Like lots of ‘80s kids, I grew up with repeats of The Monkees on television and couldn’t wait for my weekly Saturday morning dose of their hijinks and bubble gum pop. Unlike lots of ‘80s kids, I never quite grew out of my Pre-Fab Four obsession. I very much WOULD like to take the Last Train to Clarkesville, thankyouverymuch. When my middle- and high-school classmates were listening to Nirvana and dying their hair with Manic Panic, I collected Monkees records, hunted down ephemera at flea markets, and special ordered their cult classic movie Head on VHS at my local Sam Goody. I’ve gone to more reunion concerts than I can count. I cried when Davy Jones died, and I checked out Mike Nesmith’s memoir from the Free Library just as soon as it was published a couple years ago. And if I was brave enough to have a MICKY 4EVER tattoo, well, I probably still wouldn’t, but you get the drift.
The recent news that Peter Tork had passed away after a long illness surely left a little hole in Monkee-lovin’ hearts like mine where his jokey, hippie-dippie, bass-and-keyboard playing quirkiness should’ve been.
The Monkees were a group like no other; a pop culture oddity to end all pop culture oddities. Cobbled together in pure Made-for-TV fashion complete with a shiny 1960s gloss, they eventually turned away from ready-made fame and fortune and tried to become a legitimate act standing on their own musical prowess. Whether or not they were successful is up for debate as is the wisdom in their decision, but their desire for authenticity seems less questionable. And where once four could commiserate over this Couldn’t Make It Up If We Tried experience, now there are only two.