Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees will launch a new tour and release their first-ever live album as a duo on April 3. Billed as “An Evening With The Monkees,” the tour will feature songs that span the band’s entire 50+ year career – from their 1966 self-titled debut to 2016’s Good Times.
“An Evening With The Monkees” is the latest chapter in Monkee-mania, a saga that began in 1965 when four young men were cast in a television show about a struggling rock band that was inspired by the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. Few could have predicted the impact the Monkees would have on music and pop culture at large, one that still reverberates more than 50 years later.
Formed in Los Angeles for the eponymous television series, the quartet of Dolenz, Nesmith, the late Peter Tork and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelia, Broadway and country to their music. The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train To Clarksville,” was released in 1966 and quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts as a part of the band's self-titled debut album, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200. (Two decades later, in the midst of a new burst of Monkee-mania, The Monkees popped back onto the charts, bringing the total number of weeks to 102.)
By the time the series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, the Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts — More of the Monkees, Headquarters, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. All were released in 1967, staggeringly enough, racking up several more hit singles, with “I’m A Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Words,” “Daydream Believer,” “Valleri,” and “Tapioca Tundra” all finding their way into the Billboard Top 40. The final tally: 16 million albums and 7.5 million singles sold in a mere 2 1/2 years.
After the series’ two-season run, the group went on to star in the cult feature film Head (co-written by Jack Nicholson) and a TV special (33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee) while also continuing to record new material. But as the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, the members of the Monkees eventually gave in to their individual musical interests and went their separate ways . . . for awhile.
In February 1986, after MTV broadcast a marathon of The Monkees, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited for a 20th anniversary tour, with Nesmith joining them onstage for the Los Angeles date of the tour. In 1996, all four members of the group reunited for a new album (Justus) and TV special (Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees).