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:
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