Each member of the Monkees is old enough to be my dad. I didn’t know or didn’t care in 1986, when MTV, Nickelodeon and a local TV station I could only pick up with my antenna started airing re-runs of The Monkees on weekday afternoons.
This happened 20 years after the show originally aired on NBC at 6:30 p.m. on Monday nights.
My peers at school picked on me for my obsession, but they were all just so darn cute.
In this manufactured-for-television band, Davy won producers over with his boyish looks, his English accent and hisbig, brown eyes.
He immediately became the favored one on the show, and girls were absolutely crazy over him.
The story of The Monkees is extremely unique in that it was probably the first manufactured “Boy Band” to ever give Hell to the producers and executives who tried to shape them. Most of the tracks were recorded with one of the band members – usually Davy or Micky Dolenz – giving lead vocals, with studio musicians and vocalists in the background.
After a while, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork started demanding they actually produce some real music.
So was the beginning of the 1967 album Headquarters, in which The Monkees played all the instruments.
A number of Monkee fans (myself included) would tell you is their greatest of the many, many albums they recorded.
Unfortunately, the album dropped a week before The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Headquarters quickly dropped off the radar.
They actually allowed their show to be cancelled, and the final episodes of the
show are very telling of how much they were either phoning it in or they wanted to each branch out.
The end of each of the final episodes would often feature unknown musicians. Davy Jones and Charlie Smalls sat by the piano to perform a song they co-wrote, “Her Name is Love,” which never was recorded but is still a beautiful song. You can find it in the final season of The Monkees on DVD.
The last scene of The Monkees is Tim Buckley’s first television performance, in which he performs a gorgeous acoustic version of “Song to the Siren.” It’s just Tim, sitting on a stool in front of a car (that was destroyed by Mike Nesmith and Frank Zappa in the beginning of the episode.)
Now, it is nothing to think of artists breaking away from their producers when they don’t like how things are going for them.
Music was about what the suits wanted us to hear, not what the musicians wanted to share with us. Justin Timberlake probably owes a lot to the Monkees for his ability to transition from boy-band member to the octuple-threat he is today.
I was very fortunate to see The Monkees during their reunion tour in 1987, when I was nine years old.
It was my first live concert, it was a lot of fun and it brought parents and kids together.
I re-discovered them a few years ago and am still amazed by how great their music is, how talented they are, and how much joy they brought into the living rooms of baby boomers and Gen-Xers alike.
I’ll miss you, Davy.