Why real Sixties teens said they were so crazy about The Monkees

''The Beatles are dead, long live the Monkees!''

When The Monkees TV show premiered in 1966, no one knew what to expect, and reading interviews with The Monkees members didn’t exactly make anything clearer.

Known to goof off and never answer any questions seriously, The Monkees in the real world maintained the charm of the mad-cap TV show from which they sprang.

For some of their biggest fans, this blurring of reality and TV worlds seemed to suggest that the characters The Monkees played on TV were their true natures.

In fact, when one culture writer for The Capital Journal asked music fans to write in with their top band of 1966, The Monkees were passionately pointed to by teenagers who said they wanted to be as laid back as The Monkees stars appeared on TV.

"My favorite singing group is the Monkees," proclaimed teenaged Norman Marshall. "They sing with a beat and lyrics most every teenager likes. They show one of their most sincere feelings in their new release, 'I Want to Be Free.' This song, I believe, will go big. They sing their songs with a point or feeling that most of us feel at one time or another. I predict they have a great future ahead of them."

Norman continued: "Another reason a person can appreciate the Monkees so much is that you can see them on TV and become familiar with them. You see them more or less for what they are – the nutty and carefree persons most of us would like to be. They can get the point across on their TV show perhaps faster than the president could get a point across to the senators. They sing to us and for us and that’s what we want. They’ve got the talent, the sound and the personality we all want and that’s why we buy their records. As long as they get the point across the way they are now, we will continue to buy their records and make them one of the biggest groups that ever hit the big time."

Norman wasn’t alone joining the Monkee-mania, of course.

"I think the Monkees are the best," wrote Cathy Wargnier. "They are cute and sing very well. I also like them because they dress plainly, and they have a great sense of humor. They goof off a lot and in their interviews they’re quite modest and don’t think they’re the greatest like some groups do."

Many teens thought the TV show was crucial to their love of the Monkees, and critics agreed the TV show was meaningful to the Monkees’ popularity.

"The Beatles are dead, long live the Monkees!" declared another critic writing in The Capital Journal in 1966.

That critic said that in a recent city poll, the Monkees had outpolled the Beatles by 3 to 1 and claimed the rapidly changing tastes of teenagers could lead to a future where "the Monkees may sell as many records as the Beatles. But that depends on their television ratings."

Today, we know the truth: The Beatles have sold more than 600 million records worldwide, while The Monkees — still one of the bestselling groups of all time — only sold 75 million worldwide. 

But back in 1966, nobody knew what would happen with those kooky Monkees. All they knew was that the kids were crazy for them.

Even churches endorsed the pop group.

"My favorite group this year is the Monkees," wrote teenager Anna Erickson. "I like them very much because as mom says, ‘They are a bunch of clean-cut nuts.’ Our church has a Sunday bulletin. About two weeks ago it had a full-page article on them. They must be good, or our church wouldn’t put it in the bulletin."

Of course, for most teens, what mattered most was their friends’ endorsement.

"They’re a new group, so naturally everyone’s going to like them if they’re good," wrote Gail Parson. "Quite a few people think they’re great, especially me. They’re good singers, cute, they’re just a great group, period. So I think everyone will say the Monkees are the greatest group ever because, so far, everyone that I’ve talked to thinks they’re sensational."

One teen named LeAnne Sorensen said not all her friends had jumped on the "Last Train to Clarksville" and become big Monkees fans: "Some people don’t like the Monkees because they say they act crazy on their show, but I love it."

Perhaps the Monkees themselves understood their appeal best, but we’ll never know, because their interviews were full of nonsense responses, like this one from Micky Dolenz gave to The Press Democrat in 1966:

"The reason kids are going for groups now is because kids are going for groups now."

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timothys71 15 months ago
I just saw that some obscure cable channel that I've never heard of (and that I won't be watching anyway because I can't afford cable or satellite TV) will be airing The Monkees on Fridays. Does that mean that Weigel has given up their rights to air the show, and that we have no hope of seeing it rotate back onto MeTV's weekend schedule in the foreseeable future? Oh no, say it ain't so!
gerardarcade 21 months ago
Your writers need to do more comprehensive research before penning an article: around the time that "More of The Monkees" dropped, they were indeed OUTSELLING THE BEATLES in terms of record sales. That streak might have continued with "Headquarters", however, The Monkees got bumped off the No. 1 spot on Billboard the following week with the release of "Sgt. Pepper", and dropped to second place.
Oddball 24 months ago
I remember watching The Monkees in the 60's and early 70's. I always enjoyed watching and listening to them and wanted to be like them. I thought they were cool!
LowSparkofLyman 24 months ago
Fun fact: The Butterfield Blues Band did a cover of Mary, Mary that was released before The Monkees' version. TBBB's version can be found on their notable second album, East-West.
PattyHerbst 24 months ago
I was too young to experience The Monkees in the 60s, but I remember them from Saturday morning TV in the 70s as a young kid. My two sisters and I, along with a neighbor girl, loved pretending we were the guys, and I still have the 1976 Arista Records Greatest Hits LP with the orange cover. Was reintroduced to them in the 80s, thanks to MTV, and saw Micky, Peter and Davy (along with opening act, 'Weird' Al Yankovic, another favorite) in 1987.
MichaelFields 24 months ago
When the Monkeys came out I did like them more then the Beetles, I think because a lot of their music was happy, up beat and seemed to make you smile as you sang along
TheDavBow3 24 months ago
I read somewhere that Dave Clark was approached for The Dave Clark 5 to do a TV show what eventually became The Monkees. He turned it down. I wonder if that was true?
TheDavBow3 TheDavBow3 24 months ago
On that same thought, I also read that Boyce and Hart got the inspiration for "The Monkees Theme" (Here we come, walking down the street ....) from The DC5 song, "Catch Us If You Can" (Here we come again mmmm, Catch us if you can mmmm) 🤔
Michael TheDavBow3 24 months ago
The Dave Clark Five had their own movie, "Catch Us if you Can" from 1965. I guess their answer to the Beatles films, except they aren't playing themselves. I've never seen it.
TheDavBow3 Michael 24 months ago
Yes. The movie, "Having A Wild Weekend", as it was called in the US, I thought was a little slow with some boring parts. It was a praised movie by some. It was directed by John Boorman who did some famous movies. The soundtrack is really good with songs "Catch Us If You Can" and "Having A Wild Weekend" in particular.
Michael 24 months ago
TCM is airing A Hard Day's Night on Monday July 11 at 8pm eastern.

For some reason, they don't play Help!

I watched Blowup again last night, for those who wonder where Austin Powers came from.
harlow1313 24 months ago
It is Sunday and I am watching the Monkee's block. There is a prophetic bit in the haunted house episode.

Davy first disappear, then Peter. Mickey says to Mike, "If you disappear, I will be a solo act."

And so it has come to be. It is an interesting coincidence that it matches their death order.
PattyHerbst harlow1313 24 months ago
I remember somebody in the 80s making a rather bad comment or joke that the last surviving Monkee would be billed as The Monkee, and just thinking it was rude.
harlow1313 PattyHerbst 24 months ago
I think that relates to when Peter and Mike had quit, and Davy and Micky released the "Changes" album as a duo. I think that comment, which I have seen, was meant to be a bit of a joke.
jaelinsmith40652 24 months ago
Gotta love The Monkees because they sing so very much often like The Beetles, I wish If they have their own show in real life action comedy on CBS The Beetles instead they made the cartoon show on ABC.
JfmSongwriting 24 months ago
as for the beatles saying they were bigger than jesus, who means more to you, the monkees or jesus?
harlow1313 JfmSongwriting 24 months ago
People are of different persuasions. To me, your question is like asking me "who means more to you, The Monkees or Zeus?"
JfmSongwriting 24 months ago
by 1970 it was the monkees are dead long live david cassidy
harlow1313 JfmSongwriting 24 months ago
It's okay that you moved on to David Cassidy in your fan-ship. I stuck with The Monkees.
justjeff 24 months ago
I think I've just discovered a goof in the Monkees single "I'm a Believer"!

While listening to a CD of various artists, the song (in stereo) was playing. Just at the beginning of the instrumental break, you can hear on the left channel someone saying what sounds like "a love"...

What I suspect is that one of the guys started to come in too soon with "Ahh--love was out to get me" and caught himself [almost] in time.

This is not the first time a flub made it into a hit record. I once met Bobby Lewis who sang "Tossin' and Turnin'" and asked him if the double "yeah, jumped outta - jumped outta bed" right after the instrumental break was an intentional counterpoint rhythm or a goof. He confessed that it was a mistake - he came in too soon, but it's the take they chose and it became the hit!

[Just the opposite, The Mamas & The Papas did that intentionally on "I Saw Her Again" (I saw her - I saw her again last night...)

My late friend Gerry Granahan told me that when he recorded his 1958 hit "No Chemise Please" he slurred the word "middle" in the line "I wonder where the middle went"... and listening to it, you can hear him say "mmwiddle"... LOL!

Another goof is in the opening of "Why Can't We Be Friends" by War... A bad note is hit on the piano (I've mentioned this before) and you can easily hear the "clunk" of that bad note...
harlow1313 justjeff 24 months ago
Wabi Sabi
BrittReid 24 months ago
I heard "She" by the Monkees on the radio today. Never into the Beatles. Liked the Rolling Stones music much better.
Deleted 24 months ago
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harlow1313 24 months ago
The "more popular than Jesus" was an off-the-cuff remark in reaction to the hysteria around them. No more than that, but for some reason, it upset some superstitious people.
justjeff 24 months ago
But then again, some could argue that Elvis and the Beatles changed popular music forever, and if it weren't for the Beatles, the idea for the "Pre-Fab Four" might not have materialized. Additionally, it was studio musicians who played on the early Monkees hits.

I'm not taking sides or disputing your right to your opinion... I'm just pointing out that there are always *three* sides to every story... yours, mine and the truth... and truth can often be interpreted subjectively.

Suffice it to say, there's only two perspectives on music and/or musicians... you either like them, or you don't.
LalaLucy 24 months ago
If you want to know their thoughts about the whole Prefab business and their impact, later interviews and autobiographies give a lot more insight than Mickey's typically facetious quip there. ( Got to love that ornery fellow. 🙂) And if you can sift through the psychedelic trip that the movie Head is, you can pinpoint further thoughts. It all started as fun but, in many ways, the ability to progress beyond that artistically speaking was quite the power struggle. At any rate, love these guys, their music, ( both the early stuff of-heaven forbid!-studio musicians and the later things they got to prove themselves with) and their off-the-wall ways. Always will.
Pacificsun 24 months ago
File: under nostalgia, and beloved

Gentle, talented spirits.

I regret not appreciating them more in the day. But they've certainly earned their place in fandom. Thank you MeTV Staff Writers for writing such a nice article about them.

justjeff 24 months ago
...and don't forget... the Monkees were created as a spoof of The Beatles, and were nicknamed "The Pre-Fab Four"!
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LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 23 months ago
Re: The Summer of Me Sunday Block Party
Think these are remaining:
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡, 7/31
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐮𝐧,
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬
𝐆𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝,
𝐅𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞,
𝐁𝐮𝐠𝐬 𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐲
Just a feeling they'll do Full House last.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 23 months ago
Re: The Summer of Me Sunday Block Party
So with the remaining:
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡, 7/31- Now select " 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗿" episodes - appropriately.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐮𝐧,
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬
𝐆𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝,
𝐅𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞,
𝐁𝐮𝐠𝐬 𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐲

I wonder if they will still run the remaining shows as planned, adding an extra week, or if they will remove one?

Still think they'll do 𝗙𝘂𝗹𝗹 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲 last.
gerardarcade justjeff 21 months ago
The "prefab four" was not coined by anyone affiliated with the band - it was a pejorative and a critic's snub. And as far as the series goes, The Beatles were huge fans of the Monkees as well: "Randy Scouse Git" was written by Mickey as a reminiscence of a party The Beatles had thrown for the Monkees; John Lennon praised the tv series, saying their humor was on par with the Marx Brothers.
justjeff gerardarcade 21 months ago
I never said the band coined that nickname, I simply said it was a nickname used to describe them...
harlow1313 24 months ago
I suppose the thing I best like about what the Monkees symbolize to me is the sense of spontaneity, self-deprecation, and a carefree approach to life.

Even when things are working in my favor, it can be only temporary. May as well sardonically smile, shrug, and go on....
Pacificsun harlow1313 24 months ago
If you believe in MeTV's calculated strategy in crafting the "Summer Block Party" of favorite light hearted series, particularly as represented by The Monkees, it's certainly an attempt to unite viewers in a return to pleasant memories, where we could agree on light-hearted, well-meaning entertainment at least.

This particular series will make an excellent run this coming Sunday, and I happy very happy for their ardent fans who've never forgotten their loyalty.
justjeff Pacificsun 24 months ago
I know this was covered already, but prior to the Monkees, Michael Nesmith and Davy Jones both had releases on the Colpix label (the forerunner to Colgems). Jones' album was released under his name - but Nesmith recorded a few folk-style tunes under the name Michael Blessing...
SalIanni justjeff 24 months ago
Also before the Monkees, when the Beatles made their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964, officially launching Beatlemania in the US, one of the other acts on the show --- which, naturally, nobody paid any attention to --- was the cast of the stage play "Oliver!", which included a young Davy Jones! The tables would be turned 2 years later.
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