Well, you were given many opportunities to right an egregious wrong, but you let bias and ignorance of the facts color your decision to routinely deny The Monkees entry into your prestigious Hall of Fame. Despite repeatedly thumbing your noses at the petition to induct the band into the Hall, loyal fans and musicians alike tried in vain to appeal to your sense of justice. Many of us wanted not only to witness the induction in our lifetime, but to see the members of the Monkees - Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones personally accept their induction, to finally vindicate a group whose story of perseverance and struggle for artistic freedom should be the bellwether for all aspiring artists who wish to pursue their craft within the music industry – an industry that even today, seems to defer genuine talent to artifice and image.
Well gentlemen, that window has passed. Lead singer Davy Jones suffered a massive heart attack on Tuesday, and is now dead. He was 66 years old. And with it dies the opportunity for one last reunion (though most folks felt that opportunity was highly improbable, given the temperament of Mike Nesmith; who understandably, was fed up with the malicious treatment of the band by the rock media – hope springs eternal.) That hope has been permanently dashed. Congratulations.
The assertion that The Monkees were not a legitimate band simply because they were assembled through an ad in Variety magazine, especially in an age of “manufactured pop star” shows like Idol, X-Factor, and The Voice, goes beyond disingenuousness. True, the fact that Nesmith himself once remarked that the group did not play their own instruments (in the early stages of the band, as a response to the dictatorial management of Don Kirshner) might have reinforced the rock press's predisposed hatred toward The Monkees, but ending the story there is not only historically inaccurate, but deliberately misleading. And this year's induction of band nemesis Kirshner on April 14th (like the Oscars' induction of Elie Kazan) speaks not only to the hypocrisy of the recording industry, but the movers and shakers within that industry who turn a blind eye to the transgressions of its own elite membership. So Jones is now dead, and the surviving members are left not only with the grief of losing one of their brethren, but the sad realization that any such induction including Jones at the reception can no longer be.
Congratulations. Madonna is in the Hall, but The Monkees are denied admission. Disco act Chic are in the Hall. Leonard Cohen? You're not the American Songwriters Hall of Fame. The term “rock and roll” may lend itself a certain degree of subjectivity, but really, guys. The Monkees were a rock and roll band. The Monkees changed the landscape of 60's rock moreso than previous inductees like Herman's Hermits, The Bee Gees, The Lovin' Spoonful or Dave Clark Five. While Davy Jones was recognized as the only true non-musician in the group, songs like “Dream World” (the best Burt Bacharach song he never wrote) and “You and I” (featuring a blistering guitar solo by Neil Young) proved his acumen as a songwriter was nothing to sneeze at.
In the 60's cult classic Head, Davy Jones and Frank Zappa are having a conversation about Jones's career, when Zappa admonishes: “You really should spend more time on the music (versus being a song-and-dance man) because the young folks are looking to you to show them the way.” In the unheard-of span of under three years, The Monkees released six studio albums as a quartet, cemented their status in the counterculture with the Jack Nicholson-directed Head, and made an impact on rock and roll and popular culture that few of their contemporaries can match. Its high time that both attention and the proper respect are given their due.