Why Mike Nesmith Hated The Monkees’ Theme Song

Unlike most bands, The Monkees had their own show: The Monkees. The Monkees’ theme song became one of the most famous theme songs in the history of television. Despite this, Mike Nesmith hated the theme song, contrasting it with the work of The Beatles.

The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork wearing blue
The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Image

1 of The Monkees’ songwriters said Mike Nesmith ‘positioned himself’ as the leader for the Prefab Four

Together, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart formed the songwriting duo Boyce & Hart. They wrote Prefab Four tracks such as “Valleri,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” and “I Wanna Be Free.” In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Boyce discussed the origin of the band’s theme song.

“[Television producer] Bert told us that the pilot episode would require three original songs, a romantic ballad, a dance number called ‘The Chase,’ and a theme song called ‘The Monkees’ that would open and close every show,” Hart wrote.

Subsequently, Hart recalled Nesmith’s role in the band. “Michael Nesmith, the oldest and most music-business savvy member of the group, had positioned himself as their ringleader,” Hart remembered. “He knew the value of songwriting royalties, and he had been led to believe that he’d have a say in the music the group would make.”

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Mike Nesmith felt The Beatles would never release something like The Monkees’ theme song

Nesmith explained his feelings about the theme song. “[Record executive] Lester Sill had told us that Nesmith had argued long and hard against the theme song we had written for the show,” Hart wrote. “He told his boss, Bert Schneider, ‘The Beatles would never sing about themselves like that. ‘Hey, hey, we’re The Beatles?’ Come on, give me a break!’ 

“Of course, Michael didn’t know that it was Schneider who had designated in our first meeting that the theme song for the pilot should be called ‘The Monkees,'” Hart added. Hart cited Nesmith’s feelings about the theme song as one of many examples of the singer butting heads with the Prefab Four’s management.

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How ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“(Theme From) The Monkees” was never a single in the United States, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appeared on the album The Monkees. For 13 weeks, the album topped the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 102 weeks in total.

The Official Charts Company reports the theme song did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, The Monkees was No. 1 in the U.K. for seven weeks. It stayed on the chart for 37 weeks altogether.

The Prefab Four has one of the most famous theme songs ever — even if Nesmith was not a fan.

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