I spent some time watching a few of the Monkees' documentaries over the holiday. What a complicated but interesting history of this popular TV series/band. So much drama behind this "comedy". Mickey was my favorite...still is, though all 4 were very talented comedians and musicians.
The Monkees TV show was inspired by the Beatles movie Hard Day's Night. The band was conceived in 1965 by television producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider specifically for the situation comedy series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The band's music was initially supervised by record producer Don Kirshner, backed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Very Pop tunes ruled the day. Michael and Peter wanted to write and record their songs.
Davy, Michael, Mickey, and Peter
The original line-up consisted of the American actor/musicians Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork with English actor/singer Davy Jones. Mickey Dolenz was a child actor famous for his role on Circus Boy. I loved that show so I was already a fan of Mickey's.
Davy Jones was also a child star from England and a jockey. Won acclaim on stage for playing the Artful Dodger in Oliver.
Davy and Mickey were happy to be working as actors. Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were musicians, not actors. Thus began the big rub within the band lineup.
The four actor/musicians were initially allowed only limited roles in the recording studio for the first few months of their five-year career as "the Monkees". This was due in part to the amount of time required to film the television series.
Nonetheless, Nesmith composed and produced some songs from the beginning, and Tork contributed limited guitar work on the sessions produced by Nesmith. All four contributed lead vocals to various tracks.
They eventually fought for the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band's name, acting as musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers. But the show didn't last long. Too difficult. Read More
I thought (still do) a lot of their songs were great. Timeless, as they still sell to this day. But as I grew up in that timeframe, I remember that their music was too "poppy" and I think the guys wanted to be creating harder rock songs and be taken seriously by the music industry.
Ironically, the success of the show led to the actor-musicians becoming one of the most successful bands of the 1960s. The Monkees have sold more than 75 million records worldwide making them one of the biggest selling groups of all time with international hits, including "Last Train to Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Daydream Believer", and "I'm a Believer".
Here are two good backstory videos:
From a reader Roger Rais:
My best friend and I while growing up put on a "Monkees" show for the neighbor hood kids ! He played "Mike" and I was "Peter" (his little brother was "Davie" and another friend was "Mickey" !