Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Monkees’: How the Classic TV Band Became a Radio Sensation

‘The Monkees’: How the Classic TV Band Became a Radio Sensation

The Monkees started out as a fictional television band, but the actors managed to become real-life chart-topping phenoms. From the outside, it looked like becoming both TV and radio sensations was effortless. But the experience was so taxing that the members gave up fame almost as quickly as they earned it.

According to Biography, the show’s production began in September 1965, when casting agents first put out a call for musicians and ultimately hired Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork. The quartet had little if any acting experience, and Dolenz had to learn a brand-new instrument. So the producers needed to get everything together and create seasoned actors and a high-functioning band in a matter of months.

in April 1966, the musicians began an intense schedule that consisted of acting lessons, improv classes, band rehearsals, and filming. In August, The Monkees dropped their first single—Last Train to Clarksville. It hit No. 1 on the US Billboard Top 100. The series premiered the following month and won two Emmys during its first season. The hard work and teaser release seemed to set up the show perfectly However, the actors couldn’t keep up with the grueling project, and it was canceled after Season 2.

‘The Monkees’ Was a Grueling Project

Mickey Dolenz once explained that his The Monkees days were “one big, long memory.” Between filming, recording, and touring, he burned out almost instantly.

“It was only a few years, but between filming the television show 10 to 12 hours a day, then recording at night and rehearsing on weekends, it was very intense,” he explained to Closer Weekly in 2021. “I remember people along the way much more than I remember moments. Costars like Rose Marie, who I got along with famously.”

During their short reign, The Monkees recorded two more No.1 hits, I’m a Believer and Daydream Believer. Despite everything falling apart so quickly, Dolenz is “grateful” for his time with the project. He believes if he hadn’t had his whirlwind success, he never would have enjoyed the nearly as successful career that followed.

“I can’t speak for anyone else,” he added. “[But] after The Monkees, I went to England and produced and directed TV shows and commercials for 15 years. I always looked at The Monkees as a blessing because it opened up so many doors for me. But you do get typecast. I’ll be honest. It was a bit frustrating when I’d hear that I was up for something as an actor or director and they’d say, ‘We really don’t need a drummer.’