Jan 222014

How did the personae of The Monkees change in the second half of the faux-band’s initial 1966–1970 incarnation? Collectively and individually, what elements changed? Which ones for the better, which for the worse? How might the course of the band been affected with a needed persona intervention?

Consider their humor, acting chops, lip-syncing abilities, social relevance, clothing, hair, and overall Look. Discussion of each members’ musical contributions, real or pretend, is optional.

Post-Monkees activities, such as Peter Tork’s folk-blues career, Davey’s death, and Mike’s taste in producing works by other artists, are not open to consideration. Likewise, Mickey’s greased-back, balding man’s ponytail is not open for this particular examination.

Because I am not anywhere near an expert on the band, I will ask that Townspeople step forward and take the lead in guiding this discussion. You may link to informative videos, photographs, interviews, etc. Along with HVB, I SUMMON likely Monkees experts, including Andyr, mockcarr, bostonhistorian, and alexmagic. If you’ve been holding out on your Monkees analysis skills, here’s your chance to shine.

Following is as good a starting point in dissecting the band members’ personae as I can think: Hollywood’s first glimpses of these figures.


  6 Responses to “Rock Town Hall Launches Close Examination of Latter-Day Monkees’ Personae”

  1. misterioso

    Y’know, it’s funny, in the Dugout Chatter the only topic where I did not go with my first thought was on the Monkees. My first thought was that Peter would get hit with the snowball. When I was a little kid and watched the Monkees (this would have been in the early 70s in reruns on Channel 56 in Boston), Peter bugged me. I didn’t get him. I’m still not really sure what his function was within the Monkees.

  2. In a “grass is always greener sense…” young, wavy-haired me always envied Peter’s perfectly straight hair. Late-period Tork took on the added benefit, I thought, of carrying the most Peter Fonda-esque mellow hippie Look, while also bridging the true rock world gap to the guy he probably beat out in the auditions, Stephen Stills. To me, that was his function in the band, and I disagree with HVB’s general statement. I think his role deepened as his persona developed. I’m curious to hear what bugs HVB so much about latter-day Tork.

    Davey’s persona never wore well with me, and it only got worse as he vainly tried to “groove-up” his persona. The guy needed to be put on ice in 1967, then thawed out to take part as a singer in an early ’90s Britpop band.


  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Naw, man, Tork became this blissed-out “voice of reason” within the band. Nesmith’s persona kind of abdicated that role, and it’s the one he was meant to play. It really is the 60s rolled up into a neat little ball:

    Nesmith: level-headed, clearly meant to be the voice of reason, abdicates that role because being a level-headed person isn’t cool anymore, and Lord knows the Monkees need to be led by somebody “cool”

    Tork: the idiot man-child, simple and free, clearly suited best for assembling paper flowers and handing them out at airports. His naive take on the world becomes the only acceptable guide for the band as they morph from four guys who drive around in a gas-guzzling Monkee-mobile to four guys who desperately crave approval from the likes of Frank Zappa.

    Dolenz: it’s all about the nookie, then, now, forever

    Jones: I’ve got a luv-er-ly bunch of coconuts…

  4. Have we ever reached a clearer dividing line between our views on hippies? Brilliant explanation, my friend, even if I don’t share where you’re coming from, man.

  5. BigSteve

    I haven’t seen a Monkees episode in decades, so I’m just going to say the band needed his musical background. Davy and Mickey were singers, not musicians, though Mickey was a really good singer. And I always liked the way the band was put together to balance the different cultural/geographical strands in rock music. The band needed not just another real musician, but the New York folkie vibe Tork brought was an essential component of their sound. I also liked the hippie anthem he wrote called For Pete’s Sake (“In this generation, Love is understanding, we gotta be free…). And he didn’t write it but I liked that song Auntie Grizelda that he sang.

  6. misterioso

    Good point–“For Pete’s Sake” is a good song.

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