As this year’s edition of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony gets underway on Saturday, April 14, the focus won’t be so much on who is being inducted but who isn’t: the Monkees. It took the death of Davy Jones to bring the scattershot grumblings of pop music writers and Monkees believers to a feverish pitch. The general feeling seems to be that the band needs to be inducted now, if not sooner.
Sure, the 1960s group may have been put together by a pair of television producers as a made-for-TV band, the reasoning goes. But despite that, they made a lot of great singles and albums, sold tons of records and even eventually took control of their music. And as for the once-scandalous fact that studio musicians played on their records? Well, as everyone later learned, studio musicians also played on records by the Beach Boys, the Byrds and other bands, and that didn’t wreck their credibility.
The Monkees - I'm a Believer
Beyond that, Monkees hits such as “Last Train to Clarksville," “I’m a Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Daydream Believer” are enduring records that are staples of oldies radio (“Daydream Believer” even edged into the Top 100 when it was re-released in 1986). As the years have passed, the stigma of the group’s bubble-gum image and lack of alleged “integrity” has been replaced with a respect for the classic music they made.
And so Monkees fans have drawn up an online petition to get the band inducted (at last count nearly 25,000 people had signed). The country’s best known magazine devoted to record collecting, Goldmine, regularly runs opinion pieces testifying that the group is Hall-worthy. On the Rock’s Backpages site, writer Barry Pig Gold wondered if there was a conspiracy to keep the group out of the Hall.
After Jones’ passing, NPR’s Marc Hirsh penned an impassioned tribute to the group that asked the musical question “NOW can we induct the Monkees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” In the National Review Online, Mark Goldblatt questioned the Monkees’ Rock Hall absence and the validity of the Hall itself. When you have two Web sites from opposite ends of the political spectrum both championing a group, that’s a pretty good sign consensus has reached a peak.
The death of Davy Jones, which warranted a People magazine cover, proved that people really still care about the Monkees. But do the critics and music industry veterans who make up the Rock Hall’s voting bloc care as well? Time will tell.
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