When it came to chart history, they weren’t Monkee-ing around.
On the Billboard 200 chart (then called Top LP’s) dated Feb. 11, 1967, TV and pop stars The Monkees – Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones – replaced themselves at No. 1, as their second LP, More of The Monkees, dethroned The Monkees. With the former having led for 13 straight weeks and the latter beginning an 18-week domination, The Monkees logged 31 consecutive weeks at No. 1. Fifty years later, the streak remains a record in the Billboard 200’s history, as Dolenz recalls to Billboard Chart Beat Podcast host Gary Trust.
The Monkees was powered by the band’s debut hit single, the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Last Train to Clarksville,” while More of The Monkees was fueled by the group’s second leading song, the Neil Diamond-penned “I’m a Believer.” (“Monkees the Top Banana,” Billboard proclaimed in the Feb. 11, 1967, issue, unable to resist a feat so ripe for a pun.)
The Monkees were formed in 1965 by entertainment execs Bob Rafelson (fun fact: his son Peter Rafelson would co-write Madonna‘s 1987 No. 1 “Open Your Heart”) and Bert Schneider for the fun-loving, vaudeville-and-music-mixing TV series of the same name, which ran for two seasons on NBC (1966-68).
“So much happened so fast, it was like being in the eye of a hurricane,” Dolenz says. “We were filming the show eight to 10 hours a day and, at night, recording vocals. And, on weekends we were rehearsing [to go on] tour.” Still, he says, “I remember liking it all. How can you not? [We were] selling all those records and getting that incredible reaction. We caught lightning in a bottle.”
The Monkees would notch two more No. 1 albums and a third No. 1 single (“Daydream Believer”), while also famously recruiting then-newcomer Jimi Hendrix as an opening act on tour, before he left after only “six to eight” shows; “The little 12-year-old kids were there to see The Monkees,” says Dolenz, who remembers Hendrix as “a lovely guy. Very quiet, very sweet. [And] a consummate genius artist.”
Following the cancellation of The Monkees, the band would assume greater creative control of its music before parting and reuniting numerous times. After Jones died suddenly in 2012, Nesmith, Tork and Dolenz celebrated the act’s legacy in 2016 with a 50th anniversary tour and Its 12th studio album, Good Times! The LP reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200, becoming The Monkees’ highest-charting set in 48 years.
As for the future of the group? “There are no immediate plans,” Dolenz says. “[But] I’ve learned never to say never [to] any more Monkee business.”
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