The Monkees are one of the more polarizng debate for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Detractors accuratly point to the fact their greatest hits were not written by them, nor did they perform on their earlier records.  However, many of those songs that they performed (and did so live in concert often) have aged remarkably well and remain pop classics.  It is that positive aspect that we will focus on today, as we mourn the loss of their lead singer, Davy Jones.

Jones and the rest of the Monkees may have been put together for the purpose of a television show, but the foursome blended well together and left a legacy behind that sounded anything but pre-fabricated.  By many accounts, Davy Jones was a class act, and we will remember them fondly.

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Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47

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0 #4 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Apparently, Micky Dolenz's nickname for marijuana was "frodis ," which might make you wonder whether he'-) been reading The Lord of the Rings as he was toking. (Bilbo was quite fond of his pipe, after all.) A character named "Frodis " does appear in the Monkees' movie Head, appropriatel y enough.

"I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog." It's so silly and so . . . Wool Hat.
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0 #3 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
My favorite Monkees story, if you can believe him, is Peter Tork had lit up a joint as he was preparing to audition and they gave him a long chewing out about what he could not do as a Monkee.
My favorite Monkees song is "She&qu ot;.
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0 #2 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
This was a shocker when I saw the news article yesterday. Davy Jones was only 66, which is young these days. Sad news, especially for Boomers who grew up watching The Monkees.

It's true the Monkees were developed and marketed as the "Pre-Fa b Four," but the hits were as engaging as anything by, say, Tommy James and the Shondells, and harder-hitti ng tracks like "Pleasa nt Valley Sunday" and "(I' ;m Not Your) Steppin' Stone" are on a par with Paul Revere and the Raiders. Those aren't bad places to be for late-'60 s pop, and although none of these acts are Hall-worthy, they all made that era richer.

As for the pre-Fab part, the Monkees did set the precedent for later manufactured pop acts from Tiffany to 'N Sync to Hanson. Which is not to say that flowers don't bloom from the manure, as Justin Timberlake&# 39;s success shows. While Jones and Mickey Dolenz were actors hired to play the roles, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork (Torkelson) were gigging musicians while Dolenz could play the guitar, although he wound up as the "-)rummer."

(Let's stop to recall three well-known bits of Monkees trivia: David Bowie's real name is David Jones, but he changed it at the start of his career to avoid being confused with the Monkees' pint-sized heartthrob. Stephen Stills had auditioned for a role on The Monkees but purportedly failed the audition because his teeth were not up to snuff. Nesmith' s mother Betty, a former typist, invented liquid correction fluid, which she called Mistake Out and which later became known as Liquid Paper, and the invention made her rich. Young 'uns might not remember typewriters, but correction fluid and -tape was a big deal when your characters landed directly on the paper.)

I don't really dock the Monkees too much for not writing all their hits--Nesmit h wrote songs for the band (his song "-)iffe rent Drum" later became Linda Ronstadt' ;s first big hit, and he went onto a country-rock career), and the Boyce-Hart hits were certainly pleasant enough. Elvis Presley never wrote a song, although he got "cut-in s" (bogus writing credits) on a number of tracks he recorded. As for their not playing on their records, that was a sticking point with Nesmith and Tork, but that was hardly unusual for the period. Even the Beach Boys had studio ringers on their records (for example, guitarist Tommy Tedesco and drummer Hal Blaine, who was inducted as a sideman into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

As for The Monkees TV show itself, it was masterminded by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider and based on the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night with its flashy, energetic visual style (the forerunner of music videos). I'-) like to know how much acid Rafelson was doing during that time because the episodes he directed have a very trippy, stream-of-co nsciousness manner. Otherwise, The Monkees was essentially a sitcom about four struggling musicians finding themselves in "wackin ess ensues" predicaments , intercut with a music video or two and hip little hints that this was the "counterculture."

However, Rafelson' ;s TV imprint was nothing compared to the feature-leng th movie he and his buddy Jack Nicholson (yes, that one) rolled up for the Monkees, Head. That was prime '60s psychedelia that framed the Monkees in an entirely different light--they also mock their own pre-fab image throughout-- and it pretty much spelled the end of the Monkees. The cameos were all over the map, from Frank Zappa to stripper Carol Doda (famous for her pioneering breast enhancements ) to boxer Sonny Liston (he lost memorably to a young Cassius Clay) and Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke.

Rafelson and Nicholson teamed up again a couple of years later for Five Easy Pieces, easily Rafelson' ;s best film and one of the showcase films from the post-studio- system period of the late '60s and early '70s, one that also saw the rise of edgy filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Sam Peckinpah (although he began as a young studio director before his The Wild Bunch broke with convention.) . The film also established Nicholson 9;s persona as the tough, sexy loner at odds with convention.

Knuckles, Monkees reruns are still being shown on one of the Medicare TV channels on my local (Southern California) cable system. (It's not really a "Medica re" channel; that's what I call these nostalgia/&q uot;classic TV" channels whose primary advertisemen ts are prescription drugs, life insurance, and reverse mortgages--t hey know who their primary demographic is.)
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0 #1 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
I loved The Monkees tv show goring up, so much that when MTV was showing it in the late 80's or early 90's or whenever it was, they gave the impression it was the last time the shows would be aired. So I watched. So much has changed since then that the concept is laughable, but I was saddened at the thought.
The Monkees show just how ridiculous and unfair music management can be toward the people actually creating art. Left alone to do what they wanted to do, the Monkees probably could have done well. But they come off as studio creations, which is how the got their fame. That's unfortunate.
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