The Monkees TV show debuted on September 12, 1966 on NBC. Just a year earlier in 1965, this audition ad for the TV show ran in the L.A. Daily Variety Newspaper.
Hundreds of wannabe rock ‘n rollers showed up for the audition, but out of this cattle-call, only one person got a role in this upcoming TV show which was loosely based on The Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. That person was Michael Nesmith.
The other three Monkees got their jobs the following ways.
Mickey Dolenz had been a child actor and starred in the TV show, “Circus Boy.” He had an agent who heard about the series and got him a private audition.
Peter Tork was working as a dishwasher in L.A. and his friend Stephen Stills went to the cattle-call audition but he said he was more interested in writing songs for the show. He told the producers he had a musician friend who would be perfect for the show and he called his friend Peter Tork and suggested he go and talk with them. Tork reluctantly went and became a Monkee and Stephen Stills went on to become part of a little known band known as Crosby Stills and Nash.
The company that was producing the show was Screen Gems. They were looking for a project for one of their contracted employees who’s name was Davy Jones. When producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider pitched the rock ‘n roll show idea to them they snapped it up and Davy Jones was immediately contacted to be part of it.
They all got to the show in different ways, but all four had to go through a screen test and below are snippets from the actual screen tests that got all four of them into the band, The Monkees. (Note: all the videos are silent with head shots for about the first 30 seconds and then the audio portion begins.)
The show was a huge hit and it ran for two years on NBC. After the series ended The Monkees made the movie, Head, which bombed at the box office and they slowly withered away and the band broke up in 1971.
In 1986, MTV started airing reruns of the show which led to a whole new audience for the band. Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones reunited and went on a successful tour. Mike Nesmith who was producing his own music and also became a movie producer didn’t join them.
Through the years Dolenz, Tork and Jones did tours as The Monkees with Mike Nesmith joining them a couple of times. On February 29, 2012, Davy Jones died of a heart attack. After his death, Nesmith teamed up with Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork for three Monkees tours between 2012 and 2014.
In May of 2016, the three surviving Monkees recorded an album titled, “Good Times” to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and it received great reviews and made it to number 14 on the Billboard charts.
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