The Monkees

Hey, Hey...


Take four personable lads, throw in some catchy tunes, madcap situations and a colourful wardrobe and you've got the musical sit-com, The Monkees. The Monkees were a kind of groovy Marx Bros for teeny boppers and emblematic of their time - the freewheeling, radical, relatively affluent 1960's. Rumour has it the premise for the show was inspired by the Beatles film, A Hard Day's Night


The show ran from 1966 to 1968, and starred Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones..using their real names for the characters. They proved to be a phenomenal success, both in TV terms and in the music charts - a whopping 65 million records were sold.


Famous for being criticised as a 'manufactured image'(they didn't play on their first two albums), The Monkees were eschewed by some in the music industry and never quite gained enough kudos to be regarded as a 'real' rock'n roll band. Well, okay, they were a concoction. What on TV isn't manufactured? However, all four performers had had musical experience prior to the show and they did engage in live performances, and toured to various parts of the US. Eventually they won the right to control all their own musical production. They also wrote some of their own songs, although the biggest hits were penned by such legends as Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Neil Diamond.


In any case, to their audience they represented fun and freedom and the spirit of the times. They remain a vivid icon of 1960's popular culture, along with paisley and psychedelic tripping. Whether or not they will be on anyone's radar once the baby boomers die out is an open question.


Micky!

Child Stars


Both Micky Dolanz and Davy Jones had already experienced some measure of fame as child performers - Dolenz in the 50's TV show, Circus Boy and Jones in England, appearing in Coronation Street and playing The Artful Dodger in the stage musical version of Oliver Twist, in London and on Broadway.


Dolenz became the lead singer and drummer for the group, although Jones too, sang the lead on some of the tracks. According to Mike Nesmith, it was Dolenz's uniqure voice that gave the group its distinction. Prior to the Monkees, Micky had played in rock bands, though none of any particular note. Dolenz was an appealing performer and integral to the musical success of the group. He was also an avid Beatles admirer and must have been delighted to hear that John Lennon was a fan of the show.


Davy!

Could've Been a Jockey?


Jones's widowed father had wanted his son to be a jockey, owing to his diminutive size (he's reputedly an understated 5'3") but Davy was captivated by show biz. Height was certainly never a barrier to his heart-throb status -the cuteness factor had the girl's...and probably a few boy's, hearts thumping. In terms of love-interest, Jones far outranked the other Monkees.

The hormonal stirrings the young Jones inspired apparently hasn't been forgotten by some. He still has devoted fan sites, one of which enthusiastically (and perhaps exaggeratedly) declares him to be "the no.1 teen idol of all time!". Yahoo music agrees.

This site is in celebration of a man who can still melt your heart, turn your knees to jelly, and make you feel like a teenager again!

From The Davy Jones Worship Site: http://luvdavy.tripod.com/


The Tall One


Mike Nesmith was born in Texas, the only child of the woman who invented Liquid Paper, which proved to be a boon to clumsy secretaries everywhere. The company was sold to Gillette in 1980 for 48 million USD.

After a stint in the Air Force, where Nesmith trained as an aircraft mechanic, he enrolled in a community college and during that time developed a serious interest in music - singing and writing songs and poetry. In 1965 Nesmith auditioned for the Monkees, responding to an ad that called for "four insane boys".


Mike!

Mike's my favourite so he gets a bigger picture
Mike's my favourite so he gets a bigger picture


Reputedly Mike won the role because he was so impressively blase about the whole thing and indeed his screen character came across that way - his persona was notably cooler than the other Monkees. Nesmith's casualness at the audition extended to him taking his laundry with him (intending to stop off and do it on the way home) and he also wore the woollen hat which would become his trademark on the show.

~Not only were the Monkees not a hoax to ME, I thought it was first class landmark television and I have always been proud of it.~

Mike Nesmith


Pete!

For Pete's Sake...


Peter Tork was the most accomplished musician of the group. Having studied piano from a young age, he learnt to play several instruments, including the banjo, harpsichord , french horn, ukulele and acoustic and bass guitar.

On the advice of his friend Stephen Stills, he auditioned for The Monkees part, was taken up and although music was his main interest, added much to the mix by way of comic performance.

Cast as "the dumb one", in real life he was anything but. Of the show Tork noted that, at the time, The Monkees were "the only television show about young adults that didn't rely on an older adult authority figure".

Tork also had the distinction of being the first Monkee to drop off the tree and leave the band, though the group did perform together again. Although the TV show expired in 1968, The Monkees band continued until 1970.


Davy Jones performing in 2006. Image rom Wikipedia,
Davy Jones performing in 2006. Image rom Wikipedia,
Micky Dolenz in 2009 at the premiere of 'Wahtever Works". Image rom Wikipedia
Micky Dolenz in 2009 at the premiere of 'Wahtever Works". Image rom Wikipedia
Mike Nesmith. Good lord, he looks like the CEO of a Finance Corporation.. What happened to the guy in the woolly hat?
Mike Nesmith. Good lord, he looks like the CEO of a Finance Corporation.. What happened to the guy in the woolly hat?
Still looks like himself. Peter Tork
Still looks like himself. Peter Tork


Where are they now...?



Those fresh, free-spirited boys are now all in their sixties, which is hard to reconcile with their youthful image. ..still, in TV Land they'll remain eternally young.







  • In recent years Davy Jones has revisited his Oliver days, this time playing Fagin. Although still not a jockey, he owns racehorses in the US and England. In addition to reunion tours with The Monkees , he has performed solo and collaborated on several music projects. In 2009 he released an album....She..a compilation of classics and standards from the 40s through the 70s. Just this year, Jones has made murmurings about another "Monkees reunion". Twice divorced with four children.


  • Micky Dolenz has been a radio announcer, studied for a Bachelor's degree, worked as a theatre and television director..been married a few times and just generally kept himself occupied. In 2008 Dolenz played Charlemagne in the musical revival of Pippin, appeared in Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween and more recently, in 2009, recorded an album King for a Day...a compilation of Carole King songs. He has of course, been involved in the Monkees reunion gigs.




  • Mike Nesmith is described by Wikipedia a an "American musician, songwriter, actor producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist", so it seems he's been fairly busy. Interestingly, in 2009 a scam artist successfully posed as Mike Nesmith in Australia, giving entertaining interviews on radio and TV. The scammer wasn't discovered until he had already vanished from the public eye. Evidently he'd been a professional con man for over 40 years. He's now serving a jail sentence. Nesbit married three times and has too many children to count.



  • Peter Tork successfully continued his music career - occassionally touring with his former band members as well as playing solo and withThe New Monks, the Peter Tork Project, Cottonmouth, Jeff Pitchell and The Texas Flood and Two Man Band. He currently performs with his band Blue Suede Shoes. Tork Spent some time battling a rare form of head and neck cancer but was given the all clear from his doctors in 2009. Married thrice with three children.



Monkees Theme and Philosophy


Here we come, walkin'
Down the street.
We get the funniest looks from
Ev'ry one we meet.
Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

We go wherever we want to,
do what we like to do
We don't have time to get restless,
There's always something new.
Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

We're just tryin' to be friendly,
Come and watch us sing and play,
We're the young generation,
And we've got something to say.

Any time, Or anywhere,
Just look over your shoulder
Guess who'll be standing there...

By Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart

~Who would have thought the Monkees so philosophical?~

AKA Winston

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Comments 24 comments

A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

Loved this! Even though this was before my time, I enjoyed watching re-runs of the shows and loved their music. Thank you for sharing.


SilverGenes 5 years ago

This is not before my time - yes, I remember them well and always had a soft spot for Peter Tork. Thanks for an excellent article :)


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

What fun this was and a great trip down Memory Lane, Jane. Thank you for the journey. Interesting facts, too, especially that Mike's mom created Liquid Paper and sold it for $48 MM. No wonder Mike always seemed so blase. Big money does that.

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Jane, my sister was a big fan of The Monkees. Yes, I agree with those who say their creation was inspired by The Beatles. Possibly by Hard Day's Night as you say. I remember they put out this movie that is so warped that it is unwatchable. It did not do well at the box office.

I knew about Mike's mom and the liquid paper. I have at given times told people that liquid paper was invented by the mother of a Monkee just to see what the other person would make out of such a statement. Good bit of info though. You did your research.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

A.A Zavala, I'm really glad you enjoyed it and thanks very much for commenting. Y'know looking at those videos I can't quite believe how tiny Davy Jones looks. He was a very compact guy. Very cute though.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

SilverGenes, thanks...it's lovely to see you here. There was something nice about Peter Tork...he had a very cute smile. In fact looking at that recent photograph..he still has!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hahaha...Drbj, I was thinking exactly the same thing! Oh, I should be so blase! happy V-day to you too.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Rod, I've never seen The Monkees movie...that bad eh?

I'm not surprised to read that about your sister..I do suspect their fan base was largely female. They were certainly silly...but therein lay the charm. I guess it's a testimony to their appeal that some girls never got over them (see Davy Jones Worship site).

Cheers


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I saw a lot of the Monkees because my daughter was a big fan. It was a good show. Enjoyed this. Thanks.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi William, it's always great to see you. Thankyou for visiting.


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 5 years ago from san diego calif

The Monkees were a big part of my childhood in the mid 60s. I watched them , Jonny Quest, and Batman all the time. And Mike Nesmith was actually a pretty good guitar player by the time it was all said and done. Great hub.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I remember Johnny Quest boy adventurer.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi tony...thanks for your comment. I've never heard of Johnny Quest but it's a good name.

You're probably right about Mike.I've been enjoying listening to the music. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is..very plasant.


CaravanHolidays profile image

CaravanHolidays 5 years ago from Wales UK

Nice hub, people tend to forget that although a member of the first 'boy band', Mike Nesmith was a great songwriter who wrote for other people, not just the Monkees


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

CaravanHolidays...true and thanks for pointing that out. I hadn't thought about it but I guess The Monkees were the first boy band in sense that, although there had been plenty of all-guy bands before, they were the first to be deliberately marketed for style over substance.

Cheers


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I’m glad that I found your hub. I used to love the Monkees, especially Davy Jones, and eagerly looked forward to each of their new records. I didn’t see the Monkees movie, though – perhaps that’s a good thing! I enjoyed reading about each of the Monkees in the past and present and listening to their music.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks very much Alicia. I suspect you're right about the movie..;)


Mike Marks profile image

Mike Marks 5 years ago

met mickey and Davey recently... Davey don't look so short, he's got too much Davy-ness extending all about him. During his set he twice repeated the laughline, "we've had requests, but we're going to sing anyway." The Monkees recorded some bad songs, but their best of their best, and that included the Nesmith penned numbers, is some of the best pop music ever. Their studio musicians were the best. Pay attention, for instance, to the studio (not Tork) recorded bass player. No matter what the collaborations per song, the results were great. Best albums for me are The Birds the Bees and the Monkees (their SgtPepper, following th Beatles lead into psychodelia) and the album prior to that Aquarius, Capicorn, Picis and Jones (their RubberSoul/Revolver, looking to move on to something more sophisicated than straight pop). ut then agin this advice is coming from somebody who loves their movie HEAD, a psychodelic film, with social commentary on corporate america, idolization, war, meditation/transcendence and so on, and great comedy (Davey in the ring, Mickey vs the soda machine...)manufactured, to coin the popular monkee phrase, by Jack Nickolson, a pretty authentic guy.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hey Mark,

So Davey's personality makes him look taller..? I'll buy that. I like the "we've had requests" line. Lol...they've still got a sense of humour then. i guess a big part of their appeal was the fact that they didn't take themselves too seriously. Some of the music is really good, I agree.

You make the movie sound worth watching.

Cheers and thanks for stopping by.


creamice profile image

creamice 5 years ago

I really like this hub. I used to love watching repeats of the show. I really like how you set up the hub. Very easy to read and lots of pictures. Something I have not gotten down yet.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Thanks very much creamice...it's great to get some positive feedback like that.


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

Great hub. I've loved the Monkees ever since their "revival" in the 80s. My dad took me to their concert in '86 (or was it '87?). Anyway, I'd been watching the re-runs on Nickelodeon and was a little disappointed that Mike wasn't with them. He was always my favorite! :-)


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi workingmom, they are cute and I'm with you on Mike. He's changed though!


MarshFish profile image

MarshFish 4 years ago

Jane,

Just saw your hub after reading the ones about the late, great Davy Jones. You've written an excellent hub. I also just checked out your How Retro site, and am really impressed by it.

Marshall

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