On This Day November 5, 1966: The Monkees' One-Way Ticket to Stardom

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The dashing TV stars of NBC's hit sitcom hopped on the fast track to mainstream musical success with their debut single “Last Train to Clarksville,” a zany pop-loving release that stationed the group at the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1966. 

Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork were the four mop-topped mods on NBC’s popular comedy show that depicted the weird and waggish moments of a rock band struggling to make it as proper musicians. 

"Cause I'm leaving in the morning, and I must see you again." the Monkees sang, with drummer Dolenz on lead vocals, shifting a relatively simple song with catchy hooks and a subtle anti-war message into a cultural mantra of the 60's. "We'll have one more night together, till the morning brings my train and I must go."

The Monkees' hit has been compared to The Beatles' "Paperback Writer," which had topped the US charts just three months prior, with consideration to the acoustic guitar strum, the vocal harmonies, and the chord structure.

The Monkees’ model seemed a two-pronged measure of a Beatles mimicry propped with the momentum of a nationwide network audience. With the steadfast support of songwriting team Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart who produced and contributed the backing tracks in the majority of the show’s soundtrack and debut, the Monkees were well-prepped for commercial consumption.

Quickly, the Monkees became the first video stars of their time, heralding individual recognition for their distinctively quirky personas, to a level of success that few bands, other than the Beatles, reached at the time. 

Perhaps a testament to the young performers’ acting abilities, TV fiction turned into fact as the band’s records continued to chart, with a headstrong shot to number one with their debut studio album The Monkees proving that despite the fab four’s unconventional start, they were becoming a cultural phenomena outside the scope of television.

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