It appears that Mike Nesmith, formerly of the Monkees, made a more significant impact on our culture than anyone imagined. It’s said that he invented the music video format and country-rock, two massive contributions to our video and audiophile obsessed society. He was a fellow Texan, so he gets a 10 in my book for that alone. Mickey Dolenz, the remaining Monkee, will most likely hang it up and enjoy the renewed interest in his former band and maybe make a few bucks. God Bless ole’ Mike Nesmith, and may he keep playing music in his heavenly venue.
I was a fan of the show; how could a teenager in 1966 not be? Rock music, comedy, and a groundbreaking video music format were the perfect show for that time. I played in a rock band, so I felt the show was made for us musicians. The public had no idea that the boys didn’t play their music. Super Beatle amplifiers, Gretsch guitars, and drums, a Vox Continental organ, top-of-the-line gear, and these guys were as famous as the Fabs or any of the English bands.
I don’t recall when I discovered the band was not a real band, but only four funny guys. It wasn’t a devastating blow, but it pissed me off that the television producers had put one over on young people. Don Kirshner likely leaked the truth when he was fired from the show as a music producer. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote the tunes, and the famous Wrecking Crew provided great music. We were duped, but it was a good duping.
My younger sister was a huge fan, so she and I attended a Monkees live show in 1967. They were playing their own instruments and were rumored to be quite good by then. The show was at Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, Texas, the best venue for a large crowd but terrible acoustics for music. The crowd was teenage or younger boys and girls, their mothers, and guys like me bringing a sibling too young to drive.
The warm-up act, a local band, Kenny And the Kasuals, put on a solid show. The promoters and the Monkees were likely afraid of being outplayed. As it turns out, they were, but the crowd was there to see the Monkees, not a local act, so it went unnoticed.
When the Monkees took the stage, the screaming began. I could hardly hear their first two songs. Mike Nesmith was playing a 12 string Gretsch guitar and couldn’t keep the beast in tune, so like any good musician, he proceeded to tune up for ten minutes. All music stopped. The crowd grew restless, and folks started to leave. No music and three Monkees standing around smiling and waving at the attendees did not make a good show. He got his instrument tuned, and the music proceeded, but the excitement in the room was gone. The band did an encore, performing “Last Train To Clarksville,” and the show ended. It wasn’t the Beatles, but my sister saw the Monkees live, so it was a good night.