Jack Nicholson is most known as an actor but he also wrote a trippy movie with the Monkees. According to Monkees member Peter Tork, the film may have been designed to destroy the Prefab Four’s image. Here’s how Nicholson got along with one of the Monkees — and how the public reacted to the movie.
What Mike Nesmith of the Monkees thought about Jack Nicholson
Nicholson has portrayed everything from the Joker to an ax-wielding maniac to Satan himself. While many have seen his films, some don’t know about his connection to the Monkees. In an interview with Inquisitr, Monkee Mike Nesmith described how he got along with Nicholson.
“When Jack came on the scene of The Monkees‘ TV production, he was not yet famous and was one of the few people I met who seemed self-aware and grounded. At the same time, his demeanor and sense of humor was exceptional and like catnip for me. I thought he was the coolest guy, and since this was long before the term bromance entered the US lexicon, some people in my crowd of friends thought my fascination with him was beyond the pale.”
Was ‘Head’ designed to destroy the Monkees?
One time, the Monkees got high and Nicholson recorded what they had to say. He transformed these conversations into a screenplay for a surrealist film called Head. Oddly, the film includes the Monkees criticizing themselves for being “manufactured.” In an interview with The Guardian, Tork said the film’s creation may have been motivated by Monkees creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schnieder getting sick of the Prefab Four.
“There’s some weight behind the idea that Bob and Bert wanted to wreck the Monkees, to stop it cold in its tracks,” says Tork. “I’ve never known for sure. Bert and Bob might have thought out loud: ‘Let’s kill the Monkees!’ Or they may have not thought so out loud but at some unconscious level, they were sick of the Monkees and wanted to do something else.”
How the public reacted to ‘Head’ and its soundtrack
Head was a box-office failure. It produced the soundtrack album of the same name, which did not fare well either, despite including great songs like “Porpoise Song (Theme from Head). It only reached No. 45 on the Billboard 200, which was a step down from earlier Prefab Four albums that charted at No. 1.
Although Head performed poorly at the box office, it has stood the test of time. It’s available for purchase as part of the Criterion Collection, a highbrow line of DVDs and Blu-rays of acclaimed movies. In addition, The Guardian reports Quentin Tarantino has praised the film.
In addition, the music from its soundtrack has resonated at least somewhat, with “Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)” appearing on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise film Vanilla Sky. Nicholson didn’t craft a box office hit for the Monkees, but Head’s reputation seems to be growing.