Perhaps the saddest thing about the Monkees was that they were compared with the Beatles by the British public and the press who expected them to live up the musical standards of a group which had been playing together for nearly ten years.
“We were actors portraying a top pop group to begin with,” Davy Jones once told me. “Then the public decided that we had to be real off camera, so they turned us into a live group.”
“If only people had judged us first on our ability as comedians in a TV series,” said Mike Nesmith to me. “I think we achieved something in a weekly TV series which even the Beatles would not have been able to emulate. I’m sure that in time some of those TV films will be re-shown as classics in their way—rather like the old Marx Brothers films are re-shown now.”
When the Monkees came to Britain for the first time they had two battles to win. The first was to prove to their thousands of loyal fans that they could do a live concert and the second was to prove to the British pop press that they were more than just puppets on a string and capable of something original of their own on stage. After their first Wembley concert the place was rocking as at some early Beatles concerts. Some said that you could go back the next day and still hear the screams re-echoing around the 10,000-seater auditorium!
“Well?” Mike Nesmith asked me triumphantly. “Did we prove something or not.”
They proved it to me and they proved it to the capacity crowd.
What the Monkees really achieved was the establishing of a new group, through a new medium—TV. In that they were original but no one can really expect a Lennon and McCartney be born overnight. But some still do.
“The first occasion that we saw a copy of the ‘More Monkees’ album was when we all happened to walk into a record shop and see it on sale,” recalled Mike. “We hadn’t even heard some of the tracks. Now we felt more deeply than anyone else about those session men who played on some of our records but there was nothing we could do about it in the early days. Finally we were strong enough to insist they let us do our own thing. The result was ‘Headquarters’, OUR first album.”
“Davy Jones record of ‘Daydream Believer’ was a hit in any language and one of the best records of the year,” declared DJ Tony Blackburn our number one Radio BBC 1 man.
The Monkees are still fighting the battle to have their talents represented by what they consider is their best efforts.
“We are up against a huge organization which controls a lot of our interests,” says Mike. “I personally think that ‘Valleri’ was the worst record we’ve ever made. But we managed to get ‘Tapioca Tundra’ on the flip-side away and that is a hint of things to come.”
The Monkees still have a ‘mickey mouse’ image to fight before they establish themselves among the heirarchy [sic] of pop—the Stones, the Beatles, the Animals, etc. But I’m convinced they will because the individual talent is there. All they really need is the will to prove it to the world!