The Monkees are the first to admit that they had a lot to learn when they started their television show. But now, many shows and tours and concerts later, the Monkees have graduated from students to teachers. At least, they could teach others a lot about show business.
Like, some people think to start a rock group you take four or five guys at random and tell them to play. Right? Wrong!
You pick four or five groovy guys but you don’t do it at random. You pick individually talented guys who also have a uniting factor of some sort—remember that both Mike and Peter came out of the folk music bag while Davy and Micky were child actors.
Lots of groups could learn from this. The Monkees didn’t pick four good guitar players and no drummer. Or four talented musicians who couldn’t carry a tune if you put it in a bucket.
After they decided to form a group, the Monkees then proved that people can LEARN to do things if they put their mind to it. They all learned to act—and act comically—by taking a crash course which makes late night study cramming look like grooving on a Sunday afternoon.
Then they learned to do lots of other things—like everything about recording—enough to do their own songs.
And lately they’ve learned to write and direct. Both Peter and Micky are trying their hand at segments of their own.
The Monkees also set about to prove that no one should stick to one bag too long.
First, Mike took off his green wool hat, revealing both the top of his head and the fact that one characteristic or fad can be overused. Luckily, Mike realized when a change was due.
Then Micky let his hair curl. Really, it proved that it doesn’t pay to spend too much time doing one thing—like having your hair straightened. You can’t change everything to conform, so you’ve got to make the best of some situations. And often it turns out that what is best is what is natural—like Micky’s hair.
Exaggerated things—like all members of a group dying their hair green (ever hear of the Green Beans?)—usually backfires for the people involved. The Monkees have always known this.
Clothes are a problem too. You can pick outfits alike but you can’t overwear them. The Monkees learned that wearing the same shirts all the time—even though they came in three colors—got pretty boring. So they all adopted their own thing with Davy wearing his Indian shirts and Mike in levis and tie.
Others will eventually learn that appearing barefoot with long robes is a groovy thing to do for awhile but after repeated appearances, it gets pretty tiring.
What else can others learn? Plenty. Like shooting your mouth off to reporters doesn’t pay. Or being rude. The Monkees have been fab to work with—open with their thoughts, easy to interview, and best yet, always at hand with something to say.
They learned that hiding from fans just doesn’t pay. They’ve even let fans take photographic tours of their homes, published in magazines.
They have also kept a filming set which may be visited occasionally by fans and reporters alike.
The Monkees have also shown that it’s good to keep both feet on the ground even though success gets pretty heady at times. In fact, one day people in Hollywood were surprised to see none other than Micky Dolenz SKATING down Vine Street on (get a load of this) roller skates. That’s pretty neat when you consider all the pop stars who won’t go to a public restaurant, and if they do, they act insulted when asked for an autograph.
Then there is the artistic side of the Monkees. They can teach others that it isn’t good to stay in one bag musically. When a disc jockey comes on the air and says “Here’s a new single from the Monkees,” you never know what to expect. It might be something like Davy singing “I Want To Be Free” or Micky working out on “Goin’ Down.”
The same with their show. They proved that staying in the same bag doesn’t pay. That’s why they put in those groovy little scenes—like talking things or singing shots in the last five minutes or so of the show.
Their concerts—well, that’s really a scene of surprises. Just think back to the first time around, when they came on stage and said that everyone was saying the Monkees didn’t play their own instruments and they were going to prove that they did. Then they kicked off a song and it promptly fell apart!
If you start thinking about it, the possibilities of learning from the Monkees is startling… there is so much to cover. And all of it is absolutely super duper marvy fab groovy boss outasite and just twitchin’. Which is another thing you can learn from the Monkees—don’t over-do it.