The Monkees Influence Still Felt Today, As We Say Goodbye To Davy
One of the original teen idols of the 60s and 70s has fallen today as Davy Jones passed away from a heart attack at the age of 66. The Monkees may have been a creation for television, but Davy’s voice was real, and the band’s legacy should be looked at something that has its place in pop culture, plus an influence on future generations in ways you may not realize.
Four guys were brought together for a TV show as actors portraying a fictional band. September of 1966 is when The Monkees took flight on NBC, and the journey for Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter began. The “Pre-Fab 4″ modeled after The Beatles movie “A Hard Days Night” were a sensation that saw 4 consecutive #1 albums, a fifth that reached #3, 6 Top-3 singles (5 reaching #1), and a major hit show.
59 episodes over 2 years was the brief history for the show. Fans wished it was longer, but controversy surrounded the guys that they were not musicians and not a real band. Mike Nesmith commented on this back in 1995 by saying “The press went into a full-scale war against us, talking about how ‘The Monkees are four guys who have no credits, no credibility whatsoever and have been trying to trick us into believing they are a rock band.’ Not only was this not the case; the reverse was true. For the press to report with genuine alarm that we were not a real rock band was looney tunes! It was one of the great goofball moments of the media, but it stuck.”
Facts were that Davy and Micky Dolenz were singing on their major hits, while Peter Tork and Nesmith were struggling musicians with a folky background.
Sadly when the show stopped, so did the hits. Without having their weekly outlet the band struggled to find an audience. By the end of 1968, The Monkees failed on the big screen with the Jack Nicholson written flick “Head“, saw Peter leave in 1969, followed by Mike in 1970.
The Monkees would seem like the least likely band to reunite and a have a 2nd life, but thatnks to MTV a new generation was about to experience Monkee-Mania! Feb. 23rd, 1986 was dubbed “Pleasant Valley Sunday” on MTV, and a marathon of The Monkees episodes ran non-stop (if you are over 35, you remember this moments and became a fan). This day began Act II of the Pre-Fab 4.
Nickelodeon followed MTV by picking up the classic 59, and running them regularly. Suddenly parents were watching with their kids (like my dad did with me), the buzz on the band was real, and then came the 20th Anniversary tour of The Monkees (proud to say I saw them at Six Flags Great Adventure – one of my first concerts).
This tour saw a 3-year run of near sold-out shows every night, a comeback Top-20 hit (“That Was Then – This Is Now“), their 1st new album in 17 years (Pool It!), and the last laugh!
The legacy of The Monkees has only been getting stronger over the years. Thanks to Smash Mouth and Shrek, “I’m A Believer” was re-created in 2001 and became a Top-10 hit.
Look at the Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush. Throw 4 actors together to form a “Boy Band”, add some screwball comedy, and a Million selling CD with a Top-30 hit single (“Boyfriend” featuring Snoop Dogg), and you have The Monkees in a Backstreet Boys mode.
Big Time Rush owe a great deal to their forefathers, and in an indirect way a 3rd generation is learning about the Pre-Fab 4 and their influence.
Davy Jones will be forever remembered for the band that made him a star, and as a Teen Idol that young girls swooned over (remember Marcia’s crush on The Brady Bunch). Usually it takes something like this to realize the legacy they have left. The Monkees will never be again, but maybe its time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to take another look at the body of work they left. Take their show, resume, comeback, influence on modern pop culture, and you have a case for The Monkees to be considered seriuosly for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.