Spokane, the Monkees, and April Fool’s Day 1967

Early on a Saturday morning in 1967, a KJRB radio disc jockey made a surprise announcement popular television personalities and recording artists, The Monkees, would make a five-minute appearance at the Memorial Coliseum that afternoon1.

In no time the staff at the Coliseum were deluged with phone calls from teenagers wanting to confirm that it was true. It was the first of April, and few of the teenagers, girls mostly, were skeptical of the news. In a short time the Coliseum entrance way filled up with hundreds of teens hoping to see the Monkees in person.

The crowd of about 1,000 teens attracted the attention of a Spokane Police officer driving past in his squad car, and who questioned the authenticity of the news, seeing that it was April Fool’s Day, but he could do little better as the Coliseum’s staff at trying to confirm or deny the validity of the information.

Finally before the Monkees were alleged to appear the “police finally disbanded the fans, but had to call the radio station that perpetuated the joke and have them broadcast a retraction before they could convince the youngsters that the Monkees were not going to appear.2

At that time The Monkees second album, More of the Monkees, was Number one after nine weeks on the Billboard Top LPs chart.3 The band from Los Angeles was followed on the Billboard Chart by the Rolling Stones’ Between The Buttons which in turn was followed by The Monkees’ first album, The Monkees, which had by now been on the list for 26 weeks.

The created-for-television pop musical act was at the height of their popularity throughout 1967.

Although The Monkees were not invited to play at the Monterey Pop Festival set to open in June, Peter Tork, one of the members of the band and a musician known in the New York and Los Angeles music scene in 1965, was at the Pop Festival on stage as an MC to introduce his favorite bands.

It was during the previous summer that the four actors and musicians, Tork, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, and Micky Dolenz were hired by Los Angeles film producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to play the parts of musicians in a fictitious Rock ‘n’ Roll band and appear in a television situation comedy show for teen-agers. Episodes were filmed and an album was recorded with the help of music producer Don Kirshner.

The first album was released a month after the television show debated in September. It was the number one album on the Billboard Magazine charts by December, and a single from the album The Last Train To Clarksville was the number one Top 40 song by December.

A tour was organized to showcase the band and their music by Dick Clark Productions.

By mid-July it was announced in Spokane that for real the Monkees would be appearing at the Memorial Coliseum in August, tickets went on sale at the Coliseum box office on July 28.4

As it turned out the Spokane appearance was the final show of the hugely successful 1967 national tour. The Los Angeles producers arranged to record the live shows for possible release as a live record album.

The Monkees released the recordings in 1987 as The Monkees Live 1967 (Rhino 70139) made up of recordings from the final three shows performed in Portland, Seattle, and Spokane.5

 

1 “Prank Ignites Chaos.” Spokesman-Review. 2 April, 1967.

2 “The Monkees are Coming.” Spokesman-Review. 16 July, 1967: 20.

3 “Top LP’s.” Billboard Magazine, 1 April, 1967. http://www.billboard.com/archive#/archive. 19 June 2011: 37.

4 “In Concert: The Monkees.” Advertisement. Spokesman-Review. 16 July, 1967: 14f.

5 “Minutes of the 181st Coliseum-Stadium Advisory Committee.” 30 March, 1967.

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About Robert Schoenberg

Writer - Blog is about the history of rock 'n' roll in Spokane Washington, from 1955 to 1980 View all posts by Robert Schoenberg

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