How has a group conceived as a short-lived commodity outlived many more 'real' bands by nearly fifty years? Why are The Monkees still important, and what does this tell us about their music, their TV show, and our understanding of popular culture today?
Despite being built in Hollywood, and not necessarily to last, that is precisely what their music, TV, and cinematic output has done. They in many ways unique--as the first 'made for TV' band, their success introduced methods of marketing pop that have since become standard industry practice; their 'big screen' use of film and images in live performance is likewise now a firmly established principle of concert staging; and in the way they changed the rules of the game, taking control over their own affairs at the height of the success, risking magnificent failure by doing so.
The Monkees invented a new kind of TV, gave a new model to the music industry, and left behind one of the most enigmatic movies of the modern era, Head. This book is about all that and more. Beginning by exploring the origins and personalities of the four Monkees before looking in depth at their work together on screen, on stage, and on record, The Monkees, Head, and the 60s is the first serious study of the band and the first to fully acknowledge their importance to the development of pop as we now know it.“Jack Nicholson actually brought the book to my attention. Since neither of us are inclined to read books talking about ourselves - or for that matter about the movie world - I was surprised with this one. Peter Mills began as a musician, so his appreciation of The Monkees both as phenomenon and critic is well-founded. The Monkee history is astonishing. As for “Head”, no one has so thoughtfully elaborated on its meaning. The movie is elusive. But not to him or anyone who reads the book. And that includes me.” - Bob Rafelson (creator of The Monkees / director of “Head”)
Peter Mills is the author of several books, including works on Van Morrison and Samuel Beckett. He was singer and lyricist for Innocents Abroad, who made two albums, Quaker City and Eleven. A fan of The Monkees since his childhood, he began using the band and Head in his teaching as soon as he could. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Media and Popular Culture at Leeds Beckett University.