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On The Monkees, Their Music, and Matters of Exclusion Part 1

May 22, 2011 by  
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On The Monkees, Their Music, and Matters of Exclusion

Pt 1: Memo to Jann: ‘For Pete’s Sake‘, Let your ‘Randy Scouse Git’ a ‘Listen to the Band’ and Show Some Monkee Respect Already

By Tony Maxwell

Rock Hall

I have been allowed the opportunity to write about The Monkees, one of the all-time greatest bands of the rock and roll era, on the occasion of their 45th Anniversary. As long-winded and monotonous as this may be, it is such a pleasure to write, and to finally transcribe decades of that  jumble of stored-up memories into a written format enables me to at last release them from my mind space-it is a freeing experience, and an honor to offer something to extend my deepest support for this legendary band. For the more knowledgeable Monkees follower: if there’s nothing new or insightful gained from reading it, I only hope I don’t embarrass myself with inaccurate information or poor sentence structure; just be happy for a fellow fan who just checked off another accomplishment on his ‘bucket list‘- As they say, a writer must please himself before anyone else, so I’m halfway there already.

The following is part one of three comprising this Tribute to The Monkees.  The majority of ideas, comments and critique expressed here have been gathering nearly as long The Monkees themselves have existed. Nowadays, there are quality, select websites such as this that enable one to communicate with an infinite number of people who share a common (or not-so-common) interest in a select subject, and also to gain new perspectives from the wider range of people and media sources the internet provides. It’s a joy to see all of the fantastic sites nowadays that do just that.

This is the first in-depth article/essay I’ve ever written for an online readership; but the timing and urgency of the message seems more critical to me than ever now, and the personal need to share it is also too great to ignore any longer.

In this latter part of my life, I wasn’t sure I could find a subject that could- or ever would- motivate me to the point of wanting to write something requiring this kind of effort again- As it turns out the subject, and the memories it still evokes a lifetime later, have been waiting on me all along.   Tony Maxwell, 05/20/11

The History of Rock and Roll Music is as turbulent and tempestuous, scattered and scandalous, profane and profound, romantic, dramatic, erratic and at times bombastic, joyful and juvenile, ironic, iconic, sad, sometimes too seriously self-referential, and certainly as unapologetically sinful and primitive as a bold new musical style belligerent enough to assign itself the title of ‘Rock and Roll’, is not only expected to be, but had better be, when that arrogant new noise rudely and without warning comes rolling over the calm and structured landscape of early 1950’s American society, shocking the unsuspecting ears and rocking the previously smooth airwaves of a war-weary senior community just wanting a little peace and quiet with their Perry Como for a change, proceeding to assault the hard-earned ’normalcy’ of this older (and sadly wiser) generation that cherishes structure, familiarity and the established moral values that are soon to be blown to extinction, while simultaneously transforming and empowering it‘s “young generation” with a distinctive identity to claim as their own.

The birth of Rock and Roll Music, and its overwhelming influence over the youth culture as a whole, provided such an essential ‘something‘: an untested new dogma from nowhere that sprouted almost organically with the growing acceptance from a disenfranchised teenage populace that were most in need of a ‘new order’ to establish themselves with an identity distinguishable from the previous generation. Nothing else, before or since, or as potently complete and permanent, has ever come close to duplicating the mass appeal that the arrival of Rock and Roll music inspired.

The two eternal gifts of youth are innocence screaming to be taken and angst crying out to be validated. Rock and Roll Music was created to express and put voice to these and other raw, indefinable needs. The young people who adopted this new sound as their own, devoting their art (and their lives) to nurturing and embracing its limitless potential, expanding no-longer existent boundaries to unimaginable realms, many of them persevering and ultimately reaching rock and roll success themselves- these people would come to help evoke and shape the mythos of this coarse and brazen new art form, itself an unknowing bastardization of many older styles coalesced into one, and would help to characterize the seductive and dark side of rock history with enough tragic stories of love, failure, death, success, excess and larger-than-life, too-young-to-die rock and roll characters and eventual legends, to comfort even the most tormented teenage soul.

Every imaginable tragedy, irony or cruel twist of fate inflicted upon mankind can be found within the complex and amazing History that Rock and Roll has spawned. Exploitation, payola, career-crippling contracts that virtually enslaved recording artists, stifled creativity and free expression, and blatantly stole artistic credit from songwriters and musicians- all of this was an inevitable byproduct of the growing Rock and Roll influence. Old-school commerce feeding off a naive and easily malleable art created and realized by a generation that the established music industry loathed and discounted as a brief novelty that was to be easily profited from and just as easily disposed of. What shady businessmen and industry executives of the time approached as just another passing craze to cash in on before it fizzled and faded, instead became just another of many growing pains that rock music endured on its path to maturity and eventual grudging respect from the ‘old guard’, a necessity that was to ensure it’s continued evolution and eventual mainstream acceptance.

The story of The Monkees is unique in Rock and Roll, one that tragedy has needlessly surrounded through decades of persistent ridicule and undeserved characterization. ‘Tragedy’ may seem too strong a word for this story, but the long-term damage of a needless controversy that should have been extinguished over 40 years ago but has instead been perpetuated and reinforced to epic proportions, is a stigma that has followed their careers and compromised their reputation into the next century, and continues to deny them their proper place in history.

One would be hard-pressed to find a comparable irony in the annals of rock history While setbacks and struggles towards eventual success are a common part of many a band‘s lore, The Monkees experienced more slights, criticism and ‘tough breaks’ throughout their years than most any other group or artist in music history and, when measured aside the wild success they achieved that overshadowed that of The Beatles at one point, it’s safe to say that they were much more disrespected than most other artists of equal or lesser stature, even at the peak of their popularity.

Their two wunderkind producers, Bob Rafelson and Burt Schneider, certainly did nothing to alleviate the growing negative perception of The Monkees’ while it was occurring; indeed, they managed to cause more residual damage to their career than most others were even capable of. While the boys themselves had every reason to be fed up with the image they had been saddled with, the film ‘Head’ was a full-blown cinema production designed to obliterate their existence altogether. One can agree The Monkees may have supported that very idea themselves to an extent; but had they realized at the time how history would continue to revisit their music and television show, gaining new generations of fans and more sympathetic support from many as time passed, it’s hard to imagine that they would have been as eager to see that image destroyed had they known their future livelihood would come to depend on it.

All of these years later, it still has to be distressing to know that Rafelson and Schneider cared not a wit about the fate of their ‘creation’, as their personal agenda involved “a subtle campaign of derision” to “dispirit The Monkees” during the making of the film (quotes from liner notes of the ‘Head’ soundtrack). It’s not difficult to imagine the crushing lack of confidence already existing within the group by late 1968: their critically-acclaimed, award-winning show had been suddenly cancelled in mid-February, a day before the start of filming ‘Head‘; they had hardly recorded any music as a full unit since 1967’s ‘Headquarters’, which in turn had hardly silenced the ‘pre-fab’ insults and ‘fake band’ accusers who had already made up their minds and were not about to change them; and now a snot-nosed producer-by-nepotism with a big movie deal is pushing the metaphorical Monkee knife in deeper by blasting intimidating Neil Young music on the set of the movie that will effectively dispose of the now-expiring “manufactured image” he made his fortune off of. Just how defeated and defenseless could Micky, Davy, Mike and Peter have felt at that instance? If this 1968 quote from Andrew Sandoval’s 2005 book ‘The Monkees Day by Day’ gives any clue, then ‘tragedy’ isn’t nearly a strong enough word to describe their state:

Bob Rafelson: “Head’ was never thought of by me or my partner as a picture that would make money. What I felt was that, since we had made an enormous amount of money for Columbia in their record division and in TV sales, we were entitled to make a picture that would in a sense expose the process.”

“I” – “me” – “money” – “entitled” … if there were ever any artist or group that could be considered ‘justified’ in taking massive amounts of drugs to escape reality, they would have to put The Monkees at the head of the line.

The very inception of The Monkees was borne of exploitative motives and opportunism, their image manufactured and marketed with a pre-conceived expectation that this “experiment” had a built-in expiration date, a finite timeframe of existence, and a singular purpose that, in the most optimistic of possibilities, would hopefully result in a profitable and short-term venture during it’s brief ‘shelf life‘. No one could have predicted the phenomenal success of a teen-oriented television show starring four appealing, quick-witted young actors playing roommates/musicians in a series about a zany, ‘Beatles-like’ rock band and their hilarious hi-jinks and whacky adventures, and with a few songs for the kids, too!

Consequently, no one could have foreseen this serendipitous combination of fresh-faced, barely-adult and mostly inexperienced actors not only make that experiment such a major success, but go on to exceed all reasonable expectations by single-handedly turning that television ‘concept’ of a pop band playing catchy and commercially appealing music into an actual, validly genuine pop band that also creates and performs well-crafted original music.

Rafelson and Schneider had assembled a combo much more capable, and ambitious, as they had realized.

The big hits and number-one records, usually with Micky or Davy singing lead, were commissioned by Don Kirshner, the head (and swell-headed) Director of music for Screen Gems-Columbia Television, written specifically for the TV show by (his) songwriters and artists, like Neil Diamond, Boyce and Hart, Goffin and King, and recorded using the finest session personnel and studio musicians, including Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and Hugh McCracken.

However, once the dust had settled on the hit machine after an avalanche of million-selling singles and albums, the music was nonetheless still forthcoming. After Don Kirshner had denied them their first original song on a b-side and left Columbia with his stable of formidable songwriting talent, successful albums and singles from The Monkees continued to sell and make the Top 40 charts. There were still classic songs provided by up-and-comers like Nilsson and pros like Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (two early but passed-over ‘Monkee wannabes’ themselves), and the records were still recorded using top-notch studio musicians and guest players like Douglas Dillard, John London and Stephen Stills. And after months of training, adapting the discipline to function in a new environment and meeting the extraordinary demands of the job they were hired to do, The Monkees would finally have some time to begin working in the studio themselves. The results would be pop music magic.

In the course of a single year, a blur of life-changing commitments and daunting contractual demands, intense workshops of acting and improvisation, developing performance and vocal skills, making endless promotional appearances involving silly waving and goofy smiles to complete strangers; interviews and photo sessions, learning dialogue and stage directions and  how to be comfortable in front of a TV camera; studio demands both on-set and in public – all of this happening within an atmosphere of constant scrutinizing and an inescapable barrage of unsolicited personal ’advice’ and humiliating ‘constructive’ criticism, schizophrenically tossed in between stern reminders to “relax, have fun, be yourselves– or else.“

In the midst of all of this activity, Micky, Davy, Mike and Peter managed to work as a team and form a close and supportive friendship with each other. They developed a camaraderie that was necessary to convince a TV audience of their authenticity, and through their shared experience and respect for each individual’s talent, they  proceeded to blend their four individually divergent musical tastes and talents into a fully-functional, self-contained musical group who defined and refined a sound they had complete creative control over and, with at least one of their main antagonists out of the picture, they created and performed some of the most memorable songs of a time that was already overflowing with great rock anthems and legendary artists.

The music that has endured the test of time and now rests comfortably within a generation’s collective consciousness- this integral part of rock history was created by a fully realized, self-contained unit that not only play-acted the role of a fresh young band, but legitimized and strengthened the musical integrity of a new group known as The Monkees.

Because of factors ranging from initial ignorance and knee-jerk first impressions to outright disdain and concerted actions by red-faced critics, ignorant music publications and other snobs to condemn their popularity and eradicate their careers, the true history of Rock and Roll will recognize the Music of The Monkees as both their most amazing accomplishment, and the source of their greatest tragedy.

Amongst a handful of young men and women practicing a new form of writing that utilized the tools of subjective opinion and self-important observances to attract and engage a segment of an intellectual base who studied and debated the validity and questionable artistic merits of this new and most definitely polarizing musical form still in its infancy, a new vocation was introduced to a socially-aware and information-obsessed reading public. Known as ‘Rock Music Critics‘, an inevitable offshoot of similarly new rock and roll magazine publications, this new breed of writer lay claim to the untested ’flipside’ of the rapidly expanding audience of rock music lovers and record-buyers who pursued more understanding and information about the music that these written publications could provide.

Critics have been an acknowledged part of all the Arts, for better or worse, having been around almost as long as the Arts themselves have. Throughout world history, whenever a new art form was introduced to the general population, an indeterminate amount of time was afforded said art form, the length of which depended upon either the level of acceptance or rejection of it’s continued existence and it’s ensuing appeal to relevant followers, coupled with the level of evolving knowledge that any one individual acquires that leads such individual to conclude that they are more qualified than others to judge and impose personal opinion on it’s aesthetic worth, and are thus entitled to expect a majority of the relevant followers to accept and adopt that same opinion as their own, without question or argument. There is no documented evidence to suggest that anyone has ever met those expectations, but that is not a deterrent to the critic’s ongoing mission to have the final say, as they really couldn’t keep their opinions to themselves if their lives depended on it.

The original writers, chroniclers and publishers of Rock and Roll Music magazines and other  sources of reference, were by and large composed of young, bright, admiring and fiercely dedicated “journalists” of Rock And Roll (as they began to refer to themselves). The few successful media sources of the era specializing in the reportage and informative accounts of all aspects of Rock and Roll, which now included large-scale ’festivals’ and related events called ‘Happenings‘, ’Gatherings’, ‘Be-Ins‘, or ’Riots’, depending on the source, along with other current trends and notable progressions in the Rock and Roll ‘community‘, include such stellar publications as ‘Creem’ and ‘Crawdaddy’ magazines, ‘The Village Voice’ newspaper, and pioneering critics such as Ralph Gleason and Lillian Roxon, all well-respected and memorable interpreters of the Rock culture.

However, only the most youthfully confident and cluelessly arrogant person who experienced that history (albeit on a more enlightened level of awareness than ordinary mortals) could adequately record, document and interpret the History of Rock and Roll in the proper and definitive way that would cast the template for all to follow.

Thusly, we are blessed with one Jann Wenner, owner and publisher of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, the only True Gospel of both ‘Rock’ and ’Roll’, if you must know — His most generous gift to humankind being a sacred and reverent Temple of Knowledge deemed to be worshipped and accepted on faith by one and all, known for now and forever as…

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” NOT just “any” hall, mind you- but THE Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (from here on abbreviated as ‘RRHOF’ for the grateful fingers).

Apparently, the First Testament of the RRHOF teaches that there is only one Deity to believe in and serve, who, obviously of course naturally and ‘duh’, would be the Creator of ‘The Hall’  (or, as sacred ’Rolling Stone’ Scripture reveals, “The Guy who came up with the idea”).

According to the online source Wikipedia, The RRHOF is “actually the creation of a few individuals who are not musicians, such as founder Jann Wenner, former foundation director Suzan Evans, and writer Dave Marsh, reflecting their tastes rather than the views of the rock world as a whole.” Another discipl- er, key figure with Mr. Wenner in the original conception, not listed in this entry, was the late Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records and an industry legend who introduced many of the greatest Rock acts ever. He may or may not have been a musician also, but anyone who wants further clarification can check for themselves.

Sooo, after years of planning, securing licenses, building permits and donations, and the acquisition of historic and invaluable artifacts, including instruments, handwritten original song lyrics and other various and sundry Rock-related memorabilia from the collectors and even the legendary artists themselves, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum officially opened to a unanimous public, and has since become a popular attraction for the legions of Rock and Roll lovers and platonic visitors from all over the world. The Hall also hosts the yearly Induction Ceremony that virtually every past and present artist or group of note has attended at one time or another.

I visited the RRHOF Museum in 2006, not as a primary destination but rather because my brother lived with his family just outside of Cleveland at the time, so it was a gift of sorts, and I went with my brother and 26-year-old nephew. A bit more about that later.

Unsurprisingly, controversy and criticism has persisted since even before The Hall was opened, virtually all of which involves the selection process of inductees and/or nominees and the varying criteria that informs this selection. One example of this ongoing conflict comes from a Wikipedia quote from a former RRHOF member: “certain pioneering artists of the ’50s and early ’60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in ’70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren’t in today…” to underscore that point, Wikipedia also has the complete list of the RRHOF Inductees, available for immediate access from any interested party.

Other past controversies have cited both the inclusion and alleged exclusion of specific artists such as ABBA, Run DMC, and Parliament-Funkadelic (included), the Dave Clark Five (eventually included), Led Zeppelin and The Monkees (not included). An additional quote from the Wikipedia entry states: “petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were also being ignored.”

Throughout the past 25 years of the RRHOF’s existence, The Monkees in particular become more noticeably absent from consideration of even a nomination. And one Petition in particular, also involving The Monkees, makes this absence more notably obvious, and thus more subject to reasonable clarification and rational explanation, with every passing year.

http://www.petitiononline.com/Kretch07/

This Petition, collecting signatures in support of The Monkees’ Induction to the Hall of Fame, lists most of the relevant facts, figures, LP and 45 chart positions, unique innovations and other accomplishments The Monkees’ phenomena achieved in its initially brief but brilliant 60’s origin. All these milestones are dutifully represented, at least given the content of each one in comparison to the space they accommodate, and being rather ‘tucked in’ together between the body of the Petition as submitted by the author, condensing major artistic and commercial successes into concise single lines and ‘factoids’ filled with impressive details that most Monkees fans have memorized and can recite without having to read them.

These facts need not be re-printed here – they’re all recorded for posterity and verified by numerous sources, much like meticulous and infinitely researched statistics of Baseball players or war-time casualties. Carefully documented, tangible confirmation of The Monkees’ deserved recognition for their astonishing popularity and world-wide fan support; their record-breaking dominance of the pop charts and historic LP sales in 1967, arguably the most creative year in Rock and Roll’s short History; their significant and lasting impact on rock and roll music, culture and influence, and the legacy that refuses to fade from the collective memory.

All the prerequisites and unimpeachable credentials, in fact, that would automatically guarantee the induction of any other 60’s Rock and Roll group to the RRHOF.

Any group except The Monkees.

Taking this into consideration, along with the continuous refusal of acknowledgement by the one person who could put the questioning, the accusations and disbelief -ALL of the controversy to rest– one has no other choice but to wonder: just what the hell kind of grudge is this entity so stubbornly refusing to let go of??

I’ve been an immense fan and on-and-off subscriber to ‘Rolling Stone’ since the early 70’s, and have no problem admitting that this magazine’s coverage and continuing revisiting of the 1960’s music and artists is about the very best there is. Their 40th Anniversary issue commemorating the year of it’s conception, 1967, is an instant classic from cover to cover and could easily have been as successful if published as a quality hardcover-bound book at a much higher price; I deliberately took a solid week to slowly read every page and admire the iconic photographs and beautifully-illustrated panels and side-notes, and have done so again and again since. The consistency of quality material and the evident care in creating and publishing each issue is unmatched by any other periodical. But this attention to detail and quality only reinforces the position that a deliberate ignorance of any news relating to The Monkees, whether it be positive or negative, has become entirely too obvious for the rest of us to continue ignoring any longer- the question was out there long before this article, and The Monkees’ 45th Anniversary Tour only draws more attention to their exclusion, along with a sad conclusion that even 44 years of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine hasn’t disposed of all subjective opinion or prejudice.

In contrast, it is duly noted that Mr. Wenner’s stable of taste-makers shared an intense dislike of the “saccharine-sweet harmonies” and headache-inducing mellowness of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. And there was also the disdain towards any and everything Grand Funk Railroad ever recorded- but at least we saw their names in print once in awhile. If The Monkees’ non-existence in the ‘Rolling Stone’ universe isn’t personal, the alternate excuse better be a damned good one.

However, just to cover some bases that may not have been previously noticed, there is no shortage of weird, curious, or plain ‘WTF’ inclusions to drive home the point that Mr. Wenner is ignoring. This ‘sacred list’ seems to have gotten off to a good start: 1986 saw the induction of such ‘shoe-ins’ as the still-designated ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Elvis Presley; Buddy Holly; Chuck Berry; James Brown; Ray Charles; Sam Cooke; the Everly Brothers; Jerry Lee Lewis; Little Richard; and Fats Domino thrown in for good measure, although Carl Perkins would have been a better choice. But while it may initially seem a somewhat loose ‘In Order of Appearance’ approach, one quickly realizes this isn‘t the case.

Robert Johnson is constantly cited as the earliest influence on Rock music, yet he’s not even inducted in the first year. Of course, Rockabilly is an undeniable influence. But to induct Ricky Nelson as one of it’s more bland representatives? Who bought his vote? His Rockabilly didn’t rock hard enough, and his– wait, did he ever play any Rock and Roll?

The ‘88 inductees made sense for the most part: The Beachboys; The Beatles; The Supremes; and Wenner would have soiled his pants if he couldn’t include Bob Dylan already, so it’s a losing battle to argue that one. However, The Drifters induction seems almost an afterthought, thrown in for variety’s sake on only the third year of inductees. Would Marvin Gaye have been added so early if his recent murder had not been so fresh in the public’s mind? Would The Band have ever been considered at all without the Dylan connection?

Here’s an obscure observation, but curious nonetheless: Bill Monroe is one of the ‘Pioneer’ Award inductees. Generally known as ‘The Father of Bluegrass Music’, and just as known for his utter contempt of rock and roll, the late Mr. Monroe obviously gets this dubious honor due to his song ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’, which was covered by Elvis Presley in a Rockabilly style and was one of his first hits. Okay. Another early hit, more famously recognized, and one of the defining songs of Elvis’ career and of Rock and Roll music, was written by a black blues singer named Big Mama Thornton. So do we assume Mr. Wenner and co. place ‘Hound Dog’ as less deserving of recognition than a decidedly ‘anti-rock’, lyrically-lifeless Bluegrass tune like ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’? How is the one justified over the other?

If The Monkees are not qualified because they didn’t play instruments or write their own songs, then how are they different from The Supremes, or The Four Seasons, or ABBA? If The Monkees are exempt from consideration because of using studio musicians to play instruments on their records, then why doesn’t that apply to The Byrds, or The Beachboys, or The Kinks?  These groups have also used session players on records like ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘You Really Got Me’ (Glen Campbell plays lead guitar on ‘Surfin’ USA’, as does Jimmy Page on ‘You Really Got Me‘).

The obvious lapses in judgment and selection abound throughout the RRHOF list. When such a singular and narrowly-focused awareness results in an irresponsible undertaking of re-imagining any ideal or institution as complex and vastly accommodating to interpretation that ’a pretender to the throne’ like Jann Wenner feels He is the most qualified to do, it is incumbent upon a rational society to question and express concern towards such unchecked hubris and self-proclaimed awareness- that’s how we defend our history and preserve its authenticity for future generations. The Baseball Hall of Fame can omit Pete Rose for any number of subjective or moral reasons that have nothing to do with his accomplishments as a player- history allows no such compromise.

The wheels of justice may grind slowly, and Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day, but history will eventually catch up to the truth, and Rock and Roll History will eventually vindicate The Monkees. It’s a sad thing to see a person as dedicated and purposeful as Jann Wenner, a great publisher unquestionably dedicated to the fundamental spirit and preservation of Rock and Roll, invalidate his own reputation and life’s work for the misguided belief that his knowledge has become more important than the source that provided it.

Oh, and I had mentioned my visit to the RRHOF Museum:

A beautiful building with a lake-side view, the Museum looks very impressive on the outside, but glass-encased structure itself is impressively receptive of the natural light that the design allows. I can‘t recall whether it was 3 or 4 stories, but it did look really high up when we reached the top of the spiral staircase and looked back down. A nice touch is the movie theater on the top floor, more intimate than the usual large ones, with an awesome sound system, of course. We watched a 10-minute compilation consisting of roughly two seconds of every single Rock-related clip you’ve already seen: Elvis on Ed Sullivan, Woodstock, Monterey, Dylan, TAMI Show, Hard Day’s Night, Dylan, Easy Rider, Dylan w/ the Band, Stones at Altamont, Jimi at Isle of Wight, Dylan at Newport (both appearances), Bowie, Sex Pistols, Springsteen, you know the drill- but the feature film at the time was a re-mastered ’Concert for Bangladesh’ with an additional hour (as if the 3-hr original was recklessly fast-paced), so we tore ourselves away from that.

One could easily spend hours taking in all of the memorabilia and marveling at authentic guitars, classic props and costumes, etc, and still not complete it all in one day, if completing it was an objective. You’d also better have a photographic memory, because it’s the closest you’ll get to taking an actual photo, that of which they do not allow. Just as well, for every picture would be bordered by a stray segment of ever-present crowd matter.

Like every other public place in the known universe, the Museum employs a highly-trained paramilitary squad of ‘Malingerers‘, each member highly trained to block all access to the Exhibits everyone else wants to see- makeshift ’families’ are instantly deployed to secure the larger spaces, but patience and persistence will eventually be rewarded- I suppose, though I haven‘t heard either way.

My $20 admission bought me the relief of not having to pay a $30 admission. The extra $10 covers the cost of a faux metal keychain with the RRHOF logo, the cheapest Gift Shop item available for purchase at six dollars and some change.

And yet, for all these luxuriant amenities and treats I was privileged to see in person– from the original Beatles ’Sgt Pepper’s’ uniforms and Van Morrison’s handwritten lyrics for ’TB Sheets’, up to the present (and literal),  ’A to Z’ Hall of Fame list that would have preferably started with AC-DC but no such luck and NOW ranging from (finally) a spanking new ABBA Exhibit to the video centric and dazzlingly stationary ZZ Top ’Eliminator’ coupe – - there was just no getting past the feeling that this hallowed, unerring and definitive monument to the history of rock and roll was..

Incomplete- shallow to the senses and anal in its presentation, an ironic ‘glass house’ that ultimately reduces an electric, energetically vibrant and propulsive, pounding art form like Rock and Roll Music to a sterile, contemplative and deadly boring — ‘Museum piece’, a zoo of carefully showcased remnants that never get up and walk around their cages; somber, sterile, impersonal, about as pointless as listening to a soundtrack of Bruce Lee action scenes while staring at a blank screen- it‘s just a stupid thing to do, like using a presumptuous ’Hall of Fame’ Title for your stupid little hobby. Some might say, “it‘s his, he can name it what he wants,” well, actually- NO. No he can’t, not if he isn’t prepared to constantly justify it. And he hasn’t justified his arbitrary exclusion of The Monkees.

Part 2 is guaranteed to be a welcome change if you endured this- a ‘think piece’ on the classic songs written and recorded by The Monkees, and the no-lose argument of how these songs alone have secured the group’s rightful place in Rock History. Thanks a lot!

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