Who ruled the radio airwaves, record charts and most importantly, video music channel programming of 1986? Genesis? Phil Collins? Bon Jovi? Madonna? How about The Monkees!
Somewhere between audio and video in 1986, there was a huge revival of The Monkees. The comeback was as planned, pre-packaged and targeted as the original Monkees show. And, our friends at MTV are to thank!
This wasn’t geared toward the Boomers who first made “The Pre-Fab Four” one of the top ten acts in the 1960’s. This was targeted at the Generation X’ers who grew up watching the Monkees as a syndicated show (always in the summertime here in Chicago!) in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was brilliant programming move. The kitsch of the Monkees, campy visual comedy, and most of all, pre-made music videos (typically 2 per 30 minute episode) were a perfect match for The MTV Generation.
It started with a series of Monkees Marathons in early 1986 on MTV. The show ran and ran and ran that spring.
I saw the commercial for Eric Lefcowitz’s Monkees Tale book so many times that I can recite the PO box number in my sleep 26 years later!
The popularity of these reruns of reruns resulted lots of records and tapes from Rhino’s catalog being sold. This lead to a new greatest hits release with a new song (“That Was Then, This Is Now”), a tour, and a Christmas video (of which is dreadfully hard to a good copy!). Those enterprises included a brief reunion with Mike Nesmith, The Monkee who didn’t really need the money.
Late ‘86 brought a new album of all new material (“Pool It”) which lead to 2 decades of on again / off again reunions, recording and tours. These reunions and comeback seem to now be over with through 2012 and the passing of Davy Jones. Though his death itself lead to a jump in sales of a recent Greatest Hits album on iTunes and Amazon and a third generation of Monkeemania!