My Legends of Pop Music – Part Twelve – The Monkees

If I get this right, there will be many cover versions by future bands.  I shall try and link live versions if they exist from the tellybox or a film, the sound quality may not be the best, but there is nothing like watching a real talent live.

So, in a sort of chronological order, my twelfth legends are The Monkees

Curtesy of Wiki:

The Monkees are an American rock and pop band originally active between 1966 and 1971, with reunion albums and tours in the decades that followed. Their original line-up consisted of the American actor/musicians Micky DolenzMichael Nesmith and Peter Tork with English actor/singer Davy Jones. The group 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 song writing duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

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.  All four contributed lead vocals to various tracks. Their self-titled debut album was, in its majority, produced by Boyce and Hart, with their studio band, the Candy Store Prophets, recording the backing tracks. Nonetheless, Nesmith composed and produced some songs from the beginning, and Tork contributed limited guitar work on the sessions produced by Nesmith. The follow-up album, More of the Monkees, had Kirshner dismissing Boyce and Hart in favour of his own stable of songwriters and producers, who recorded the album using The Wrecking Crew and other session musicians, and with very little input from the band members.

The Monkees, principally Nesmith, became dissatisfied with the process of vocalizing in pre-recorded backing tracks. Eventually, Screen Gems, the Monkees’ TV production company, would fire Kirshner for releasing a single without its authorisation, and the Monkees finally had the right to write and record their own music with producer Chip Douglas, dividing their time between acting for the TV show and recording for the albums and singles. Their third album, Headquarters, featured the band playing most of the instruments, with only the aid of Douglas and few other players. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. used a greater extent of session musicians. The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees saw the Monkees dropping Douglas to produce the records themselves. Starting with this album, they decided not to record as a unit anymore, pursuing their own individual interests in music.

Following the television show’s cancellation and the commercial flop of their film Head and its soundtrack album in 1968, Tork left the band, alleging exhaustion. The trio of Dolenz, Jones and Nesmith continued to record a few more albums and touring until Nesmith’s exit, in 1971, to focus on his own solo project. Dolenz and Jones recorded a last album, the bubblegum Changes, before breaking up.

A revival of interest in the television show came in 1986, which led to a series of reunion tours and new records. The group has reunited and toured several times since then with different line-ups (but always containing Micky Dolenz and at least one of the other original members) and with varying degrees of success. Jones died in February 2012 and Tork died in February 2019. Between those deaths, the album Good Times! was released and received good reviews. Dolenz and Nesmith remain active members of the group. In May 2021, the Monkees announced their farewell tour set for the fall season consisting of Dolenz and Nesmith.

Dolenz described The Monkees as initially being “a TV show about an imaginary band … that wanted to be the Beatles that was never successful”. 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“, “I’m a Believer“, “Pleasant Valley Sunday“, and “Daydream Believer“, and four chart-topping albums. Newspapers and magazines reported that the Monkees outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in 1967, but Nesmith admitted in his autobiography Infinite Tuesday that it was a lie that he told a reporter.

A full list of his songs is here: Discography – The Monkees

I’m a Believer – Official 1966 version

Last Train To Clarksville – (Live in concert 1986) – Just to prove they could do it live.

Take A Giant Step – For the TV episode The Chaperone.  Pleasant little tune.

Steppin’ Stone – 1996 TV show.

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You–Live at Fox Theatre in Detroit in 2011

I Wanna Be Free – Great vocals from Davy Jones

Randy Scouse Git – I had forgotten the title of this, but you will know it once you hear Micky Dolenz sing “She’s a wonderful lady and she’s mine all mine”.

Valleri – Studio performance, playing their own instruments and great harmonies.

Tear Drop City

Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees Live with Mike Nesmith at Pantages in 2016

Daydream Believer – Live in 1989 – Super live performance of an awesome tune.


Singalong, enjoy and be happy!

Links to previous Legend articles:

1-Buddy Holly 2-Elvis Presley 3-Everly brothers 4-Cliff Richard 5-Joe Brown
6-Gerry and the Pacemakers 7-Roy Orbison 8-The Seekers 9-The Hollies 10-The Rolling Stones
11-Beach Boys 12-The Monkees

Featured Image: “Vintage LP Record Collection: More Of The Monkees, Stereo COS-102, Colgems, Manufactured And Distributed By RCA, Copyright 1967” by France1978 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

© Phil the ex test manager 2021