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and now I’d like to introduce the rest of the band

March 5, 2012

Reading up on Davy Jones for my last post, I came across quite a few nuggets

on the other three Monkees.  I’d like to share them, since one never knows for

certain when we’ll think of the band again.

 

I reported that Jones was already in show business when he was hired for the

TV show.  He’d been in Oliver! at London’s West End and on Broadway.  Micky

Dolenz, the band’s eventual drummer, was also in the biz.  He had played Corky

in the series Circus Boy, a lad who had lost his trapeze-performing parents in

what I’ll assume was a tragic accident.

 

Corky was taken in by Joey the Clown, and soon found his niche as waterboy

for Bimbo the baby elephant.  One episode of the show featured Ken Osmond

before he went on to irritate the piss out of all of America as Eddie Haskell on

Leave It to Beaver.  I don’t know if he annoyed Corky, Joey or Bimbo.

 

Since the initial success of the Monkees, Dolenz has made a living with the

lucrative reunion tours.  He’s also worked as a solo artist, director, actor and

DJ.  At one point he was the voice of Snuggle, the Fabric Softener Bear.

 

Peter Tork was an accomplished musician before joining the Monkees, and

has stayed with it.  He’s worked with numerous artists, including George

Harrison.  He’s also done stints as a teacher, and took time from his busy

schedule to do three months in an Oklahoma jail for possession of hashish.

 

Mike Nesmith is by far the most interesting of the three, if for no other reason

that he’s a millionaire.  His mother Bette invented the typewriter correction

fluid Liquid Paper.  She built a company around it and sold it to Gillette in 1980.

She died a few months later, leaving Nesmith $25 million.

 

Small wonder he didn’t do many reunion tours with the others.

 

After the Monkees broke up in 1968, Nesmith formed the First National Band,

a forerunner of country rock bands like the Eagles.  He was also a pioneer in

1979, when a TV show he’d created named PopClips became the basis for MTV.

 

In between, he founded Pacific Arts Productions, which amassed a library of

musical acts and built an independent record distributing system.  In 1981, it

became Pacific Arts Corporation and released Elephant Parts, which won the

first Grammy Award for a music video.

 

Pacific Arts then produced the films Timerider, Repo Man and Tapeheads

before getting involved with home video and the internet.  In the early 90’s,

it sued PBS, two affiliates, two production companies owned by Ken Burns and

the Children’s Television Workshop, charging them with fraud and breach of

contract, among other claims.

 

In 1999, Nesmith and Pacific Arts were awarded nearly $50 million.  The set-

tlement was never appealed, but the actual payout was never disclosed.  Today

the former wool-hatted Monkee and his empire are still going strong.

 

I didn’t think much of the Monkees.  I thought they were a wan, corporate-created

knock-off of the Beatles, caught up in the massive wake the Fab Four were cutting

through pop culture.  I found it funny that they chided the serene Mr. Green in

their song “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for having a TV in every room, since they

were spawned for that very device.

 

The Beatles, though, were more gracious.  They threw a party for the Pre-Fab

Four when they were in England.  Nesmith was at Abbey Road Studios when

“A Day in the Life” was being recorded.  John Lennon told him “I think you’re

the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers.  I’ve never missed one of

your programs.”

 

Harrison was also complimentary: “It’s obvious what’s happening, there’s

talent there.  They’re doing a TV show, it’s a difficult chore and I wouldn’t be

in their shoes for the world.  When they get it all sorted out, they may turn

out to be the best ever.”           

 

Far be it for me to second guess the lads from Liverpool.  Plus, the Monkees

did  give Jimi Hendrix a career boost by using him as their opening act when

they went on the road in the summer of ’67.  The teeny boppers didn’t take to

Jimi, though.  One night he flipped them off and quit the tour.

 

Come to think of it, there is one of their tunes I like.  It was on their fifth album,

The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.  It’s called “Tapioca Tundra” and preceded

“Daydream Believer”.  I first heard it on a jukebox in an enlisted mens’ club on

Okinawa when I was in the Marines.  See what you think of it.              

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