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On This Day In Music… May 13, 1967: The Monkees' Second LP Hits No. 1 in Britain

Only four albums topped the U.K. charts in 1967 – and two of them were by The Monkees.

Source: mega

The Monkees would dominate the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1967.

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By the beginning of 1967 the Monkees were already huge in America. On May 13 of that year, they sealed their status as the hottest band in the world by topping the British charts with their second LP, More of the Monkees. That album had come hot on the heels of their first long-player, The Monkees, which had already dominated the No. 1 spot for seven weeks through February and March.

If one were to be only slightly facetious, one could even argue that in 1967 the Monkees were arguably bigger than the Beatles. During the entire year only four LPs reached No. 1 in the U.K. – The Sound of Music, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and both the Monkees’ first and second albums. Throw in the fact that the band’s third LP, Headquarters, would also spend six weeks at No. 2 in the U.K. during July and August of 1967, and it seems that despite the twin collosi of Sgt Pepper and Julie Andrews, the Monkees was where it was really at.

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monkees july
Source: News Licensing / MEGA

The Monkees quickly grew from 'manufactured' band to touring live act.

The dominance was even more profound across the Atlantic. In America the Monkees’ self-titled debut had crashed into No. 1 in the Billboard 200 back in November 1966, and had stayed there until February 1967, when it was replaced by… More of the Monkees.

More of the Monkees stayed at the top of the U.S. charts for 18 straight weeks, until being replaced by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s Sounds Like. One week later Headquarters put the Monkees back on top until Sgt Pepper rolled into town. Fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd, released in the States in November 1967, gave the band their fourth Billboard No. 1 LP in just 12 months.

Then there were the singles: debut “Last Train to Clarksville”, released in August 1966, topped the Billboard Hot 100, as did its follow-up, “I’m a Believer”, which also reached No. 1 in the U.K. By the end of 1967, “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” had both made the Billboard top three (and Nos. 1 and 2 in the U.K. respectively) and “Daydream Believer” once again given the Monkees a No. 1 single on both sides of the Atlantic.

Not bad for a manufactured band the British press had dubbed, somewhat dismissively, “the Prefab Four”.

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The Monkees’ huge popularity originally sprang from the TV show that gave them their name. Debuting in late ’66, the madcap adventures of a fictional pop group was initially intended as a kind of cash-in on the popularity of the Beatles and the “British Invasion” of 1964, but quickly transcended that rather flimsy brief… and the group simultaneously became anything but fictional.

The Monkees’ ascent was astonishingly fast. In September 1965, advertisements were placed in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety requesting, “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running parts for 4 insane boys, age 17–21.”

Four hundred “insane boys” applied, three were chosen: Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz joined Davy Jones, the English child actor and musician, who had already been earmarked for a place in the band.

Jones had made his debut on the Ed Sullivan show the year before, on the very same episode in which the Beatles made their U.S. TV debut, later recalling: “I saw the girls going crazy and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.”

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davy jones
Source: mega

Davy Jones had been earmarked for The Monkees from the beginning.

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Just one year after that advert was placed, The Monkees debuted on U.S. television, preceded by the “Last Train to Clarksville” single. Although the music was originally intended to be secondary to the comic adventures of the four stars, that plan quickly changed once it became apparent just how good the songs were, thanks to writers including Neil Diamond and Carole King.

The runaway success of the Monkees’ first album confirmed the strength of the songs, and even as some turned up their noses at the “manufactured” nature of the band itself, Jones, Tork, Nesmith and Dolenz set about proving the doubters wrong, making their live debut at the end of 1966, followed by a U.S. tour in the new year, as well as a sell-out show at Wembley Empire Pool in London.

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By the time of More of the Monkees’ release, the Monkees were a band at the very top of the game – from the sublime pop of the Neil Diamond-penned tracks “I’m a Believer” and “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” and Carole King’s beautiful “Sometime in the Morning” to the snarling proto-garage rock of “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” – first recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders and later covered by the Sex Pistols – and even including the Nesmith-penned stomper “Mary Mary”.

It didn’t matter that they had come together via an advert in Variety, or even that their biggest hits had been composed by other musicians; the quality of the songs, the conviction with which they performed them, and the sheer infectiousness of their personalities made the Monkees arguably the biggest band of 1967.

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The group’s final big hit came at the very end of 1967, with “Daydream Believer” capping off a year in which they had not only scored four U.S. chart-topping albums – and two out of the only four British No. 1s of the year – but also picked up two Emmys, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Sadly, amid increasing tensions between the band and the show’s producers, the TV show was cancelled the following year, and the Monkees officially disbanded in 1971.

No matter: 1967 was the Monkees’ year, and More of the Monkees their crowning glory, becoming the third-highest-selling album of the entire decade… and with lead single “I’m a Believer” selling more copies than any other single that year. Not bad for “four insane boys” who had only met 18 months before.


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