a happy, sleepy, little hillbilly town where seemingly innocent, nice, naive people turn just like that!
Mike: to a vengeful, hateful mob!
Peter: How do you know that?
Mike: Because these are my people.
When their show came to a close, at the end of 1968, they tried their hand at a movie which was a box-office failure called “Head”. The Monkees went their separate ways, Tork leaving first and then Nesmith. Jones and Dolenz toured together and also went their separate ways until the reunion. But their show still lives on today, a brilliant example of the 60’s style, humor and music.
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