From 1966-67 THE MONKEES ruled many households Pre-pubescent TV audience viewing line-ups. Along with the SMOTHER BROTHERS and LAUGH-IN, any age from 9-18 could get the jokes, insider sexual innuendos and just plain slapstick.
50 years ago…they disappeared!
Clean cut and funny, they were assembled by a TV studio, luckily had some group musical experience and could sing! They were provided pop songs ghosted by Carole King or Paul Simon (gotta check that…it might have been Joni Mitchell)
My family moved from Buffalo NY to Miami FL in 1968. That was the year they killed Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.
It was the year they elected Nixon, and on Christmas Eve we viewed Earth from Apollo 8 with a spectacular view from space.
The Beatles still ruled; the White Album (my sister got one for her 15th birthday) was released in 1968), but though the Monkees–talent wise, were small potatoes, some of us naive TV fans thought as kids…”the Monkees will replace the Beatles…” and “takeover” rock n roll…”
and then suddenly, after the Summer of 1968 and our move to Florida, and when Nixon was elected, the Monkees, disappeared. Poof. Gone. Like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects.
So, where did they go…? 50 yrs ago…
So what happened? They let their careers drift into the clearly spaced- out imagination of well liked, talented young Jack Nicholson, that’s what happened. They decided to forego the success of TV and go with his movie.
The beginning of the end…50 yrs ago…
We listed on eBay a batch of THE MONKEES comics from 1967-68; the imagery stimulated this article. My essays come from days spent creating photo-shop media based montages then combined with stories from my experiences as a baby-boomer.
The comics made me think about the demise of this fun group of guys who ended their short streak of fame. Hardly as a force in the Entertainment world. Ha. They self-destructed. Their personal spotlight on a world of culture became akin to a rectal flashlight.
Bring on Jack Nicholson, who’s prior Hollywood claim to fame was “LITTLE SHOP of HORRORS” ; in another (1967) Roger Corman flick “The St. Valentines day Massacre” Jack had an un-credited cameo as a mob gunman (he stared vacantly at the screen with a ‘stupid mug’ face for about 15 seconds).
and in 1968, smilin’ Jack gave the Monkees their Hollywood start with his…”stoned out…tripping out …” (gotta be drug influenced) script for this…bomb.
A Review of the film HEAD released in 1968…50 yrs ago…
I mold wordy ‘overkill’ dissertations that often circumvent the point…
Luckily, I found an ‘on-point’ blog from 2016; it reviewed the movie HEAD; the blog’s author stressed the impact of the film on future styles by independent film makers. He used (as an example) the career of Bob Rafelson, the Director of HEAD.
The blog (by Sean Randall) was so well crafted I had to borrow (most of it) it, with his credit certainly due.
“The beginning of the end of the Monkees (was) their single cinematic offering Head…[The group] decided against a third season of their hit show, focusing instead on the film Head and their effort to kill the personas that had been thrust upon them…The Beatles actually did something very similar, transitioning over time from their pop-rock and cover days in the early 1960s to a harder rock, inserting psychedelic elements
Head literally has no plot whatsoever…as a project served no purpose (as a story), and had the goal of eliminating their image…Monkees realized they would accomplish (this) devastatingly well…” Both the film and the album flopped, and the Monkees soon said goodbye as a cohesive, four-man band.
“…The film introduced drugs…promiscuity, hitting their image of good clean fun…bloodied Davy Jones’ pretty-boy face in a boxing match… Peter admitted to a ‘religious-like’ vision…Micky refused to participate in yet another “dumb skit” and ruined it…
Jack Nicholson had yet to catch a big break as an actor when the film Head was released…Jack Nicholson then got cast in (future) Rafelson endeavors: films Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, the Postman Always Rings Twice…and Nicholson’s career took off.”
and 50 yrs later…
So 2018 marks 50 years since the very critical year of experienced upheaval (1968) for baby boomers, as well as the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and the Monkees.
I may later amend this story and add more fond thoughts on the 4 young men who struggled for respect as the MONKEES and instead they truly became a prototype model of a “Media manufactured Boy Band talent”…for 50 years hence.
© 2018 “Crazy Ed” Savitt, with much thanks to Sean Randall (a determined fan of THE MONKEES)