Were The Lovin’ Spoonful the Original Choice for the TV Series That Became the Monkees?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: The Lovin’ Spoonful were the original choice for the TV series that eventually became the Monkees.

In 1966, in response to the massive popularity of The Beatles and their two popular films following the band on various madcap adventures, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider decided that they would try to do an American version of A Hard Day’s Night, only as a television program.

At first, the producers figured that the easiest way for them to do this was to get an already established band and build the series around them the same way that the Beatles had their films built around them.

They zeroed in on the Lovin’ Spoonful, as the band definitely had a certain zany, lighthearted spirit to them (“Do You Believe In Magic?,” “Daydream,” etc.).

However, after an audition process, the producers figured it was more trouble than they expected. For one thing, the Spoonful were writing their own music at this point, and the show was not interested in giving up the publishing rights to the songs written for the show, so it really did not make sense for either parties, and the producers instead turned to open auditions for the show, using the now famous following ad in Variety…

Madness!!
Auditions
Folk & Rock Musician-Singers
For Acting Roles in New TV Series
Running Parts for 4 Insane Boys, Age 17-21
Want Spirited Ben Frank’s Types
Have Courage To Work
Must Come Down For Interview

Pretty much every wannabe actor or struggling musician in Los Angeles showed up, including Stephen Stills, soon to make it big in Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Eventually, they weeded the group down to four guys, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork (Tork was there on Stills’ recommendation – only Nesmith actually applied to the ad, Dolenz and Jones were sent by their agents).

They became the Monkees.

The show ran for two seasons from 1966-1968 and had a number of hit songs and the four members of the group are still pretty famous today (although Davy Jones sadly passed away recently)!

The Lovin’ Spoonful, on the other hand, lost their only remaining founding member, John Sebastian, by the time the Monkees even went off the air.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Eric Lefcowitz’s great Monkees bio, The Monkees Tale, for the information!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

4 Responses to “Were The Lovin’ Spoonful the Original Choice for the TV Series That Became the Monkees?”

  1. The Spoonful weren’t idiots, huh? That’s where the money WAS, publishing.

  2. I’d heard the debunked legend that Charles Manson tried out for the Monkees but never knew this.

  3. Minor Correction: The Monkees only ran for two seasons, although those did stretch from 1966-1968.

  4. Thanks, I’ll correct that!

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