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The Monkees Legacy

Updated on March 1, 2012
The Monkees 1st LP
The Monkees 1st LP
Jimi Hendrix in 1967-before fame and fortune
Jimi Hendrix in 1967-before fame and fortune
Opening moments of their TV show. See their wide belts.
Opening moments of their TV show. See their wide belts.
Peter, Davy and Mickey long after 1966
Peter, Davy and Mickey long after 1966
The Monkee's car was quite cool!
The Monkee's car was quite cool!

Time moves on and even the most popular stars age and die. I am sure this periodically crosses Paul McCartney's mind, as he recently recorded a song, "When I Die", who is now 69-70. Ditto for Ringo. The sudden and sad death of Davy Jones of The Monkees pop group at age 66 (massive heart attack) will shake those who grew up in 1966-69 time slot, either as teens or tweens, because of the sitcom The Monkees TV show. Even though the show ran only two years and the group was totally manufactured from a Hollywood talent search to create a "Beatle-like" band with comedic talent, they were VERY popular if you were 10-16yrs old at the time. No question. The TV show debuted with a massive audience, their first LP,like the band they emulated, shot to #1, even competing with the real Fab Four! Most of their songs were written by others and most of the music created was by studio musicians, not themselves, at least in the first season. This made the fans angry when it leaked out that they did not even play and the TV show started to decline in popularity. Like many shows, the first season was the best. The themes, the writing, the acting was zany and still appeals to mostly tweens today. The second season showed their weaknesses and the themes and overall enthusiasm started to drop. Their fans remained, however, and their were millions of them. The Monkees did set ONE fashion trend for guys and girls, that was the WIDE 3" belt and round, unique buckle shown on their first LP cover. If you were in Jr. High or a 9th grader in HS, you bought one. Oddly, that fashion has long returned for today's tweens and teens.

The Monkees TV show stopped airing in 1968, yet the band remained touring and made a movie, Head, until 1970. It is rather odd, the real Beatles and their copies, ended in the same year. By then, both bands had simply grown up, as did the millions of fans that had made them famous.

The Beatles, however, took Monkee success in stride and hosted a party for them when they visited England on tour. Now fans had eight members to scream for! John actually told them that he thought they were great zany actors as good as the Marx brothers and he had watched every episode. Members of the band were invited to watch the legends work at Abbey Roads during recording some of Sgt. Pepper's LP. Peter Tork, one of Monkees, actually played on George Harrison's Wonderwall LP, and McCartney in 2002 while on tour, sang the Monkee theme song, "Hey, hey, we're the Monkees..."

In July, 1967, the unknown band, Jimi Hendrix Experience, was the opening act for The Monkees tour. It is ironic, because at the time, only one was famous and popular. Hendrix was a total unknown making rounds to become famous. Hendrix played with the usual awesome style and heavy metal that would make him an icon in 1969, but in 1967, few saw it as legendary. He despised the tour and The Monkees and when he played for the tweens and teens then, they did not like his band and thought the music was weird. So disgusted with this, Hendrix flipped the audience off with his middle finger and quit the tour.

Minimizing The Monkees is easy, by late 1967, even the media had turned against them for not being "real" musicians. After all, The Beatles were! When they made their movie, Head, the co-producer was none other than Jack Nicholson, the now legendary movie star, who then was totally unknown and a nobody. The Monkees thought of Nicholson as part of the anti-Monkee frenzy who had been told to make sure the movie flopped. It did. "Head" is akin to The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour", in that, its storyline and filming are simply bad, made little sense and not professional. "Head" virtually had no press release and only a few theaters had the film.

The Monkees in 1966 had the #1 LP for 31 consecutive weeks and a total of 37 weeks. It was their best of the 8-9 LPs they did. It even beat their mentors, The Beatles, who released their great Revolver LP that year. The Monkees record that they set in 1966 remained that way until 1982. They had four #1 LPs, and the 12th biggest selling LP, "More of the Monkees", their 2nd LP, which stayed on the charts for 70 weeks!

Prior to becoming Monkees, one had been a janitor, one a teacher, one a horse jockey. So, it is true, ANYTHING can happen in Hollywood!

"Hey, hey, were the Monkees, we're just fooling around..."

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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      6 years ago

      Eric Burden and the Animals created several superb blues-rock numbers. he had a perfect voice for that genre. The guitar lead in the Beatle song is ad hoc by eric. George and Eric were good friends,the song is all Harrison's.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      "BTW, the guitar solo inThe Beatles' While my guitar gently weeps (white lp) is by Eric, not George."

      Wow! Now that is a piece that my kid brother used to play note to note. We never knew that it was by Eric Clapton. Now come to think of it, it does not sound like George-ish at all. Is it his musical composition because of which he gets given the credit for this song?

      The Yardbirds also gave to the world Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.

      Just out of curiosity, where do the Animals get placed in 60s music?

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      6 years ago

      @suhail-the Yardbirds had several hits with a then unknown called Eric Clapton, that was his first band in 66 or so. They only lasted for 1-2 years, then Eric joined a super group-Cream, where he really shined. BTW, the guitar solo inThe Beatles' While my guitar gently weeps (white lp) is by Eric, not George.

      @flora-well, no one lives forever, even the icons. We all end in the same place.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 

      6 years ago

      I was born in 1976 and became a fan at age 4. Davy Jones was my favourite and his death remind sme that my parents- in their sixties - will likely not live as long as their parents lived.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Perrya, you are absolutely correct. I distinctly recall when some bands like the less known White Lion (of 'Little Fighter' and 'Wait' fame) cited Beatles and Led Zep as their influences, I was quite surprised to hear that. Another band of the 60s that I would like to listen to is The Yardbirds.

    • FGual profile image

      FGual 

      6 years ago from USA

      As a late 60s teen, the Monkees were right on. I enjoyed their TV show, but didn't know about any movie. They never did reach Beatles fame, but came close during those years. Good memories of my youth.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      6 years ago

      If you want to look for Heavy metal beginnings, listen to The beatles Helter Skelter, which predates Led Zep.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      This hub is awesome on so many levels. When I was listening to and reading about my favorite heavy metal / hard rock bands in the 80s, all of them cited their influences in the bands of the 60s. Never listened to the music of the 60s, except for the latter one coming from Led Zep and Deep Purple, but I will now.

    • woodamarc profile image

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Loved the monkees as a kid. I have a cd with their most famous work. I didn't know all of the history you've presented. Sad to see Davy Jones pass. But the music will live on. Great hub!

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