The Monkees

“The One Show” (2011)

2011 Tour Dates

1960s-2011 | Remembering The Monkees

Who doesn’t remember The Monkees? They were America’s answer to The Beatles back in the 1960s. If you grew up then, you would remember. If you didn’t, you might know about them through your parents. The Monkees impact on the 60’s era was profound. And who knows, with their new 2011 tour coming up, the TV show might get another rerun! The Monkees were famous for their distinctive music and style. Even though they were a ‘composed’ band, they outsold The Beatles & The Stones combined in 1967.

So let’s reminisce a bit ….

The Monkees were ‘put together’ by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider in 1966. They were sometimes referred to as the Prefab Four. The purpose was to create a fictional band for a TV show called The Monkees. This show was aired from 1966 until 1968. These two American filmmakers were obviously very inspired by The Beatles, and probably by A Hard Day’s Night. They published an ad in a newspaper for auditions and eventually 4 guys were chosen. They were Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones. The Monkees were born!

So basically they were looking for actors and not musicians. The band was coached by different musicians and songwriters who taught them how to act as a band. The first single became an immediate hit. Last Train to Clarksville was an instant number 1 on the charts. After that, the TV show became a big success. The need to do a live act was imminent. As they toured, Monkeemania (remember Beatlemania?) became a craze, and subsequently the band members wanted to have more creative control over their songs.

monkees1 The MonkeesTheir interest to become musicians rather than remain actors caused a separation from their musical coaches who would not let them play instruments or use their own material. All the same, they continued to have big hits like I’m A Believer and Daydream Believer in 1967. Their first albums were straight number 1’s, something which has never happened since. Eventually, on their fourth album, Headquarters, The Monkees started playing most of their own instruments. An interesting quote from Dan Mayer (Emitt Rhodes Band) on this all: “Although most bands ridiculed the The Monkees for not playing their own instruments, in reality… most groups didn’t!”

Other international hits during their career were songs such as A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, Valleri, Randy Scouse Git (Alternate Title), (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone and Pleasant Valley Sunday. Now, 45 years after Monkeemania and at the onset of their reunion world tour, there is a brand new ‘Monkees song’, called Mister Bob, available through iTunes.

2011 | New Monkees Release – Mister Bob badge itunes sm The Monkees

A quote from Andrew Sandoval’s superb book on The Monkees: “The day-by-day story of the 60’s TV pop sensation” [order #: ISBN-1-59223-372-4], page 97:

The song  Zilch is constructed from four spoken phrases and spotlights The Monkees’ esoteric sensibilities. Peter Tork: “We’d been collecting these rhythmic nonsense things. ‘China clipper calling Alameda’ was from the movie called China Clipper. ‘Mr. Dobolina’ somebody actually heard in an airport, one of the mini-Monks I think, Charles Rockett, or David Pearl, one of those guys. (‘Monks’ is an in-phrase among group insiders, an abbreviation for Monkees; ‘mini-Monks’ are the hangers-on and general entourage around the group.) We climbed into the studio to do the track on purpose. We had enough separation so that we weren’t leaking too badly into each other’s mikes and we just heard each other on the earphones. There were the two sections: we did it a while and then assembled the slow and the fast one, and the laughter.”

Mister Bob

By recording Zilch, The Monkees were in fact the very first recording act in twentieth Century popular music to record a ‘rap’, two decades before the genre resurfaced. To coincide with The Monkees’ 2011 Tour, their ‘rap’ has found a new lease on life. Nick Vernier Band created a digital Monkees reunion through the release of Mister Bob, a new song produced under license from Rhino Entertainment, featuring The Monkees’ vocals (for a direct link: click here).

The Monkees versus The Beatles

monkees starr1 The MonkeesThe Monkees have been called America’s answer to The Beatles, they have been called the ‘Prefab Four’, they have been accused of not being ‘a real band’. But let’s put some facts into perspective ….

The Monkees sold (over) 50 million records.

In the ‘60s, they provided an essential part of the soundtrack for teenagers on either side of the Atlantic, with chart successes that have proved to stand the test of time.

With the TV series being repeated throughout the 1980s, a whole new legion of fans fell for their crazy antics.

Even though they were casted for a TV show, they eventually broke loose and became a performing band in their own right.

dolenz lennon The MonkeesThe Beatles were one of The Monkees’ biggest supporters, with John Lennon naming them “the Marx Brothers of Rock”.

In 1967, The Monkees outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.

They toured the world, released hit albums and singles, made a cult psychedelic surreal film (1968’s “Head”) and inspired generations of bands to follow their winning formula.

Remarks by The Beatles about The Monkees

nesmith lennon1 The Monkees“I think they’re the greatest comic talents since the Marx Brothers. I’ve never missed one of their programs.” – John Lennon

“Monkees? They’ve got their own scene, and I won’t send them down for it. You try a weekly television show and see if you can manage one half as good!” – John Lennon

dolenz mccartney 3 The Monkees“I like their music a lot…and you know, their personalities. I watch their tv show and it is good.” – Paul McCartney

“I’m sure that the Monkees are going to live up to a lot of things many people didn’t expect” – Paul McCartney

harrison tork The Monkees“The Monkees are still finding out who they are, and they seem to be improving as performers each time I see them. When they’ve got it all sorted out, they may be the greatest.” – George Harrison

“It’s the combining of their sound with their jumping around and all that which makes ‘em so popular with the kids, I guess. With me, too.” – Ringo Starr

nesmith starr 2 The Monkees“They’re not really just copies of us, now, are they? The Monkees have a fine way of their own, you know?” – Ringo Starr

“The Beatles Monkee Around” is available at iTunes. The Fab Fourum and guest moderator Eric Lefcowitz, author of “Monkee Business”, look at the many connections between the Beatles and the Monkees. The two groups met in the 60s, and some members maintained relationships beyond the bands. Check out the Fab Fourum site to hear Paul discussing The Monkees with a fan in 1967.

Pre-Fab Four MashUp - “Paperback Believer”

Micky Dolenz – “Oh! Darling” (Beatlefest 2012)

Ringo Starr & Monkees - “Pizza Hut Commercial”

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