Play me one more song that I’ll always remember

Back in 2002, Graham Nash released an underappreciated album called “Songs For Survivors,” a sort of companion LP to his 1971 solo debut, “Songs For Beginners.” Its highlight was a wistful tune called “Lost Another One,” with lyrics that bemoan the passing of a fellow musical traveler:

Just another morning cup of tea, I turn my radio on
And in between the static and the headlines, I heard that you were gone
We lost another one

There was a time we thought we were invincible, that we’d go on and on and on
And all along we’d thought we’d do another show and write another song
But I guess we’ve lost another one
…”

If Nash wrote it about a particular person, he never talked about it, which was probably wise, because now it can apply more generally to anyone’s (and everyone’s) death.

In 2021, we lost at least two dozen notable artists in the rock music pantheon, and Hack’s Back Pages is paying tribute to them in this post, the final one of this very strange year. I’ve included a Spotify playlist with a couple samplings from each of those being honored.

Rest in peace, rockers. In 1974, the Righteous Brothers song said, “If there’s a rock and roll heaven, well, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.” Imagine how phenomenal that band must be 50 years later!

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Charles “Charlie” Watts, widely respected drummer of The Rolling Stones from their inception in 1963 until his death on August 24th, died at 80. He regarded himself as more of a jazz drummer, and occasionally played side gigs in small jazz clubs, but his presence on The Stones’ recordings and at concerts for nearly 60 years was, as Keith Richards put it, “the secret essence of the whole thing.” For an in-depth reflection on Watts and his seismic impact on rock music, please check out my earlier blog post, “A line of cars and they’re all painted black.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/09/03/a-line-of-cars-and-theyre-all-painted-black/

 

Keith Allison, guitarist and vocalist for ’60s pop favorites Paul Revere and The Raiders, died November 17 at age 79. Allison joined Revere and The Raiders after their initial heyday in 1968 and remained through 1975. Beyond that tenure, Allison also contributed to recording sessions for a host of rock’s elite, including Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Sonny and Cher, Johnny Rivers, Rick Nelson, The Monkees and Alice Cooper.

David “Jay Black” Blatt (far right)

David Blatt, known professionally as Jay Black as the lead singer of ’60s pop group Jay and The Americans, died October 22 at age 82. He was not the group’s original lead singer, but when he replaced Jay Traynor, the group enjoyed their greatest successes, first in 1964-65 with “Come a Little Bit Closer” (#3) and “Cara Mia” (#4) and later in 1969 with their cover version of the Drifters’ “This Magic Moment” (#6). Black left in 1973 and continued to tour as Jay and the Americans using different backing musicians, which generated contentious legal disputes.

Tim Bogert (left) with Jeff Beck

John “Tim” Bogert III, innovative bass player and vocalist for ’60s hard rock band Vanilla Fudge and blues rock group the Jeff Beck Group, died of cancer January 13 at age 76. He helped found Vanilla Fudge, known for extended heavy rock versions of popular hits (“You Keep Me Hanging On”), then left in 1970 to form the short-lived band Cactus with drummer Carmine Appice. In 1973, they both teamed up with Beck on tour and then recorded the “Beck Bogert & Appice” LP as a power trio, which included a fabulous cover of “Superstition.” Bogert was a pioneer of using distortion with his bass to help it cut through the mix with the low-powered amps of his time.

Neville O’Riley Livingston, founding member of the pioneering Jamaican reggae group The Wailers, died March 2 at age 73. Livingston was known professionally as Bunny Wailer, one of two singer-songwriters in the group along with Bob Marley, and also its percussionist. As Marley became the more dominant figure when the group began seeking international fame, Wailer chose to embark own a solo career, generally staying in Jamaica. His Solo album “Blackheart Man” and several compilation LPs won Grammy awards in the ’80s and ’90s.

Ron Bushy, drummer for ’60s hard rock band Iron Butterfly, died August 29 at age 79. Bushy is best known for the widely familiar drum solo he performed (in one take!) in the middle of the group’s 17-minute iconic psychedelic piece, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” He was a founder of the Los Angeles-based band in 1967 and stayed in the lineup for all of the group’s six albums, through 1975. He recalled how Iron Butterfly’s pi├Ęce de resistance was originally just a two-minute ditty, “a love song from Adam to Eve,” until they went into the studio in 1968 and expanded it into one of the true classics of that era.

Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea, considered one of the foremost jazz pianists of the post-John Coltrane era, died of a rare form of cancer February 9 at age 79. He was an accomplished composer, keyboardist, bandleader, and occasional percussionist, playing with the great Miles Davis in the late ’60s at the birth of the jazz fusion genre. His own ’70s jazz ensemble Return to Forever influenced a generation of jazz fusion artists, and Corea’s compositions like “Spain,” “500 Miles High,” “La Fiesta” and “Windows” are considered jazz standards. Corea won 25 Grammys and was nominated 60 times.

George “Commander Cody” Frayne IV, leader, pianist and vocalist of the ’70s country rock band Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, died September 26 at age 77. The band came up with a unique, compelling brew of music that melded country and rock with older styles like Western swing, jump blues and boogie-woogie. Their 1971 album “Lost in the Ozone” is regarded as a must-have LP of that period, partly because of their one hit single, a cover of the 1955 speed-talking, fast-picking “Hot Rod Lincoln.”

Graeme Charles Edge, drummer and lyrical poet for The Moody Blues from the group’s beginnings in the early ’60s, died November 11 at age 80. He saw the band through its first phase with singer Denny Laine, followed by the triumphant years as trailblazers of the British progressive rock era (1967-1973), and eventually into a new period of chart success in the 1980s. Edge was a consistent contributor, not only on the drum kit but by providing spoken-word poetry as an element of The Moodies’ sound. For more about the lasting legacy of The Moody Blues, and Edge’s contributions, see my earlier blog post, “The music to the story in your eyes.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/11/19/the-music-to-the-story-in-your-eyes/

The Everly Brothers, Don at right

Isaac Donald “Don” Everly, one half of the ’50s-’60s vocal duo The Everly Brothers, died August 21 at age 84. Together with younger brother Phil, who died in 2014, The Everly Brothers rode high on the charts from 1957 to 1965 with their sweet harmonizing on such classics as “Wake Up, Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Cathy’s Clown.” The brothers endured a rocky period but eventually reunited and also appeared in concert and on record with Simon and Garfunkel in the early 2000s. For more about Don and Phil Everly and their impact on early rock vocals, please see my earlier blog post, “Bye bye, my love, goodbye.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/08/27/bye-bye-my-love-goodbye/

Michael Kelly Finnigan, an extraordinarily in-demand keyboard player in recording sessions and on tour, died from cancer on August 11 at age 76. A master of the Hammond organ and a vocal contributor as well, Finnigan toured with and played on sessions for some of the biggest names in rock, including Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dave Mason, Michael McDonald, Joe Cocker, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Peter Frampton, Ringo Starr, Cher, Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman and Rod Stewart. In the playlist at the end of this piece I’ve included three tracks on which he made a significant contribution: “Rainy Day, Dream Away” by Hendrix; “Bring It On Home to Me” by Mason; and “Southern Cross” by Crosby Stills & Nash.

Joe Michael “Dusty” Hill, longtime bass player and singer for ZZ Top, died July 28 at age 72. Hill, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard hold rock music’s longevity record for longest lifespan of a band without a personnel change (51 years). Founded in 1969, ZZ Top was a Texas blues/boogie band in its first iteration with tunes like “Lagrange” and “Tush” but later morphed into MTV favorites with synthesizer-laced hits like “Legs,” “Give Me All Your Lovin'” and “Sleeping Bag.” For more about Hill and his part in the story of ZZ Top, I direct you to my earlier blog post, “I said, lord, take me downtown.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/08/06/i-said-lord-take-me-downtown/

Gerard “Gerry” Marsden, leader and singer of the British Merseybeat group Gerry and The Pacemakers, died from a blood infection January 3 at age 78. Marsden and his group were signed to EMI Records by George Martin, who had also signed The Beatles around the same time. The Pacemakers’ first hit, in fact, was “How Do You Do It,” which The Beatles also recorded but rejected in favor of their original, “Love Me Do.” The Pacemakers took their version to #1 in the UK (it reached #9 in the US later on). Marsden and company also scored hits in the US with “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”

Robert Michael Nesmith, guitarist, singer and songwriter as a member of the The Monkees, died December 10 at age 78. He pushed for and won greater control of The Monkees’ recorded output, which included such successes as “I’m a Believer,””Plesasant Valley Sunday” and “Daydream Believer,” as well as lesser-known tracks penned and sung by Nesmith. He was also an unsung pioneer of the country rock genre, releasing several country-flavored albums with The First National Band and under his own name. He was involved behind the scenes in early iterations of the music video revolution that came in the 1980s. For more on Nesmith, please refer to my earlier blog post, “Disappointed haunted all my dreams.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/12/17/disappointment-haunted-all-my-dreams/

Harvey Phillip “Phil” Spector, a titanic name in pop music history for his innovative recording techniques in the 1960s, died in prison on January 16 at age 82. Spector came up with what is known as the “Wall of Sound” approach, in which he used multiple pianos, guitars, strings, horns and voices in a “Wagnerian approach to rock and roll,” as he put it. His hits for The Ronettes (“Be My Baby”), the Crystals (“He’s a Rebel”) and The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “Unchained Melody”) made effective use of this practice. Spector also produced The Beatles’ “Let It Be” LP and the first couple of solo albums by John Lennon (“John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” and “Imagine”) and George Harrison (“All Things Must Pass” and “Concert For Bangla Desh”). In 2009, Spector was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson and sentenced to 19 years to life.

Michael Stanley Gee, leader, guitarist singer and songwriter of The Michael Stanley Band, died on March 5 at age 72. The pride of Cleveland, Ohio, Stanley began as an acoustic singer-songwriter in the early ’70s, collaborating with Joe Walsh, which inspired his move to form MSB in 1975 , beginning a string of 10 solid Midwest rock albums that should have become nationwide successes but caught on only fleetingly. Still, they set attendance records at venues throughout Ohio and other Midwest towns where they enjoyed a diehard following well into the 2000s. For a deeper look at Stanley and his band, please read my earlier blog post, “Here’s a song for a friend soon gone.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/03/12/heres-a-song-for-a-friend-soon-gone/

Billy Joe “B.J.” Thomas, widely known as a singer of pop and country hits in the ’60s and ’70s, died May 29 at age 78. He charted six songs in the US Top 20 between 1966 and 1975, including two #1 hits — Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” which won a Best Song Oscar from the “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” film soundtrack, and the 1976 Best Country Song Grammy winner (and the longest song title of any #1 song ever), “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” Other notable hits by Thomas include the original version of “Hooked On a Feeling,” a cover of the Hank Williams chestnut “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing” and”Rock and Roll Lullaby.”

Mary Wilson (center) with The Supremes

Mary Wilson, one of the three founding members of The Supremes, died February 8 at age 76. Along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, Wilson reached the pinnacle of success as The Supremes, Motown Records’ most successful act and the highest-charting female group in history. They compiled an astonishing 12 #1 hits between 1964 and 1970, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Baby Love,” “I Hear a Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Love Child” and “Someday We’ll Be Together.” After Ballard and Ross left, Wilson remained as new members were brought to the lineup, and she stayed until the group’s dissolution in 1977. She later set sales records for her autobiography “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme” in 1986.

Norman Russell “Rusty” Young, pedal steel guitarist and vocalist for the country rock band Poco, died April 14 at age 75. He was a founding member, having met Jim Messina and Richie Furay during sessions for Buffalo Springfield’s final LP. Young was known as a virtuoso and innovator on pedal steel, coaxing a Hammond organ sound out of it by playing it through a Leslie speaker cabinet. After Furay left in 1975, Young stepped up in both songwriting and singing, and ended up songs like “Rose of Cimarron” and Poco’s biggest hit, “Crazy Love.”

Norman Paul Cotton, guitarist and singer-songwriter for Poco, died July 31 at age 78. He joined Poco in 1970 following the departure of founding member Jim Messina and remained an integral member of the band until 2010. It was Cotton who wrote “Heart of the Night,” one of Poco’s two Top ten hits from the 1978 LP”Legend,” and he also wrote such gems as “Down in the Quarter,” “Indian Summer” and “Bad Weather.”

For a closer look at Poco, and Young’s and Cotton’s work, please see my earlier blog post, “We’re bringin’ you back down home.” https://hackbackpages.com/2021/04/23/were-bringin-you-back-down-home/

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For this playlist, I’ve selected two songs for each honoree, except Charlie Watts, who deserves three, and the two members of Poco, who deserve three between them.

Disappointment haunted all my dreams

Mention the name Michael Nesmith, and casual observers of classic rock music might not recognize it. Fans of The Monkees will surely remember him as the tall guitar player wearing a wool hat who often served as the voice of reason amidst the zany chaos of their weekly TV comedy series that ran from 1966-1968.

Michael Nesmith

But even fans of the band’s music and/or TV series might not know about Nesmith’s other notable accomplishments as a songwriter, band leader and video visionary. In light of Nesmith’s death last week at age 78, it seems appropriate to shed a little light on his life to broaden understanding of his talents and influence in the music business through the years.

But first, let’s get a little perspective:

I was only 11, so I didn’t really understand what was happening.  I was pretty much a pawn in the show business game of foisting a product upon an unsuspecting public. It was September 1966, and overnight, I joined millions of other teens and pre-teens in becoming a huge fan The Monkees.

“They’re going to be bigger than The Beatles!” I told my skeptical parents.  “They even have their own weekly TV show!”

This was just what the show’s producers were counting on — gullible American kids buying into the sanitized Hollywood vision of what a rock band should look like and sound like:  Four zany young guys with dreams of making it big, making their way through one silly weekly adventure after the next, always finding a way to work in a “performance” of at least one of their songs, which were often being heard concurrently on Top 40 radio.

And it worked.  For a while.

The half-hour NBC-TV show “The Monkees” was an instant hit in the ratings. At the Emmy Awards nine months later, the program scored an upset by winning Outstanding Comedy Series, triumphing over shows with far better credentials like “Bewitched,” “Get Smart,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Hogan’s Heroes.”

On the Billboard Pop charts, the first singles and albums released by The Monkees all went to #1 and stayed there for many weeks on end.  “I’m a Believer” was the #1 song in the nation for nearly three months.  Here’s a fact that still astonishes me today:  Year-end sales figures for 1967 show that more units of Monkees records were sold than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined!

But there was a fly in the ointment that soon derailed this runaway success.  When the public learned that the band members weren’t really playing the instruments on the records they were hearing or on the TV performances they were seeing, there was a backlash from which they never fully recovered.  Critics pounced, calling The Monkees “The Pre-Fab Four,” a derisive take on The Beatles’ “Fab Four” nickname.  The TV show lasted only one more season through continually sagging ratings, and was cancelled in the summer of 1968.

Still, there were six commercially huge hit singles between September 1966 and March 1968 that cemented The Monkees’ name in pop music history.  “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Daydream Believer” and “Valleri” all reached at least #3, with four of them topping the charts.  They’re so ingrained in my head that I could sing you every word of these songs right now, today.  But then the bottom fell out, with each successive single faring worse through 1968 and 1969, and by 1970, the jig was up.

In retrospect, the case can be made that the four individuals who comprised the band — Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz — were just as much pawns in this show business game as anybody.  They were hired not as musicians but as comic actors playing the roles of musicians in a TV sitcom.

Producer Bob Rafelson had come up with the concept of a TV show about a rock and roll group as early as 1960, but it wasn’t until The Beatles’ spectacular arrival and, more specifically, the success of their film “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 that Rafelson got the green light from Screen Gems, the TV arm of Columbia Pictures, to develop his idea.  At first he thought of using an existing pop band to star in the program, but after being turned down by the likes of The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Dave Clark Five, he decided to manufacture his own group.

Rafelson concluded that Jones, whose Broadway acting pedigree had already won him a contract with Screen Gems and Columbia as an actor/singer, would be an ideal choice for this project, bringing a charming Brit-pop sensibility.  The rest of the group would be found through auditions, just as was done with any other TV show at the time.

This was the ad copy that ran in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter:  “Madness!  Auditions.  Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running parts for four insane boys age 17-21.”

Tork, a budding musician, won one of the three remaining parts, along with Dolenz, a former child actor who had starred in the inconsequential 1950s sitcom “The Circus Boy.”  Rounding out the quartet was Nesmith, by far the best musician of the four, a competent songwriter/guitarist with a droll sense of humor and a business acumen inherited from his mother, an executive secretary who had invented “Liquid Paper” correction fluid and built it into a multi-million-dollar company.

The foursome did what was asked of them, learning their lines and playing their parts on the show. When they showed up at the recording studio, however, Nesmith and Tork were disappointed to learn their musical skills would not be needed.  Dolenz and Jones were tapped to dub lead vocal parts onto the finished tracks.  The show’s musical supervisor was the notorious Don Kirshner, who had selected Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart from his stable of Brill Building pop songwriters to write and produce most of the songs for the group’s first album, “The Monkees,” which was essentially intended as a companion soundtrack to the TV show’s first season.

The first sign of trouble, as far as Nesmith was concerned, was when that debut LP appeared.  “The first album showed up and I looked at it and my heart sank, because it made us appear as if we were a bonafide rock ‘n’ roll band.  There was no credit given for the other musicians who actually played on the tracks.  I went completely ballistic, and said, ‘What are you people thinking?’  And the powers that be said, ‘Well, you know, it’s the fantasy.’  I said, ‘It’s not the fantasy.  You’ve crossed the line here.  You are now duping the public.  They know when they look at the television series that we’re not a rock ‘n’ roll band; it’s a show about a rock ‘n’ roll band.  Nobody for a minute believes that we are somehow this accomplished rock ‘n’ roll band that got their own television show.  You putting the record out like this is just beyond the pale.'”

Kirshner, irritated at Nesmith’s objections, plowed ahead, assembling a dozen more tracks recorded in the same manner and releasing them a mere three months later without the group’s knowledge as the second LP, “More of The Monkees.”  Despite the fact that the album was a big commercial hit, Nesmith and the other Monkees had reached their breaking point about what they felt was nothing short of fraud.  Nesmith persuaded the others to used their leverage to have Kirshner ousted, and The Monkees won creative control of all their recordings from then on.

On those initial two dozen recordings, the musical parts were handled largely by the seasoned pros who made up what was known in some circles as The Wrecking Crew.  Some names you might recognize:  guitarists Glen Campbell, James Burton and Louie Shelton; pianist Larry Knechtel (who later joined the soft-rock band Bread); drummer Hal Blaine; bassist Carol Kaye; percussionist Jim Gordon.  Also contributing were Carole King, who wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and added piano and backing vocals, and Neil Diamond, who wrote “I’m a Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” and added guitar.

It’s kind of unfair that The Monkees were singled out for not playing much on their own records.  Truth be told, this wasn’t all that different from what occurred with other hip groups of the period.  On several of the big hits released by The Beach Boys (“I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Good Vibrations”) and The Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), the drums, bass, guitar and keyboard parts were played by Wrecking Crew session guys because the record label executives didn’t yet have confidence in the band members’ musical abilities.

Glenn Baker, author of “Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees,” put his finger on the real problem that tarnished The Monkees’ image, even to this day:  “The rise of the ‘Pre-fab Four’ coincided with rock’s desperate desire to cloak itself with the trappings of respectability and credibility.  Session players were being heavily employed by many acts of the time, but what could not be ignored, as rock disdained its pubescent past, was a group of middle-aged Hollywood businessmen had actually assembled their concept of a profitable rock group and foisted it upon the world.  What mattered was that the Monkees had success handed to them on a silver plate.  Indeed, it was not so much righteous indignation but thinly disguised jealousy which motivated the scornful dismissal of what must, in retrospect, be seen as an entertaining, imaginative and highly memorable exercise in pop culture.”

From my point of view as a teen in 1966-67, The Monkees were definitely entertaining.  My friends and I held instruments and pretended to be Monkees in school skits, aping their movements and lip-synching their lyrics.  The TV show offered half-hour escapes of mindless fun each Monday evening.  Most of the controversy surrounding their legitimacy was, frankly, just not important to me at the time.

The freedom The Monkees won to control their recorded output was complicated by the fact that they didn’t share a common vision regarding the band’s musical direction.  Nesmith favored leaning toward country rock and country blues, the direction his post-Monkees solo career would go.  Jones fancied the more showy Broadway-type music, while Tork and Dolenz enjoyed dabbling in psychedelia and other more avant-garde genres.  Still, they understood the need to maintain some continuity to what their young fan base expected, which was straightforward pop with accessible hooks.

Their 1967 singles “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Daydream Believer” are still enormously popular today, but their third and fourth LPs, “Headquarters” and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.,” exemplified the group’s inner turmoil and rudderless direction (although both nevertheless reached #1 on the album charts).  By the time of the fifth LP, “The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees,” the TV show had been cancelled, and the experimental film and soundtrack they released in November 1968, “Head,” proved disastrous commercially, and Tork left the lineup. Efforts to continue as a threesome — 1969’s “Instant Replay” and 1970’s “The Monkees Present” — fell on deaf ears.  The end had come.

Nesmith formed the First National Band in 1970 with songwriting partner John London and steel guitar legend “Red” Rhodes and released three LPs in the space of a year, full of songs Nesmith had been writing throughout the ’60s. But his role as a Monkee haunted him for years to come. His upbringing in Texas had given him his country music roots, and although his pop-star status tarnished his credibility among many musicians at the time, he is now mentioned in the same breath with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers as pioneers of the country rock genre.

(Remember “Different Drum,” the country flavored hit single from 1967 by The Stone Poneys, with then-unknown Linda Ronstadt on lead vocals? Nesmith wrote it.)

It’s interesting to note that both The Monkees’ music and TV show are now regarded with more respect than at their time of release.  If you analyze some of the TV episodes, you’ll find, amidst the silliness, some groundbreaking creativity.  During an era of formulaic domestic sitcoms and corny comedies, it was a stylistically ambitious show, with a distinctive visual style and tempo, an absurdist sense of humor and almost radical story structure.  It utilized quick edits strung together with interview segments and even occasional documentary footage.

It rarely gets the credit for it, but The Monkees’ show was one of the essential pioneers of the music video format. Indeed, in 1979, Nesmith created and produced “PopClips,” a music video TV show that ran on Nickelodeon in 1980-81. He was also behind the VHS release of “Elephant Parts,” a collection of comedy sketches and music videos that saw significant sales in 1981 and won the first Grammy in the Music Video category that year. Warner Cable, who owned Nickelodeon, took Nesmith’s concept, made some minor adjustments, and launched MTV, the game-changing phenomenon of music delivery in the 1980s.

Writing in 2012 at the time of Jones’ death, columnist James Poniewozik said, “Even if ‘The Monkees’ never meant to be more than harmless entertainment and a hit-single generator, we shouldn’t sell it short.  It was far better TV than it had to be.  In fact, ‘The Monkees’ was the opening salvo in a revolution that brought on the New Hollywood cinema, an influence rarely acknowledged but no less impactful.  As a pop culture phenomenon, The Monkees paved the way for just about every boy band that followed in their wake, from New Kids on the Block to ‘N Sync to the Jonas Brothers, while Davy set the stage for future teen idols David Cassidy and Justin Bieber.  You would be hard pressed to find a successful artist who didn’t take a page from The Monkees’ playbook, even generations later.”

Numerous Monkees revival tours have been met with huge, adoring crowds, mostly aging Sixties kids looking for nostalgic memories.  Ironically, MTV re-aired the TV show in the late ’80s, and a new generation of fans hopped on The Monkees’ train.  New albums in 1987 (“Pool It!”) and again in 1996 (“Justus”) weren’t commercial or critical successes, but they served their purpose of keeping The Monkees name before the public.  Tours usually featured only three of the four principals (either Nesmith or Tork holding out), but that didn’t seem to matter to those who bought tickets to see them.

Many middle-aged women wept in 2012 when their teen idol Davy Jones died of a heart attack at age 66.  Social media activity was substantial and brought about increased sales of Monkees material.  Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith collaborated once more on the praised 2016 album “Good Times!” which features several tracks written and sung by Nesmith ( “Me & Magdelena,” “I Know What I Know”).

In 2019, Tork died of cancer at age 77. Dolenz and Nesmith resumed touring in 2020 as “The Monkees Live: The Mike and Micky Show,” and their final performance came at the Greek Theater in L.A. in November of this year, only a month before Nesmith died of heart failure.

He may have had his share of disappointments, but his legacy is intact among those in the know.

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The Spotify playlist below includes The Monkees’ biggest hits, plus Monkees songs written and/or sung by Nesmith, and a sampling of tracks from Nesmith’s solo career.