The Monkees 1986 '20th Anniversary ' North American Tour
Dolenz, Jones and Tork
(May - December 1986)
"Critics of the band wouldn't believe it--and they certainly wouldn't have been there to witness it themselves--but The Monkees are a legitimate rock and roll band. They're also entertaining, something that can't be said about some of their '80s counterparts. The Monkees are a hard act to follow."
-USA Today review of the Monkees' concert at Jones Beach Amphitheater in New York City, 7/26/86
* Last Train To Clarksville
* A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
* (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
* Cuddly Toy
* Goin’ Down
* I Wanna Be Free
* Your Auntie Grizelda
* Cripple Creek
* For Pete’s Sake
* That Was Then, This Is Now
* Shades Of Gray
* Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
* No Time
* Daydream Believer
* Zilch / Randy Scouse Git
* I’ll Love You Forever
* I’m A Believer
* Listen To The Band
* Pleasant Valley Sunday
* Also performed but dropped were “Take A Giant Step,” “Star Collector” and “Sometime In The Morning.”
The Monkees’ 20th anniversary reunion tour was one of the biggest grossing tours of 1986, having sold out every date on the itinerary. The tour was originally booked in small amphitheaters for a period of six weeks, but quickly stormed into larger capacity arenas and stadiums, keeping the trio on the road for an incredible seven months straight. Michael Nesmith had originally planned to participate in a small reunion tour. Before the North American tour commenced, it became obvious that it was growing with no end in sight, as weeks turned into months when it came to bookings for Monkees concerts. Because of prior business commitments, Mike was forced to pull out of such an extended tour and any accompanying projects.
A press conference was held on May 28, 1986 at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City to officially announce that the Monkees would embark on a 100-plus city tour. (Nesmith originally planned to be at this press conference with Dolenz, Jones and Tork to explain his absence from the tour, but scheduling conflicts prevented his attendance.) Two weeks of rehearsals were undertaken at a Catskill Mountains resort in New York before the tour officially kicked off on May 30, 1986 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Herman’s Hermits, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap and the Grass Roots were featured as opening acts on the extremely successful 20th anniversary reunion tour. An eight-piece backing band, including a horn section, provided instrumental support for the three Monkees. Peter played rhythm and lead guitar throughout the show, as well as the banjo on “Cripple Creek.” Micky occasionally played a stand-up electric drum kit at the front of the stage, and Davy played the tambourine. Micky played guitar on “Pleasant Valley Sunday” at most of the shows. The backing band included Dusty Hanvey (guitar), Larry Nelson (keyboards), Mark Clarke (bass), Eddie Zyne (drums), Kevin Osborne (trombone), John Leslie (saxophone), Lon Seaman (trumpet) and Jim O'Connor (trumpet).
Media reviews were glowing. A new compilation album featuring three newly recorded songs, Then and Now…The Best of The Monkees, went platinum. One of the new songs, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” became a Top 20 hit in the summer of 1986 and was played at every stop, helping spur its radio airplay. An original Tork composition, “MGBGT,” as well as Davy’s “I’ll Love You Forever,” rounded out the new material being played. Cable music channel MTV was airing marathons of the Monkees' original television series, and the TV show began to air daily on the channel in 1986. The Monkees acted as guest VJ's on MTV to promote the tour and host the marathons.
During the very early part of the tour, Peter did “Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky” before “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” Peter, as he would do on all future tours, handled lead vocals on his self-penned “For Pete’s Sake,” unlike the album version of the song where Micky sings the lead vocal. Peter also sang the complete lead on “Shades Of Gray,” slightly different from the album version featuring Davy singing the lead vocal with Peter. This arrangement would continue for most of the following Monkees tours. "Listen To The Band," with all three members sharing lead vocal duties, would also be an arrangement that would continue during all future Monkees tours.
The presence of the Monkees on MTV, the success of the new single and the popularity of the tour resulted in seven of the nine original Monkees albums returning to the Billboard Top 200 chart, along with the Then and Now collection. By the end of 1986, Rhino Records had sold over 2 million albums in the Monkees back catalog.
Nesmith attended a Monkees concert in disguise at Arlington Stadium in Texas on June 22, 1986. He finally joined Dolenz, Jones and Tork onstage for the encore performance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California on September 7, 1986. The final two dates of the tour (Civic Center Arena in Charleston, West Virginia on 12/1/86 and Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on 12/3/86) were recorded. The subsequent live album, 20th Anniversary Tour 1986, was sold at the 1987 concerts and through mail order only. It was reissued on compact disc as Live! and sold at the 1996 concerts as well.
All four Monkees took part in filming a Christmas medley music video for MTV in early December 1986. Afterwards, the quartet hosted a party at a Manhattan nightclub to celebrate the end of the 20th anniversary tour.