When four young men were cast in the television roles of a struggling rock band inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, few could have predicted the impact The Monkees would make on music and pop culture at large, an impact that still reverberates 50 years later.
Assembled in Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the television series The Monkees, the quartet of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelica, Broadway, and country to their music. The show itself, meanwhile, paid tribute not only to The Beatles, but also to the comedy stylings of The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy as well as the pop-art sensibilities of Warhol and the emerging San Francisco psychedelic scene.
The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” was released in August 1966, hitting #1 and serving as advance publicity for their series, which debuted on September 12. When the group’s self-titled debut album arrived in stores a month later, it quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200. (Two decades later, in the midst of a new burst of Monkee-mania, The Monkees popped back onto the charts, bringing the total number of weeks to 102.)
By the time the group’s TV series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, the Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts – More of the Monkees, Headquarters, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd., all of which were released in 1967, staggeringly enough – while racking up several more hit singles, with “I’m a Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Words,” “Daydream Believer,” “Valleri,” and “Tapioca Tundra” all finding their way into the Billboard Top 40.
After the series’ two-season run, the group went on to star in the cult feature film HEAD (co-written by Jack Nicholson) and a TV special (33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee) while also continuing to record new material, but much as the ‘60s gave way to the ‘70s, the members of the Monkees eventually gave in to their individual musical interests and went their separate ways… for awhile.
In February 1986, after MTV broadcast a marathon of The Monkees, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited for a 20th anniversary tour, with Nesmith joining them onstage for the Los Angeles date of the tour, and in 1996, all four members of the group reunited for a new album (Justus) and TV special (Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees).
In the wake of Jones’s death on February 29, 2012, the surviving members of the Monkees reunited and performed a series concerts. The shows were greeted with sell-out response and phenomenal reviews. Now, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork carry on that tradition with a full evening of magic music and multi-media splendor, including clips from their Emmy Award winning series. Their new show features all of the Monkees hits, plus an intimate acoustic set and solo spots for each of the singers. This Evening With The Monkees is sure to please every fan of the band.