Deep Dive 1967: When MORE OF THE MONKEES Ruled America
With all due respect to the Beatles, the Monkees were the biggest band in America over the year 1967, and it wasn't even really close. The group's self-titled debut album flew straight to #1 on the Billboard 200 over the week of November 12, 1966, and stayed there. It was the most popular full-length in the country, and could only be toppled by one band: the Monkees themselves.
Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones released the Monkees second album, More of the Monkees, on January 9, 1967. Fans hungry for new Monkees music bought the record in droves, sending it straight to #1 on the Billboard 200 for the week of February 11, 1967. Helping power the album: lead single "I'm a Believer/(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," the #1 song on the Hot 100 in January 1967.
The album also came with "Mary, Mary," had already been recorded by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band for the band's 1966 album, East-West. While it wasn't released as a single, it was and remains among the most beloved tracks in the Monkees' catalog.
"This was an early song. I hadn't been writing long, but I was interested in finding a place that was between country and blues," Nesmith told Rolling Stone in 2016. "At the time, I was working for Randy Sparks. He had started a publishing company after his success with the New Christy Minstrels, who were a folk-rock band. He hired me as a writer, and one day in his office I wrote 'Mary, Mary.' Frazier Mohawk took it to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and they recorded it. That was very encouraging."
More of the Monkees' reign was a substantial one; after hitting #1 over the week of February 11, 1967, the album put a choke-hold on the top spot, maintaining the position for 18 weeks in a row. The record finally relinquished #1 over the week of June 17, 1967, by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' Sounds Like. Over the album's stint at the top, however, the Monkees had enough time to record album #3: Headquarters, which knocked of Herb Alpert and company after just one week to put the band right back at #1. The LP was only #1 for a single week--one week later, the Beatles shot to the top with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band, which stuck at the top into October 1967.