While at school during the fall semester of '95 and the spring semester of '96, I studied (auf deutsch) the work of parody in music history as an independent study---proving a parody between two German Baroque composers, Heinrich Schutz and J.S. Bach (early Baroque vs. late Baroque):
According to the WEBSTER DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, a "PARODY" can be defined as an immitation of an earlier work done in an serious or humorous intent of that of the original composer or composition.
Being the BIG Monkee and Beatle fan that I am, I left out one good example of a parody: the musical relationship of The Monkees to The Beatles. The Beatles' musical style and creativity had a big impact on The Monkees' sound. But did The Monkees have any effect on The Beatles' music? In the film "Dumb & Dumber," Jim Carrey's character remarked that The Monkees "were a big influence on The Beatles!" So, as for fun, I decided to look into this! In comparing the two groups, I guess it can be said that The Monkees are to The Beatles as Aerosmith is to the Rolling Stones. They are two distinct groups, but both have similar qualities and traits---sort of like "cousins."
To begin with, let's look at The Monkees' television show. As all Monkee fanatics know, The Monkees T.V. show was a spin-off of The Beatles' 1964 black-and-white motion picture A HARD DAY'S NIGHT but done in a Marx Brothers-like comedy style. In The Monkees T.V. show, the four guys (Micky Dolenz, David Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork) were to be jealous of their rock 'n roll cousins, The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr). In one scene from the pilot episode, Wool Hat (Mike Nesmith) is sitting in a recliner, talking to Davy, and throws a dart across the room at a Beatle poster on the wall...hitting Ringo. Later, it shows the four Monkees being chased by a security guard at a fine country-club. They're running in circles wearing yellow dress-shirts and black vests---similar to The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" scene (the first one) in the film A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. In The Monkees' HAUNTED MANSION INHERITANCE episode (during the "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" improv. video-clip), the foursome are lying on the ground with their heads together, mumbling to themselves---mimicking The Beatles during that same scene from A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. The Monkees even did an episode centering around Davy and his television character's grandfather, which is very similar to the story-line of A HARD DAY'S NIGHT---centering around Paul and his film character's grandfather. Also, The Monkees' series finale THE FRODIS CAPER (also known as MIJACGEO) opens with the four Monkees rising from their beds as the Beatles song "Good Morning Good Morning" plays on their record-playing alarm clock. These are only a few of the references made to The Beatles during each and every Monkee episode. If you pay close attention, you'll discover many more on your own.
Remembering those old Tiger-Beat, Teen-Beat, etc. magazines from the 60s and again in the 80s (during the BIG Monkee revival), they surveyed fans on which Monkee fit which Beatle. Most paired Davy Jones with Paul McCartney because they were the "best-looking" of the eight, and they both contributed great ballads and love songs to each album. Others compared Davy to Ringo---being percussionists and not to mention the shortest members of the group. No doubt about it, Mike Nesmith was paired with John Lennon---both took on the role as group leaders. Because of his great guitar sounds, Peter was mostly paired with George Harrison (also, not to mention, both were in another world...the world of Hare Krishna and those sweet, healing sounds of the Middle East). Peter was also paired with Ringo (two very talented musicians, but neither one having the voice to cut it as the frontman for the group). Micky Dolenz sang the majority of The Monkees' songs, as did John for The Beatles. His singing and guitar-playing could compare him to John, although most fans paired Micky to Ringo (being both drummers). Down the line, John Lennon brought his wife Yoko Ono in the recording studio to sit-in and/or just observe Beatle sessions. After The Monkees seized control of their music in early 1967, Micky brought his sister Coco in on some latter Monkee recordings. Samantha Dolenz (Micky's wife at the time) was the host of TOP OF THE POPS in Britain which featured The Beatles as studio guests on a regular basis. Micky's contribution to the HEADQUARTERS album, a song called "Randy Scouse Git," had references to Samantha, The Beatles...among other things! And just like there was a fifth and sixth Beatle (Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best), there was a fifth and sixth Monkee (Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart). Sad to say, Tommy and Stuart passed away years back.
When it came to the music, The Monkees were "greatly" influenced by The Beatles' songs and sounds---just like The Beatles were influenced by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, etc. For instance, The Beatles had "Taxman" and "Nowhere Man;" and The Monkees had "Salesman" and "Someday Man." Ironically, John Lennon had a song on The Beatles' 1965 RUBBER SOUL LP called "Girl," and Davy sang another "Girl" song on THE BRADY BUNCH television show in 1971. Both groups combined rock 'n roll and country on their records. Mike, the country side to The Monkees, spread his roots onto The Monkees' sound. Micky, Davy, and Peter (influenced most likely from Nez) all experimented with country-rock and blues on later projects. John, Paul, George, and Ringo (sololy and together) wrote and covered numerous country-western and southern rock tunes. This mixture of country with rock later resulted in a new craze---the "crossroad" sound, where rock and country combine!
The Beatles' influence on The Monkees was evident from the beginning. Take The Monkees' 1966 self-titled LP for example: One of the first songs recorded for the project was the simple, yet beautiful string-only-accompanied- ballad "I Wanna Be Free." This was The Monkees' equivalent to The Beatles' "Yesterday." The Monkees (along with some inside help from the two masterminds, Boyce & Hart) also blended the Eastern-sound (coming mostly from hearing The Beatles'/Harrison's experimentations with music from the Mid-Eastern culture) with contemporary rock in the songs "Take A Giant Step," "This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day," "Saturday's Child" (also recorded by another British band, HERMAN'S HERMITS), and "Sweet Young Thing." The same thing was evident in songs later recorded that year, songs such as: "Your Auntie Grizelda" (Peter's HIT...which also has a little STONES flavor to it---sounding a little like "Mother's Little Helper"), "She," "Do Not Ask For Love," "I'll Be Back Upon My Feet," "Hold On Girl," etc. The Monkees' 1967 HEADQUARTERS album had a raw sound to it, sounding similar to The Beatles' 1965 RUBBER SOUL release and the 1966 REVOLVER album. It's clearly evident in The Monkees' early session recordings for HEADQUARTERS ("All Of Your Toys," "Love To Love," "Mustang," etc.) including the lead-off single "The Girl I Knew Somewhere." It's ironic to note that one week after HEADQUARTERS' release, it was replaced from the #1 spot by The Beatles' SGT. PEPPERS'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND album...
1967 was indeed the year for The Monkees! Not only did they sell more records than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones "together" between 1966 and 1967, but The Monkees finally got to meet their rivals. On 7 February, 1967 (while promoting The Monkees' music and television show in England), Micky Dolenz spent the evening with Paul McCartney at Paul's home in St. John's Wood. This went down in rock 'n roll history as the "big" MONKEE/BEATLE MEETING! However, not too many music history texts recall that the first "Monkee Meets Beatle" day took place back in 1964...two years before "MONKEE FEVER" struck the radio and T.V. waves! On 8 February, 1964, when The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City (exactly two years and 364 days before Micky met Paul), "TEEN IDOL" and future Monkee David Jones (who appeared on the program as a cast member of the musical OLIVER!...performing minutes before The Beatles made their U.S. debut) met The Beatles for the first time backstage.
The Beatles took a "special" liking to The Monkees for what they could do as both actors and musicians. They even let The Monkees sit in on some sessions. One can only wonder what musical ideas were shared between the two groups during these meets. On 13 February, 1967, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr went to the Bag O'Nails night-club to see a performance by who can be regarded as the "greatest guitar-player of all-time," Jimi Hendrix (the man who inspired McCartney's famous guitar solo in "Taxman"), whose career took flight thanks to The Monkees. After the release of HEADQUARTERS in May 1967, The Monkees embarked on a second tour and were in need of an opening act. Earlier that year, Micky and Peter attended the Monterey Pop Festival in the U.S. as "observers," and it was there that they first heard The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was shortly afterwards that Hendrix was booked as the opening act for The Monkees' World Tour 1967 (which kicked off on 8 July, 1967). Just five days prior to the tour opener in Jacksonville, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney attened a party thrown for The Monkees at the Speakeasy night-club in England. After The Beatles, Hendrix, touring, etc., The Monkees released their fourth album PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES LTD in November of '67. The album resulted in a mix of broadway rock, southern rock, psychadelic rock, etc....a twist from the HEADQUARTERS sound. One of the lead-off singles to the PISCES album was "Daydream Believer," which featured an unusual intro by lead vocalist Davy Jones and producer Chip Douglas:
Davy: "What number is this Chip?"
Chip w/group: "7-A!"
Davy: (laughing) "Okay...I mean, don't get excited man! It's 'cause
I'm short, I know." According to Micky Dolenz's interview for DICK BARTLEY'S YESTERDAY LIVE, the opener to "Daydream Believer" was equivalent of The Beatles going '1-2-3-4....'" (Paul's famous count-in on "I Saw Her Standing There") It was around the time of the PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES LTD project that the four Monkees began to work in four different directions (similar to The Beatles' 1968 self-titled two-record set, aka THE WHITE ALBUM). The Monkees following album THE BIRDS, THE BEES & THE MONKEES, released in early 1968, showed each Monkees' individual side (except for Tork's, whose contributions never made it on the original package). The sessions resulted in a multi-flavor of bubblegum pop, psychadelic, country western, folk, southern rock, blues, etc. One interesting song from these sessions is Michael Nesmith's and Keith Allison's "Auntie's Municipal Court" which unites both southern rock and psychadelic rock. It was also during these sessions that Davy Jones teamed up with Steven Pitts---writing numerous compositions (songs like: "Dreamworld," "Party," "War Games," "The Poster," "Changes") that were representative of Beatle tunes (centering around dreams, peace, love, protests, etc.) Jones'/Pitts' "I'm Gonna Try," another song from these sessions, used the phrase "free as a bird." About ten years later, John Lennon began work on his unfinished composition "Free As A Bird," a song that united Paul, George, and Ringo for a new Beatle release...
"Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monk(EE)!" -John Lennon, 1968
Like The Beatles, The Monkees finally got to show off their group and individual talents on the SILVER SCREEN! In 1968, (Not long after the cancellation of their television series, which ran for two seasons) The Monkees released their first full-length film entitled HEAD. Actor Jack Nicholson and The Monkees came up with the idea for the movie while the group was on tour in 1967. It was around this time that Davy Jones met his soon-to-be wife Linda Hanes. Later in the year, his Beatle rival Paul McCartney would meet Linda Eastman, the woman that would later be known as Linda McCartney. Putting the ideas together and the filming for HEAD continued through 1968, and the movie was finally released around November of that year along with a soundtrack record. The Beatles began work on their double-record, self-titled project in early '68 and also released it in November of that year. The radio/television promos for HEAD were simply Mike and Micky repeatedly saying the movie title: "HEAD...HEAD... HEAD...etc....etc...." This was uniquely similar to Lennon's "number nine" sequence from "Revolution 9" off WHITE.
It wasn't long after the release of The Monkees second album MORE OF THE MONKEES that the group's record sales slowly decreased, whereas The Beatles continued to hold the top chart positions. The Monkees, as a 60s rock 'n roll phenomenom, were fighting a slow, agonizing death! The Monkees (Mike, Micky, Peter, and Davy), as a group, were falling apart!
The Monkees filmed an hour-long made-for-T.V. special 33&1/3 REVOLUTIONS PER MONKEE in December '68 (similar to The Beatles' television film MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR broadcasted in December 1967) which aired 4/14/69. It wasn't long after the taping of 33&1/3 REVOLUTIONS that Monkee Peter Tork quit the group. The three remaining Monkees (Micky Dolenz, David Jones, and Michael Nesmith) continued to keep the Monkee Machine running for '69. Their seventh album INSTANT REPLAY hit record stores two months before their NBC special aired. The opener to the album, sung by Micky, was a song (written and produced by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and originally intended for The Monkees' second album) called "Through The Looking Glass," which was based on Lewis Carroll's novel THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND and the classic sequel THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. As all Beatle fans know, John Lennon was a great admirer of Carroll's immortal literary classics, especially THE LOOKING GLASS. Not only was Lennon an admirer, but these classics had an influence on Lennon's music...clearly evident in "I Am The Walrus."
Later that year, The Monkees released their eighth studio album THE MONKEES PRESENT. The original idea for the project was a four-sided record that would demonstrate each Monkee's own creativity as a musician. However (unlike the WHITE ALBUM), each Monkee would individually contribute to a side with the fourth side being a group contribution. Sadly, this concept came and went, and the result was a 12-song single disc that peaked at #100 on the charts with a 14-week run. The material presented on PRESENT was a little mellow compared to previous Monkee records and had a sound similar to The Beatles' WHITE ALBUM. Micky Dolenz even contributed a protest song "Mommy And Daddy" to the album. The closing song for THE MONKEES PRESENT was a lullaby written and sung by drummer Micky Dolenz entitled "Pillow Time." The song had a striking similarity to The Beatles' WHITE ALBUM closer entitled "Good Night" (a lullaby written by John Lennon but sung by the drummer, Ringo Starr). Prior to the record's release, The Monkee Trio toured with a 7-piece back-up band called SAM & THE GOODTIMERS. After PRESENT's release in October, the three continued to tour as The Monkees for a few more shows. Then, Mike Nesmith said goodbye...
1969 was a year of peace, love, and rock 'n roll! That summer, many rock fans gathered for the first time at a rock festival in New York for a celebration of FREE SPIRIT, PROTEST, PEACE OF MIND, LOVE, and of course MUSIC. A celebration that was known as "Woodstock."
Just as 1969 was a good year in rock 'n roll history, it was also a bad year...especially for two bands! In 1969, both The Beatles and The Monkees called it quits. It wasn't long after the release of THE MONKEES PRESENT that Mike Nesmith quit and formed his own band...bringing the group count down to two Monkees (Micky Dolenz and David Jones). That year saw the release of The Beatles' YELLOW SUBMARINE movie along with a soundtrack album. YELLOW SUBMARINE was a 90-minute topsy-turvy animated fantasy, similar to Walt Disney's animated classic version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Later on in the year, The four Beatles said "Goodbye!" with the release of ABBEY ROAD (an album showing Lennon's departure). It wasn't 'til 1970 though that both groups "officially" disbanded. That year saw the release of The Beatles' LET IT BE album and movie (the tracks and footage were recorded in early 1969). In 1970, NBC re-ran THE MONKEES on Saturday mornings making the television series a hit all over again for the baby-boomers! Mike joined Micky and Davy on many sponsoring commercials which aired during each episode but refused to take part in any recordings or performances. Micky and Davy, still trying to keep the Monkee Machine running, cashed in on the deal and released a new Monkee CD entitled CHANGES along with a video for the album's only single "Oh My My." The album and single were a huge flop, but some of the new tracks were added into the show. A year later, MICKEY DOLENZ & DAVY JONES (refusing to be known as THE MONKEES anymore) released a new single "Do It In The Name Of Love" (a song left over from the final Monkee session in September 1970). The song also flopped! Then, David said "Goodbye!"...making it just "The Monkee," Micky Dolenz.
The 70s saw the eight musicians working sololy. The ex-Beatles' solo music careers were highly successful whereas the four individual Monkees' solo careers hardly made it off the ground. Although the two groups no longer existed, the members of each group continued to work together from time to time. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon all contributed to Ringo Starr's 1973 release, simply titled RINGO. In 1976, Davy and Micky teamed up with the ex-Monkee songwriting team Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to celebrate ten years of Monkeemania! The four musicians, under the name DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART or "THE NEW MONKEES," released an album and toured the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore for about a year. The album was another flop for Dolenz and Jones. Also that year, Micky Dolenz made a small guest appearance in the 1976 documentary WINGS ACROSS AMERICA, a two-hour special high-lighting McCartney & WINGS' 1976 world tour. Finally, The "NEW" Monkees called it quits in late '76. A year after the DJBH experience, David and Micky teamed up with former bandmate Peter Tork for a 1977 Christmas single "Christmas Is My Time of Year"/"White Christmas." That year, Micky even appeared in a LEVIS commercial with Ringo Starr. Dolenz and Jones continued to work together throughout the 70s...working in theatre and playing clubs across the U.S. as THE LAUGHING DOGS. The four Monkees even considered doing a McDonald's commercial down the road...but the idea came and went. But in late 1980, a Kodak Film commercial in Japan used The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" as it's soundtrack and started a MONKEE REVIVAL throughout Asia. Micky, Davy, and Peter individually toured the Far East and released a few solo singles between 1980 and '81. This revival launched a successful solo career for Davy Jones on Japan Records. Around the same time as this Monkee revival, Ringo began work on an album to once again feature his three Beatle Buddies. His dream was shattered on December 8, 1980 when John Lennon was gunned down by a fan, and the world lost a rock legend...
1980 was a complete turn-around in both groups. As The Monkees were making a come-back, disaster struck the four lads from Liverpool. In just that year, Paul McCartney was arrested and imprisoned in Japan for possession of cannabis. Ringo Starr was in a serious car crash that almost cost him his life. As for John Lennon, his marriage and music career was back on track in 1980. But, tragedy struck when a deranged fan shot and killed Lennon in front of his New York home on December 8, 1980...not even a month after DOUBLE FANTASY's release in the U.K. (the record that many fans consider to be "THE ALBUM OF HIS CAREER").
1981 saw the release of Ringo Starr's LP: STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES. Although the record featured George Harrison and Paul & Linda McCartney w/ WINGS' (a band that McCartney formed around 1971) lead-guitarist Laurence Juber, the album didn't do as well as his previous records. While recording STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES, Ringo contributed, along with Paul and Linda, to George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago"...Harrison's tribute to his fallen bandmate. The song was produced by former Beatle producer George Martin. John Lennon's death seemed to have brought the three surviving Beatles closer together. 1982 saw the release of Davy Jones' single "Can She Do It (Like She Dances) for Japan Records...a song that was recorded by Ringo Starr for his 1977 release RINGO THE 4TH. Following the disbandment of WINGS in 1981, Paul McCartney continued to work with producer George Martin and Ringo Starr on three follow-up solo releases. In 1985, Starr and Martin joined Paul in his film and soundtrack release GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADSTREET (which featured a few Beatle remakes, such as "Yesterday," "For No One," "The Long and Winding Road," etc.). That same year, The Monkees (minus the MISSING LINK, Michael Nesmith) reunited to discuss a possible 20th anniversary tour for '86.
MTV (a music television network that Michael Nesmith had a hand in building) promoted The Monkees' 20th Anniversary by re-airing all the original episodes in a week-long MONKEE-MARATHON in 1986. Before long, T.V. networks across the U.S. were showing the television show five days a week. When The Monkees (Micky, Davy, and Peter) took to the road during that summer, it was like they never left the 60s...MONKEEMANIA took the world by storm once again! The tour united the old generation with a new generation...parents would take their teenage kids to see The Monkees. To cash in on the madness, ARISTA records released a BEST OF THE MONKEES anniversary record which featured two new Monkee songs by Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (along with McCartney & WINGS' legendary Grammy-Award-Winning guitarist Laurence Juber and songwriter Bobby Hart), including the smash come-back hit "That Was Then, This Is Now." Also featured was a Monkee remake of the Paul Revere & The Raiders classic "KICKS." Later that year, Arista released another single a remix of "Daydream Believer." They even incorporated the mix into the original "Daydream Believer" video segment from the T.V. show to make a NEW Monkee music video of an old hit. That year the three Monkees played the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Mike Nesmith made a surprise appearance on stage with his bandmates for the last few numbers of the show...making it the first time in 18 years that the four original Monkees have performed together on stage! In 1987, the three Monkees (Micky Dolenz, David Jones, and Peter Tork) released an album of all-new material for Rhino Records called POOL IT! With another hit song on their hands ("Heart & Soul") and a new music video, The Monkees were back on the road for the HERE WE COME AGAIN TOUR '87...a tour that proved to be just as successful as the '86 tour and featured many guest appearances, including Weird Al Yankovich. Even Mike Nesmith made appearances here and there. That year, Rhino Records bought the rights to the entire Monkee catalog and re-issued each original album in stores. Every original Monkee record re-charted including, for the first time, CHANGES. There was even an attempt that Fall to bring out a new Monkee T.V. show with all new characters, simply called THE "NEW" MONKEES...an attempt that proved to be unsuccessful. In 1988, Nickelodean (a television network for children) began re-airing the T.V. show five days a week and became a new sponsor for the group. The tour came to a close in 1989 when all four Monkees got their star on Hollywood Boulevard. They ended the evening with a small performance. Later that year, the four Monkees appeared in a Christmas video on MTV. Then, they called it quits...but not for long...
For years, fans have dreamed of a Beatle reunion. On 20 September 1976, Sid Bernstein (The Beatles' U.S. concert promoter in New York from 1964 to 1966) made his famous offer...requesting all four Beatles to reunite for a charity concert. The concert never came to be, but on 20 November, George Harrison made an appearance on the popular U.S. comedy television programme SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in New York---poking fun of this million-dollar offer. It was rumored that both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were watching the show that night and considered joining their Beatle mate on live television. A little over four years later, the dream of a future reunion was shattered when John Lennon was shot five times in the back at close range by a fan. He was rushed immediately to the hospital but pronounced dead upon arrival. The Beatles, as a group, were no more. In the late 80s, ABC TELEVISION began work on a Beatle documentary project called THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY...in which The Beatles would each tell their story of their rise and fall. Paul, George, and Ringo aka THE THREATLES were individually interviewed and asked to contribute music to the project. The idea of the project was to reunite The Beatles in voice. So, Yoko Ono entrusted THE THREATLES with two scratchy Lennon recordings: an unfinished composition called FREE AS A BIRD and a finished demo of another Lennon song called REAL LOVE (the acoustic version was used in the 1989 motion picture documentary IMAGINE and was available on the soundtrack release). Paul, George, and Ringo added new verses to the unfinished track and dubbed their instruments and vocals overtop of the other. The BEATLES ANTHOLOGY was set to air November 1995...the accompanying six-CD set was to follow. That November, as fans were getting ready for the BIG BEATLE REUNION, The Monkees (Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork) reunited on ABC's BOY MEETS WORLD. Michael Nesmith was present at the taping but refused to appear on the episode. All four Monkees were each awarded a Monkees Video Box-Set from Rhino Records while on the set-taping. That episode of BOY MEETS WORLD also reunited The Monkees with McCartney & WINGS' legendary guitarist Laurence Juber who had a regular gig with supplying music for the show. This was also the second time that the four Monkees appeared in public that year. In January of '95, The four Monkees received some awards at the HARD ROCK CAFE. That evening, Davy Jones was a special guest on the TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO in which he plugged the upcoming MONKEES 30TH ANNIVERSARY.
The Nov. 18-24 issue of TV GUIDE entitled BEATLES '95 featured the upcoming Beatles Anthology. On page six of the CHEERS 'N' JEERS section (listed as a CHEER), TV GUIDE talked about The Monkees' 30th Anniversary Reunion. "CHEERS: To this month's 'other' mop-top reunion. With all the monkey business about the Beatles' second coming on ABC this week, you may have missed the BOY MEETS WORLD episode (Nov. 17) in which three of the Monkees got back together. That appearance, also on ABC, made us yearn for a reunion of the 'entire' Pre-Fab Four (the unkind label bestowed upon the '60s sitcom combo). But we've got news that will make a daydream believer of you all over again: Monkee holdout Mike Nesmith is said to be considering a 30th-anniversary tour with his bandmates next summer. So get ready, 'cause here they come, walkin' down the street..."
The first two-hour episode of THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY broadcasted Sunday, November 19th. The episode ended with a count-down premier to the new Beatle Grammy-Award-Winning song and video FREE AS A BIRD. John's voice on the track sounded as if he was singing from the Heavens above as his surviving mates harmonized overtop. Then, Paul came in with an incredible bridge that seemed to reflect the olden days of Beatlemania. It was truly a moving moment for Beatle fans everywhere...as was the trivial video which accompanied the song. The song REAL LOVE was premiered at the end of the second episode on November 22nd. Paul dubbed his vocal overtop of John's on the track...sort of mimicking John's vocal-style in the process. This song became a new favourite among Beatle fans. The accompanying video showed old Beatle footage mixed in with new session footage of THE THREATLES. The Beatles, as a group, were back...
The 90s saw the four Monkees and the four Beatles (along with John Lennon, in voice and spirit) come together one more time to make music...giving us a great ending to the 20th Century! In 1994, Peter Tork released his very first solo CD: STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. Produced by long-time friend James Lee Stanley, the CD featured new arrangements of three Monkee classics, "Take A Giant Step," "MGB-GT" (featuring Mike Nesmith), and "Gettin' In." Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and McCartney & WINGS' Grammy-Award-Winning guitarist Laurence Juber added fuel to the song "Milkshake" from the same CD. The Peter Tork CD was well-received with the fans, and a few of the songs were plugged on The Monkees' 30th Anniversary Tour. A year later, Davy Jones revised his role in THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE...released in the summer of '95. Micky and Peter made a cameo appearance with David at the end of the movie. Later that summer, in a funny attempt to plug the two reunions, Ringo Starr teamed up with Davy, Micky, and Peter to do a stuff-crust PIZZA HUT commercial. In the commercial, Ringo called upon his rock 'n roll lads to get back together...to eat their pizza "crust first." In a funny surprise, Davy, Micky, and Peter walk in and grab a few slices of pizza to the "Monkee Theme," and Ringo turns to the camera saying "Wrong lads!" Later that year, on November 17th, both Micky and Peter would reprise their characters' role on the hit ABC comedy BOY MEETS WORLD...only this time to be joined by third Monkee Davy Jones, making it an ABC MONKEE REUNION. Two days later, ABC would premier part one of THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY. Volume 1 of the three-volume CD set hit stores on November 21st, and part 2 of the broadcast aired on November 22nd. Part 3 aired the following week. The most interesting part of the reunion was the music! The CDs each included previously unreleased versions of familiar Beatle songs and many unissued tracks...PLUS two newly recorded Beatle songs just for the reunion: FREE AS A BIRD (containing NEW verses sung by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, oddly similar to the verses in Moron's "Remember (Walking in the Sand)") and REAL LOVE (a song that features both Lennon & McCartney on lead, like in the olden days of "Love Me Do"). Even though Volume 2 of the six-CD set was not yet available in stores, the song REAL LOVE received special airplay on Valentine's Day '96. A few months later, the four original Monkees would go into the studio together (with no outside help) and record a new CD to be produced ENTIRELY by The Monkees for Rhino Records. That summer, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork (along with Davy's back-up band ELVIS MEETS THE BEATLES) took to the road to promote THE MONKEES' 30TH ANNIVERSARY in the U.S. Mike Nesmith stayed behind to finish mixing and editing the new CD. Davy plugged one of the new songs on the summer tour, an emotional song called "It's Not Too Late." Then, in September of '96, the four Monkees played a full concert together for BILLBOARD LIVE!...marking the first time in 28 years that the Monkees (Mike, Micky, Peter, and David) would perform a full set together. A number of celebrities were in attendance, including singer Little Richard and actor David Spade. The four Monkees, just them, performed six new songs ("Regional Girl," "Oh, What A Night," "Admiral Mike," "Run Away From Life," "You And I," and "Circle Sky")...plugging the new CD "JUSTUS." They ended the performance with two Monkee classics, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (featuring a jazzy, piano intro by Peter). The CD was finally released in October. With all songs written, performed, and produced by the guys, The Monkees proved once again that they were a REAL rock band and not a manufactured image like in the beginning! The sound was a bit heavy and raw compared to previous albums, but the CD received great reviews...even though no single was issued. It was the first time in 28 years that the four Monkees had recorded an album together, and the only GROUP project since HEADQUARTERS, which was issued in 1967. The CD featured Nesmith's "Circle Sky" but with new lyrics, and Dolenz/Jones' "You And I," which was sung by David this time around (the original version, sung by Micky, appeared on the DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART album)...
1997 saw the release of The Beatles Anthology Volumes 2 (featuring the new Beatles song REAL LOVE) and 3 on CD, and later that year, the entire Anthology release (consisting of eight videos) was available for fans to purchase in stores. 1997 was also The Monkees' 30th anniversary in Europe. With the new CD "JUSTUS," new video, and Mike Nesmith in the picture; The Monkees prepared for a new year of MONKEEMANIA. In January, the four Monkees released their own TV documentary exclusively for THE DISNEY CHANNEL, entitled "Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees"...this was The Monkees' chance to finally tell their story...their ANTHOLOGY! An accompanying book and CD-Rom was also available through Rhino. The Disney special was eventually put onto video with bonus footage and sold through Rhino Records as well. In February, the four Monkees did an hour-long come-back special for ABC entitled HEY, HEY THEY'RE THE MONKEES. Based on the original Monkee T.V. show, the special was written and directed by Mike Nesmith and produced by the original television show producer Ward Sylvester (who once again took over as The Monkees' personal manager for the 30th Anniversary tour). Aired as the "FINAL MONKEE EPISODE," the show featured three new songs from JUSTUS, including "You And I," "Regional Girl" (clean-lyric version), and "Circle Sky" as well as a medley of Monkee favourites: "Last Train To Clarksville"/"Daydream Believer"/"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"/"I'm A Believer"/"Pleasant Valley Sunday." The show's opener even featured a 90s-remake of the MONKEE THEME which was used in the upcoming tour. In March, the four original Monkees headed off to England to kick off the '97 tour. They played Dublin, Manchester (Davy's hometown), etc. and even sold out Wembley Arena twice. The shows were a lot like the shows on the '67 tour. They (JUSTthem) plugged a lot of the newer stuff first, including many tracks from HEADQUARTERS, then they individually did solo numbers, and finally came out with an augmented band to end the evening with some of the more produced Monkee songs.
In May, Sir Paul McCartney released his off-Anthology release FLAMING PIE. Two of the album's tracks "Young Boy" (which had The Beatles' "Real Love" flavor to it) and "The World Tonight" were featured in the movie FATHER'S DAY with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams...both tracks were released and issued as singles prior to the CD's release. The album reunited Paul once again with Beatlemate Ringo Starr and long-time Beatle producer Sir George Martin. Not long after FLAMING PIE's release in the U.S., The Monkees (minus Mike Nesmith) came back to the U.S. to finish the '97 tour. That Fall, The Monkees' JUSTUS CD was up for a GRAMMY in the pop music category. Also up for a Grammy was Peter Tork & James Lee Stanley's TWO-MAN BAND CD; and Paul McCartney's FLAMING PIE was up for album of the year. But in late '97, The Monkees called it quits once again...
In late 1997, The Monkees planned to take the JUSTUS tour into Japan, Australia, and throughout Europe; but by early '98 the group disbanded once again. That summer, Rhino Records released a 2-CD set entitled THE MONKEES ANTHOLOGY...containing 30 years of music, 1966-1996. The accompanying booklet consisted of the entire Monkee story from beginning to end with words of gratitude from many musicians and actors who have been a part of Monkee history or were fans themselves; celebrities such as Glen Campbell, Brian Wilson, Neil Sedaka, Stan Freberg, Neil Diamond, Andy Partridge, etc. Also, that summer saw the release of Ringo Starr's off-ANTHOLOGY album VERTICLE MAN. The album reunited Ringo once again with his Beatlemates Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Beatle producer Sir George Martin. One of the tracks off the new album was a remake of The Beatles' first #1 hit in the U.S., "Love Me Do"...except this time to feature Ringo not only playing the drums but singing the lead. In August of 1999, the three Monkees (minus Mike Nesmith) reunited once again to tell their story for E!'s "TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY," except this time to end the documentary with an OFFICIAL disbandment note to fans. Earlier that day, Davy Jones was performing in Tipton, PA and jokingly made the announcement: "Who knows, maybe we'll make music again somewhere down the line...maybe someday in HEAVEN!" As for THE MONKEES, they are all working sololy. Will there be a 35th or 40th Anniversary reunion, one can only wonder!
But it seems like the magic that made The Monkees who they are is still there and still going strong and has been going strong for over thirty years! Many musicians, from Tom Petty to REM, have been greatly influenced by The Monkees. Like Ricky Nelson, The Monkees led the way for rock 'n roll into television; and this craze still continues on...even today, from THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY to CALIFORNIA DREAMS. The Monkees are even credited for having developed music videos as we know it...by using this concept as a regular part of their weekly programming. They may never make THE ROCK 'N ROLL HALL OF FAME, but their music will live forever and be an inspiration for musicians to come. Michael Stipe of REM has even said that they will not allow themselves to be inducted into the ROCK 'N ROLL HALL OF FAME until The Monkees have been inducted. As for their rock cousins, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (along with George Martin) reunited once again to re-release YELLOW SUBMARINE on video and DVD (containing an original deleted segment from the film) for the movie's 30th Anniversary. The Beatles' revamped and remixed the soundtrack for the film, and the new songtrack charted once again...proving that THE BEATLES, despite their age in today's music industry, still remain TOP OF POPS and will always be THE BEATLES FOREVER. Davy Jones was right when he said, "It's not about age, it's about life!" -Chris '99