Facts about The Monkees
The Monkees Biography
The Monkees were a made-for-TV musical group formed in 1965 when the producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider advertised for band members in Variety.
The next year the zany comedy TV show The Monkees debuted with the band’s four members: drummer Micky Dolenz (b. March 8, 1945 in Los Angeles, California), bassist Peter Tork (b. February 13, 1942 in Washington, D.C., d. February 21, 2019), guitarist Michael Nesmith (b. December 30, 1942 in Houston, Texas) and heartthrob singer Davy Jones (b. December 30, 1945 in Manchester, England, d. February 29, 2012).
The band and the show was an obvious nod to The Beatles, right down to the groovy antics and the slightly-misspelled name. The show was also a big hit, and the Monkees became a pop phenomenon, releasing albums and even a movie (1968’s Head).
At first the band members did little more than sing on their albums while session pros played the songs. (The Beatles were then known as the Fab Four, earning the Monkees the derisive nickname of the Prefab Four.) But later the four bandmates played and wrote many of their own songs. Their albums included The Monkees (1966) and Headquarters (1967), with hit singles including “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m a Believer” (written by Neil Diamond) and “Last Train to Clarksville.”
The TV show ended in 1968 and Tork left the group the same year. Nesmith left in 1969 and by the end of 1970 The Monkees had fizzled out. The band regrouped without Nesmith in the 1980s and have continued to make occasional appearances together, sometimes with Nesmith and despite the death of Davy Jones in 2012 (and then Peter Tork in 2019). The Monkees also blazed a trail for future pre-fab bands like The Partridge Family and The Spice Girls.
Davy Jones died of a heart attack on February 29, 2012. He was 66 years old. Peter Tork died on February 21, 2019 of cancer, at age 77… It’s true: Mike Nesmith’s mother invented the office product Liquid Paper… Mike Nesmith wrote the Linda Ronstadt hit “Different Drum”… Head was co-written by Jack Nicholson and included a brief appearance by Frank Zappa… Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Mickey Dolenz recorded The Monkees’ 1986 reunion album Pool It!