The Monkee’s Tête-à-Tête

The Monkees were a 60’s rock group appealing to American teenagers. Their wildly popular TV show showcased their music via madcap adventures which poked fun at mainstream culture. But their 1968 psychedelic art movie Head, a stream-of-consciousness black comedy that mocked the Vietnam war, America (stunned by the recent Tet Offensive), Hollywood, television, the music business and the Monkees themselves, ended the Monkees’ short tenure as the biggest rock band in America.

Head is considered one of the weirdest and best rock movies ever made. Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright are both fans. DJ Shadow and Saint Etienne have sampled its dialogue. The director, Bob Rafelson, has stated the Beatles and the Rolling Stones sought private screenings. Thomas Pynchon saw the film at a theater disguised as a plumber. But fans of the Monkees thought otherwise.

Head was written at the height of their fame. Why it was made is still disputed. The late Monkee Peter Tork speculated the director and screen writer might have sought to disrupt the Monkees to advance their own careers. Rafelson’s daughter has stated her father believed fans had lost interest in the Monkees, and that his work was done. However, he thought a fictionalized account of their true stories would be compelling and win fans back.

In 1967 Rafelson, Jack Nicholson and the Monkees gathered in a hotel suite in California’s Ojai Valley. For two days they smoked pot, brain stormed, and talked into a tape recorder. Nicholson adapted the tapes into a screenplay; according to Rafelson, he structured it while on LSD.

While fans shunned the film and the music, some critics considered the sound track to be some of The Monkees’ best recorded work, including songs by Carole King and Harry Nilsson. The reviews were brutal; the movie bombed, losing nearly all funds invested in it. The Monkees fell apart.

In the 1980s, in part thanks to Nickelodeon and MTV, the band re-formed, released several albums, and completed several reunion tours.

Mickey Dolan, the last surviving Monkee, is suing the FBI after they failed to hand over all the band’s antiwar era FBI files. Thus far only one page has been released.




The Guardian  Head: Our Fans Couldn’t Even See It

Rolling Stone  The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz Would Like a Work with the FBI

The Monkee’s FBI file