In 1965 Beatlemania was a national pandemic. Teenyboppers all over America were swooning and spending all their babysitting and lawnmowing money on Beatles records and paraphenalia. True to our American entrepreneurial spirit, this would light a bulb over some marketing genius' head and the thought was, "Hey, Hey, we can grab some of that - get me four mop headed American boys!" and The Monkees were born.
So with a casting call and rounds of auditions, America got it's own version of the Beatles with George Michael "Micky" Dolenz, Jr., Robert Michael "Mike" Nesmith, Peter Halsten "Peter Tork" Thorkelson and - ooops! - British born David Thomas "Davy" Jones. Hey, one Brit's okay, and he was the cutest little bugger!
The television series was sponsored by Kellogg's and Yardley Cosmetics and the first broadcast of the show was on September 12th, 1966 on NBC. The show lasted for two seasons with the final episode run on September 9th, 1968. I'll bet you didn't know that the show won and Emmy Award in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Though The Monkees were criticized for being a poor man's substitute for The Beatles, the show itself used some groundbreaking techniques such as talking to the camera (breaking the "fourth wall"), jump cuts, fantasy sequences and other innovative methods that were the forerunners of the music videos of MTV and VH1.
It was really kind of a fun show and I admit to watching it frequently - hey, I was only 15 at the time - and it was really enjoyable to watch, even if it was manufactured in La La Land! Now, with things like American Idol, I guess everyone figures they can whip up a superstar, but in those days real music was not something generated in an office by suits. To the surprise of many, The Monkees, originally hired as actors for a television show modeled after the Beatles movies "Hard Day's Night" and "Help", soon became a real pop group instead of the fictional one they were originally hired to portray.
Along with two seasons of the show, Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and Jones produced six albums (four of which hit #1 on Billboard), numerous hit singles and even a movie entitled "Head". The Monkees have earned a place in pop culture with songs like "I'm a Believer," "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." And I think every boomer from that era can sing along with the title theme:
Here we come
Walking down the street
We get the funniest looks from
Everyone we meet.
Hey, hey we're the Monkees,
and people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing,
to put anybody down.
This Day in History - March 8, 2008
Birthdays - 1910 Claire Trevor (Wemlinger) (actress), 1918 Alan Hale, Jr (actor), 1923 Cyd Charisse (Tula Finklea) (dancer, actress), 1943 Lynn Redgrave (actress), 1944 Susan Clark (actress), 1945 Micky Dolenz (singer, drummer)
1936: First stock-car race run at Daytona
1948 - The Supreme Court rules that religious instruction in schools is unconstitutional.
1951: The Lonely Hearts Killers are executed
1957 - Egypt opens the Suez Canal
1969: Firebird Trans Am debuts
If you're into sixties art stop by my Tributes in Art Page for some retro dedications to my favorite music groups of the sixties!