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Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran ads on September 8, 1965, seeking musicians to act in a new television show. WK The Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night was the obvious inspiration for the wacky comedy about “four insane boys” WK seeking to become rock stars. That movie, by the way, ranks #1 on the Dave’s Music Database list of the top 50 music movie of all time.
From the 400 who showed up to audition, fourteen were brought back for screen tests. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork were cast as the funny one, the serious one, the naïve one, and the cute one respectively. These types were designed to line-up with the respective personalities of the Beatles’ John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney.
Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the pair of filmmakers who conceived the series, turned to avant garde film techniques including improvisation and breaking the fourth wall to give their show its loose feel. Each episode also included a musical vignette which could now be seen as predecessors to the modern music video.
The show lasted 58 episodes; the last one aired March 25, 1968. It won the Emmy in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series. During the show’s run, the Monkees also landed three songs atop the Billboard Hot 100 (“Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”, and “Daydream Believer”). They continued as a working group beyond the television series, but only managed a handful of top-40-charting songs.
- I'm a Believer (written by Neil Diamond, 1966) one of the top 100 songs of the rock era (“I’m a Believer”)
- top 1000 songs of all time, according to the DMDB (“I’m a Believer”, “Daydream Believer”)
- one of the top 100 best-selling songs in the world (“I’m a Believer”)
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll (“Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”)
- top 1000 albums of all time (1966’s The Monkees, 1967’s More of the Monkees)
- Biggest #1 Albums in U.S. (1966’s The Monkees, 1967’s More of the Monkees)
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