Why The 1st Takes of The Monkees’ Theme Song Were Unusable

One of the most famous theme songs in the history of TV shows is The Monkees’ theme song. One of the band’s songwriters said the first three takes of the theme song were unusual because of the band’s unprofessional behavior. Subsequently, the songwriter gave his opinion on why the band acted that way.

The Monkees' Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork around a piano
The Monkees’ Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What The Monkees’ songwriters tried to do when the band was in the recording booth

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were a songwriting duo known as Boyce & Hart. They co-wrote the band’s theme song. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed the recording of the track. 

“We welcomed our four singers and spent several minutes trying to calm them down and make them feel comfortable,” Hart wrote. “After a period of socializing as we attempted to establish a working rapport with our new brand, we fitted each singer with headphones and then moved quickly into the control booth.”

The recording session didn’t go smoothly. “The engineer rolled the tape, I pressed the talkback mic and slated, ‘(Theme From) The Monkees,’ take one,'” Hart remembered. “The background instrumental track began to play, but at the end of the introduction, we didn’t hear any singing coming from The Monkees’ microphone.”

RELATED: The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz Wanted to Cry While Singing This Beatles Song from ‘The White Album’

Why The Monkees’ didn’t sing the theme song at 1st

Hart revealed the Prefab Four were too busy joking around in the studio to sing the theme song. During the next take of the song, the members of the band rolled around on the floor instead of singing. Hart said the third take of the track was a failure as well.

“In later months, I concluded that their antics had probably been prompted by trying to fulfill the image they thought they had been hired to project: off-the-wall, irreverent, and outrageous,” Hart wrote. “But maybe at a subtle level, it was also a show of protest and non-cooperation with two guys who represented the corporate power that would be dictating their musical direction against their will.”

RELATED: Why The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and The Carpenters Lost the Chance to Record Three Dog Night’s ‘An Old Fashioned Love Song’ 1st

How the theme song and its parent album performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

While it remains one of the group’s most famous songs, “(Theme From) The Monkees” was never a single in the United States, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The track appeared on The Monkees’ self-titled album. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks, staying on the chart for 102 weeks in total.

The Official Charts Company reports “(Theme From) The Monkees” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, the song’s parent album was No. 1 on the chart for seven weeks. In total, it spent 37 weeks on the chart.

“(Theme From) The Monkees” remains a classic television theme song — even if the first takes of it were unusable.

RELATED: The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz Reacted to ‘Breaking Bad’ Using 1 of Their Songs in a Drug Scene