Monday, September 12, 2016

The Monkees at 50

Last week I asked you to try to remember something from 50 years ago that is still vibrant and
"fresh" today. Star Trek is the obvious answer, but today we celebrate another television series that made its debut 50 years ago. Yes, The Monkees made their debut on NBC-TV on September 12, 1966. The episode was "Royal Flush," with music "videos" of "This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day" and "Take a Giant Step."

And while Star Trek conquered TV, film, toys, and other aspects of pop culture, it never had a number one single or number one album. The Monkees were the first to blur TV, acting, and music in a way that still has repercussions today.

The Monkees phenomena began as an idea for a TV series based on the life of a struggling band. According to The Monkees' Tale by Eric Lefcowitz, young producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider originally came up with a series telling stories of a folk-rock band in the early Sixties. However, they could not get any buyers from any studios for that concept. When The Beatles came in with their film A Hard Day's Night a few years later, the team got their green light to develop what would eventually become The Monkees. After they received the okay to do a TV series, they had to find the actors slash musicians, and then they had to create the music.

Enough has been said about the group and its "pre-fabrication" and its dependence on studio musicians. As part of the celebration of the Monkees' 50th anniversary, let's look at their accomplishments, shall we?

Four Number One albums
  • The Monkees (1966)
  • More of The Monkees (1966)
  • Headquarters (1967)
  • Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd (1967) 
  • Good Times! (2016) 
Three Number One singles
  • Last Train To Clarksville 
  • I'm A Believer 
  • Daydream Believer 
Three Top-Five Gold Records
  • A Little Bit You, A Little Bit Me (#2) 
  • Pleasant Valley Sunday (#3)
  • Valleri (#3)
58 episodes of their TV series, in constant syndication
Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, 1967
Emmy for Outstanding Director, Comedy, 1967 (James Frawley)

I don't know about you, but as a kid I heard the Monkees on the radio and watched the Monkees on TV and loved them. I didn't care if Micky was actually playing the drums or not. I saw plenty of other people on TV lip-synching; I didn't care about that. Was the music good? Were the TV episodes funny? THAT is why they are still around, 50 years later. If they hadn't been any good, they would never have been successful. People are stupid, but they aren't THAT stupid.

So pop in The Monkees' Greatest Hits, or their new album Good Times, and enjoy the fun.
Thanks, guys!!

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