The Monkees 50th Anniversary Celebration

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Amonkees-auditions tiny classified ad in The Hollywood Reporter on September 8, 1965 didn’t reveal the name of the group. But it signaled the start of what would become Monkee-mania.

The ad offered “running parts for 4 insane boys… Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.” And in boldface type: Have courage to work.

Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were cast as The Monkees. But not before other talented performers auditioned for the roles like Stephen Stills, Harry Nilsson, Danny Hutton (later of Three Dog Night) and Paul Williams. And while rumors of Charles Manson auditioning may make for a clever bar bet, they are not true.

A year later – September 12, 1966 to be precise – NBC aired the first episode of The Monkees. The series was an instant hit and a tremendous vehicle to promote the group’s albums. Though it earned two Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series, the madcap concept ultimately wore thin, even for its young target audience. The series was canceled after just two seasons. But The Monkees left an indelible mark on popular culture and music.

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monkees_deluxe_box_cover_1500x1500Their biggest hits include three #1 singles – “Last Train To Clarksville,” “I’m A Believer” and “Daydream Believer” – plus the Top 5 singles “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Valleri.”

Over the past year, Rhino Entertainment has celebrated the group’s 50th Anniversary by issuing a limited edition, 10-disc Blu-ray collection of all 58 TV episodes “painstakingly restored in high definition from the original film negatives,” as the announcement stated, plus the 1968 cult classic, Head. The set included other goodies; details and order info are here.

This past spring, the Monkees released their first new studio album in 20 years, Good Times!, which earned unanimous praise from critics including Best Classic Bands which called it “exceptionally good.”

Related: Our review of Good Times

Here’s the video for the album’s “She Makes Me Laugh”…

Dolenz and Tork have toured extensively this year. At their June 1 concert at The Town Hall in NYC, they were  joined by Nesmith via Skype. Watch it here. (Jones, of course, died in 2012 at just 66.) U.S. dates continue through November 20, followed by a year-end tour of New Zealand and Australia. Tickets are available here.

On September 10, Tork announced that a family emergency would require to step away for the next few days, with Nesmith subbing in…

peter-tork-note-9-10-16

Rhino has issued two other anniversary collections: The Monkees 50 is a three-CD set packed with 50 songs; Forever, a 14-track compilation that spotlights the group’s biggest hits. Full details on both here.

What would this tribute be without acknowledging what many would call their best song? 50 years later… we’re all believers!

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Best Classic Bands Staff

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5 Comments so far

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  1. Aaron Handy III
    #1 Aaron Handy III 8 September, 2015, 18:21

    Today also marks the 40th Syndicated anniversary of The Monkees TV series! :^)

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  2. Tom Chieffo
    #2 Tom Chieffo 17 October, 2015, 00:51

    1965-2015 The Monkees 50th Anniverasry Next Year 2016
    Antenna Tv.
    Tom Chieffo Monkees Fan
    PO Box 534 Hyde Park Ny 12538

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  3. Tom Chieffo
    #3 Tom Chieffo 17 December, 2015, 21:59

    Tom Chieffo Monkees Fans Down Under.Antenna Tv Channel 114
    Saturday Afternoon 4pm & 5pm
    Sunday Moring 10am & 11am

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  4. Guy Smiley
    #4 Guy Smiley 12 September, 2016, 21:06

    Anyhow, a bit of clarification is needed regarding the cancelation of The Monkees TV show: The show was still doing fine, and, if anything much more ambitious in its second season.

    The guys stopped wearing matching suits constantly (and Mike ditched the hat). They dressed much more with the times, wearing love beads, etc., and Micky let his grow out.

    More importantly, there was more sly social commentary (and drug references), the music got better and more adventurous too, and the scripts were definitely more out there (check out “Fairy Tale,” “Monkees Watch Their Feet,” and “Mijicogeo,” for instance.

    The peace sign was being seen in many homes for the first time thanks to the show, and even hip guests like Pat Paulsen, Tim Buckley, and Frank Zappa appeared.

    NBC had a censorship issue or two with the show, but initially wanted a third season, but the four Monkees themselves wanted to change the show and make it more of a “Laugh-In” style, with musical guests of their choosing. It didn’t happen, and the group and NBC mutually agreed to part ways.

    They agreed to three prime-time specials the next year, but after bizarre “33 & 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee” was delivered, NBC backed out of that deal.

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  5. Patrica G
    #5 Patrica G 13 September, 2016, 00:33

    I attended my first Monkees concert in Detroit, Mi. The concert had to be postponed a week due to the Detroit riots. My next was the 20-year reunion tour concert in Spokane, Wa. I wanted so much to see the 50-year tour in Seattle, but our daughter is temporarily handicapped after a serious accident and flying would be too expensive. Have fun and keep on making music!

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