The Monkees

 The Monkees

 Davy Jones – circa 1967

 “Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees / And people say we monkey around / But we’re too busy singin’ / To put anybody down” – ‘Monkees’ Theme’ (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart)

Mike Nesmith has had enough.  The member of U.S. rock band The Monkees, who is recognised for the green woollen hat he wears, is ready to spill the beans.  It is 1967 and The Monkees are giving a press conference.  Nesmith tells the world that he and his three companions only sing the songs.  They may look like a band, but they are not allowed to play their instruments on their own recordings.  Although this information could be surprising to some of the band’s fans, when viewed in the context of the origins of The Monkees, it is not really so shocking.

Most rock bands grow out of adolescent friendship between aspiring musicians.  The Monkees are created to fulfil a commercial purpose.

The story of The Monkees really begins with another band in a completely different country: The Beatles from Great Britain.

The Beatles are one of the most successful acts of the 1960s.  Their appeal is not based solely on their (considerable) talents as musicians and songwriters; their personal magnetism is also important.  The Beatles come across as both cheeky and charming.  These traits are very apparent when they ‘conquer’ the U.S.A. through an appearance on the television variety program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ on 9 February 1964.  The masterstroke though is their movie, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964), in July.  This fictionalises the four Beatles’ personas to exaggerated effect, portraying them as madcap troubadours rushing from one zany scene to the next while belting out hit song after hit song to hordes of screaming teenage girls.

In the United States, music entrepreneurs are on the lookout for a home-grown ‘answer’ to this phenomenon, an American version of The Beatles.  Rather than try to find such a combo at a grassroots level, two fellows decide to try to imitate ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ as a weekly television series, rather than a movie.  The minds behind this project are Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider.  They work for Screen Gems, the production house behind television series such as ‘Gidget’ and ‘Bewitched’.  Former child actor Jackie Cooper is the Screen Gems executive who gives Rafelson and Schneider the ‘green light’ to begin work.

The first idea is to use either Britain’s Dave Clark Five or the American outfit The Lovin’ Spoonful, but ‘it Is decided that an already existing group would cause too many problems.’

An advertisement is placed in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ on 8 September 1965 for ‘folk & roll musicians and singers.’  Four hundred and thirty-seven young men audition for the job, but of the four members selected for the group, only one of them actually comes to the project via this audition…and he is the last to join.

The first person recruited to the venture is David Thomas Jones (30 December 1945 – 29 February 2012).  Like The Beatles, Davy Jones is British.  He is born in Openshaw, Manchester, England.  Davy is the youngest of four children and the only son of his working-class parents.  “I’d done some radio and TV early on when I was 13, 14…back in the late 1950s,” Davy explains.  Since he is only five feet, four inches tall, Davy says that, “Being shorter than most, I decided to take up horse-racing.”  Davy works a jockey for about seven months, but is encouraged to audition for a production of ‘Peter Pan’.  He wins this role and it leads to a part on a 1961 episode of television series ‘Coronation Street’.  A role in a production of ‘The Pickwick Papers’ helps the aspiring 16 year old actor gain the role of the Artful Dodger in a stage production of another Charles Dickens tale, ‘Oliver Twist’, in December 1962.  This is so successful Davy reprises the role on Broadway in the U.S.A.  Here, he is spotted by Ward Sylvester from Screen Gems who, in 1963, signs the 18 year old to a contract with his company.  In an odd coincidence, Davy Jones and some of the cast of ‘Oliver Twist’ perform a scene from the stage production on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ on 9 February 1964, the same fateful episode that features the U.S. debut of The Beatles.  When Screen Gems sets about creating its own version of The Beatles, Davy Jones doesn’t have to audition; he is already under contract to the production house.

The second member of the group hears about the job through his agent rather than via an audition.  Mickey Dolenz (born George Michael Dolenz, Jr., 8 March 1945) is from Los Angeles, California.  The eldest of four children, Mickey’s parents, George and Janelle Dolenz, are actors who met on stage.  “That was the family profession,” Mickey says with a shrug.  While still little more than a child, Mickey stars in the television series ‘Circus Boy’ (1956-1959).  At the same time, his father, George Dolenz, is also appearing on air in another television series, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’  “The changed my name to Mickey Braddock [for ‘Circus Boy’] because they thought it would be confusing” to use the true family name, Mickey explains.  After ‘Circus Boy’, Mickey studies architecture at the Los Angeles Trade College while also singing in a rock band, The Missing Links, at night.

The third recruit is Peter Tork (born Peter Halsten Thorkelson, 13 February 1942).  The son of John and Virginia Thorkelson, Peter is born in Washington, D.C.  In June 1960 Peter marries Jody Babb, but they divorce only a few months later in September 1960.  Peter briefly attends Carlton College in Minnesota before drifting to Greenwich Village in New York.  He plays guitar and banjo in various folk music clubs.  Peter Is curious when he hears of another musician in the area who looks like him.  When he eventually meets Stephen Stills, Peter Tork finds Stills is not exactly his double, but they are vaguely similar blonde-haired young men.  Stephen Stills goes to the audition in Los Angeles advertised in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’, but Peter Tork doesn’t.  Stills is rejected because his teeth aren’t good enough.  However, Stills suggests Peter Tork to the casting agents.  When contacted, Peter Tork comes to Los Angeles and is a successful applicant.

It is only the fourth and final member of the group who is chosen from the general audition.  Mike Nesmith (born Robert Michael Nesmith, 30 December 1942) is the only child of Warren and Bette Nesmith.  He is born in Houston, Texas.  Mike’s parents divorce when he is quite young.  He and his mother relocate to Dallas, Texas.  Bette Nesmith Graham is an executive secretary at the Texas Bank and Trust.  This is a position that involves quite a bit of typing.  She finds it frustrating having to start over again after small typing errors.  Thinking it would be better if there was some kind of correction fluid, she consults with Mike’s chemistry teacher at school.  This leads Bette Nesmith Graham to create in 1956 what will come to be known as liquid paper, though it only starts to be marketed in 1958.  Mike Nesmith proves to be a troublesome student, prone to misbehaviour.  He attends Thomas Jefferson College and then San Antonio College.  At the latter, he meets Phyllis Barbour, a 17 year old girl whom he marries four days later on 27 June 1964.  The newlyweds relocate to Los Angeles, California, where their first child, a son named Christian, is born on 31 January 1965.  They go on to have two more children, Jonathan (born 4 February 1968) and Jessica (born 10 March 1970).  Under the name of Michael Blessing, the new father issues two singles on the Colpix label.  At this point, Mike Nesmith successfully auditions for the job in the Screen Gems project.

As previously mentioned, Stephen Stills was an unsuccessful applicant at these auditions.  In May 1967 he forms Buffalo Springfield.  When this short-lived aggregation disbands he becomes one third of Crosby, Stills And Nash in December 1968.  Three other rejected applicants for the project go on to have notable music careers:  (i) Diminutive singer / actor Paul Williams is perhaps best known for writing the hits ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ for The Carpenters.  (ii) Danny Hutton becomes one of the vocalists for Three Dog Night in 1968, an act whose hits include the 1971 Paul Williams’ composition ‘Just An Old Fashioned Love Song’.  (iii) Harry Nilsson signs with RCA as a solo act in 1967.  His biggest hit is ‘Without You’ in 1972.  The Monkees record one of his compositions, ‘Cuddly Toy’.  Contrary to persistent rumour, Charles Manson did not audition for The Monkees.  Although he was an aspiring musician, Manson becomes infamous when members of his cult go on a killing spree whose victims on 9 August 1969 include Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of movie director Roman Polanski.

A name is required for the group to be featured in the Screen Gems television series.  Names that are considered – and rejected – include The Creeps, The Inevitables and The Turtles.  The last-named is discarded when someone remembers that there is already a real-life folk rock band called The Turtles (formed in 1965).  Eventually, The Monkees is chosen.  ‘Monkeys’ is purposefully misspelled in the group’s name to mirror contemporary acts like The Beatles and The Byrds.  Allegedly, the inspiration for the name comes from Elvis Presley’s movie ‘Loving You’ (1957) in which Deke (Elvis) says to his controlling managers, “That’s what you’re selling, isn’t it?  A monkey in the zoo!”

So The Monkees are created with the line-up of: Davy Jones (vocals), Mike Nesmith (guitar, vocals), Peter Tork (bass, vocals) and Mickey Dolenz (vocals, drums).

Work begins on the music to be used in the television series.  Two young songwriters and aspiring record producers, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, come up with the theme song for the show.  The duo thinks they are going to oversee all the act’s musical product so they are shocked when Don Kirshner is named musical supervisor.  Kirshner gets the job because of his connection with the stable of professional songwriters based in New York’s Brill Building.  This gives The Monkees access to material composed by the likes of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill.  A compromise is reached that sees Kirshner remain in charge, but Boyce & Hart contribute songs for the group as well.

“Some of the tracks they recorded before they even hired us,” Mickey Dolenz points out.  This is not so outrageous when the time constraints of having material ready for the television series are taken into consideration.

The music issued under the name of The Monkees can best be described simply as ‘pop’.  It is pretty tunes, simple lyrics and catchy songs.  Sometimes the term ‘pop’ is used in a disparaging way.  It is ‘only’ pop music – throwaway culture without any real depth or value.  Without arguing that there is any hidden meaning beneath The Monkees output, there is a genuine value to good pop music – and The Monkees make some of the best.  Good pop music transports the listener to a better, happier place.

The Monkees’ brand of pop music embraces swirls of other musical styles.  A fairly strong folk rock element is present in their early work via jangling guitars and the odd bit of social commentary that seeps into the lyrics.  Later, Mike Nesmith introduces some country music traits via his compositions.  Some oddball psychedelic confections also find their way into the blend.

Most of the lead vocals are divided between Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz.  Davy has a sweeter, prettier voice.  It is well-suited to theatrical pieces or heart-melting ballads.  Though each of the individual Monkees has their fans, it is Davy that is most often seen as a teen idol, the one the girls love.  Mickey Dolenz is a gutsier vocalist with a tougher, deeper, richer voice.  Mickey gives the group a smidgen of rock credibility and probably scores lead vocal duties most often.  Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork both have pleasant voices but rarely get a chance to be in the vocal spotlight.

“I was more of a musician than an actor,” Peter Tork claims.  “Mike was [also] more of a musician than an actor.”  Conversely, Davy and Mickey are primarily actors with some musical ability.  “But we were all actors and musicians both,” Peter Tork says in summary.

Mickey Dolenz explains that ‘The Monkees’ is “a TV show about an imaginary band…that wants to be The Beatles [but] is never successful.”  He goes on to add, “We are like four brothers, like friends, living together in this beach house.”  On the show their address is 1334 North Beechwood Drive, but in the real world that address is in the middle of the Columbia Pictures movie studio lot.  The group travels about in the Monkeemobile, a modified 1966 Pontiac GTO.  ‘The Monkees’, in the spirit of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, is filled with zany, knockabout comedy.  “A lot of stuff you see on the show was improvised,” Mickey Dolenz claims.  “It wasn’t planned.”

On 12 September 1966 the new program, ‘The Monkees’, debuts on NBC Television.  In the U.K., it premieres on BBC-TV on 20 January 1967, while it first screens in Australia in May 1967.  In the U.S.A. the program regularly occupies the 7.30 P.M. slot on a Monday night.  There are fifty-eight episodes of ‘The Monkees’.  It is broadcast in America from 12 September 1966 to 9 September 1968.

The Monkees’ first single is released in August 1966, a month before the television series debuts.  This single is Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ (US no. 1, UK no. 23, AUS no. 14).  Over ringing guitar chords, Mickey Dolenz urges, “Take the last train to Clarksville / And I’ll meet you at the station / You can be there by 4.30 / ‘Cos I’ve made your reservation.”

The Monkees give their first live performance on 1 September 1966 in San Juan Capistrano, California.  Although Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork may have welcomed the opportunity to flex their musical muscles, not all the band feels so confident.  Mickey Dolenz’s scepticism is clear when he states, “The Monkees really becoming a band was like the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan.”  This is a reference to the actor who plays the half-alien Mr Spock on television’s ‘Star Trek’.

The group’s first album, ‘The Monkees’ (1966) (US no. 1, UK no. 1), is released in October on Colgems, the label that issues nearly all their recordings.  As well as ‘Last Train To Clarksville’, the album contains that single’s flipside, the bracing ‘Take A Giant Step’, composed by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.  Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s ‘Monkee’s Theme’ (AUS no. 3) from the TV series is present (naturally!) as well as another couple of notable contributions from that team.  They provide the humorous ‘Gonna Buy Me A Dog’ as well as ‘I Wanna Be Free’ (AUS no. 14), an acoustic ballad showcasing Davy Jones’ vocals.  ‘Saturday’s Child’ is written by David Gates, who goes on to lead his own soft rock band, Bread, from 1969 to 1973.  Peter Tork recalls his disappointment about being musically restricted on this album: “I walked in.  They said, ‘We’re having a recording session.’  I said, ‘I’ve brought my guitar’ [but I was told], ‘No Peter, this is the record.’”  Actually, Peter does play guitar on one track, ‘Papa Gene’s Blues’.  Mike Nesmith ensured this because he acted as producer for that song and another track, ‘Sweet Young Thing.’

Striking while the iron is hot, ‘More Of The Monkees’ (1967) (US no. 1, UK no. 1) follows a mere three months later in January.  Despite the haste, this is The Monkees’ best individual album – largely because it has the lion’s share of their most impressive pop tunes.  Leading the pack is their best song, ‘I’m A Believer’ (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 1).  Over an addictive, candy-sweet keyboard riff, Mickey Dolenz gleefully abandons the hangdog verse to beam, “Then I saw her face / Now I’m a believer / There’s not a trace / Of doubt in my mind.”  This song is written by Neil Diamond, whose own career in pop music is launched almost contemporaneously with The Monkees.  The single’s other side, ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ (US no. 20), is also present.  A Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart effort, this is surprisingly tough-minded.  An ominous organ frames Mickey’s broadside to a social climber, a theme that may have resonated with the Monkees’ own new-found fame: “When I first met you girl, you didn’t have no shoes / But now you’re walkin’ round like you’re front page news.”  Boyce & Hart are also behind the abrasive ‘She’ (AUS no. 6).  Neil Diamond scores again with ‘Lookout, Here Comes Tomorrow’, while Mike Nesmith’s ‘Mary, Mary’ (AUS no. 4) also earns a place here.

The February 1967 single, ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ (US no. 2, UK no. 3, AUS no. 4) is written by Neil Diamond and is driven by the insistent acoustic guitar strumming native to Diamond’s own recordings.  However there are also keyboard dabs through the song and a trilling organ solo.  Davy Jones is handed the lead vocal this time: “Girl, I don’t want to fight / I’m a little bit wrong, you’re a little bit right / I say girl, you know that it’s true / It’s a little bit me, and it’s a little bit you / Too.”  Davy also handles the lead on ‘She Hangs Out’, the single’s reverse side.  In fact, Davy is the only member of the group on the song.  This leads to Don Kirshner being fired as the musical director of The Monkees since he was expressly told not to release ‘She Hangs Out’.

Mike Nesmith’s 1967 press conference revelation that The Monkees are not allowed to play on their own recordings results in changes.

‘Headquarters’ (1967) (US no. 1, UK no. 2), released in May, is the first album on which The Monkees play most of the music even if ‘it doesn’t prove the band to be hidden geniuses.’  The tracks include Mickey Dolenz’s psychedelic composition ‘Alternate Title (a.k.a. Randy Scouse Git)’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 6) which ‘suggests the band are becoming familiar with something rather stronger than bubblegum’; and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill’s thoughtful ‘Shades Of Gray’, a rare vocal spotlight for Peter Tork who sings the second verse after Davy Jones’ first verse.

In a bizarre coupling, guitar great Jimi Hendrix is the opening act for The Monkees at some shows.  For instance, their performance at Forest Hills Stadium in New York on 17 July 1967 features The Jimi Hendrix Experience as the support act.  The two acts soon go their separate ways.

With their next album released only six months after ‘Headquarters’ – that’s four albums in just over a year – the hectic pace is taking a toll on The Monkees.  That partially explains why, after all their struggles, the four Monkees only play on some of the album’s tracks; they just don’t have the time to do more.  ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd’ (1967) (US no. 1, UK no. 5) is released in November.  The title is derived from the astrological signs of, respectively, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and…well…Davy Jones.  Actually, Davy is a Capricorn too.  He and Mike share a birthday – though Mike is three years older.  ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Capricorn Ltd’ wouldn’t have sounded as good or, more importantly, as amusing.  Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ (US no. 3, UK no. 11, AUS no. 10) has a complex guitar riff that sounds like its constantly revolving.  Mickey belts out the socially conscious lyrics of life “here in status symbol land” where “Mr Green is so serene / He’s got a TV in every room.”  Obviously this is to better facilitate his watching ‘The Monkees’!  Harry Nilsson’s ‘Cuddly Toy’ (AUS no. 12) is given a theatrical reading here.

On 17 November 1967 Davy Jones opens his own boutique, Zilch I, in Greenwich Village, New York.

In January 1968 Davy Jones marries Linda Haines.  However, to preserve Davy’s teen idol status as the object of young girls’ affections, the marriage is kept secret.  It eventually becomes public knowledge in June 1969.  Davy and Linda have two daughters: Talia (born 2 October 1968) and Sarah (born 3 July 1971).

Mickey Dolenz also marries in 1968.  His bride is Samantha Juste, a co-presenter of BBC-TV’s ‘Top of the Pops’ program.  She and Mickey met in 1967.  Mickey and Samantha go on to have a daughter: Ami (born 8 January 1969).

‘The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees’ (1968) (US no. 3) in April has session musicians playing all the instruments once again.  This is a necessary measure due to the time constraints on the band.  ‘Daydream Believer’ (US no. 1, UK no. 5, AUS no. 2) is written by John Stewart, a California singer-songwriter who had been a member of folk act The Kingston Trio and is in transition to a solo career.  Davy Jones provides the lead vocal for this piano pop ballad, warbling, “Cheer up, sleepy Jean / Oh what can it mean / To a daydream believer / And a homecoming queen?”  [Note: ‘Homecoming’ is an end-of-year dance in U.S. high schools attended by former students as well as those currently going to that educational institution.  A ‘king’ and ‘queen’ are chosen for the dance, usually the most popular and attractive kids.]  Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart contribute ‘Valleri’ (US no. 3, UK no. 12, AUS no. 4) to this album.

Mike Nesmith has another son, Jason (born 7 August 1968), but this is not the child of Mike’s wife, Phyllis Barbour.  Jason is the result of a brief affair between Mike and Israeli-born photographer Nurit Wilde.

The stand-alone 1968 single ‘D.W. Washburn’ (US no. 19, UK no. 17, AUS no. 11), a comical ode to a drunkard, is written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

‘The Monkees’ television series concludes on 9 September 1968.

Freed of this responsibility, The Monkees seek to set aside their image as merry minstrels and reinvent themselves as hip counter-culture figures.  Their medium for this is a motion picture called ‘Head’ (1968).  It is written by Jack Nicholson, before he achieves his own breakthrough as an actor with ‘Five Easy Pieces’ (1970).  This ‘free-form product of the psychedelic era’ is described as ‘truly bizarre.’  The accompanying album, ‘Head’ (1968) (US no. 45) is released in December.  It includes the slow march kaleidoscope of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s ‘Porpoise Song’ (US no. 62, AUS no. 57): “And the porpoise is laughing / Goodbye, goodbye.”

Peter Tork leaves The Monkees at the end of 1968.  The other three members continue on, releasing ‘Instant Replay’ (1969) (US no. 32) in February and ‘The Monkees Present’ (1969) (US no. 100) in October.  The latter includes ‘Listen To The Band’ (US no. 63, AUS no. 8), a song written and sung by Mike Nesmith.  It’s an odd song, attempting to balance a twanging country music guitar and a brass section while verging on collapsing into chaos.  Seemingly oblivious, Mike sings, “Play the drum a little louder / Tell me I can live without her / If I only listen to the band.”

In late 1969 Mike Nesmith decides to leave The Monkees.  Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz issue one more album as The Monkees, ‘Changes’ (1970) in June, before bowing to the inevitable and calling a halt to the band in 1970.

Peter Tork becomes a father, with his daughter, Hallie, being born on 25 January 1970.  Peter marries the child’s mother, Reine Stewart, in October 1972.  The union ends in divorce in 1974.  Peter then marries Barbara Iannoli in January 1975.  Peter and Barbara have a son: Ivan (born 22 December 1975).

Meanwhile his three fellow former Monkees all get divorced In 1975.  Davy Jones and Linda Haines split up, Mickey Dolenz and Samantha Juste call it quits, and Mike Nesmith’s divorce from Phyllis Barbour is declared final on 21 March 1975.

Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz reunite with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, perhaps the Monkees’ most prolific hit-makers.  The foursome decides to become a new group.  Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart lasts from 1975 to 1977 and issues one album: ‘Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart’ (1978).

Mike Nesmith is perhaps the most successful of the ex-Monkees as a solo act.  He issues a string of solo albums and is probably best known for his songs ‘Joanne’ (US no. 21) in 1970 and ‘Rio’ (UK no. 28) in 1977.

Mike Nesmith marries for a second time on 29 February 1976.  His second wife is Kathryn Bild.

Mickey Dolenz also remarries.  In 1977 Tina Dow becomes his second wife and they have three daughters: Charlotte (born 8 August 1981), Emily (born 25 July 1983) and Georgia (born 3 September 1984).

Mike Nesmith’s mother, Bette Nesmith Graham, passes away in 1980.  Thanks to her invention of liquid paper, Mike inherits twenty-five million dollars from her.

Davy Jones goes to the altar again, marrying Anita Pollinger on 24 January 1981.  They have two daughters: Jessica (born 4 September 1981) and Annabel (born 26 June 1988).

The four Monkees reunite for the first time on 7 September 1986 for a gig at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.  The occasion is the twentieth anniversary of the debut of ‘The Monkees’ television series which has remained popular in syndicated repeats.

Peter Tork’s marriage to Barbara Iannoli ends in divorce in 1987.

Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork tour internationally as The Monkees from September 1988 to September 1989 and release an album, ‘Pool It!’ (1987) (US no. 72) on Rhino Records.  Given his financial situation, Mike Nesmith feels no need to be involved in the exercise.

Mike Nesmith divorces his second wife, Kathryn Bild, on 26 August 1988.  Mickey Dolenz divorces his second wife, Tina Dow, in 1991 and his book, ‘I’m a Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music and Madness’, is published by Hyperion / Disney in 1995.  Davy Jones divorces his second wife, Anita Pollinger, in 1996.

‘Justus’ (1996) (US no. 200) is a new album by The Monkees.  All songs are written and performed by the four original Monkees, hence the title: ‘Justus’ meaning ‘just us’.  The group goes on a U.S. tour in 1996, but Mike Nesmith is only present for one night in Los Angeles.  The three other Monkees do another U.S. tour in 1997, the following year.

Peter Tork has another daughter, Erica (born 15 June 1997), from his relationship with Tammy Sustek.  Mike Nesmith marries his third wife, Victoria Kennedy, in 1997.

Minus Mike Nesmith, The Monkees tour again in 2001, but Peter Tork is fired part way through.  Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz tour as The Monkees in 2002.

Mickey Dolenz marries his third wife, Donna Quinter, in 2002.

Davy Jones marries his third wife, Jessica Pacheco, on 30 August 2009.  She is thirty-two years younger than him, but this is also her third marriage.

The Monkees reunite for a show on 12 May 2011 to mark their forty-fifth anniversary.

Jessica Pacheco files for divorce from Davy Jones on 28 July 2011, but withdraws the petition in October 2011.

Davy Jones dies as the result of a heart attack on 29 February 2012.

The three surviving Monkees reunite for another show in autumn 2012.

‘Good Times!’ (2016) (US no. 14, UK no. 29) is co-produced by Adam Schlesinger and Andrew Sandoval.  This album is created to celebrate The Monkees’ fiftieth anniversary.  There are songs from original Monkees tunesmiths like Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson and the team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King (a version of their composition ‘Wasn’t Born To Follow’).  Offsetting this are songs from latter-day Monkees fans such as Andy Partridge (XTC) and a collaboration between Noel Gallagher (Oasis) and Paul Weller (The Jam).  All the surviving Monkees feature on this album and there is even a posthumous contribution from the late Davy Jones (who sings Neil Diamond’s ‘Love To Love’).

Mike Nesmith, perhaps the most devoted musician of the four Monkees, may have bristled at the group not being permitted to play on their own records back in 1967, but it probably wasn’t as big an issue for the fans of The Monkees.  They just enjoyed the music regardless of who wrote it or played on it.  The Monkees produced some great pop music.  The label of ‘The Monkees’ was applied to songs from such notable composers as Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Cynthia Weill & Barry Mann, and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.  They also made use of songs by other rising stars like Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson and John Stewart.  With such an all-star assembly behind the scenes, it is not surprising good results were achieved.  As well as their own vocal and (sometimes) musical talents, Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith brought their own personas to the project and created an adorable, fun-loving band.  Compared to ‘the fab four’ known as The Beatles, The Monkees were ‘the pre-fab four’ (as in, an act constructed from pre-fabricated materials) but it was still an enjoyable form of light entertainment.  ‘…At their best [The Monkees] crafted…[a] catchy, good-time brand of pop.’  ‘They left behind a body of music which may well continue to be played when the more pretentious outpourings of the 1960s are long forgotten.’

Sources:

  1. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 160, 244
  2. Internet movie database imdb.com as at 29 July 2013
  3. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 90, 126, 132, 136
  4. ‘The Monkees True Hollywood Story (Act 1)’ – Video documentary – youtube.com (5 November 2012)
  5. wikipedia.org as at 29 July 2013, 4 January 2017
  6. Cable Network News (cnn.com) – Davy Jones obituary by Ashley Hayes & Todd Leopold (12 December 2012)
  7. Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 29 July 2013
  8. monkeesrule43.com as at 29 July 2013
  9. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 32, 62, 148, 155, 212
  10. ‘The Monkees’ Greatest Hits’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Arista Records, Inc., 1972) p. 4
  11. ‘The Monkees True Hollywood Story (Act 2)’ – Video documentary – youtube.com (28 February 2008)
  12. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Brill Building Pop’ by Greg Shaw (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 143, 151, 152
  13. ‘DVD & Video Guide 2007’ by Mick Martin, Marsha Porter (Ballantine Books, 2006) p. 392, 488, 686
  14. ‘Clive James Show’ (U.K. television program) – The Monkees interview conducted by Clive James (4 March 1997)
  15. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 72
  16. lyricsfreak.com as at 5 September 2013
  17. allmusic.com, ‘The Monkees’ by Richie Unterberger as at 29 January 2002
  18. ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 102
  19. ohnotheydidn’t.livejournal.com – ‘Phyllis Barbour Nesmith, ex-wife of former Monkee Mike Nesmith passes away at 63’ (17 February 2010)

Song lyrics copyright Screen Gems with the exception of ‘The Porpoise Song’ (EMI Music)

Last revised 12 January 2017

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