Monkeemania in Australia (1st August – 31st January 2019)

Image by skeeze via pixabay

It’s probably a lot better than you think!

In “Monkees music: It’s probably a lot better than you think!”, Dr. Derham Groves, the curator of Monkeemania in Australia, an exhibition currently showing at the Baillieu Library, will focus on the music by the mid-1960s American rock and roll band The Monkees (1966—present), as well as looking at an eclectic mix of other bands and performers of the era, including The Beatles (1960—70), Bobby Goldsboro (b. 1941), Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys (1965—68), Richard Harris (1930—2002), and The Archies (1968—73). Because The Monkees were put together artificially so to speak for a TV series, instead of forming organically like a garage band was supposed to in the 1960s, many people played down the band’s musicianship and songbook from the beginning, even though The Monkees produced smash hits like “Last train to Clarksville” (1966), “[Hey, hey, we’re] The Monkees” (1966), “I’m a believer” (1967), and “Daydream believer” (1967). The fierce running battle over control of The Monkees’ musical output between the band itself, led by Mike Nesmith (b. 1942), and the band’s musical director Don Kirshner (1934—2011), who was known in the musical industry as “the man with the golden ear”, didn’t help the situation either. However, looking back 50 years to when The Monkees first toured Australia in 1968, it is now much easier to assess the merits of the band and its music and also to appreciate just how emblematic The Monkees were of the 1960s.

Monkeemania in Australia

Monkeemania in Australia celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Australian tour by the American band, The Monkees, in 1968.

More broadly, it also provides a snapshot of everyday life in Australia at a very eventful time in history. 1968 was a roller coaster of a year, as a series of tumultuous events—including assassinations, heroic victories in sports, a bloody war, the publication of Myra Brekinridge, a devastating famine, and the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey—caused people to celebrate one day and despair the next. Monkeemania in Australia consists of an exhibition and a series of public talks by the exhibition’s curator, Dr Derham Groves, about The Monkees, their Australian tour, their eponymous TV show, their music, and their film Head (1968), a surreal masterpiece. The exhibition is on the ground and third floors of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, while the talks take place in the Dulcie Hollyock Room on the ground floor of the library. The exhibition runs from 1 August 2018 to 31 January 2019.

Public Programs 

Time: 12- 1pm
Location: Dulcie Hollyock room, ground level, Baillieu library, Parkville

Wednesday 3 October
Monkees music 
It’s probably a lot better than you think!

In “Monkees music: It’s probably a lot better than you think!”, Dr. Derham Groves, the curator of Monkeemania in Australia, an exhibition currently showing at the Baillieu Library, will focus on the music by the mid-1960s American rock and roll band The Monkees (1966—present), as well as looking at an eclectic mix of other bands and performers of the era, including The Beatles (1960—70), Bobby Goldsboro (b. 1941), Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys (1965—68), Richard Harris (1930—2002), and The Archies (1968—73). Because The Monkees were put together artificially so to speak for a TV series, instead of forming organically like a garage band was supposed to in the 1960s, many people played down the band’s musicianship and songbook from the beginning, even though The Monkees produced smash hits like “Last train to Clarksville” (1966), “[Hey, hey, we’re] The Monkees” (1966), “I’m a believer” (1967), and “Daydream believer” (1967). The fierce running battle over control of The Monkees’ musical output between the band itself, led by Mike Nesmith (b. 1942), and the band’s musical director Don Kirshner (1934—2011), who was known in the musical industry as “the man with the golden ear”, didn’t help the situation either. However, looking back 50 years to when The Monkees first toured Australia in 1968, it is now much easier to assess the merits of the band and its music and also to appreciate just how emblematic The Monkees were of the 1960s.

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Wednesday 7 November
1968: The year of the Monkees  
Putting the Monkees’ tour of Australia into context.

In “1968: The year of The Monkees”, Dr. Derham Groves will review some world events from 1968, the same year the American pop band The Monkees toured Australia. According to the author of 1968: The Year that Rocked the World (2005), Mark Kurlansky: ‘There has never been a year like 1968, and it is unlikely that there will ever be one again’. It was certainly a roller coaster of a year, as a series of tumultuous events made people celebrate one day and despair the next. On the plus side for example, NASA was quickly working towards a moon landing; inspiring things happened in the world of sports including Australian victories by Ralph Doubell (b. 1945) on the running track, Rod Laver (b. 1938) on the tennis court, Lionel Rose (1948–2011) in the boxing ring and Rain Lover (1964–1989) on the racetrack; the publication of some influential books including Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal (1925–2012) and The Margaret Fulton Cookbook by Margaret Fulton (b. 1924); the release of some groundbreaking films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes; and the debut of Julia (1968–71), an American TV sitcom about a black nurse starring Diahann Caroll (b. 1935). While on the down side, there was fierce fighting in Vietnam; the senseless murders of American civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King Jr and US Senator Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) in the USA, a devastating famine in Biafra; and the end of a brief move towards democracy in Czechoslovakia. Dr. Groves’ talk will put The Monkees’ tour of Australia in 1968 into a wider cultural, political and social context.

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Wednesday 28 November 
The Movie, Head (1968)
The screening of the Monkees’ surreal masterpiece

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