Thanks to Michael Nesmith for turning the Monkees into a classic – New York Post


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The Monkees consisted of four fresh-faced actors who were hired through newspaper ads in the 1960s to star in a TV series about a fictional rock band made up of goofballs. But in their heyday, few in and around the music industry took the “Prefab Four” seriously.
Singing such squeaky-clean hits as “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer,” the band was designed in a Hollywood studio to serve as replacements for the Beatles, whose turn to drug-fueled music alienated a core audience of small children. Of people like me – a tot who eagerly saw the Monkees play, live, at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium with my older sister, my screams of joy disguising the fact that, at the time, these guys were frauds.
Originally, the four mop tops didn’t write their own music or even play their own instruments. Critics dismissed them as a garbage act. Their TV show only lasted two seasons.
But with the help of their leader, Michael Nesmith, all that began to change.
Nesmith was a serious, Texas-bred musician, songwriter and guitarist whose frustration over his and his bandmates’ lack of creative control reportedly once caused him to punch a wall. In 1967, he led a successful rebellion, ousting record producer Don Kirshner. The Monkees took control of their instruments, their music and their lives. They never looked back.
“We were kids with our own taste in music and were happier performing songs we liked – and/or wrote – than songs that were handed to us,” Nesmith told rolling Stone in 2012. “It made for a better performance. It was more fun.”
Ultimately, through the strength of great songwriting, some of it penned by Carole King or by Nesmith himself, The Monkees prevailed long after the band’s expiration date. They were promoted by MTV and confounded naysayers by getting together for reunions and tours that continued almost to the present day. Despite leaving the act for years, making investments and producing movies, forming a country band and trying a solo career, Nesmith was drawn back to group that made him famous. For that, we should all be grateful.
Nesmith died Friday of heart failure at his California home at age 78. His passing follows the 2012 death from a heart attack at age 66 of Englishman lead singer Davy Jones and the 2019 cancer death of band mate Peter Tork at 77. Now the only original band member left standing is Mickey Dolenz, 76.
The loss of Nesmith leaves a hole in a music business dominated by people lacking the talent and fortitude exhibited by this unexpected master. His music will live on – on the air waves and in movies such as “Shrek.”
I couldn’t have predicted this back in the day, when I was a little kid bopping to the Monkees. But he was one of the greats.
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