Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Monkees

Normally I write about a band or singer a month that has been unfairly excluded from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but I feel it necessary to talk about a band whose exclusion appears particularly puzzling.  If you heard of a band that had four straight #1 albums in the 1960’s, several #1 hits and top 40 hits even into the 1980’s, along with a top 20 album that had been released earlier in 2016, one would think that such an act would obviously be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, right?  What band could possibly record songs that remain important standards covered by contemporary acts, still perform new music that is relevant in the world of pop music, and have sold so many albums in a period where it seems that nearly every major act has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of FAme without being inducted themselves?  The answer to this question is:  The Monkees.

The Influence Of The Monkees

Why aren’t the Monkees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?  If we are simply looking at the band from the perspective of relevant music and chart success, this is a band that, for a while at least, was a rival to the Beatles.  They were not only a band made up of legitimate musicians who proved their chops at musicianship and songwriting at least from the time of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd, but they were on a successful television show and yet were not merely a product of that show, producing worthwhile and successful music long after their television career was done.  And lest one think that wanting to be part of an obviously successful television act would make one less musically qualified, Stephen Stills (a twice-inducted musician himself) was rejected for his bad teeth, and he hasn’t lost any of his credibility as a serious musician for wanting to be a part of the Monkees.  Why should those singers and musicians with better teeth suffer because they had such immense success as part of a television show, or because they worked with amazing songwriters and also wrote their own material after having to fight for it?  Should not a band that fought for artistic credibility be rewarded for it, rather than punished for being perceived as being handed pop success?

Why The Monkees Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

It seems a bit unreal that I should have to defend the Monkees as a worthy rock & roll band.  To be sure, this is a band that many people write me about and ask about, and it seems as if this is a band that should not require a defense [1].  Let us, however, look at the numbers.  The first four albums from the Monkees hit #1, and all of them have gone multi-platinum, while their fifth album has gone platinum.  These albums, especially the later ones, showed some immense growth in musicianship and some dedication to songwriting craft as well.  The band had a top 20 album in 2016 with Good Times! as well.  Concerning their singles, the band hit #1 with memorable songs like Last Train To Clarksville, Daydream Believer, and I’m A Believer, all of which remain vital songs as part of the 1960’s pop catalog, and also had serious hits with songs like Pleasant Valley Sunday, Valleri, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, D.W. Washburn, (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, and That Was Then, This Is Now, which hit the top 20 in 1986 [2].  There are many bands that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with far fewer album sales, with far less influence, and with far fewer worthy and lasting songs.  Given the importance of image to musical acts, and the rarity of a band forging a lasting career as a serious act from a television show, those acts that are able to survive in such a hothouse atmosphere deserve a great deal of credit rather than blame for having gotten their success in combination with television success.  Would we consider contemporary acts like Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, or Kelly Clarkson as less serious simply because their got their start on American Idol?  Far from it–witness the many acts that won the show and were unable to have lasting careers with multiple hit albums and years of success in making good music in various genres like pop, country, and rock?  And these are acts whose success owes something to that of the Monkees, who were the original act to combine television success with musical chops, leading to a host of imitations over the next few decades, a balance that few acts were able to handle well.

Why Aren’t The Monkees In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

The only reason that makes sense, given the lasting success as a live band, their lasting songs, their enduring reputation, and the fact that they were and are a beloved band for many people, is that their initial success as a pop act is being held against them.  This makes no sense whatsoever.  The Monkees are one of the most important bands of all time, certainly in showing the fertile relationship between music and television, and their induction should have happened decades ago.  That it has not happened yet is without excuse.

Verdict:  Put them in; they should be right at the front of the line.  I feel bad even having to say it.

[1] See, for example:







[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkees_discography

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Monkees

  1. Chris Andrews says:

    If you go the the Rock Hall of Fame site site and read the eligibility requirements, the Monkees more than pass those! There’s more! The Monkees have charted just as many if not more songs than many of the current members. They fought for and won the right to play their own instruments and they wrote many of their own songs. This is a great accomplishment when you consider the inspiration they provide to so many artist who think no one will listen so why try. The Monkees put it on the line and tried. There would not have been a real Monkees if they hadn’t fought for their right to play their own music. This means I think a lot! These guys were musicians plain and simple. Did you know The Monkees’ records outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in the years 1966 to 1967? They wrote many of their own songs. Honestly they did nothing other artists have done. Many artists have others play on their records. The Beatles I know had Billy Preston on Get Back and the Beach Boys had Glen Campbell help out for a while. They have always been the singers and that has never been in question so let’s put these guys in the Rock Ha;ll of Fame. They deserve to be there just as the Beatles, Dave Clark 5 and the Stones do.

    • Thanks for your passionate defense of the Monkees. I happen to agree that the Monkees’ fight to perform their own instruments and record their own songs gives them a great deal of legitimacy as a band and their sales and the influence of their music on later generations is beyond question.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide To The Sixties | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Kay Hart says:

    I wish someone with enough influence could take this, and other credible arguments I’ve read, to the R&RHofF bigwigs and get The Monkees in.
    I’m sad it didn’t happen before Davy died. But the remaining three certainly deserve the recognition.
    I saw Micky and Peter in concert in 2016 and Peter mentioned the fact that they’ve been ignored.
    There’s no sound argument against it.

  4. Elisabeth Lee says:

    First band to use a Moog synthesizer: Daily Nightly, Star Collector. Mickey was the second purchaser of one. Played all their instruments on Headquarters.

  5. mothfire says:

    I am in agreement. The more that read about them, the more I am convinced they should be in the RRHOF.

    • I get the feeling that the Monkees are viewed as being a forerunner for other acts whose popularity is due in some part to television (see the future debate we will be having about American Idol choices like Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry) but the Monkees had musical talent and songwriting chops that were something special.

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