Forty eight years ago this month four "pre-fab" actors launched the most misunderstood band in rock history.
“The Monkees” debuted on NBC Sept. 12, 1966, launching the prototype “boy band.” The mold helped launch future, teen-friendly groups, but none of them measured up to The Monkees. Can we expect the Backstreet Boys or New Kids on the Block to keep on touring into their 70s? More importantly, do any of their songs resonate the way “I’m a Believer” or “Pleasant Valley Sunday” still do?
The Monkees – Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz – fused TV and music in a way never done before, concocted a calamitous movie (“Head”) mocking their fame and proved perfect pop songs never age.
Here are five incredible facts about the group to honor the 48th anniversary.
- Wall, Meet Fist: Michael Nesmith once punched a hole in the wall after what he called a “personal affront.” But the singer says it didn’t have anything to do with the band being offered “Sugar Sugar” as has been rumored for years.
- Best Warmup Act … Ever: The Monkees arranged to have a hot new guitar slinger open for them during one of their tours. Sadly, Jimi Hendrix didn’t finish the tour with the band, but it did expose him to a whole new audience. Nesmith first heard Hendrix’s music while hanging with several members of the Beatles in England.
- ‘Easy’ Cash: No two projects could be more dissimilar than “Easty Rider” and “The Monkees.” Yet the money made by the latter made the former possible. Just ask Peter Fonda: “…Bob and Bert Schneider had made all this money with ‘The Monkees.’ That’s what made “Easy Rider.”
- Meet Your New Drummer: Frank Zappa once appeared briefly on “The Monkees” show. Years later, Zappa asked Micky Dolenz to join his Mothers of Invention band as its drummer. Dolenz declined – he couldn’t get out of an existing record contract. Dolenz didn’t play the drums until joining “The Monkees.” Apparently, he was a quick study.
- The Numbers Game: In 1967, The Monkees sold more records than The Beatles and the Rolling Stones – combined.