In 1966 Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork (better known as The Monkees) had became pop music idols, television superstars, and international sensations. The boys were also becoming fashion icons with their English-Cowboy-Mod styles. Kids wanted to look their idols on TV and needed an outlet find these new fashions.
Seeing the demand for this new fashion JCPenney teamed with Screen Gems to launch their new “Monkees Collection”. This new collection would feature double breasted vests with coordinating wool hats, tapered floral print shirts, buckled shoes, and of course super-tight trousers.
Also in 1966, producers were putting the finishing touches on the new Monkees album “More of The Monkees”. Penney’s thought that the release of the new album would be the perfect time to release their new clothing line. Hoping to cross-promote, Penney’s hired photographer Bernard Yeszin to do a photoshoot of the boys wearing clothes from the Monkees Collection.
The photos were supposed to be used exclusively for promotion of JCPenney however one of the pictures ended up being used for the cover of the new album. This was great for Penney’s, as kids could go to the store and get the exact clothes that their idols were wearing on the new album. The Monkees however weren’t very especially keen to the new album cover. They had hoped to use the album to help project their cool and eccentric look. Instead there they were, dressed in somewhat ordinary clothes from JCPenney.
Mickey and Davy were especially upset with the album cover. Davy later said in an interview that he had never seen the album until a young fan presented it to him asking him to autograph it. A confused Davy asked her what it was and she replied that it was his new album.
Either way it worked out for The Monkees and Penney’s. The album would spend 18 weeks at number one which would be the longest of any Monkees album. The clothing line enjoyed initial success and plans were made to develop a new section of the store known as Monkee Corner. This new section would see the addition of more Monkees styled clothing such as shoes and wallets. There was even plans for a girls line of Monkees clothing by legendary London designer Mary Quant.
But alas it wasn’t meant to be. By fall 1967 Monkees merchandise sales were plummeting and the plug was pulled on Monkee-Mania. There’s not even a mention of Monkee anything in Penney’s 1967 Christmas Catalog.
Though the Monkees could be considered sellouts from the beginning, I still love them none the less. The music is great and just hearing the theme from the show instantly puts me in a good mood.
“Everything is as it is in this world and we either accept it or frustrate”
Monkees Live Almanac – Great Monkees fan site with lots of fun things Monkee related.
Monkees on YouTube – A playlist of all the classic episodes.