Here we come….
Davy Jones of The Monkees fame died of a heart attack Wednesday, February 29 2012 at age 66.
The legend of the Monkees is that they didn’t write their own songs, they didn’t play their own instruments, the whole think was fake.
That’s only partially true.
Yes, they were the “pre fab 4” (prefabricated) put together by a couple of TV producers that had a “light bulb” moment when watching The Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night”.
They were auditioned and put together based on the caricature versions of The Beatles. Two musicians (Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork) and two actors (Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones).
Davy was the “Paul”. The cute one. The heart-throb. Hell, he was even from Manchester England.
But what’s wrong about this whole “fake” picture is when they exploded on the radio AND television.
The Monkees were the first indication that we could win. That the old guard, the establishment, our parents, were no longer in control. We had our own sitcom on TV. Featuring our music. That was a huge breakthrough.
But what was even better was the music was great! In the case of “I’m A Believer”, spectacular! The fact is that it WAS a band, which came together through odd circumstances.
“I’m a believer”, “Stepping Stone”, Last Train To Clarksville”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”. All fantastic songs. Credit the songwriters, credit the singers, credit whoever you want, but these were great songs. And the Monkees did sing them.
Are we going to say The Beach Boy’s ‘Pet Sounds’ was fake because studio musicians played the entire record and THEY just did the vocals?
They were the first pre-fabbed band. As in many cases the trailblazer was great while the other following bands like them just stunk. (Can you say Backstreet Boys?)
And they had much more impact than a Justin Bieber or even a Lady Gaga. They were out there when we were all glued to television and hooked on radio.
Now my 8-year-old daughter watches “Shake it up” on the Disney Channel. It’s about two wacky singer/ dancers with a TV show that go to high school.
It’s not terrible. I kind of like it.
And I know this will sound like an old man screaming “Get off my lawn!”, but I’m right about this: I am a little sad that this is her version of “The Monkees”. There was a wacky coolness about The Monkees because of their timing.
Now is the black jacket symphony going to play a Monkees record?
But The Monkees music stands the test of time. They were trailblazers. They were not a fad, used briefly and then discarded with disdain. They let Jimi Hendrix open for them. They created one of the first psychedelic films. (To get “Head” you’ve got to be high). Don’t pigeonhole the Monkees as fluff, as a mere footnote, as puppets. With their television show on the air it showed us not only that we were winning, but the music was the decisive weapon in our battle. Soon rock bands would be testing limits, and we’d all gather at Woodstock and blow the mainstream’s mind.
We owned the country. It was now ours.
And it would have happened slower, and it would have been different without the Monkees.
Great songs, great performances… Isn’t that what it’s about?
Thank you Davy Jones.