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What No One Ever Told You About The Monkees

What No One Ever Told You About The Monkees
Hey, hey, it's the

Monkees

! For a very brief period back in the late 1960s, wild pop-rockers the

Monkees

ruled pop culture. Despite being made for TV to start out, the

Monkees

eventually developed into a respected and quite popular band. Here's the un

told

truth of the

Monkees

. Some bands start in a garage. The

Monkees

started at Raybert Productions. Run by TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the company had a deal with Screen Gems to develop a sitcom about a rock band, inspired
what no one ever told you about the monkees
by the madcap Beatles movies A Hard Day's Night and Help! That idea became The

Monkees

, a show about a group of funny guys who also played music. NBC was interested, and so Rafelson and Schneider hired Colgems Records executive Don Kirschner to oversee the musical aspects of the show. To find the actual

Monkees

, Rafelson and Schneider placed an ad in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. It read: "Madness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.
Running parts for 4 insane boys, age 17-21. Want spirited Ben Frank's types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview." Ben Frank's was a hip hangout on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, and it set the tone for exactly the sort of show the producers wanted. They were channeling the spirit of not just The Beatles, but of massive 60s juggernauts like the Lovin' Spoonful, who, incidentally, Rafelson and Schneider had approached about doing the tv show. They said no,
recruiting ads were published, and the

Monkees

were hired. The producers eventually auditioned 437 Los Angeles area actors and musicians, and finally found who they were looking for. Among the notable names who tried out were folk singer Stephen Stills; Danny Hutton, just before he joined the enormously successful Three Dog Night; and Paul Williams, who'd go on to appear in movies like Smokey and the Bandit and write award-winning songs like The Muppet Movie's "The Rainbow
Connection". And contrary to a famous urban legend, there's one notorious individual who did not almost make it into The

Monkees

. Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson was in prison on a probation violation when auditions took place in 1965. Monkee Micky Dolenz takes credit for starting the rumor, once telling Gilbert Gottfried: "I just a made a joke. '

Ever

ybody auditioned for The

Monkees

, Stephen Stills, Paul Williams, and Charlie Manson!' And

ever

ybody took it as
gospel." Monkee masters Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider found three band members through that extensive audition process, but

ever

yone knows the

Monkees

were a four-piece band.

What

happened? The fourth slot was supposed to go to seasoned folk musician Stephen Stills, before he became the "Stills" in the iconic trio Crosby, Stills & Nash. Stills turned down the chance to be a Monkee, but he was kind enough to recommend his potential replacement: Peter Thorkelson, a guy
he'd played with in New York who he thought shared the look producers were after. Thorkelson, who adopted the stage name Peter Tork, landed the part of "Peter Tork" while also singing and playing bass in the band. Shortly before his passing in 2019, he explained to Rolling Stone: "I was hired to be an actor of a TV show. The producers did have hopes that something musical would come out of us when they cast the four of us. But if we couldn't have done the music, they would
have been all right with us just making the TV show." The

Monkees

debuted in 1966, joining an old-fashioned television universe that looked pretty much the same as it had a decade before. Among the hits of the day were Westerns like Bonanza and Daniel Boone, cornball variety shows like The Red Skelton Show and The Lawrence Welk Show, and sitcoms targeting an older, rural crowd, including The B

ever

ly Hillbillies and Green Acres. And then along came The

Monkees

, and it was wildly creative and
what no one ever told you about the monkees
low-key revolutionary. As opposed to the stodgier competition, The

Monkees

popped with vivid color and starred four young men with long hair who wore hippie-type clothes and slacked about in their crash pad playing rock 'n' roll music, still a frightening and strange concept to the Greatest Generation. It represented the growing influence of the counterculture. Moreover, the show chugged along at a frenetic pace, using quick cuts, asides, actors breaking character, camera tricks, and
standalone, proto-music videos at the end of each episode to make a series that fully embraced and expressed its rock 'n' roll sensibility. The

Monkees

may have gotten some grief over the years for not being in charge of their own music, but it wasn't their fault. That's how the producers wanted it, and it caused serious, behind-the-scenes tension over the years. Not only that, but showrunners also prevented them from having a say in the television series they starred in. When
each individual Monkee wasn't needed on set, they were

told

to report to a black-walled room. There, they could do

what

ever

they want as long as they headed back to the soundstage when their assigned call light started blinking. The

Monkees

put those experiences into art. In 1968, they were largely left to their own devices to make an experimental movie called Head. It was full of surrealism, symbolism, and general wackiness, and it was written with the help of the most unlikely
screenwriter. "Here's Johnny!" Yes, that Jack Nicholson. The movie resulting from the partnership includes so many bizarre sequences that fans weren't really sure

what

was going on, and some took it as a shockingly pro-Vietnam stance. But according to

what

Dolenz

told

Mojo, it wasn't about that at all. " a metaphor for the

Monkees

. We used to talk about being in a black box all the time. When we were on tour, especially but even being on the TV set. We couldn't
leave a room or hotel." The

Monkees

may have been designed as a corporate endeavor, but producers left writers with anti-war, hippie-leaning sentiments in charge of the Monkee house. Writers of both The

Monkees

and the band's songs expressed an anti-Vietnam War sentiment quite a few times … which is remarkable considering the aggressive censorship of network television in the late 1960s. CBS fired the hosts of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour for too much anti-war content, yet The

Monkees

got away with it. How? Some smoke-and-mirrors. According to a show writer who spoke to academic Dr. Roseanne Welch, "The network executives didn't understand

what

we were saying, so we got away with a lot." Take the episode "Monkee Mother", which features the band playing with dominos. Davy asks Peter

what

he calls the game, and his response — "Southeast Asia" — is a cl

ever

ly wry send-up of the domino theory, the Cold War principle that if Communism
were to take hold in one country in the region, the rest would fall like dominos. And then there's "Last Train to Clarksville," the

Monkees

hit frequently replayed on the series. It's subtly about a young man drafted into the army, and he doesn't want to go. In fact, he wonders if he's "

ever

coming home."

Monkees

songwriter Bobby Hart eventually said of the song, and others: "We couldn't be too direct. We couldn't really make a protest song out of
what no one ever told you about the monkees
it we kind of snuck it in." The

Monkees

made a lot of catchy, fun songs that millions of people enjoyed. Their style: straight-forward, jangly pop rock with the flavor of British bands like the Beatles and Herman's Hermits, exhibited on "Valleri," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," "Daydream Beli

ever

," and the theme song from The

Monkees

, which has to be the biggest banger of a sitcom opener

ever

. For all their charm, the

Monkees

aren't regarded as a
particularly innovative band. "Boy, it's not fair… we’re as bad as any other group in town." “Yeah, but all those other bands got invitations to audition.” "Yeah, except us" Or were they? In 1967, when the band's handlers finally allowed the members to write their own stuff, The

Monkees

released Headquarters, which includes a cut called "Zilch." A studio experiment, it involves each Monkee saying nonsensical phrases that were repeated and layered.
Peter Tork's line: "Mr. Dobalina, Mr. Bob Dobalina," was actually picked out of the real world when he heard it being repeated at an airport. Non-singing vocals used to a rhythmic effect? "Zilch" is basically a prehistoric rap song. Even hip-hop luminary Del Tha Funkee Homosapien thought so, sampling Tork's line for his 1991 hit "Mistadobalina." By early 1969, the

Monkees

began to unravel. Peter Tork left the band, spending $400,000 to buy out the last four
years of his contract. Michael Nesmith departed in April 1970, and later that year, Jones and Dolenz recorded the

Monkees

' final tracks… for a while, at least. Each Monkee then pursued their own path; some were more successful than others. Nesmith became the only Monkee with a solo hit, after his country rock group First National Band scored a #21 hit with the single "Joanne". He was also an early adopter of music videos, making them for his own projects and creating the
compilation show PopClips, which aired on Nickelodeon in 1980. Parent company Warner Cable thought a 24-hour cable network that aired just videos might be a good idea and created MTV, which they asked Nesmith to help develop. Teen idol-looking Davy Jones took the predictable teen idol route. "Rainy Jane" hit the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971, but most famously he was immortalized on an episode of The Brady Bunch in which he sings "Girl" and meets Marcia
Brady, president of the Davy Jones Fan Club. He died in 2012, after suffering a massive heart attack. As for Micky Dolenz, the child star of TV's Circus Boy got back into acting and has done a ton of voice-over work for cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, The Tick, and The Scooby-Doo Show. He was a close second choice to play Fonzie on Happy Days, but was ultimately deemed to tall for the role. In 1985, concert promoter David Fishof approached Peter Tork about reuniting The

Monkees

for a 20th anniversary tour. Together, Fishof and Tork worked over the rest of the band to join up. It took a few attempts to convince Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz, while Michael Nesmith was even harder to convince. He was busy producing movies and TV shows with his company, Pacific Arts Corporation, and agreed to join when he thought the tour would consist of 10 to 20 dates. He later went public with his regrets, backing out when those 20 dates became 200.

What

exploded the tour from a modest,
nostalgic affair into one of the most massive musical undertakings of the mid-80s? MTV. In early 1986, the network aired

ever

y episode of The

Monkees

in the form of a weekend marathon. MTV executive Tom Freston

told

Rolling Stone, "We've n

ever

received such a volume of mail. We were dumbfounded by the whole thing." Suddenly the 20-year-old show was the biggest thing among kids who weren't alive when it first aired. Almost

ever

y date on the

Monkees

reunion tour sold out, and
newly recorded single "That Was Then, This Is Now" hit the top 20. In 1986, the

Monkees

and MTV enjoyed a mutually agreeable relationship: Reruns brought huge ratings to the channel, and the exposure from MTV made the

Monkees

' reunion tour the can't-miss event of the year. Scarcely a year later, things fell apart. After the success of "That Was Then, This Is Now," the

Monkees

reconvened without Michael Nesmith. The product was the new album, Pool It!, with the single
"Heart and Soul." But fans had a hard time finding the video, as MTV refused to air it. According to Monkee Business Fanzine, the

Monkees

were slated to appear on an MTV Super Bowl special in January 1987, but there was a miscommunication. The band had no intention of playing the show because they had been booked for another engagement. The executive in charge of the show had only been with the network for a couple of months and didn't understand the unique and fond symbiosis
between band and network, so he unceremoniously retaliated by banning "Heart and Soul." It's no coincidence that with the utter lack of promotion from the

Monkees

' previous champion, "Heart and Soul" faltered at #87 on the singles chart and sadly, Pool It! stalled at #72 on the album chart. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite stuff are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell so you
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