The Monkees TV Show premiered on NBC in September 1966 presenting a wacky comedy show about a 4 piece long haired rock band. It was patterned after a movie, as many TV shows are, called "A Hard Days Night" starring The Beatles. The 4 actors recruited for the show had all performed musically prior to the show, and they used their real names for the characters.
Music for them to "romp" to had been created shortly before the show first aired by Don Kirschner, with the actors providing primarily vocals. The album "The Monkees", released to promote the TV show, became a chart topper with the song "Last Train To Clarksville" even before the show had aired, causing the unexpected reversal of the TV show promoting the record.
The overwhelming success of the music demanded that this "band" perform live, so the actors rehearsed the music and toured the US in December, playing all of the music themselves.
The group was surprised to see the release of their second album, imaginatively titled "More of The Monkees" show up in stores without their input, and go on to be the number 1 album of 1967. The actors demanded and received control of their musical product, as they were being reviled by the musical community for not playing on their records.
They went on that year to create the album "Headquarters", the favorite of many fans today, playing all of the music themselves. At this point they began to change the musical sound as well as the tone of the TV show, and the project ran out of steam by the end of the second TV season, and ceased production.
Without the TV show for promotion, and with no friends in the music industry because of their "easy fame", the group went their separate ways.
In 1986, MTV ran 24 hours of Monkees TV episodes in a special called "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and revived the 20 year old band, causing a reunion record and tour (minus one notable member), to great success until 1989, when they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before breaking up again.
Today, the music of the group lives on through CD re-issues by Rhino, and the issuing of the entire TV series on Video. The Monkees phenomena remains a major event of 60's pop culture. Many argue that it began the idea of music video as promotion, and the marketing of TV show products to pre-teen audiences, as well as opening the door to multi-media.
Some still revile the music of the Monkees as "manufactured," others remember it as a fond memory of their childhood. The Monkees were a real working band in every sense of the word, and provided quality music and comedy in a format that had never been tried before, and were wildly successful at it.
Recaps1x8: Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth (a.k.a. Gift Horse) recap
: A little boy leaves his horse with Davy. The Monkees try, unsuccessfully, to hide the horse from their landlord. They try to give the horse back to the child, but his father won't let him keep the horse because they can't afford it. The Monkees offer to work on the father's farm to make up the cost, but they are dismal farmhands. They have one last chance to help the boy keep his horse, by having Davy ride him in a race... read more.1x7: The Monkees in a Ghost Town recap
: The Monkees get very lost on the way to a gig and end up in a ghost town. The town is a hideout for two bank robbers, George and Lenny, who capture Mike and Davy. Micky and Peter try to rescue them by posing as the Big Man and Spider. They too are captured and locked up in a jail cell, to await the arrival of the Big Man. When the Big Man arrives, he is a Big Woman, who agrees to do a few musical numbers with the group before she will kill them... read more.1x5: The Spy Who Came in From the Cool recap
: Davy buys a pair or red maracas, that turn out to have secret microfilm hidden inside. Two spies, Boris and Madame, pursue The Monkees. They evade the spies and are secretly watched by the C.I.S. (Central Intelligence Service). The C.I.S. makes a very non-incriminating films on each of the guys. They agree to cooperate with the service by getting the spies to make a confession on tape. Unfortunately, they are assisted by Honeywell, and incompetent C.I.S. agent... read more.1x3: Monkee vs. Machine recap
: Peter applies for a job at a toy factory, but is rejected by the computer interviewer. Mike applies for the same job and short circuits the computer. The manager of the company, Daggart thinks Mike must be a genius and hires him. Mike befriends an old toymaker who is being pushed out by automation. The Monkees infiltrate the testing with child consumers to discredit the computer-built toys. Davy, Peter and Micky all pose as children and their mothers... read more.1x2: Monkee See, Monkee Die recap
: The impoverished Monkees are left an inheritance by an eccentric millionaire. They arrive at the spooky mansion where they are greeted by the butler and introduced to the deceased's traveling companion, Kingsley, his spiritual adviser, Madame Roselle, and his pretty niece, Ellen. Davy promptly falls in love with Ellen and The Monkees spend the night. People begin to mysteriously disappear and the mansion appears to be haunted... read more.