Skip to main content

The Monkees


The Monkees

For a TV series that only ran for two years (1966-68) albeit 58 episodes it has had a significant effect on music even today. I recall sneaking with two of my sisters to watch the shows (by this time it was Saturday morning reruns) as my father was very much against us watching such "garbage". I tried watching a couple of episodes recently, it's about a wacky group of guys struggling to make it in the music business, and apart from the music my father was not all wrong. However, for the time period it was great entertainment for tweens and teens especially and that demographic bought their records-lots of them. The demise of the wacky TV show was due to a backlash regarding the 'manufactured' nature of the band itself and a change in the format in season two, the ratings dropped and that was it. The TV show was gone and all that was left was a lot of great songs and by now, an actual fully functioning band with the Monkeys themselves playing instruments and as always doing all the vocals.



"Last Train to Clarksville" written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart was the Monkees first Billboard #1 hit in November of 1966. Covered over 50 times here is a rendition from the Four Tops (1967).



The group consisted of Davy Jones, born David Thomas Jones (30 December 1945 – 29 February 2012) and the reason David Bowie changed his name from David Jones. Jones (vocals) was quite a good drummer but he was relegated mostly to tambourines and maracas. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as the Artful Dodger in the original London and Broadway production of "Oliver"(1964).
Davy Jones was also a recording artist having reached the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1965 with "What are We Going to Do?".

The main man was Micky Dolenz, born George Michael Dolenz Jr. (March 8, 1945). Dolenz like Jones was a child actor (Circus Boy) who later formed a rock band and actually auditioned for the Monkees by singing Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode".  The producers wanted him to play the lead singer and drummer in the band so he needed lessons to be able to fake it for the TV show but by the time the Monkees went on tour he was good enough to play on all the songs.


Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson) born February 13, 1942. Tork was auditioned for the show after his friend Stephen Stills was turned down for the role and thank goodness for that as we'd never would have had Crosby, Stills and Nash! Tork was an accomplished musician playing bass and keyboards among other instruments. None of the band played any instruments on the first two Monkees Albums, so Tork was left to 'fake' play on the TV show as the keyboard player.

Robert (Michael) Nesmith was born December 30, 1942, at age four his parents divorced and he then lived with his mother. In 1955, Bette Nesmith Graham (March 23, 1924 – May 12, 1980) invented was then known as "mistake out", she later formed her own company and called it "White Out". She sold the company to Gillette in 1979 for $47.5 million.
Nesmith was a legitimate musician and songwriter having penned "Different Drum" for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys in 1965. Apparently his blase attitude and wool hat from the audition was exactly what they were looking for, Nesmith was hired as the lead guitarist for the Monkees and also wrote several of their songs.

 The Monkees next #1 song was "I'm a Believer" written by Neil Diamond. Covered over 100 times this song had a grand resurgence after being used in the movie "Shrek" performed by 'Smash Mouth' (2001).

The last of their three #1's was "Daydream Believer" (Dec. 1967) written by John Stewart (Kingston Trio). Featuring Davy Jones on lead vocals this song spent four weeks at the top and 16 weeks in the top 100. Anne Murray hit #3 on the Country Charts and #12 on Billboard in 1979 with a beautiful version, one of 60 covers. Here is the songwriter himself from 1971, John Stewart.

The list songwriters of the Monkees songs reads like a veritable who's who of  stars from that time period, in addition to those already mentioned are; Carole King and Gerry Goffin "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (1967) which reached #3. A lesser known song these days that reached #19 in 1968 was first released by the Monkees but actually first recorded by the 'Coasters', "D.W. Washburn" written by the very successful pair of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  "Oh My My" written by Jeff Barry (who along with his wife Ellie Greenwich wrote dozens of hits including "Do Wah Diddy") and Andy Kim (Rock Me Gently). Others were; Carole Bayer Sager ("Arthur's Theme" (Best That You Can Do), Neil Sedaka (Breaking Up Is Hard to Do), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ("Here You Come Again" and dozens of other hits), Chip Douglas (The Turtles), Bill Martin (Puppet on a String), Denny Randell ("Let's Hang On" by the Four Seasons), and Jack Nicholson, and yes I mean that Jack Nicholson who along with Bob Rafelson wrote  "Ditty Diego – War Chant" from the Monkees psychedelic pop movie "Head" which was co-written by Nicholson as well and ranked as one of the top Movie Soundtracks of all time (Rolling Stone #25).

My favorite Monkees song is actually a cover of "I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone" (Nov. 1966) written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart who deserve most of the credit for the Monkees sound and originally recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders (May 1966).

References: https://secondhandsongs.com/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page, https://www.billboard.com/music/the-monkees/chart-history/hot-100/song/572776,

A playlist of all the songs

If you like my blog, please consider clicking the ‘Subscribe’ button at the top of the home page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu on the right hand margin. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well! And many thanks as always for reading my blog!










Comments

Popular posts from this blog

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

Nothing quite grabs the attention more than a list of the greatest this or that, so at 85 posts about cover songs I thought it about time to get to it. As I advised with my other 'Greatest' posts we all have our favorites so anytime there is a list, something or someone 'great' gets left off. And the debate ensues, why is this and that at #11 not #4 and vise versa. My list therefore, shall be no different for it is not scientific but subjective and it is biased by my own tastes and exposure to music. Having said that it's hard for me to have missed many of the truly great cover songs of all time, indeed I think I've talked about quite a few:


"Respect" from the writer and original recording Otis Redding and a cover she made her own, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. More about the song and Aretha in these posts. Before I get to some cover's I've not mentioned, here are more songs from my previous issues that are …

Nina Simone

Central Park Blues” (1958) written by Nina Simone. From her debut album 'Little Girl Blue'. While best remembered for her vocal talents, Nina shows off her considerable chops at the piano.


On the same album her cover of  "I Loves You Porgy" from the opera 'Porgy and Bess' (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin). This would be her highest ranking hit on Billboard at #18 on the Pop chart and #5 on the R&B. The video clip shows how brilliant she was and how effortless her piano playing appears, she was quite remarkable.

Born in North Carolina, Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) she was a student at the Juilliard School of Music. She changed her name when she was performing in nightclubs in Atlantic City, which is when she started to add vocals to her piano playing. She was really only interested in classical music and studies, so performing using pop music and later recording (income) was used to pursue just that.

My Baby Just Cares fo…

Happy Independence Day (updated)

Happy Independence Day/4th of July to our American Cousins! Seems appropriate we ( July 1, in Canada) have our birthdays so close together. And a hello to my new readers from blogarama.com!



When it comes to cover songs, I will never run out of blog ideas from the south, particularly when it comes to the roots of the blues, country and rock. Today I wanted to find some songs about the USA that focus on a Patriotic theme (not hard to find) but also have been a) covered by other artists and b) some that are not necessarily as 'pro' or at least painting a not so positive light on an aspect of American society and c) have been perhaps mis-interpreted by some.
Born in the U.S.A.” written by Bruce Springsteen from the album of the same name released in June 1984. My youngest sister and I went to see Bruce at the CNE stadium during this tour in July 1985, as always with Bruce, a great show. I have attached a link that includes lyrics, so you can see that this song is not very compl…