The Monkees were a made-for-TV musical group formed in 1965, when the producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider advertised for band members in Variety.
The next year the zany comedy TV show The Monkees
debuted with the band's four members: drummer Micky Dolenz
(b. March 8, 1945 in Los Angeles, California), bassist Peter Tork
(b. February 13, 1942 in Washington, D.C., d. February 21, 2019), guitarist Michael Nesmith
(b. December 30, 1942 in Houston, Texas, d. December 10, 2021) and heartthrob singer Davy Jones
(b. December 30, 1945 in Manchester, England, d. February 29, 2012). The band and the show were an obvious nod to The Beatles
, right down to the groovy antics and the slightly-misspelled name. The show was also a big hit, and the Monkees became a pop phenomenon, releasing albums and even a movie (1968's Head
). At first the band members did little more than sing on their albums while session pros played the songs. (The Beatles were then known as the Fab Four, earning the Monkees the derisive nickname of the Prefab Four.) But later the four bandmates played and wrote many of their own songs. Their albums included The Monkees
(1966) and Headquarters
(1967), with hit singles including "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "I'm a Believer" (written by Neil Diamond
) and "Last Train to Clarksville." The TV show ended in 1968 and Tork left the group in 1969. By the end of 1970 The Monkees had fizzled out. Tork, Jones, and Dolenz regrouped without Nesmith as The Monkees for a 1986 reunion album Pool It!
The band continued to make occasional appearances, with and without Nesmith, despite the death of Davy Jones in 2012. The band recorded a well-received album, Good Times
, in 2016. Peter Tork died in 2019, and Nesmith and Dolenz completed a final farewell Monkees tour in November of 2021; Nesmith died just a few weeks later. The Monkees also blazed a trail for future pre-fab bands like The Partridge Family and The Spice Girls