The Monkees

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

About The Monkees

Formed as a fictional rock band for the TV comedy series that bore their name, The Monkees became one of the most iconic—and commercially successful—groups of the 1960s, thanks to a string of indelible hits including “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer.” • The Monkees’ first four albums all reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and 11 of their 19 singles made the Top 40. The band is said to have sold more than 75 million albums worldwide. • Inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, The Monkees sitcom aired from 1966 to 1968, chronicling the hijinks of a young band seeking success. TV producers cast Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork from among more than 400 hopefuls who auditioned. • The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” debuted in August 1966, a month before the first episode of the show aired. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November, around the time the band’s first album came out. • Band members initially had little control over their songs, with session musicians playing most of the music on The Monkees’ self-titled debut in 1966. By their third album, 1967’s Headquarters, the foursome had taken over playing many of the songs, as well as writing some of them. • The group starred in the surreal and psychedelic 1968 film Head, cowritten by a then-unknown Jack Nicholson. • When the sitcom was canceled in 1968, the band carried on touring and releasing albums, though Tork left in 1968 and Nesmith quit in 1970. Jones and Dolenz worked as a duo on The Monkees’ ninth album, 1970’s Changes. The group disbanded the following year. • Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited in 1986, capitalizing on a surge of interest from MTV and Nickelodeon re-airing old episodes of the TV show. They released a new album, Pool It!, in 1987. Nesmith was only peripherally involved due to other commitments but occasionally joined his bandmates onstage. • Nesmith was back for The Monkees’ 1996 release Justus, marking the first album to feature all four members since Head in 1968. It was also the first album on which the quartet wrote and produced all the songs. • In 2012, Nesmith joined Dolenz and Tork for a tour following the death of Jones that February. The remaining trio worked with Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne on a 50th anniversary album, Good Times!, that came out in 2016. • Tork died of cancer in February 2019, leaving just Nesmith and Dolenz, who were forced by the coronavirus pandemic to postpone touring plans set for 2020.

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