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 August 1966 and quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts in tandem with the band's self-titled debut album, which held the top slot for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200. (Two decades later, in the midst of a new burst of Monkeemania, 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.
In February 1986, after MTV broadcast a marathon of The Monkees series, 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). In the wake of Jones’s death on February 12, 2012, the surviving members of the Monkees reunited and performed a series of concerts. The shows were received so triumphantly that Dolenz, Nesmith, and Tork returned the following summer for a tour dubbed, “A Midsummer’s Night With the Monkees.”
To celebrate the Monkees’ 50th anniversary in 2016, the surviving members of the band recorded the critically acclaimed album Good Times! (produced by the late Adam Schlesinger). Much like the Monkees’ early albums, it featured tracks written for the band by a group of gifted songwriters, including Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Andy Partridge (XTC) and more. Following the passings of Davy Jones and Peter Tork (who succumbed to cancer in 2019), Michael & Micky have honored the music and the memory of The Monkees onstage.