Skip to main content

Mike Nesmith of The Monkees found himself in a standoff for creative control of the music featured on the first season of the group’s television series on NBC. He wanted to do more than act and sing the songs written for the series. During this tense period in The Monkees’ history, Nesmith shared that Davy Jones tried to keep the peace by reminding his co-star that they were hired hands for a job. However, Nesmith didn’t see it that way.

Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones as performers on "The Monkees" television show.
Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones as performers on “The Monkees” television show | NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Nesmith once spoke of the reason why he took a stand against ‘The Monkees’ producers

In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Nesmith reflected on standing up to the producers and musical director of The Monkees. Jones was a musical theater performer. Micky Dolenz could sing and act. Peter Tork was a guitarist and folk singer. Therefore, Nesmith believed they could deliver their material without the help of studio musicians and the lead of professional songwriters.

“We were kids with our own taste in music and were happier performing songs we liked and wrote, than songs handed to us,” the guitarist said of the music featured on the TV series.

He continued, “We felt, ‘What’s the big deal, why won’t you let us play the songs we are singing?’”

Nesmith was evident in his intentions. However, it didn’t appear easy to pursue Kirshner and the producers of The Monkees to see things from his perspective.

Davy Jones gave Mike Nesmith this piece of advice

The Monkees cast includes Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork.
The Monkees cast includes Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork | NBCUniversal via Getty Images

As The Monkees television show charged on, Tork and Nesmith pushed for more input regarding the music heard on the TV show. Subsequently, these songs were released on records under The Monkees banner.

Jones gave Nesmith some advice that had served him well throughout his career as a performer, particularly when instructed to do things in a way he perhaps disagreed with.

“David continually admonished me to calm down and do what I was told,” said Nesmith to Rolling Stone. “His advice to me was to approach the show like a job, do my best, and shut up, take the money and go home.”

Later, Jones would stand alongside Tork, Nesmith, and Dolenz in their battle for creative control.

By the time he was hired for ‘The Monkees’ television show Jones had five years of stage experience

The cast of "Oliver" with Davy Jones perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in Feb. 1964.
The cast of “Oliver” with Davy Jones perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in Feb. 1964 | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The Monkees Fans Share Their Favorite Mike Nesmith Songs After Micky Dolenz Tweets Tribute: ‘Papa Nes Blues’

Jones understood the nature of the business, having been a seasoned musical theater performer by the time of his Monkees audition.

The hiring process for The Monkees brought over 400 actors and musicians to its audition process. Tork recalled the first time he saw Jones, who walked right into the producer’s office,

“I was like, ‘Wait a minute! Who was that?’” Tork admitted to Rolling Stone. “I was extremely jealous.”

As the show searched for actors who would play the members of the struggling band, Jones fit the bill.

He had a British accent, just as The Beatles did. Jones had a professionally trained voice, his skills honed after five years as a stage performer in Great Britain and on Broadway.

Nesmith claimed that out of all the members of the Prefab Four, it was Jones that encapsulated what producers were looking for when they placed an ad looking for “folk & roll musicians, singers for acting roles in new TV series.”

“For me, David was the Monkees,” Nesmith told Rolling Stone. “We were his sidemen. He was the focal point of the romance, the lovely boy, innocent and approachable.”