Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Monkees: one of the most influential sixties bands or just another Beatles copycat?

Just a month ago, I watched a mediocre BBC TV program about the Beatles' influence on America. They spoke of how the Beatles' visit to America created a massive infestation of "Beatlesque" bands (see, it was so common they had to create a name for it!), such as The Lovin' Spoonful and The Hollies, both of which in my opinion are bands in their own right with incredible songs. The TV program mentioned the Monkees only briefly, saying they were a band designed  specifically to replicate the style and music of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania (hell, all you have to do is look at their names). After watching a Hard Day's Night, U.S. T.V. producers thought that a T.V. show about a band would be a good way to make money, and they were right,  so the Monkees were born. They had the majority of their songs written for them and didn't even have to play the instruments, all they had to do was smile and look attractive on their T.V. show. Sounds like a simple job, huh?

What the BBC program failed to mention  was that the Monkees would in fact outsell  the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined, and would have four consecutive Number 1 albums in the year 1967 alone (now that is a lot of money, though I'm willing to bet the band members only received a tiny fraction of it). This was not your average Beatle copy-cat.

In fact, there's a sweet little story about when the Beatles and the Monkees met. The Beatles very kindly hosted a party for them when they visited England, and Nesmith asked Lennon if he thought they were a cheap imitation of him. Lennon replied that he thought they were the greatest comic talent since the Marx brothers, and that he'd never missed one of their programs. The Monkees were no longer simply a "Pre-Fab Four" as they now wrote some of their own songs and played their own instruments, as well as going on tours. Their life was busy and far more stressful than most people realised, as the band rushed from interview to TV filmings.

I disagree with people who say compare their talent to the likes of One Direction (how could anyone, even bloody dare! It's blasphemy at it's worst). They're an incredible band that have made a lasting impact on music.

Had the BBC program been made a couple of months later, I'm sure it's tone would have changed in light of Davy Jones' death. Davy Jones was considered by many to be the most lovable of all the Monkees (did you know he acted in an Oliver! musical in London?), and how unexpected his death was is part of why it is was so tragic. I'm sure that if he could see what was going on down here, he'd be the slightest bit consoled that some of The Monkees' albums are now on the Amazon best-seller list.
If you're new to the Monkees and this entire article has seemed as confusing as Chinese (unless you're Chinese), then watch a couple of the following videos and see if you like them. If you like the Beatles, there's a 95% chance you'll like the Monkees (is it even possible to dislike the Beatles?...)

So what do you think? A band in their own right?
If any of you are interested in further reading on them, here's an excellent article on the Monkees and how their impact on music:
(this has been written late at night without proper proof reading, I apologise if it's not well written)


  1. The Monkees more influential than the Beatles? I dare to say not! To me, they were no more than a '6o's teeny-booper act-regardless of how many records they sell.

  2. No, the Monkees could never be more influential than the Beatles, I'm with you there! Yeah, I guess it really does depend on whether or not you actually lived when the Monkees shows were playing, I only have the songs to listen to and a couple do seem quite catchy :)

  3. cool, very imteresting

  4. Davy Jones didn't just appear in Oliver! in London - he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Artful Dodger on Broadway.

    And Davy wasn't the only rock star to get his start in Oliver! Steve Marriott of Small Faces and Humble Pie appeared on the original cast album as the Artful Dodger although on stage he played several roles in roatation as part of the boys' chorus, as did Phil Collins.

    1. Davy was nominated for a Tony Award, but he did not win.

  5. Hey Neb! Yeah, I knew he appeared in other stuff but I didn't want to go on about his life accomplishments :D
    Though I did not know that about Steve Marriott and Phil Collins...that is interesting!

  6. Anyone who still claims the Monkees were just a "teenybopper band" and had no influence needs to crawl back into their cave and roll the stone back
    in place for another few decades until ignorance comes back into fashion again.

  7. You cant make rude judgments on the monkees unless you have seen every episode, their movie, heard every song, and been to at least one concert. then you have the right to make rude comments on them. Monkees may be the craziest peoples, as the Irish cow says in Head, but they are also the awesomest.

  8. I am one of the very few people who actually despise the Beatles. On the other hand the Monkees were over looked and ridiculed so much that their talents were minimized. My favorite Monkee was Davy Jones but all of them had talent in their own right. I could listen to the Monkees all day but play a Beatles song and I want to leave the room. BTW I am a classically trained musician.

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  10. The Beatles were very influential. They also happened to be in the right place at the right time, hit American shores at the front of the British wave, and so became the established brand name. Every band that came after was brand X. There were lots of other great bands that came after that were talented and influential. The Monkees were certainly one of the best. Sad it is still fashionable for music snobs to slam them. We're way past that now.

  11. Their contributions to Southern Rock and psychedelic alone are enough to get most groups in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


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