It’s Monkee Time! By: Johnny Mystery

Written by on February 8, 2022

Shortly after I turned in my first column for The Xperience, word came down on the passing of Mike Nesmith.  This came as no surprise to me, as I’d recently viewed some clips of the final Monkees tour he had done in the Fall. Mikey wasn’t looking too good.  Now, whenever the subject of The Monkees comes up, it’s a given that we’re going to hear about how the Pre-Fab Four, as they were known, didn’t play their own instruments, didn’t write their own songs, blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard it all before.  

Anybody making records in L.A. in 1966 knew that 90% of the hits rolling out of that town were being produced by The Wrecking Crew. A group of top-notch session players who operated out of Gold Star Studios.  Most of these players, you may not have heard of, except for Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine.  

The Wrecking Crew could knock out a number one hit in three hours or less.  As opposed to three days if the actual band was allowed to do it.  

This group of studio pros provided the back-up instrumentation for The Beach Boys, The Birds, The Mamas & the Papas and Sonny & Cher, just to name a few.  They’re also playing on nearly everything Phil Spector recorded. 

The Monkees all but lost their minds once they realized their primary function would only be acting, even though all four of them possessed at least a marginal amount of musical ability.  However, they eventually made enough noise to get their way and had the all-powerful, all-knowing, Neil Sedaka lookalike, Don Kirschner removed as their musical director. Don got the axe when he brought them a song called ‘Sugar, Sugar’.  That song was eventually released by the comic book cartoon band, The Archies.  Yes, another fake band.  Do you see a pattern developing here?  

The Monkees did manage to become something of a real band, though. Eventually recording an entire album on their own, and they even managed a tour with acts such as Jimi Hendrix opening up for them.  I would have loved to have been in the crowd myself to see the expression on parent’s faces as Jimi used his Stratocaster as a phallic symbol.  

In the end, the hits dried up.  The TV show was canceled, and their attempts at a film flopped.  

Interestingly enough, one of the guys who got it, was from a band that they were being compared to.  John Lennon once said “The Monkees are like The Marx Brothers.  If you like the record, just enjoy it. Who cares how it was made?” Can’t argue with Dr. Winston O’Boogie.

And with that, I’m out! Get out to the shops and hit the bins!

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