Hey, hey – it’s The Monkees! Ruth Eckerd Hall welcomes The Monkees, celebrating their 45th anniversary
By LEE CLARK ZUMPE Article published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Monkees swing into Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall June 4. CLEARWATER – Hitting the road for their 45th anniversary tour, The Monkees will perform Saturday, June 4, 8 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road.
Three original Monkees members – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork – will come together for this tour, showcasing the songs and the friendship that propelled them to stardom in the late 1960s and endeared them to adoring fans for five decades.
Initially, The Monkees were a kind of fabrication. Filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, encouraged by the success of the Beatles’ film “A Hard Day’s Night,” thought it would be a good idea to develop a television series about a pop rock group. They sold the concept to Screen Gems.
"I was singing hard rock including songs by the Rolling Stones and the Animals," Dolenz said in his bio provided by Paradise Artists. "In fact, I auditioned for ‘The Monkees’ singing Chuck Berry's ‘Johnny B. Goode.’" The Monkees audition took place in autumn 1965. Dolenz was one of four actors chosen out of 400 applicants who responded to a trade ad announcing auditions.
Don Kirshner, head of Screen Gems music division, was tapped to drum up talent. After selecting band members and cycling through a string of producers, The Monkees released their first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” in 1966, just a few weeks before the television show’s debut. The song soon topped the U.S. Hot 100 chart.
"I was hired as an actor to play the role of a singing drummer," Micky recalled. "I had to learn to play drums."
"Last Train to Clarksville" featured Micky on lead vocals.
At the same time the single was getting radio airplay, The Monkees debuted on television screens with their eponymous NBC-TV series. The show was a success over its two-season run, winning two Emmy Awards. While becoming pop culture icons, the band’s musical accomplishments were just as impressive, as The Monkees are among the top-selling artists of all time. They scored a dozen Billboard Top 40 hits, outselling both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in 1967.
The Monkees are the only artists ever to have four No. 1 albums in the same year: “The Monkees,” “More of the Monkees,” “Headquarters” and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.” all spent time at the top of the Billboard 200 in 1967.
Their fifth studio album, 1968’s “The Birds, the Bee’s & the Monkees,” hit No. 3 on the Billboard charts and spawned the No. 1 singles “Valleri” and “Daydream Believer.”
The Monkees did well on the road, too. They boasted the top-grossing tour of 1967 – a feat they repeated two decades later, in 1986, during a comeback. Their return in the 1980s was triggered by the re-broadcasts of the original episodes of “The Monkees” by MTV and Nickelodeon. Younger generations embraced the zany comedy and the music ushering in a new era of Monkeemania.
"We need to share this music once again as people want to hear music from times that made them happy," said Jones in a press release from Scoop Marketing. "The records are being played all the time. And, the fans are still there. So, we're going to do it."
"I'm looking forward to getting back together with my old buddies for some good ol' rock and roll,” Dolenz said.
"Each one of the tours we do is more fun than the one before,” Tork said.
The Monkees’ original members have reunited sporadically throughout the 1990s and 2000s, recording albums of new material, taking part in anniversary tours and doing television specials. The Monkees tour in 2011 will continue their epic legacy into yet another decade.
These new shows mark the first live performances by the band in 10 years. Jones, Dolenz and Tork are sure to draw yet another generation of fans to their one-of-a-kind mix of music and comedy.
The show is billed as a “full multimedia experience,” highlighting nearly a half-century of the band’s legacy.
Jones, Dolenz and Tork will perform hits such as “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Valleri” and, for the first time ever on stage, songs from their classic albums and rarely heard selections from their cult classic movie, “Head.”
In addition, songs and videos will be broadcast throughout the venue to provide a soundtrack before and after the main show, featuring Monkees rarities as well as covers by the legions of past and present artists they’ve influenced over their long career.
Article published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 Copyright © Tampa Bay Newspapers: All rights reserved.