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The Monkees

1966-1969
Davy Jones(vocals)
Michael Nesmith(guitar, vocals)
Peter Tork(bass, vocals)
Micky Dolenz(drums, vocals)

Artistfacts for The Monkees

  • The group was created for a NBC television show. 437 young men auditioned for the roles - mostly struggling musicians and actors. Steven Stills and John Sebastian both auditioned and were turned down for roles on the show. It was rumored that Charles Manson tried out, but this was not true
  • 58 Episodes of the TV show were made. It lasted 2 seasons and aired from 1966-1968. The idea for the fictional group came from the 1965 Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night.
  • At first, the group did not play their own instruments - their vocals were recorded over tracks recorded by a group of session musicians who played on many hits from the '60s. The turning point came in 1967 when they insisted on playing their own material and getting producer credit as well.
  • The Monkees were the object of scorn among some music fans who felt they were a product of deceptive corporate entertainment, taking up airspace that would be better suited to more authentic musicians. There wasn't much controversy over the use of session musicians on their albums, however, as manufactured bands were fairly common and The Monkees didn't keep it a secret. Mickey Dolenz explained how word got out: "Somebody just asked us. I don't remember who - exactly what moment, but somebody probably asked me, "So are you playing on all those early records?" And I said, "Well, no. Some of them were made before I was even cast." And I think, again, from my point of view, the whole confusion came, and still exists, if you think of the Monkees as a group, as a band, it gets very confusing. And it just isn't accurate. The Monkees was not a band. It still isn't a band. It was this television show about this band that wanted to be the Beatles. We wanted to be the Beatles. That's what all - that was what it was about. And we represented all those kids around the United States and the world that were in their basements and garages playing, you know, songs and trying to make a living. That's what the heart and soul of the show was about. That's what made us successful."
  • Dolenz almost got the part of The Fonz on Happy Days. He was beaten out by Henry Winkler.
  • Nesmith is the most accomplished musician in the group - he wrote "Different Drum," recorded by The Stone Ponies (Linda Ronstadt), "Propinquity" and "Some Of Shelley's Blues" recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt band. The Monkees may have been designed as a "Prefab Four," but Nesmith is a stand alone artist. (thanks, chuck - peoria, IL)
  • The TV show became a hit in England when it aired on the BBC.
  • After their TV show was canceled, they made the movie Head, which at the time was a box office flop, but is now a cult classic. A then-unknown Jack Nicholson helped write and produce the movie. He also acted in it along with Frank Zappa, Terri Garr, Annette Funicello, Sonny Liston, and Dennis Hopper.
  • Davy Jones appeared in an episode of The Brady Bunch where he sang to Marsha.
  • This one sounds like an urban legend, but it's true: Michael Nesmith's mother invented Liquid Paper. She got the idea when she was a secretary, making small bottles of water-based paint that she called "Mistake Out" and gave to other typists. She sold her company to Gillette in 1979 for $47 million.
  • Tim Buckley and Frank Zappa both appeared on their TV show. Zappa was a big fan, and even asked Dolenz to play in his group after their show was canceled.
  • As a child, Micky Dolenz starred in the TV series Circus Boy. It was a Walt Disney production
  • Headquarters was the only Monkees album recorded with all four in the studio at the same time. On all the other albums each member recorded their part separately and then the whole was mixed by the engineers. (thanks, david - Adelaide)
  • Like Nesmith, Peter Tork thought of himself as a musician, while Dolenz and Jones considered themselves actors. This caused some tension in the group when Tork and Nesmith wanted to take more control of their musical output, which Dolenz and Jones eventually went along with.
  • Tork taught Algebra and coached baseball at a private school in the late 1970s. He also worked as a singing waiter at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax California in the mid '70s. An accomplished musician, he plays 12 different instruments.
  • Nesmith and Jones were both born on a December 30: Nesmith in 1942 and Jones in 1945. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments: 24

I have a 5x7 photo of the Monkey's, signed... Does any body know if it is worth anything?Joy - Orlando, Fl
Randy - Jimi Hendrix did open for a couple of their shows. Micky Dolenz saw him perform at the Monterey Pop Festival and met him afterwards. Micky suggested him for the Monkees first tour. Hendrix's style was a little much for the pre-teen Monkees fan and they booed him off the stage. Or so the story goes. He quit the tour after 2 or 3 shows. By the way, I just read a story that said Davy, Micky and Peter have signed on to do a 45th anniversary tour in London this spring. No word if they will tour in the U.S. yet.

Prior to the show Mike and Peter were in bands. Micky was a child actor on a show called Circus Boy and Davy won a Tony Award for his role as the Artful Dodger in the original Broadway cast of Oliver. I actually have a video of him performing on the Ed Sullivan Show with the cast of Oliver. The same night as a little band called the Beatles performed. Interesting coincidence. Even though they didn't actually play their instruments on most of their studio albums, they did all sing on every song. They fought to play on the albums, but Don Kirschner wouldn't let them. Once he was out of the picture, they did write songs for the show, played on their albums and when they went on tour they played their instruments for real.
Leh - Joaquin, Tx
Excuse me Mr. Don, but maybe YOU don't belong on this site! In case you didn't notice, this website is called artistFACTS. It is for facts, not opinions, and it is a FACT that the Monkees were both actors AND musicians! And they were great at it too! And maybe you don't know this, but the Monkees outsold the Beatles AND the Rolling Stones COMBINED!! So next time you want to post a comment, I would check my facts.Mariah - E-town, Il
Randy in Ohio, I just came back from seeing Mickey Dolenz perform at the casino just outside Harrisburg, PA. His band includes his younger sister and four others. So he, at least, is still performing.Doug - Harrisburg, Pa
I have been a Monkees fan since I was 6 years old in the 60's I am now an older Monkees fan. I really enjoyed them acting to be a wash up band which became a real band. Thanks guys for the music.Nell Pugh - Murfreesboro, Tn
The Beatles were big fans of the Monkees television show. They even invited them to hang out with them while in England. Michael Nesmith can be seen in the film made during the recording of "A Day In The Life". When John Lennon was asked, at the time, to compare the Monkees to the Beatles, he said it would be more apprpriate to compare the Monkees to the Marx Brothers. Micky Dolenz said he took it as a compliment.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Although Nesmith and Tork were believed to have been the musicians of the group, Dolenz and Jones had musical backgrounds. Jones did musical theater on London and New York (he performed with the cast of "Oliver!" on the same Ed Sullivan Show that the Beatles were on in February 1964) and had made an album of show tunes. That album was used as an "in-gag" in one of the TV show episodes. Dolenz sang and played guitar in several Los Angeles bands in the mid 1960's and even recorded a single called "Don't Do It" pre-Monkees.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Garrett, Nashville, TN Sebastian didn't audition for The Monkees, the producers of the TV considered using the 'Lovin' Spoonful' as the band the show would center around, but they decided against it.Richard - Lansing, Mi
Randy, Colerain Twp., OH in 1996 The four Monkees got together and wrote, produced and recorded the album "JUSTUS" it was a very fine effort. Try and find it!Richard - Lansing, Mi
Although all four had some acting experience, Jones and Dolenz were primarily actors, while Nesmith and Tork were primarily musicians. And as for musical ability, Nesmith was the most accomplished songwriter, but Tork was the most accomplished musician.Lane - Nashville, Tn
There's this song "No Time" where Micky sings a bizarre first verse. After the second verse he parodies Ringo Starr's singing in "Honey Don't" by saying something like "one more George from Ringo, one time", and then some whispering is heard. Does anybody know what Micky says in his whispering? I wonder if it's about the parody he does.Jorge - Mexico, Mexico
I thought Jimi Hendrix was the opening act for The Monkees? I actually like The Monkees' music better than I do the TV show. I just wonder if despite their ages, they could go back and record another studio album? Mike Nesmith was definitely a good song writer. Does anyone know what these guys are doing nowadays?Randy - Colerain Twp., Oh
Hard to believe that John Sebastion tried out for this group in 1966, since at the time, his own group, The Lovin' Spoonful, was one of the biggest acts in rock, and had been having massive hits since 1965.Garrett - Nashville, Tn
I heard that Charles Manson auditioned for The Monkees.Travis - Laconia, Nh
I was in front of my TV, 9 years old for their first show. It was a ton of bricks on all us kids. Everyone was talking about them the next day. From the theme song ("Get the funniest looks from everyone we meet...") it was perfect. Clarksville, I'm a Believer, Stepping Stone, Mary Mary, those were instant classic tunes. They were manufactured, but they were great. (How did it take 15 more years for MTV to happen?)Dill - Alexandria, Va
I love the monkees!!!!!!!!!!!1 OSme of the stuff they say about them is so rude!Marcia - Chicago, Il
monkees is the craziest people.
i would like to know more about tork and nesmith.
Sara - Perth, Australia
Peter Tork was a member of a band that evolved into Buffalo Springfield. In fact after Stephen Stills was turned down for a part in the show, he recommended his bandmate Peter Tork.Mike - Little Rock, Ar
I think that bouling for soup is the best because there songs are so real.
- peace
your friend Tyler
Tyler - Grants Pass, Or
Randy, I stand corrected, you are right. It's just my humble opinion that they were mainly actors who were somewhat musically inclined. Michael Nesmith being the most talented. His version of "Mary Mary" was recorded by Paul Butterfield, a great cover. It's just that in the beginning, the Monkees toured with Hendrix and it seems to me the Monkees doing "Stepping Stone" or "Last train to Clarksville" and then Hendrix doing "Voo Doo Chile" or "Red House", I mean, the Monkees were not in the same league,hell their not even in the same ballpark as Hendrix. Just seems to me that it had to be one strange concert. Peace.Don - Pittsburgh, Pa
Can't agree with you there, Don. They sold tens of millions of records, played instruments on every album except the first, and have played numerous concert dates for the last 35 years. Add this to the fact that each of the members has had a solo career (in varying degrees of success) and they are as much musicians as they are actors.Randy - Henderson, Nv
These guys were actors not musicians. They don't even belong on this site.Don - Pittsburgh, Pa
It was rumored that Charles Manson auditioned for the Monkees. Stephen Stills did audition.Aidan - Boston, Ma
Not only was Nicholson in Head but he co-wrote it with The MonkeesDevin - Seattle, Wa