Why The Monkees Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
The death of Davy Jones Wednesday isn't just the end of one man's life.
For fans of the Monkees, it means the end of a lot of things. It means no more reunions. It means no more movie and TV cameo appearances. It means no more new music
It means no performance to celebrate the Monkees' induction to The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.
That is, of course, assuming that the "rock experts" who make the decision on who is worthy enough to be inducted get over their 44-year grudge against the band.
While much is written every year about why KISS and Rush should go in to the Hall, no one ever defends the Monkees. Writers fall back on the same things critics have been saying since '68 without ever explaining why those issues matter. It's musical snobbery at its laziest, and it's asinine.
What qualifies one to be part of the musical elite? On "Eligibility," from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "Induction Process":
To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.
We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.
By those standards, The Monkees were first eligible for induction in 1991, 25 years after the release of their debut album. While their career might not have warranted a first ballot nomination, it is ridiculous that there has never been a serious push for them in the 21 years since they were first eligible.
Let's break down the arguments against them:
They didn't play their own instruments on their first two albums. It's true - session musicians performed the music, but this had less to do with their individual musical talents and more to do with the fact they needed to have music ready by the time the TV show hit the air.
It's not like the members of the group weren't competent musicians. True, Micky Dolenz drew the short straw and had to learn the drums, but he could play guitar when he was cast. All four members could sing and they did: All of the lead vocals on those first two albums are done by The Monkees.
Meanwhile, plenty of solo singers and vocal groups who never played instruments on their recordings are in the Hall.
They didn't write their own songs. It would be more accurate to say that they didn't write their own "hit" songs. As early as their second album, the individual members were contributing songs. "Mary, Mary," famously sampled by Run-DMC, was written by Mike Nesmith.
By the time of their fifth album they were contributing half of the songs that made it on the record. What's more interesting is that they didn't have to write songs: they could have coasted along doing songs written by other people. They wanted to write music and wanted people to hear their songs.
Countless artists in the Hall performed songs they didn't write. Are the Four Tops and the Supremes less deserving of respect because they relied on Holland-Dozier-Holland to write their songs for them?