The Beatles aren’t just revered because they were great. They are also revered because of the influence they had and continue to have on numerous other artists. One of the earlier bands to take inspiration from them is the Monkees. The Monkees were a pop-rock band created to capitalize on the success of the Beatles’ films A Hard Day’s Night and Help! The Monkees starred in a self-titled television series inspired by the aforementioned films and then went on to release their own records.
Initially, the Monkees were actors who did not have much involvement in the creation of their records aside from providing vocals. Because of this, the Monkees are sometimes dismissed. However, some have claimed the Monkees managed to outsell the Beatles in 1967. Is this true? And what did the Beatles have to say about the Monkees?
How 1967 treated the Beatles and the Monkees
1967 was a very good year for the Beatles. It saw the release of their most acclaimed album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It also was the year of their underrated soundtrack album Magical Mystery Tour. However, it was also a very good year for the Monkees.
1967 was the year the Monkees began to take more creative control over their own music. It was also the year the Monkees outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined. This is especially impressive given that 1967 was the year of Sgt. Pepper’s and the Rolling Stones’ Between the Buttons and His Satanic Majesty’s Request.
Some fans might see the Monkees’ success as unfair. After all, the Beatles inspired the Monkees and the Monkees never released an album as revered as Revolver or Rubber Soul. Did the Beatles feel the same way?
What John Lennon and George Harrison thought of the Monkees
Mike Nesmith of the Monkees asked John Lennon “Do you think we’re a cheap imitation of the Beatles, your movies and your records?” John replied “I think you’re the greatest comic talents since the Marx Brothers. I’ve never missed one of your programs.” This answer must have been incredible for Nesmith to hear, as he and his bandmates considered themselves akin to the Fab Four and the Marx Brothers combined.
George Harrison was a Monkees fan as well. “It’s obvious what’s happening, there’s talent there…when they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best.”
George wasn’t just being kind. He had Monkees member Peter Tork play instruments on his album Wonderwall. From a consummate professional like George, this was an incredible compliment. Ringo Starr seemed to have some level of respect for the Monkees as well, as he had kind words for Monkees member Davy Jones when he passed away in 2012.
The Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967 but the Beatles outsold the Monkees overall. The Beatles sold 183 million records while the Monkees sold 75 million records. However, if the Fab Four didn’t see themselves as the Monkees’ competition, why should we?