While growing up in the 80s I started listening to my sister's albums of the "old" Monkees, those mop-haired fellows from twenty years before, I figured they were a joke band and a sad parody of the Beatles. I mean they even had a British guy leading them! But the tunes were pretty catchy. I was aware there was some dispute about them writing the songs. But I did enjoy the music, a lot.
Long before Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, The Monkees were essentially the first boy band. Brought together after a casting call, the Monkees had to fight to get their own voices and instruments in on early recordings. During the run of their show they achieved great success and ridicule. By the late 60s, their TV show cancelled, the Monkees broke apart in dis-harmony and agitated by the fact they were not taken seriously. They even filmed a psychedelic movie, Head (produced by young Jack Nicholson), which made fun of their image and tried to break the mold. A failure, the band broke apart, only reuniting occasionally since and not always as the original 4-member band.
In the 1980s a new show and new band, aptly named "The New Monkees," premiered on television. The epic badness of this project lives on only in YouTube videos.
The Monkees charismatic lead singer Davy Jones passed away on Leap Day 2012. The legacy of the Monkees were 122 songs and 10 albums during their heyday of the 60s. They had four #1 albums in one year alone. They were the first music artists to win 2 Emmy Awards. And if you are a Star Trek fan, you might be intrigued to know that the character "Chekhov" was modeled after Davy Jone's hair and appearance.
The soundtrack to the film Shrek included a version of "I'm a Believer" by the band Smashmouth, and with this release the Monkees saw renewed interest in their music all over again (the song was originally recorded by Neil Diamond). The Monkees with the passage of time are now taken more seriously as a band, with enduring hits like "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" receiving airplay everywhere.
The outpouring of sadness I have seen over Davy Jone's passing has shown me that people truly love the music of the Monkees. The public library currently has a couple of Monkees Greatest Hits CDs in circulation, so place a hold now, opens a new window and enjoy these wonderful tunes.