Five days short of the 20th anniversary of their television show's 1966 debut on NBC, Michael Nesmith joined Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork for an encore performance on the last night of a three night stand for The Monkees in Los Angeles on September 7, 1986. Due to ongoing business commitments, Nesmith, who led the Pacific Arts Corporation at the time, was unable to commit to the group's 20th Anniversary Tour. He had been privately and publicly supportive of the reunion and had expressed interest in joining the trio when their schedules permitted. The appearance of all four original Monkees performing on the same stage for the first time since 1968 generated a lot of publicity and was widely covered by news outlets. MTV was present for the show and filmed the encore.
The Monkees sang “Listen To The Band” first, with Nez handling lead vocals, and closed with a rousing version of “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” complete with Nesmith handling the lead guitar riff that he had performed on the original studio version nineteen years earlier.
"Having the four of us together on stage again was one of the great highlights of my life," said Davy Jones after the momentous reunion. "We were all a bit tearful in the end."
In September 1986, at the height of The Monkees' blockbuster 20th Anniversary Tour and accompanying MTV-inspired resurgence, Columbia Pictures released the group's 1968 feature film, Head, on VHS, Beta, and Laser Disc. The cover of those versions is represented by the poster below to the left, while a vintage promotional advertisement for the movie appears on the right.
In the May 2019 issue of Uncut, Kristin Hersh, singer-songwriter and musician best known for her time in the alternative rock band Throwing Muses, revealed some of her favorite music selections. At the top of Kristin's list is the platinum album, Then & Now...The Best of The Monkees, issued at the height of The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Tour in 1986. Thanks to Live Almanac contributor Renny Simno for sharing!
Thank you very much to Iain Lee, co-founder of 7a Records, for uploading the official videotape of the 1986 Los Angeles Monkees convention, which took place September 5-7, and was capped by a reunion of all four Monkees in concert at the Greek Theatre on the last day of the convention. This video includes Q&A sessions with both Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz, Bobby Hart performing "Steppin' Stone" with The Characters, along with guest appearances by Jan Berry, Rodney Bingenheimer, and more.
Eddie Zyne, who played drums for The Monkees on their blockbuster 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, has passed away. Micky Dolenz honored Eddie in a post on Facebook:
Thanks a lot to the fantastic Written In Our Hearts Facebook page for allowing the Live Almanac to share this rare photo of Peter, Davy, and Micky rehearsing for their appearance on the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. If you haven't stopped by Written In Our Hearts, be sure to follow their page!
The trio performed "Daydream Believer" and "I'm a Believer" on the September 5, 1986 telecast while The Monkees were experiencing a newfound success during their 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour:
In early 1986, Arista Records, who owned the Monkees catalog at the time, started planning a greatest hits package that would mark the group’s 20th Anniversary. When Micky, Davy, and Peter hit the road in late May and surprised everyone by becoming that summer’s hottest concert ticket, Arista pared down their original 2-LP package to a single album that ended up including a couple of brand new Monkees recordings.
However, the three new songs that ultimately appeared on Then and Now...The Best of The Monkees ("That Was Then, This Is Now," "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," and "Kicks"), included participation from just Micky and Peter. (Michael Nesmith, as we all know, remained on the sidelines for most of the group's 20th Anniversary activities.) A little backstory: Davy was signed to Bell Records in the early 1970s, and the label eventually morphed into Arista Records, led by music mogul Clive Davis. For years, Davy vocalized his disdain for the Bell experience, claiming his talents were misused and that he was never given the opportunity to grow as an artist while under their auspices.
Once the offer came around from Arista in 1986 regarding new recordings for the reunited Monkees, Davy balked, saying it was a bad deal while also expressing frustration that The Monkees would just be singing over pre-recorded backing tracks. Things became complicated when “That Was Then, This Is Now" took off at radio and on MTV. Davy would leave the stage when the song was performed live, and the music video, filmed in concert, led to questions of “Where’s Davy?”
Despite the tension behind the genesis of the Arista Monkees recordings, the Then & Now album went platinum during the group's blockbuster 1986 reunion tour. “That Was Then, This Is Now” became the band's new single that summer and a music video for it was filmed at Great Arena in Jackson, New Jersey on July 25. The video received heavy airplay on MTV, making the song a Billboard Top 20 hit in the summer of 1986.
An alternate version of the video appears below:
Thanks a lot to Ed Reilly for sharing this comic that was syndicated nationwide in late 1987!
Those who became fans during The Monkees' resurgence in 1986 (like myself) will no doubt have fond memories of the Arista Records compilation Then & Now...The Best of The Monkees.
Released in June that year, the album contained the group's greatest hits, along with three new tracks recorded just in time for The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour: "That Was Then, This Is Now," "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," and "Kicks." Then & Now peaked at #21 and became a million seller, aided by the "That Was Then, This Is Now" single, which climbed to #20 while its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on MTV.
Arista, however, had originally planned to release a 2-LP set entitled The Best Of The Monkees to celebrate The Monkees' 20th Anniversary, but plans were changed when it was decided to record new tracks. With the double LP already pressed, it was instead made available via mail order and was distributed by Silver Eagle Records:
The Silver Eagle release featured 24 tracks but unlike the Then & Now issue, there was no gatefold cover and the liner notes were not included.
The Silver Eagle version of the album was also issued on cassette. A combination of both the Silver Eagle Best Of and Arista's Then & Now was released on compact disc in August 1986 and became the first Monkees CD to be made available in the United States.
This commercial aired in 1986 and 1987 advertising the 2-LP Silver Eagle set:
Monkeemania: The True Story of The Monkees was authored by Glenn A. Baker, Tom Czarnota, and Peter Hogan. Published in 1986 at the height of The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, many fans (like me) who discovered the group on MTV that year inevitably purchased the first edition of the book:
Baker also produced and compiled the legendary 1979 compilation Monkeemania: 40 Timeless Hits.
The third edition of Monkeemania, pictured below, was published in 1997 with alternate front and rear covers:
Thanks a lot to Tom B. for reminding the Live Almanac about this live footage from a stop on The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Tour!
The monumental gathering of Monkees fans in Philadelphia on August 1-3, 1986 was a culmination of the stready growth of smaller, more intimate Monkees conventions since the late 1970s. This sold-out event, hosted by Monkee Business Fanzine editor Maggie McManus and Monkees collector Ed Reilly, and emceed by longtime fan Fred Velez, attracted Davy, Micky, and Peter during the height of The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Tour. Two sold-out shows at Philly's Mann Music Center capped off the event.
Micky Dolenz Live
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart returns