I would say that out of all the bands to make it big through television, The Monkees are the kings. In 1965, Raybert Productions put together a pilot show about a struggling band called the Monkees. Through auditions and a bit of luck, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz were cast as band members. The show was picked up by NBC in 1966, and aired for two seasons, and even won two Emmys in 1967.
Starting in the summer of ’66, the Monkees began to record and produce songs for the shows soundtrack. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (along with Music Coordinator Don Kirshner) pretty much made the Monkees who they were: they are responsible for “Last Train To Clarksville”, “Vallerie”, and many other popular tunes. When “I’m A Believer” became a huge hit, the band decided to move on independently, and recorded two albums and two singles in 1967; the individual band members were also taking on their own musical projects, and in 1968 Peter Tork split from the group.
Appearances on MTV and a reairing of the original show boosted the Monkees’ popularity, and fueled the ability for the band (in some capacity) to create two more albums in the late 1980’s: Pool It! and Justus. Various television specials and reunions scattered throughout the lifetime of the band and helped fuel so-called Monkeemania. The Monkees quartet was often compared to the Beatles for obvious reasons:
But unlike the Beatles, all four band’s members are alive and kicking today.
Little fun facts:
Peter Tork made appearances on shows including Boy Meets World, King of Queens and 7th Heaven.
Mickey Dolenz also has appeared on Boy Meets World, as well as many other shows including voice work for The Powderpuff Girls and The Tick.
Mike Nesmith has kept it more quiet. He published a novel in 1998 titled The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora. Also, his mother, Bette, is the inventor of “Liquid Paper” (early White-Out).
Davy Jones appeared in the 1995 movie The Brady Bunch Movie, and has a prize-winning horse named Digpast.
And if you are curious about what the television series was like, here is an interesting little clip from an episode called “Monkees in a Ghost Town”. I seriously love the ’60’s.