First off, let me start by saying that I’m a fan of The Monkees. As a child I used to watch their TV show on reruns (obviously, I’m not THAT old despite what my wife would have you believe) and I’ve always loved their music. Some people, especially huge Beatles fans, tend to hate The Monkees even though The Beatles themselves liked them.
From the TV show to their music, they were great and actually still are. Just a month ago they had yet another tour even though one of the four, Davy Jones, passed away earlier in the year due to a heart attack. Can The Beatles say they’ve toured recently? No. Of course more of them are dead than just one…
So here are my reasons why The Monkees deserve some fucking respect.
4. They Rocked
Despite rumors that have been around as long as they have, The Monkees played their own instruments. Yeah, that’s right, they totally did. Don’t believe me? Go read something. As much as I hate to use Wikipedia as a source for info, I can’t link to a book and have you read that without you actually buying it.
So The Monkees played their own instruments. Interesting. I wonder what else we’ve been lied to about all of these years.
Now let’s get down to it. The music they played was indeed rock, even though they had some slight country heading to the mix. Eventually they wanted to lean more towards blues which can go either way, in country and rock.
They had four number one albums in a one year period. They held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard album chart for 31 consecutive weeks, 37 weeks total. You can’t do that if you don’t put out some decent music.
Their first album The Monkees held the top spot on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks, after which it was knocked out by their second album, More Of The Monkees. It included their first hit, “Last Train To Clarksville” which as it turns out was a depressing song about going to fight in Vietnam and most likely not coming home from there. Even the Cracked writer who wrote that bit thought they didn’t play their own instruments. Shows what kind of research they do.
Take the last train to Clarksville now I must hang up the phone
I can’t hear you in this noisy railroad station all alone
I’m feelin’ low oh no no no, oh no no no
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home
Depressing shit, but the song was a fun-filled number you could dance to, so people loved it. Plus, you know, it was The Monkess, and they were top shit then.
3. Jimi Hendrix Opened For Them
That’s right, guitar/rock legend Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees. As you can imagine it didn’t go over well, because well, their music styles are completely different. There weren’t a lot of drugged out rockers in the crowd at a Monkees show. At least not then anyway. During one of the shows, Jimi Hendrix finally had enough of the audience booing him and gave them the finger before walking off the stage and quitting the tour. And now he’s dead.
2. They Had A Hit TV Show
Sure The Beatles had some hit movies, but The Monkees had a hit TV show. In the scheme of things that doesn’t mean much, but The Monkees TV show, aptly titled “The Monkees” can be shown in reruns and syndication. The Beatles can’t say that.
The Monkees TV show first hit the airwaves in 1966 and went until 1968 before stopping production on new shows. It went into syndication in 1969 and has been reran multiple times up until the 1980’s. Because of the syndication, they sold even more albums and had more success, including more tours which were critically acclaimed.
1. They Still Tour
As I said at the top of this article, The Monkees just had a tour in the U.S. even though Davy Jones passed away on February 29, 2012. From Wikipedia (AGAIN?!), “The brief tour marked the first time Nesmith performed with the Monkees since 1997, as well as the first without Jones. Jones’ memory was honored throughout the shows via recordings and video. During one point, the band went quiet and a recording of Jones singing “I Wanna Be Free” played while footage was screening of him walking along the beach. For Jones’ signature song, “Daydream Believer”, Dolenz explained that the band had discussed who should sing the song, only to conclude that it should be the fans. “It doesn’t belong to us anymore,” said Dolenz. “It belongs to you.””
Hopefully that tour won’t be their last, because I’d love to see them live. Until then, thanks for the tunes, chaps. They rock, and so do you.