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The Monkees’ Enduring — and Maybe Surprising — Influence


How else to explain the enduring popularity of the “pre-fab four”? The story is quite familiar to music fans of a certain … vintage. Four young actors are chosen from a cattle-call to play musicians on a lightweight network TV series. The series finds an audience; the band becomes a phenomenon; and things start to spiral in unanticipated ways.

Eventually, the make-believe band becomes are real one — headlining sold-out mega-shows with opening acts like Jimi Hendrix. They fight for creative control — and among themselves. They make a trippy, underground-classic film — poking the metaphorical eye of their corporate overlords. The collective tension finally leads to the inevitable breakup. And then they are re-discovered and re-born, multiple times.

Somehow, The Monkees just kept on going and going.

The full story is a lot more complex, and interesting, than this generally-accepted summary. (For that, we can recommend the “Daydream Believer” episode of “A History of Rock in 500 Songs.”)

But, for now, let’s focus on the music. While each Monkee was quite gifted in his own right, the band was also surrounded by many, many talented writers, musicians, producers, and promoters. Collectively, they created a substantial body of work whose influence is deeper and broader than you might expect.

To illustrate the point, let’s turn to our pal, musician/scholar Vinnie DeMasi, who makes some inventive connections. Let’s let Vinnie explain…

You might also enjoy some other of our Monkee-related posts, like this appreciation of the remarkable Michael Nesmith, and a shout-out to a delightful late-career album.

-CS Team

Public Domain photo of The Monkees via WikiMedia Commons

PS — While we’re on the topic of Rock History, you might enjoy our YouTube series of daily one-minute nuggets of memorable moments…

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4 comments on “The Monkees’ Enduring — and Maybe Surprising — Influence

  1. bcingyou

    Great article.Strange how we poo-poo some music when it comes out, then years later realize how good it was. Easy to listen to.

  2. Elle Johnson

    Somehow, they did not even mention The Monkees influence on music videos.

  3. Here are Many articles very rightly calling The Monkees the world’s first or original manufactured boy band.

    This June 2000 NY Daily News Article Is Called,Monk-eeing Around With The First Boy Band


    In this New York Daily News article by Richard Huff which is about the then June 2000 VH1 movie about the Monkees, DayDream Believers:The Monkees Story he says the fact is The Monkees were arguably the first boy band long before anyone had actually coined the term,he then said the group started as a premise for a 60’s television sticom built around a Pre-Fab Four meant to pick up where Richard Lester’s two Beatles films -Help! in particular left off.He says later in the article that The Monkees were The Back Street Boys before any of the current Back Street Boys were born.

    He also quotes VH1’s vice president of motion pictures Michael Larkin who says this film depicts them as they really were,the first boy band.

    Hey, hey It’s A Monkee :Micky Dolenz Talks Early Years Of Original Boy Band



    The author Bill Lamb of this May 2019 article The Top Monkees Songs, Best Of The Pioneer Boy Band rightly says, The Monkees were the first boy band put together through auditions to take over the top of the Billboard pop charts. He then rightly says they were a boy model for countless boy bands to come over the next decades.

    Top 10 Monkees Songs, Best of the Pioneer Boy Band – LiveAbout

    The Monkees – “I’m a Believer”. Courtesy RCA “I’m a Believer” was written by Neil Diamond. He originally recorded the song himself, but when the Monkees released it as the first single from their More Of the Monkees album in November 1966, it quickly went to #1.”I’m a Believer” remained at #1 for seven weeks and was the bestselling record of the year for 1967

    Great January 2002 Toronto Star article that unfortunately isn’t online anymore and quotes from Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, The Monkees: The Original Boy Band? It compares them to The Back Street Boys, and New Kids On The Block and it says before them there was The Monkees and Micky Dolenz says The origin of the term boy band came from those only male vocal groups who wrote no music and a played no instruments and were manufactured, and The Monkees were hired as actors who didn’t even know each other by TV auditions to play a fictional genuine rock and roll band .

    The Monkees didn’t even play any instruments on their first several albums because their TV producer didn’t allow them to even though Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith were musicians, and even though Mike Nesmith wrote some good songs, all of their big best known hit songs were written by professional song writers such as Carole King, Bobby Hart, and Neil Diamond etc. Thankfully there is no ludicrous mention of The Beatles in this article.


    Hey, Hey It’s The First Boy Band March 31,2001 by John Kelly


    This article from July 2001 says The Monkees are considered the Godfather of today’s boy bands.


    Here They Come (again) The Monkees Return to TV in Documentary, Film This June 27, 2000 article about the VH1 movie, Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story also rightly describes them as the original version of the manufactured boy band, The Monkees were Davy Jones,Mickey Dolenz,Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork.


    In this UK May 2016 interview by Keven Cooper with Peter Tork of The Monkees, he’s asked by the interviewer, Looking Back How Does It Feel When You Realize That You Were A Part Of The World’s Very First Boy Band?


    In this May 2016 interview with Peter Tork in Florida Today, the interviewer Mike Nunez asks him, As one of the first bands to be branded through TV shows, merchandising and more, do you ever think of yourselves as the original boyband? And Peter laughs and says he’s been asked that before. He then says it never really occurred to him spontaneously, but depending on how you define a boy band, he says I guess so on some level.


    And I wouldn’t put The Monkees on the same level as all of those other famous boy bands like SYNC, The Back Street Boys, New Kids On The Block, One Direction and BTS etc. because even they were more talented cooler then them but The Monkees are really the closest to them but The Beatles were NOTHING like them!

    Interestingly one of The Monkees TV shoiw producers Bob Rafelson said yearslater that he didn’t base The Monkees show on The Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and he said that he had the idea for the show back in 1962 based on his own experiences being in a rock and roll band and the crazy experiences they went through trying to make it big.

    Here is a recent September 2023 article by Dick Preston rightly calling The Monkees the first manufactured boy band. And he mentions what Bob Rafelson said too and he said that’s what he said but nobody believed him.


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