The Monkees

Formed 1966.
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Mark Radcliffe on the music of The Monkees

Mark Radcliffe explores the beginnings of the music for The Monkees' TV series.

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Biography

The Monkees are an American-British pop/rock band that released music in their original incarnation between 1966 and 1970, with subsequent reunion albums and tours in the decades that followed. Formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by Robert "Bob" Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966–1968, the musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, and Englishman Davy Jones. The band's music was initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner.

Described by Dolenz as initially being "a TV show about an imaginary band [...] that wanted to be The Beatles, [but] that was never successful", the actor-musicians soon became a real band. As Dolenz would later describe it, "The Monkees really becoming a band was like the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy [who played the alien officer Spock in Star Trek] really becoming a Vulcan."

For the first few months of their almost five-year initial career, the four actor-musicians were allowed only limited roles in the recording studio. This was due in part to the excessive time spent filming the television series, which in turn limited the amount of time available to the group to rehearse and coalesce as a band. Nonetheless, Nesmith did compose and produce some songs from the beginning, and Peter Tork contributed limited guitar work on the Nesmith-produced sessions. They soon fought for and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band's name. Although the sitcom was canceled in 1968, the band continued to record music through 1971.

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