11 Amazing Facts About the MonkeesGuitarSpotting
The Monkees TV show debuted on NBC the evening of September 12, 1966. It’s now 50 years later, and the Monkees are as popular as ever.
The 4 band members shared a chemistry together that simply cannot be replicated, and they’ve re-grouped in various formations over the years for tours, albums, and other assorted projects.
Sadly, Davy Jones passed away in 2012, but Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork are still going strong.
The Monkees released a new album called Good Times! on May 27, and it’s received a lot of rave reviews. Most fans feel that it’s their strongest album by far since the sixties. I agree.
The band (minus Nesmith) is also touring this summer, so you should consider becoming prepared – they may be coming to your town!
The evolution of The Monkees is a fascinating story, full of interesting twists and turns. Listed here are 11 of our favorite mind-blowing Monkees facts.
1. Michael Nesmith’s mother invented Liquid Paper
Literally. Bette Nesmith Graham (Mike’s mom) was a typist who also happened to be a painter, and she had been looking for an easy way to correct typing mistakes.
In 1951, she began blending up a homemade correction fluid that she called Mistake Out, using a form of paint as the base. Co-workers started requesting some for themselves, and she soon began selling Mistake Out from her home, later changing the name to Liquid Paper.
She eventually sold the Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette in 1979 for $47.5 million.
Michael Nesmith once joked about Liquid Paper’s secret recipe, saying he knew what was in it but would never tell.
2. Davy Jones Appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show the Same Night as the Beatles
In 1965, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider began casting for a TV series about an American rock group. Like so many others, they were inspired by A Hard Day’s Night, the popular Beatles film released in 1964.
Earlier that year, on February 9, the Beatles made their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of nearly 73 million viewers in America, including a couple of future Monkees. It turns out, however, that one of them had a front row seat.
A scene was performed on that very episode from the Broadway production of Oliver, in between appearances by the Beatles, that just so happened to feature our very own Davy Jones as the Artful Dodger!
No one could have predicted that a couple of years later, that young man would be daydream believing his way to the top of the charts, and hanging out with the Beatles themselves at the toppermost of the poppermost.
3. In 1967, the Monkees Sold More Albums Than the Beatles and Rolling Stones Combined
1967. The Summer of Love. Sgt. Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Rolling Stones. The Grateful Dead. Jimi Hendrix. And the Monkees.
It was a strong year for the Beatles artistically, releasing both Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Magical Mystery Tour albums that year. The Stones also released two new records, Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Add all album sales together for both bands in 1967, and the total is less than the # of records sold by the Monkees that year!
It all began on January 9, when the Monkees second album, More of the Monkees, was released. It contained the hit song ‘I’m a Believer’, and was an instant smash, staying at #1 for 18 weeks, and eventually selling over 5 million copies.
Unbelievably, it had been released without the knowledge of the band! They were on tour in Cleveland when they heard about it, and sent someone out to the record store to buy a copy.
The band members were furious, and soon won the fight to regain control of their own music from Musical Director Don Kirshner. They grabbed their guitars and headed straight into the studio to make Headquarters, writing most of the songs and recording the entire album themselves (producer Chip Douglas did play some bass on the album).
Headquarters was released in May and shot to #1. A week later, Sgt. Pepper came out, knocking Headquarters down to #2. The two albums stayed 1-2 on the charts throughout the Summer of Love, with Headquarters selling over 2 million copies in the first two months.
In November, the Monkees released what is probably their best album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd., which also went on to sell over 2 million copies.
They were unknowns in the fall of 1966 when the tv show began airing, and spent the following year on top of the world, filming the series, recording albums, touring, and hanging out with the Beatles in London. Unfortunately, things started to come apart in ’68, but 1967 saw these Monkee Men at the peak of their powers.
6. Jimi Hendrix Opened for the Monkees
In June, 1967, Micky and Peter went to check out the Monterey Pop Festival, and Micky had an epiphany while watching a charismatic young guitarist perform onstage.
His name was Jimi Hendrix, and he was relatively unknown, very theatrical, and extremely talented … so why not offer him a gig opening for the Monkees?
Jimi agreed to join the Monkees on tour, but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
The crowd was made up largely of teenage girls, and they were there to see their beloved Monkees, not this weird experimental guitar player. So they would boo Jimi, and chant things like “We Want Davy!” and “We Want the Monkees!” during his set.
One night, Hendrix finally had enough, flipped the crowd the bird, and left the tour after just 7 shows.
7. The Monkees Were the First Band to Use a Moog Synthesizer on a Pop Record
In 1967, Micky Dolenz obtained one of the first 20 Moog synthesizers ever sold, and started experimenting with it, assisted by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver.
On the Monkees 4th album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., Micky used the Moog quite prominently on the song ‘Daily Nightly’, also playing it on ‘Love is Only Sleeping’. The extended section featuring the Moog on ‘Star Collector’ was played by Beaver.
While a Moog synthesizer had technically been used on a couple of albums that came out earlier that year, it wasn’t prominent in the mix, and the Monkees are generally regarded as having been the first group to feature it on a top-charting pop music album.
9. The Script for the Monkees Movie ‘Head’ Was Written by Jack Nicholson
In early 1968, many people were sick and tired of the manufactured image of the Monkees, none moreso than the band members themselves, along with producers Rafelson and Schneider.
The producers were friends with a then relatively-unknown but very charismatic actor named Jack Nicholson, and they decided to skip town for a weekend with the Monkees to discuss a movie project, bringing with them a tape recorder and a large amount of recreational drugs.
Everybody agreed that they had no interest in simply making a “movie” version of a regular Monkees episode; they wanted to experiment, and deconstruct the Monkees image.
So they spent a few days riffing on ideas, talking into the tape recorder, and detailing all the things they wanted to say in the film. They really wanted to subvert their image, as well as the manufactured nature of mainstream art itself. And thus began one of the weirdest career suicide attempts in the history of show business.
Jack took the tapes home, and wrote the screenplay for ‘Head’. Bob Rafelson directed the film. The end result was a bizarre “head” movie, surreal and incoherent, yet strangely compelling.
Even stranger than the film itself was the marketing. To begin with, the stars of ‘Head’ were the Monkees (thus alienating the “sophisticated” art and music crowds they were trying to appeal to), the film was rated R (thus alienating many avid young Monkee fans who couldn’t get in to see it), and some of the ads barely even mentioned the Monkees.
A bizarre trailer was created that simply focused in on a man’s head, and another ad consisted of the word ‘head’ being spoken over and over (thus alienating everybody who had not already previously been alienated).
The film was a massive bomb, virtually disappearing from theaters overnight. Made with a budget of $790,000, it earned just $16,111 in its original theatrical run.
The Monkees tv series itself was soon canceled, and the group’s popularity began to rapidly decline over the next couple of years until they eventually disbanded.
As the years went by, however, ‘Head’ began to establish a following, and eventually became a cult classic.
The film is at times maddening and brilliant, and begins with the Monkees attempting to commit suicide. It gets darker from there. If you like the Monkees and haven’t seen it yet, you really should take a look.
11. Michael Nesmith Helped to Invent MTV
The concept of the “music video” dates back a long time, but many consider Richard Lester, director of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, to be the inventor. The idea of filming clips of a band playing along to an audio recording, mixing them with other footage, speeding up and slowing down the film, and using quick edits throughout the video, was clearly utilized and expanded upon in The Monkees tv show.
A number of bands used video clips to help promote their music throughout the 60’s and 70’s, but there were still very few places for them to actually be viewed.
In 1977, Michael Nesmith made a groundbreaking video for his song ‘Rio’, and over the next few years became fascinated by the idea of linking audio songs with video clips.
Nesmith suspected there was a huge market for music videos, and after spending time thinking about where these clips could actually be aired, came up with the concept of a music video show called PopClips, which aired on Nickelodeon. Suddenly, other people began to imagine the possibilities, and the idea of a 24-hour music video station was conceived.
At that time, Michael was intrigued by this new art form, and wanted the focus to be on the creation of artistic videos. However, the people working to finance and create MTV were focused on the idea of using videos to promote hit records.
Nesmith was invited to join the team creating MTV, but declined the offer. Instead, in 1980, he sold the PopClips show and concept to Time Warner/Amex, who turned the concept into MTV. The legendary music channel was officially launched in 1981.