HERE WE COME: When the Monkees Ruled America

Thursday, December 30, 2021
LOS ANGELES - 1966: The Monkees (L-R Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davey Jones) pose for a portrait at the Sunset Gower Studios in 1966 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Monkees arrived fully formed on September 12, 1966. That's the date when the fledgling young group's self-titled TV show debuted on the NBC television network. A month later, on October 10, 1966, the band's debut album--also self-titled-- arrived on record store shelves. Thanks to the group's rakish charm, offbeat humor and sparkling pop songs, the Monkees quickly became a massive pop sensation all across the America; making stars of Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.

The Monkees album quickly shot to the top of the Billboard 200, scoring the #1 position for the week of November 12, 1966. The record was such a hit that The Monkees held onto that #1 spot for an astonishing 13 weeks straight. There was only one single released from The Monkees: "Last Train to Clarksville," which rocketed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of November 6, 1966.

With the band tucked away in Hollywood, feverishly working on the TV show and new music, the Monkees didn't even realize just how big of a phenomenon they'd become: "You're in a bubble. You have no clue what's going on outside your bubble," Micky Dolenz recalled during a 2014 interview. "You're in the eye of the hurricane."

Dolenz discovered his new fame over the 1966 Christmas season: "I ran down to the local mall here in the Valley, where I'd been shopping every year since I was a child," he remembered. "All of a sudden, I hear people screaming and running at me, and I thought it was a fire!

"I turned around and I hold the door open and I'm going, 'Don't panic! This way! This way! Don't panic!'" Dolenz said. "They come running at me, all these kids, and I realized, 'Oh my God, they're running at me.' That was the first time I realized that something was going on."

Monkee-mania had such a grip on the United States that the only album with the power to dethrone the band's debut from #1 on the Billboard 200 was the group's second full-length, More of the Monkees. the LP went to the top slot for the week of February 12, 1967, and maintained the leader position for 18 weeks in a row.