by Susan A. Santo SAS2N@aol.com
Author's Note: I would like to thank all the first generation fans who participated in my survey back in the `80s and helped in the creation of this article.
The Sixties were a time of turmoil but also offered the promise of a new beginning based on unconditional love. Ironically, a TV show that seemed to symbolize that very promise, with its portrayal of four hip young men who lived together, gave each other understanding and love, and went around saving everybody (the villains were always adults), aroused fierce controversy. Did having begun their career as a "manufactured group" make the Monkees' dramatic success a fraud? Or did they have something genuine to give us after all, something that would last beyond the presence of mere hit records?
One of the taunts inevitably hurled at the "prefab four" was that they were the hearthrobs of young girls. In the late 1980s I asked Monkees fans who grew up during that tumultuous decade to fill out an anonymous questionnaire about their experiences. Twenty people responded, of whom eighteen were female and two male. The youngest was five when first exposed, the oldest sixteen. The results show that far from being a shallow attachment that soon faded, their love for the Monkees had a profound effect on their lives.
Not surprisingly, the event that first sparked their enthusiasm was the viewing of the television show. "When I first heard `Last Train to Clarksville' on the radio," a female fan remembers, "I thought it was okay. Not fabulous or anything, just okay. But I was still interested in seeing the debut of the TV series. I became a fan from day one, the show was so different. After every episode a friend and I would call each other and talk and laugh and just plain carry on over the show."
A male fan comments, "It seemed that this was the first TV show to address kids. There were no parents on the show to tell them what to do; they spoke more of the language of the times; and they didn't dress like any of the other youth on TV. There were subtle references made to hip things that parents probably wouldn't understand."
Another female fan says, "I remember thinking, `When I'm old enough, I'm going to live just like the Monkees do,' that is, the TV characters, not the real guys. I wanted the communal myth and the starving artist myth at the same time: to live and work with a bunch of ever-loyal friends who accept each other unconditionally, to produce art, to struggle for a living, to be utterly dedicated to one's art and friends. I probably also wanted to dress cool and attract the opposite sex easily."
The attachment was sudden and intense. "The show was hilarious," says one female fan. "I laughed so hard that I cried. The music was bright, bouncy, happy. The first thing that endeared them to me was their smiles. I felt loved by them."
"After just a few shows I was hooked," says a second. "I couldn't wait to collect their pictures and read about them. All my allowance money went for 45s and fanzines." A third adds, "When the magazines weren't coming out fast enough to suit me, I began to write my own magazines about the Monkees."
In 1969 Gloria Stavers, editor of 16 Magazine, shed light on the subject of fandom. "At 12 everything is agonizing--the depths are the lowest, the heights at the highest....A girl will usually pick a fantasy boy at this time because the guys who are her age are just too far behind her. A girl likes her idol to be just different enough so that her parents won't quite approve. In front of her, there's a photograph of this lovely person and she takes total charge; it's hers." (From the Rolling Stone special report, Groupies and Other Girls.)
The experiences of my respondents support this assessment. "I had a pretty unhappy, lonely time of it through much of my teenage years," writes one female fan. "The Monkees were an escape. My parents thought it was ridiculous and that I should try to get a real boyfriend instead of dreaming about Davy Jones all the time. But when you're 14 years old, the boys in your class are not as mature as the girls. We girls wanted romance, we wanted to fall in love. But the boys were creeps; they were either still at the stage where they pulled the girl's hair, or else they'd take you out and the date would turn into a wrestling match. So that's where the Monkees fit in. These guys were perfect to dream about! They never disappointed us, they didn't let us down. The magazines assured us that our favorite teen idols were kind, considerate, romantic, everything we wanted them to be. I remember looking forward to the next issue of `Monkee Spectacular' with such eagerness and poring over each article. And as corny as those fan magazines were, they helped us kids. My friends and I wanted to be the kind of girls that the Monkees would like, so we followed the advice of these magazines not to take drugs or smoke or whatever."
Each fan chose a favorite Monkee to cherish. "I loved David's English accent," says a female admirer. "I started taking dance lessons because I wanted to be able to dance like him. I envied with all my heart the girl who danced to `Cuddly Toy' with David on the show. The fact that David was the romantic one on the TV show, always falling in love, also made him appeal to me."
A second says, "My mom got upset when I wallpapered the wall with Davy's picture and carved his name in our apple tree. I remember crying myself to sleep at night because I knew I could never be with Davy."
"It was Micky right from the start," says one female fan. "I loved his humor, his cute little face, his singing, and most of all his adorable shyness. I was off in my own world a lot. In that world, I was Micky's best friend and we could talk about everything. He was a favorite companion to a very lonely child."
A second fan writes, "Micky reminded me of myself. I was a clown, always trying to make everybody happy and laugh just like Micky. I think it would be a blast to take him to an amusement park."
One female fan sums up Peter's appeal in this way: "Something adults didn't understand--apparently, even Peter himself didn't--was that to kids, Peter wasn't dumb at all; he was a child in spirit: innocent, loving, giving, unspoiled by bad experiences. Perhaps we hoped that if Peter could do it, we'd be able to hang on to what was good in us, too."
A second saw beyond the fictional persona: "Peter was by far my favorite. He was very intense, sensitive, and intelligent, more so than any of the others."
"My favorite Monkee was Mike," says a male fan, "because there was a quality about him on the show that seemed to say, `Don't take all this seriously, just have a good time.' He seemed to know that everything was manufactured and maybe what he'd done was to sell out, so he'd try to make the best of it that he could."
Mike received no votes from any of my female respondents. Why? "I was always a little afraid of him," confesses one.
Bewildered parents tried to cope with their child's sudden obsession. "I used to drive my parents crazy with my love for the Monkees," writes one female fan. "Whenever Mom wanted to punish me she used the Monkees. If I got smart mouthed or didn't want to do a certain chore, the phrase `If you don't, I won't let you watch the Monkees' always seemed to come pouring from her mouth. When the second album came out, my father saw it and bought it for me. He had worked overtime so it was around 11:15 when he gave it to me. I remember my mom saying, `Why did you give that to her now, you know she will never get to bed!' but I fooled them both and went to sleep. Mind you, it killed me to do that, but I got up early and listened to it before I went to school. It is a very nice memory I will always have of my dad."
Another agrees. "My parents thought the Monkees were long-haired weirdos and that it was stupid of me to like them, but they tolerated it. But when my mother would be mad at me, she'd threaten to tear my pictures of Davy off my bedroom wall. She must have known that threat would fill me with fear and get me to behave, and I assure you it did. When my grandmother saw my room, she said she didn't know why I was so crazy about Davy, for he was ugly. Then she caught a glimpse of the cover of Davy's Colpix album, where he was pictured with short, neat hair. `Now why can't you be a fan of someone like him?' she asked, pointing at the album cover. `Now there's a nice looking young man!'"
"My parents ridiculed me on occasion," says a third, "perhaps fearing I'd become a druggie as a result. But the Monkees were the first rock band I was permitted to listen to, so my parents must have seen them as the least of many evils."
Some parents were less understanding. "My parents thought I was nuts!" writes one fan. "My mom was always screaming at me to turn down the volume on the record player and quit listening to the same thing over and over again. My dad took one look at their pictures and said to me, `You have a sweet taste for sour shit' (his exact words, I kid you not)."
"My parents couldn't stand the Monkees," says another, "because all I did was live and breathe and talk about them 24 hours a day."
For some, being a Monkees fan met facing the disapproval of their peers. "The hatred that people had for the Monkees is a difficult subject even now," says one fan. "I was made fun of, mocked and insulted at school, and ridiculed. I could never understand what I'd done to get such treatment. It was as if people actually resented the guys and anyone who cared about them. I was looked on as a dimwit by more `together' kids my age. My family thought I was crazy and that I'd get over the guys."
"I got hassled from the older kids who were strong Beatles fans," says a second. "I remember a friend walking down the street wearing a homemade Monkee shirt and having some older boys drive by and call her names. They informed her that the Monkees weren't a real group and she was a baby for liking them. She was crushed." A third says, "Some boys at school told us at recess that the Monkees died in a plane crash. All the girls were crying and it took the teacher forever to calm us down."
For some, however, friendship with other fans provided a bond. "My best friend and I collected their pictures," says one female fan, "and we would spend hours in our rooms dancing and listening to their music." "We used to play Monkees," confides another. "I was the shortest with a shag cut, so I was Davy. We had a tall girl with black hair--she was Mike. Her sister had light brown hair, hence Peter. A blond got to be Micky in honor of the fact that he had just married a blond. So you can see how a kid could spending her waking moments thinking Monkees, Monkees, Monkees!"
A third says, "Most of my friends liked the Monkees, so it made us closer. We girls used to talk about the Monkees at school all the time. After each episode we'd discuss how funny Micky was when he did such-and-such, or how cute Davy looked in such-and-such an outfit."
"During the Sixties with the Vietnam war and all the rebellion I think the Monkees were a bit of an escape for me," one fan confides. "I was not ready to face all that conflict. Burying myself in them I did not have to see the campus protests and killing on the TV, and I did not have to think too much about my brother being in Vietnam, the memorial services for the boys who had just graduated the year before. That was a pretty scary time; did the Monkees keep us sane?"
But another writes, "I recall one topic of conversation dominating Lindbergh Elementary School's lunch hour: `Did you hear--Davy Jones is going to be drafted!' Vietnam had hit home and invaded the consciousness of the kids in a brutal way--to think that a beloved pretty face was going to war. My brother explained to me that if Davy were the only boy in his family he couldn't go as he was his father's main support. `Besides, he's too short. How could he see above the trenches?' And of course that was later to become a visual joke in Head."
Much of the world's contempt for the group arose during the controversy of their "not playing their own instruments." Fans' loyalty was tested during this period. "I was confused, bewil- dered," writes one fan, "but I still loved the guys, and when they did become an actual band I loved them more than ever! They tried so hard and got no credit. It still hurts. The misconcep- tions are still there today. Many people have the wrong idea about them and have made their lives miserable for so long. Are they ever going to have peace?"
"I didn't want to believe it at first," states another. "But then I began to hear that the powers that be were not letting them play and that the guys were fighting valiantly to have that changed. Then `Headquarters' was released, and I was so proud of the guys for having won their battle. I just loved that album to death. They really could play and they proved it!"
"I did not care that they did not play their own instruments," writes a third. "I really did not understand what the fuss was about. There were so many other groups that did not play; it seemed like a lot of jealousy to me."
"The controversy made me even more sympathetic toward them," agrees a fourth fan. "I felt the Monkees were being treated very unfairly. I remember a local radio station had a big Monkees versus Beatles debate, which I thought was so stupid and unfair."
"I remember dj's making snotty remarks about them," says a fifth, "which baffled me since I had read about Peter's Greenwich Village days. But I liked them whether or not they played their instruments."
One fan learned the truth from a friend. "But she followed the information with `Who cares if they don't? It's like caring about the color of their hair--it being more important than they are!' What she was saying was that it was far too superficial to bother about whether or not they could hold a guitar right. However, I recall asking my older brother how they could fake it, and I recall 16 Magazine going to their defense, and I recall everything going downhill from then on."
The line between fiction and reality was becoming increasingly blurred. "I was slightly disturbed by the shake-up in my illusion," says a female fan, "but I was always more interested in the fictional Monkees and had drawn a distinction from the beginning."
"The first time I saw the show," says a male fan, "I knew they were not a real group, they were actors playing a group. But later on I thought they were a real group, because friends insisted that they were."
To defend their integrity, the fictional group was forced to become a real one. "I first heard about the Monkees not playing their instruments on a radio talk show, WKY radio, on a Sunday night in Oklahoma City," says a male fan. "The Monkees were making a quiet tour of the U.S. to try out their live act. Some guy who had seen the show called into the talk show to say that he saw them play their own instruments and that the rumor they didn't was false."
Some fans were forbidden by their parents to attend the Monkees concerts. "My mother said I was too young," says one female fan. "I remember that night well. I was listening to WFIL [Philadelphia] when the Monkees came in and took over the station for about an hour. Afterwards I just locked myself up in my room, listened to Monkees records, and cried because I wasn't at the concert."
"When the Monkees first came to Chicago," says another, "I was horribly depressed, knowing Davy was in the very same city I was in, but I couldn't see him. When I finally did see them, I simply pleaded with my parents until they allowed me to attend. One incident sticks out clearly in my mind. Each Monkee came out to do a solo number, and when Mike came out to do his, he talked about the musical artists who had influenced him in his career, people like Chuck Berry. All through his speech hundreds of girls chanted, `We want Davy! We want Davy!' Finally Mike said, `I know some of you are not interested in hearing about this, but for those of you who are, I'll continue.' Even though Davy was my favorite, I felt sorry for Mike."
For those fortunate enough to go, the experience was the thrill of a lifetime. A male fan attended a concert at Tulsa Assembly Center in Oklahoma. He knows it was on August 19, 1967, because he still has the ticket. "As we waited for the show to start we would hear periodic screaming from various girls in the arena who thought they saw a Monkee. After the first set of screams, it would set off other screams around the hall in a kind of wave until it got back to its point of origin and stopped." He describes the Monkees' entrance. "The lights went out and the `Theme from the Monkees' was played. On either side of the stage was what was supposed to be huge oversized speakers; to me they looked like big boxes. The front of these fake speakers opened and out came the Monkees, Mike and Peter on one side, and Davy and Micky from the other. After some short hellos from the group they began `Last Train to Clarksville.' You could hear them okay, but the crowd's screaming was like surface noise on an old record album, always noticeable....Above the stage was a giant slide projector so during any of the songs the band could project pictures from the TV program or others. During `I Wanna Be Free' they projected baby pictures of Davy and this sent the crowd into a screaming frenzy. Last to solo was Micky who did his James Brown number, highlighted by Mike coming out with a black cape to place around his shoulders and leading him offstage, only to have Micky break free, and run back to the microphone to sing some more....Steppin' Stone' had a psychedelic ending with flashing lights. The Monkees then left the stage. No encores in 1967! The crowd gave out some last screams and left peacefully."
"I went to a concert when they were touring without Peter," recalls a female fan. "It was held at a concert hall that had just been built called the Salt Palace, in the heart of Salt Lake City. I remember that Micky was crazy that night (as usual), Davy was charming (as usual), and Mike was very quiet. It was almost as if he wasn't there. The other thing I remember was at the end of `Randy Scouse Git' Micky threw out his drumsticks to the audience. Now that was chaos! I think Micky loved every minute of it. I have no idea who the opener was--if anybody."
"When the guys came to Philly in 1967 it was at the Civic Center," says another. "We wound up in section QQ in the back up near the rafters. But we thought it was great. Couldn't hear them very well because of all the screaming. The excitement was so heavy you could feel it. As the concert was winding down the house lights came up, and Peter started jumping up and down and waving. We swore Peter saw us (way up in QQ). What a great memory to leave the concert with! As we were coming outside, ears still ringing, a car horn blew and someone screamed, `It's the Monkees!' A mob like I have never seen in my life started running down the street. My friend who has never been and will never be an athlete wound up in front of the mob, actually leading the way! She said she heard Monkees and took off, didn't even think about it. I guess it was all the adrenalin from the concert. By the way it was not the Monkees in the car."
Hysteria by their fans was a constant problem for the Monkees. Yet, when asked if they were ever a hazard to the Monkees, my respondents say, "I never got close enough." A female fan adds, "I would have been shocked and infuriated at fans who were. I wanted to learn from the Monkees and to absorb what I perceived as love and acceptance from them."
Perhaps because `Headquarters' marked the turning point for the Monkees, when they finally won their battle with musical supervisor Don Kirshner, it was the favorite album of the majority of my respondents. "Although I became a fan of the show almost immediately," says one fan, "musically it wasn't until the third album, `Headquarters,' that I was a big fan." A second adds, "It was the guys themselves. The spirit was so fresh--it spoke of individuality and freedom." A third comments, "I think it is a very special album because they worked so hard on it to prove a point."
`Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones was the second most popular album.' "More of an adult type album," says one fan, "considering what they had done before." But "each time a new album came out it was my favorite," enthuses another fan, "only to be replaced by the next album!"
Favorite songs drew a powerful response. "My favorites were`I Wanna Be Free' and `Shades of Gray,'" says one female fan. "The lyrics of each just tore at my heart the first time I heard them, and their melodies are just so gorgeous!" "`Daydream Believer' is just so pretty," says a second, "especially the waltzy part with the strings section." "`Pleasant Valley Sunday,'" says a third. "The words were a reference to some of the apathy of the time."
Some choices seemed more personal. "`Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow' was my favorite," claims one female fan, "because Davy whispered `I love you.' I'd close my eyes and pretend he was whispering to me." "`Sometime in the Morning," says a second, "because of how beautiful Micky sounded." A third chose "For Pete's Sake," the Peter-written theme song ("we were born to love one another") that closed the show the second season.
When asked to pick a favorite episode of the television series, my respondents tended to focus on the message behind the story. "Probably for the longest time it was `The Devil and Peter Tork,'" says one female fan, "maybe because I understood his frustrations about the harp. I had always wanted to play the piano, but never got one, so I loved Mike's speech to Peter encouraging him to play even though he was afraid to play without what he thought were Mr. Zero's powers." The same fan also commented, "I love the part in `Monkees in Paris' where the guys are in the park, and Peter and Micky are with the girls. Then they go off as a foursome and they clutch each other's jackets as they have their arms around each other."
"I'd say my absolute favorite had to be `Success Story,' a second female fan writes. "It showed the guys all pulling together to keep Davy in the group. Very touching!" A third picked "`Mon- kees Get Out More Dirt' because I was fascinated by seeing the guys so enamored of someone." "`Gift Horse,'" says a fourth. "It suggested that some people could be extremely generous, especially to children, and be cool at the same time." A fifth picked three episodes: "`The Devil and Peter Tork,' `Monkees Paw,' and the Christmas episode. They talked about subtle lessons in life that was more than the Davy gets the girl type episode." A male fan comments, "My favorite was the concert episode that ended the first season. It's great to have fantasy with jokes and music, but this made the music real."
In the second season, restless with their perceived image as "bubblegum," the Monkees entered the psychedelic era. "When the Monkees began to change," says one female fan, "it scared me a little; I liked them better as the innocents. I had a hard time with the change in the music. I did not like the hippie flavor of the songs and the hard guitar sounds. I liked the soft, fun, light sounds of the early music. The war references in the show bothered me. I was surrounded by the war; I did not want the Monkees to remind me of it!" "I was a bit bewildered by the changes," says a second, "but I sensed a real need on the guys' part to express who they were, rather than what they should be according to the powers on high."
"I remember liking some of the changes," says a third, "especially in music and clothes, but not liking Micky's hair, which reminded me of the home perms I had to undergo once a week. The videos helped me adapt to the new music; it would have been impossible to be a fan and not love `Randy Scouse Git' and `No Time' with those colorful videos showing off our guys' skills with numerous instruments (I didn't know the videos weren't recorded live). Anyway, I believed the Monkees myth of unconditional love, so I was willing to roll with the changes."
"The music change did bother me," says a fourth, "especially `Goin' Down,' on the flip side to `Daydream Believer.' The guitar part and trumpets were hard for me to deal with, but these days it's one of my favorites of all their efforts."
Some took to the changes more readily. "I thought the new clothes were groovy!" says one fan. "I really didn't think the music changed all that radically. So they added a synthesizer. Davy still had his ballads and there were still songs with a good beat that you could dance to." "I loved the changes," says another. "I felt like I was seeing them more as people than as some producer's vision."
Others barely noticed. "I didn't think a lot about it," says one fan, "because I was changing just as fast as they were. It's almost like we went through puberty together." "I don't think I even noticed," agrees a second. "Now I see it as a statement of rebellion as was everything else they did at that time. They were a part of the revolution that was taking place."
One female fan visited Davy's mod clothing store Zilch in Greenwich Village. "My parents and I took a trip to New York City. I begged and begged them to take me to the Village so that I could shop in Davy's store. They finally took me there just to shut me up. It was a small shop at 217 Thompson Street with a handpainted psychedelic sign on the front and some Nehru jackets hanging in the window. I walked in, wide-eyed, hoping to see Davy at the counter. No such luck! I wanted a Nehru jacket real bad but they cost something like $15 which was way out of my budget. So I decided to get some love beads like Davy wore. I picked out a strand of blue and white beads, and also a strand of white ones with a black and white beaded eagle dangling from it similar to one I'd seen Peter wear. I remember wearing the beads a lot with my school clothes that year."
The feature film `Head' tested their fans further, as the Monkees continued to stretch their horizons. "I went into shock at seeing Micky commit suicide," a female fan confesses. "To this day, I can't remember any of the film beyond when Micky jumped off the bridge and was carried off by mermaids. I must have blocked out the rest."
Another was equally disturbed by the opening scene. "I saw `Head' on its first run doubled with `Yellow Submarine.' I used to fall asleep whenever anything terrified me in a theater. That part where Micky's the first to jump into the water, the entire theater shouted, `MICKY!' in unison. After Micky hit the water I put my head on my mother's lap and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up again I saw a very mad Davy breaking through a door and Peter being yelled at. These were certainly not my Monkees."
"I saw `Head' at a drive-in," recalls a male fan. "`Swiss Family Robinson' was the first part of a double feature. When `Head' came on, all the other cars left one by one. I was with my mother and my grandmother who wanted to leave. I found the film confusing, but I insisted on staying because I'd already heard the album and liked the music."
Many fans never had the chance to see it. "I wanted to, but it didn't play anywhere near where I lived," states a female fan. "I was really disappointed because I wanted to see it badly. I loved `Porpoise Song' from the soundtrack. Absolutely wore out my copy of the single playing it over and over again! I was sad to hear that `Head' was a flop shortly after it was released."
Says another, "One of my friends went to see it and told me what a strange movie it was. I remember her telling me that there was a scene where the Monkees got mobbed and a girl walked off with Davy's head! I wanted very much to see the movie, but my parents would not let me go downtown where the film was showing."
The television special `33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee' only added to the confusion. "I was very upset," writes one fan. "Couldn't figure it out at all. No one cared for it. I was growing nervous." Another says, "I was disappointed because it wasn't the Monkees I remembered on the series. It was much more sophisticated. I felt like the show was a kind of goodbye." "I remember thinking it needed to have more of the Monkees and less of Julie Driscoll," says a third. "And who in the world was Brian Auger anyway?"
But others were fascinated. "Wow...I'm learning from this," one fan writes of her reaction. "The Monkees are teaching me what's cool and what's artistic. I remember having been well prepared for the show by one of the teen mags, which ran photos of the guys in the test tubes. I wrote numerous stories about how the Monkees would escape--many involving the power of my love to free them. I was let down by the ending. It didn't fit at all. The storyline demanded that the guys find their own way out, and therefore complete their maturity."
"I loved it," agrees another, "although I remember thinking that the Monkees were trying a bit too hard to change their goody-goody, bubblegum image. I had a tiny reel-to-reel tape recorder which I'd begged my parents for just so I could tape the Monkees off the TV. I played that tape to death! I remember the Fifties medley, and I remember loving those old songs. It was the first time I'd heard them."
"I liked it but didn't understand it," says a third, "and I loved Peter's Bach solo."
But the most difficult time of all was coming. "I cried bitterly when the show ended, when Peter left," one female fan says. "I tried to understand. I still bought all the records and saw them in reruns. I felt alone and I missed them. I never stopped loving them. It left a gap. I kept it to myself and wondered and prayed for them always. They were a part of me."
A second says, "I still loved them but no one else did, so I kept it to myself." A third comments, "Suddenly it wasn't cool to be a Monkees fan any more." A fourth agrees. "My friends liked them when they were popular, but when they broke up, they treated the group as if they were ancient history."
Two Monkee marriages contributed to the group's downfall. "I have to admit that I lost interest in them when Micky married," says one female fan. "I know that it was unreasonable, but I felt very betrayed. He was supposed to wait for me to grow up and move to California so that we could live happily ever after. It took me a long, long time to recover, and when I did, the Monkees had faded out of sight."
"I began losing interest in the group shortly after their TV show was cancelled," says a second fan. "The radio stations didn't play their records as much and the stuff they did play (`D.W. Washburn') I didn't care for that much. Then when Peter left the group, it just wasn't the same. But the final crushing blow for me came when I found out that Davy had been secretly married for 18 months and had a child. I just couldn't deal with that sort of deception."
A third has a more complex story to tell. "That time in my life was very difficult. When I started high school I just couldn't believe how different things were, and I wasn't mature enough to accept them. The kids were very cliquish, and I was put down and mistreated. I let all the things I cared about go to waste--my appearance, my music, my attitude, even the Monkees. I figured why bother about the Monkees--they were gone, so I let them go. But my uninterest in them didn't last long. In September 1969 they were back on Saturday morning reruns, and I began to love them all over again. I wanted others to share my love, but by that time they had outgrown the Monkees. They thought I was crazy. So I had to keep my feelings to myself. I knew I couldn't make people like the Monkees, but on the other hand they couldn't make me give them up."
The Sixties, which had begun with such promise, ended in hatred with violent riots, drug abuse, and the dissolution of the "Love Generation." By the time that decade of love had come to an end, the Monkees were gone too. It seemed they were a product of their times, destined not to outlast it. Or were they?
In 1986 the Monkees' comeback tour brought them a whole new generation of fans. For original fans the comeback aroused memories of a time long past. "Kids my age were just getting into rock and roll," says a female fan, "and the Monkees formed our notion of good music. Now we can't hear a Monkees song that doesn't make us smile and remember. I think that's why we like them so much. We play the songs and remember."
"I still think their music holds up very well," says a male fan, "and I still love their early albums. Part of it is my own nostalgia for the Sixties, a time I really miss. This is just one of my ways of capturing it again."
A third fan says, "My love for the Monkees will remain till the day I die. What else could come back into my life as an adult 20 years later but the best part of my childhood? The Monkees and we fans finally have the one thing we deserved all these years--respect."
A fourth comments, "It was an innocent time, and the Monkees were an innocent, fun escape. I've always been grateful to the Monkees for helping me through the difficult teenage years with their music, their humor, and their charm."
Female fans remember with fondness and wistfulness the intensity of that first love. "My feelings were real even if I was only 10 years old," one fan writes. "It was probably the first crush I ever had. Now it's 21 years later; I found them again. I'm a single parent and sometimes life gets a little rough. All I have to do, late at night when the kid is in bed, is put on my headphones and listen to Monkee music. I can almost feel like I'm 10 again with no problems and no worrys."
"They say you never forget your first love," says a second, "and I guess that is true because I am still crazy about Davy. My husband of nine years has learned to grin and bear it. He knows I have a special place in my heart for the Monkees, and that is the way it is."
Another married fan agrees. "Micky was my first love and, as such, he remains my best love. He resides in a place in my heart that is untarnished by time. He is the keeper of my innocence and his pictures were the recipient of my first childish kisses. How could I not go on cherishing him for the rest of my life?"
Today, thinking back over the years, my respondents agree that the Monkees left a profound and lasting impression on them. "The Monkees affected my life by showing me that you could be yourself and not be afraid to do what you want within reason," one female fan says. "We all changed in the Sixties for the good or bad of it. One of the best things that happened to me was the four insane guys that were the Monkees and the new friends I made through my Monkee fandom."
Another says, "I found the Monkees at a time when I couldn't have needed them more. They were the major influence on my life. I discovered my writing ability because of them, my love of music, my own individuality. They gave me dreams and hope and joy. They were my special friends."
Finally, a third fan offers this bittersweet conclusion. "Everything that came after the Monkees was affected by them. Since the guys were in essence a family, we were family too. Part of the code in the family was to respect one other's differences, just as the guys did: everyone fit in and was treasured. I have spend my life looking for the myth [of unconditional love] and continue to do so."
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