Ed. Note: after Davy
Jones’ tragic death, legendary rock geek/raconteur/archivist/fan dancer Beatle
Bob sat down to pen a tribute to the singer and his band the Monkees. Posted to
friends in an email, it quickly went viral, and is reproduced in full, below.
By Beatle Bob
In honor of Davy Jones who passed away of a heart attack at
age 66 last week.
If you were born anywhere between 1955 and 1960, and
consequently were just a tad too young to teethe your ears upon Pet Sounds or Revolver, you tuned into your local
NBC-TV affiliate on the evening of Sept.
12, 1966, sat transfixed for the next 30 minutes, and then told yourself,
“Hey! So THAT’S what a rock ‘n’ roll band really lives, looks,
sounds and acts like!” Eating communal Rice Krispies at the break of noon,
practicing in front of the patio window every day instead of going to school or
work, yet always making sure to keep too busy singing to put anybody (under the
age of 25) down.
But even more importantly – and, as it turns out, much more
slyly and cleverly -what Peter
Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike
Nesmith of The Monkees really did
during their 58 half-hours on NBC was, for the very first time, bring the
counter-culture boldly into the North American entertainment mainstream.
You must understand that prior to 1966, longhaired kids were
only seen on television getting into no good down some dark, garbage-strewn
alley. That is until Sergeant Joe Friday rounded them up while giving a stern
lecture on morality into the nearest camera.
Suddenly though, here were four seemingly happy-go-lucky
kids with hair over their ears and guitars over their shoulders, without any
apparent “adult supervision” such as parents or bosses in sight,
living for all intents and purposes the same kind of wholesome apple-pie life
as those over in Mayberry or My
Three Sons. Indeed, at the end of each broadcast day, Jones always got the
girl, the villains always got what they deserved and the small-screen
sun inevitably set to the accompaniment of yet another ultra-groovy
new Harry Nilsson or Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart tune.
Which reminds me: Long before “Penny Lane” or
even D.A. Pennebaker, The Monkees damn well invented MTV, too (please, try
not to hold it against them).
And now, many thanks to our heroes at Eagle Rock
Entertainment, you need no longer roam the nether regions of your satellite
dish or settle for dicey VHS-generation YouTube uploads to
hear and see what all the fuss was truly about. For once again,
the entire series of Monkees shows, along with their
1/3 Revolutions Per Monkeetelevision spectacular – plus a slew of Kellogg’s
cereal commercials just to put everything in their proper hysterical
perspective – have all been lovingly packaged anew into two (count ’em!) deluxe
DVD boxed sets.
Once again we can watch Nesmith trading places – and prosthetic
noses – with Frank Zappa before running for mayor (and issuing forth
a most somber soliloquy that seems even more relevant to today’s
socio-political atmosphere). We can see Tork bargaining to regain his musical
soul from a metaphorically steeped record-biz Beelzebub, and Dolenz battling
the evil Wizard Glick and his far-from-subliminal television brainwash machine
(in an episode the fuzzy-headed Monkee, by the way, also directed).
And Jones? He gets the girl(s). And also taught Axl
Rose how to dance, need I remind anyone.
It’s all wacky and definitely wild throughout, you bet. But
it’s particularly surprising how extremely fast-paced and ingeniously edited
these half-hours are – and in series two, especially, with each episode doing
and saying (and showing) things on the family tube that were absolutely unseen
and unheard of across the pre-Monty Python/Saturday Night Livelandscape.
Plus, the music throughout is top-notch, it should go
without mentioning – even the sequences where Liberace takes a sledgehammer
to a grand piano.
Come 1968, though, all that was left for The Monkees was to
star in the greatest rock ‘n’ roll film ever made (it’s called Head, by the way) before paving the TV
way for that Partridge Family, those Banana Splits and even their old nemesis Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Lest
we never forget Nesmith’s landmark Elephant and Television Parts series as well,
full of the visionary and pioneering work he continues to this very date right
there on his own Videoranch.com.
But for now, you better get ready to take a giant step back.
Back to the very beginning. To 7:30 p.m., Sept.
12, 1966. Disc 1, episode 1 of season 1 of The