What Mike Nesmith Is Saying on the Cover of The Monkees’ 1st Album

The Monkees‘ Mike Nesmith made a specific demand while posing for the photo for his group’s first album. He said something while the photo was being shot. Subsequently, the photographer had a negative reaction to the shoot.

The Monkees' Mike Nesmith wearing a hat
The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith didn’t act like the other members of his group while taking a photo

Bobby Hart co-wrote many songs for The Monkees. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart said a photographer named Bernie Yeszin was tasked with shooting the cover for The Monkees’ self-titled album. The Prefab Four went to take the photo during a break from filming their sitcom.

“Michael Nesmith lined the guys up in a little alley outside the soundstage and told us categorically, ‘OK, guys, you’ve got 10 shots,'” Hart recalled. “Bernie expertly snapped them off in as many seconds, as Michael counted them down. 

“If you check out the cover of The Monkees, their self-titled first LP, you can clearly see Micky [Dolenz], Davy [Jones], and Peter [Tork] are smiling,” Hart added. “But Michael Nesmith is mouthing the word ‘Seven.'”

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How the photographer reacted to Mike Nesmith’s actions while taking the photos for the album

Hart wasn’t happy. “As soon as we were back in the car, I unleashed my concern, asking Bernie, ‘Do you think you were able to get anything we can use?'” he remembered. “[Songwriter Tommy Boyce] chimed in, ‘I mean we’ve gotta have that one magic shot for the cover of the album, man.’

 ‘”Don’t worry about it,’ Bernie retorted and then continued to grumble all the way back to his house about how he had never been treated so unprofessionally,” Hart continued. Yeszin felt no one had even treated him as unprofessionally as Nesmith had. Hart defended the group, noting they were under a lot of pressure. Boyce was just happy they had a photo.

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How The Monkees’ debut album and its lead single performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

The album became a huge hit. It topped the Billboard 200 for 13 of its 102 weeks on the chart. The Monkees stayed on the chart longer than any of the Prefab Four’s other albums. One of the singles from the album — “Last Train to Clarksville” — became a huge hit. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 15 weeks in total.

The Monkees was a chart juggernaught in the United Kingdom too. According to The Official Charts Company, the album topped the U.K. chart for seven weeks. It stayed on the chart for 37 weeks altogether. Meanwhile, “Last Train to Clarksville” peaked at No. 23, remaining on the chart for seven weeks.

The Monkees became a hit album even if the photoshoot for its album cover was a bit of a hassle.

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