With the Beatles and their musical brethren from England dominating the American pop charts, someone decided that there needed to be an American band with a pop sound similar to the Fab Four.
The Monkees were the result of a Hollywood casting call that led to two actors and two musicians forming the so-called "Pre-Fab Four". Ironically, one of the two actors, Davy Jones, was British himself. Drummer-vocalist Micky Dolenz had previously worked for Screen Gems on Circus Boy (under the name, Mickey Braddock), and, presumably, was still a contract player for the studio. Monkees turned his career around completely.
The series lasted two seasons, and each of the four (Jones, Dolenz, Peter Tork, & Mike Nesmith) got equal amounts of spotlight time. Dolenz & Jones, for another irony, did the bulk of the singing, especially in the first season. Oh, it could've gone longer, but the band imploded during season 2, and there were also disputes with the producers over any number of things. After the series ended, Jones & Nesmith released solo albums for different labels. Nesmith, who'd recorded under the name Michael Blessing before the series began, moved to the country charts and scored his biggest solo hit with "Joanne". Tork ultimately formed a new band, The New Monks, which didn't last long, in the early 80's. Dolenz, as has been documented over at Saturday Morning Archives, began a career as a voice actor, working for Hanna-Barbera between 1971-77. Oddly, he wasn't called when Jones was cast in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972, and so H-B blew an opportunity for at least a mini-reunion.
But the band, sans Liquid Paper heir Nesmith, would regroup in the mid-80's and release a few CD's here and there, starting with 1987's "Pool It". After the series ended its run on NBC, reruns aired on Saturday afternoons first on CBS (1968), then on ABC (1972), before settling into syndication. MTV picked up the series in 1986 to mark the show's 20th anniversary, but now, the series doesn't have a cable home that we know of.
Following is the season 2 episode, "Art For Monkee's Sake", in which Peter takes up painting. Vic Tayback, more than a decade before Alice, and future voice actor Michael Bell guest star. We previously ran an excerpt of this episode over in the Archives.