Early Monkee Memories

Phyllis Barbour Nesmith

Mike’s beautiful wife turns back the clock and relates how things were before the Monkees came into their fabulous existence!

The morning of the first Monkees audition, Mike left the house completely relaxed. In the middle of the afternoon he came rushing in asking “Where’s the suede vest that you made me and my publicity pictures? I’m going to go back. It looks like something big!” And I knew it was big, because Mike usually doesn’t get involved with something unless he knows it’s a sure thing.

Then there were three weeks of screening four hundred and fifty guys. Long before it was narrowed down to four, I remember thinking, “You’re so different, Mike Nesmith, that they don’t want you. They want some kind of ordinary rock ’n roll singer.”

Then I found out that it was going to be a new, unique type of show and that they really did want individuals. Then I felt, “You’ve got your man.” I don’t think Mike really got excited till after the screen test, but he has a tremendous amount of self-confidence. He would come home and say “Well, I don’t know” but I think he really did know inside.

When he told me about the series, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity. It made me so happy to learn that they were going to let the guys use their own names and that they wanted Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike for themselves. I think that pleased me more than anything.

Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork

I met the other three boys at different times. Micky used to come over to the house after the pilot was made and stay for dinner and far into the night. The guys were close socially before anything ever happened. It was sort of like “We’re all locked together now.” They had a common bond.

The first time I met Peter was at the Troubadour where he performed, long before the auditions. I’ve always liked his warmth and honesty. And he’s always been very kind to me. Both Davy and Peter have lived with us and Peter was always very considerate, helping with the dishes and all.

One night Mike just brought Davy home to dinner and that was how I met him. It was at a very early period, right after the guys had been chosen. Davy was so charming and nice. He would walk the dog, play with Christian and compliment my cooking—really nice to have around.

Christian liked all of them right from the first. He’s always so happy when any of the Monkees drops over. When Davy and Peter lived with us it was kind of a family atmosphere. They just all kind of pitched in—and even babysat for us!

The Monkees pilot was made in November, 1965 and we didn’t find out until January, 1966, that it had been bought by sponsors and would go on the air. Between January and June, when the producers were getting a musical group going, Mike, Micky, Davy and Peter took acting lessons in comedy to prepare themselves. You can see how much they’ve improved from the earlier shows!

When I first saw the pilot I was so excited I couldn’t believe it! I said the same thing Mike’s mom said when she first saw it—“It looks so professional!” I really thought the interviews at the end were groovy, especially Mike’s (of course, I’m not prejudiced!). I was sure the show would be successful because there wasn’t anything like it.

Now, I can look at the Monkee show more objectively because I’m used to the whole idea. I think the kids are seeing what Mike’s really like. He’s got a kind of self-possession, like he’s all in one piece, you know? You meet a person like that once in awhile who is all there all the time.

No matter what kind of fantastic situation the Monkees get into, Mike’s reactions to it are his own. Every time I watch the show, I feel that the Mike on TV is the same wonderful Mike I know and love in real life!

Magazine: Fave
Volume: 1
Issue: 5
Publisher: Laufer Publishing Co.
Page: 36