My parents introduced me to The Monkees TV show during the early 80s, and I was captivated by the adventures of a band that wasn’t really a band that had broken up a few years before I was even born. The Beatles comparison was often made, as I loved the Fab Four. Still, despite their physical and musical similarities, The Monkees was soon one of my favorite shows to watch, exhibiting their impact on pop culture for years after their initial breakup.
Sadly, on March 25th, 1968, The Monkees aired their 58th and final TV episode, ending a successful two-year run. “The Prefab Four” soon began to change, as Peter Tork would leave the group later that year, with just Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones remaining.
According to an LA Times article posted after Peter’s death in 2019,
“Tork was the first to leave the group. He later said he was disappointed the Monkees had failed to make rock music a priority over show business. The band broke up 18 months later.”
I love the term Prefab Four, as many people considered The Monkees a cheap knockoff of The Beatles, and they were critically hated, which is where the nickname stemmed from. Despite that unfortunate moniker …
“The Monkees became the first video band, foreshadowing the craze for music television that emerged in the early 1980s. In its first season, the series won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy.” (LA Times, 2019)
This is shocking, as only two group members had any musical background, Peter and Michael Nesmith. Fan favorites Davey Jones and Mickey Dolenz were actors chosen to round out the group, a fact that I’m almost positive was a contributing factor in the initial reaction from critics.
The “band” had studio musicians doing their writing and performing for most of their first two records. Still, by album number 3, The Monkees had taken over the bulk of the songwriting and performing duties, becoming a real band in the process. This shift still amazes me, as Davey and Mickey quickly became adept musicians in their own right, which was atypical of this type of situation. This is why Peter was frustrated with the guys, they had all become talented players, but the show business aspect remained more important than the music.
So break out your old vinyl or YouTube their music in remembrance of The Monkees on the anniversary of their last show. You may find some great tunes to enjoy and a show you never knew was so perfectly ridiculous.
This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now-defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.
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