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Some Things You Never Knew About the Monkees

The Monkees wrote and popularized a slew of hit songs, including “I’m a Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”

But did you know they weren’t a “real” band?

Okay… So they were a real band in terms of musical talent and their inept ability to write songs that became hits. They did not, however, form and come together in a very common way.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

They Started As A “Fake” Band

The Monkees was a television show about a band trying to make it big. Influenced heavily by other “boy-like” bands, such as The Beatles, and followed their struggles and triumphs on their way to the top of the game.

However, while their origin may have been fabricated for TV, their skill as musicians proved to be legitimate. The band did not play their own instruments in the television show. Their vocals, on the other hand, were recorded by them.

A Fake Stage With Real Talent

While the band was assembled through an audition process, all four boys, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tok, and Davy Jones, possessed exceptional musical talent. Not only was their instrumental ability impressive, but their ability to write songs, many of which went on to become massive hits, proved to be their most valuable asset.

The Monkees eventually gained enormous traction, leading to the young men becoming icons of their time, selling out theatres across the country.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Four Total Strangers

Bands typically form when a group of friends or associates bond over music and decide to start making their own music together.

The Monkees, on the other hand, were chosen by the good old Hollywood picking hand that stuck them together.
The incredible thing is that they bonded almost immediately. They quickly became great friends, which helped maintain a band dynamic that allowed them to truly put their heads together to make some great music.

It is said that the band would have so much fun with each other that their recordings were done individually because almost no work would get done otherwise.

The Band Outgrew The TV Show

While producers brought the boys together to show the misadventures of a “fake band,” the music took on a life of its own.

The television series The Monkees was a huge success. The show was unprecedented at the time, being filmed in such a way that they appeared to be a real band. The styling choices for how the show was shot, combined with legitimate musical talent, gave them a significant competitive advantage on the tube.


However, the music of the spoof band gained incredible traction and sold-out gigs across the land. Their music was becoming so popular that in 1967, they competed for top chart positions with legendary acts such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The Beatles, ironically, are the band that The Monkees were supposed to be emulating in the show. The young band realized their music was becoming more serious, and they understood they would need some form of protection. With that in mind, the group took control of the band’s creative rights. This means they owned all of their music, which is enormously important for a successful young band.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Show Must Go On

The Monkees as a television series eventually came to an end, but The Monkees as a rock band continued to thrive.
The series was canceled in 1968, and the band quickly followed with instant hits “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “Daydream Believer.”

Two years after the TV show was canceled, the band released another massive hit, “I’m A Believer,” in 1970. Despite the fact that the song was written by Neil Dimond, The Monkees were able to turn it into an iconic jam.

The Manson Rumor

Every notorious rock band, particularly those from the 1960s and 1970s, will inevitably have wild and crazy stories made up and told about them.

Despite not being a “real” band, the Monkees were not immune to this. Charles Manson, the infamous cult leader, is said to have answered and auditioned for the band.

According to the story, Charles Manson auditioned for the original The Monkees TV show. This rumor, however, is easily debunked with a simple internet search. When the auditions were held in 1965, Manson was already imprisoned. Unfortunately, things weren’t as simple to Google back then, so the Manson rumor had legitimate traction.