Song: “I’m A Believer” by the Monkees
Reached #1: December 31, 1966 (their second, 7 weeks)
Neil Diamond originally wrote “I’m A Believer” for himself before selling it to the Monkees – along with three other songs that all became Monkees singles. I think he’d like it made clear that he didn’t write them for the Monkees.
There’s always been – well, not a stigma, more like an asterisk – on the Monkees’ success as a group. They were formed, of course, for a sitcom and originally weren’t really going to be a group. But the songs they did on the show worked out so well that an album was inevitable.
The problem was that the first albums credited the Monkees as the perfomers – in reality, most of the early songs were done by studio musicians with only lead vocals by the Monkees (Micky Dolenz on “Believer”). This (along with Don Kirshner releasing More Of The Monkees without telling the boys) led to the end of Kirshner’s time as the Monkees’ musical director – and the beginnings of the Monkees as a real band instead of a sitcom band.
The Monkees’ first road dates as a band came just about the time “I’m A Believer” stormed to the top of the pop charts. It was a month later, in January 1967, where the Monkees actually started recording as a band. So, if you do the math, it’s clear that “Believer” was a Kirshner studio production with Dolenz on vocals.
The Monkees’ career was as tumultuous as the band the original sitcom took its inspiration from (do I have to mention them?). They fought each other, the record label, the sitcom’s producers… they broke up into side projects… and finally Michael Nesmith washed his hands of the whole thing… a couple of times. He quit in 1970, came back for a UK tour in 1997, left again, then came back in the wake of Davy Jones’ death in 2012 for a tour with Dolenz and Peter Tork.
And you may know this story – but Davy Jones’ success with the Monkees caused another David Jones to take a stage name that you might be familiar with… David Bowie.
You can look for a wrapup post later this week.
Other songs that reached #1 on December 31:
2005 – “Don’t Forget About Us” by Mariah Carey (her seventeen, 2 weeks)