Do the Monkees belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Of course they don't. But not for the reasons Jann Wenner and his cabal of ex-Rolling Stone interns have decreed, which add up to the charge that Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork were members of a fake band dreamed up by TV executives in the mid-'60s. That may be true. But there are other, more compelling factors to consider for the Monkees' snub. In honor of the band concluding its U.S. reunion tour tonight, here are five of them.
5. The Monkees fail the Hall's tiny leather pants test.
If you go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, don't bring a pair of tiny leather pants. They have plenty of them there. Whether they be Mick Jagger's, Prince's, or Bono's, there are so many tiny leather pants on view at the Rock Hall, you might think you walked into a dry cleaners for kinky 5-year-olds. And it sort of is, if you begin to ponder the institution's purpose. When I visited the Rock Hall in 2005, I left convinced the place was set up primarily to celebrate the union of hedonism and handicrafts. So unless Davy Jones went through a heretofore unreported ironic rock star phase -- à la Bono's the Fly -- then the Monkees have simply failed this basic test for entry.
4. The Monkees confound Lennie Small.
It's a good question: What is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's purpose? If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the Rock Hall is like any other hall of fame, whether for baseball or roadkill: it's about imposing a too-neat historical narrative on a subject that is vastly more interesting than the stuff that fits on a plaque. Halls of fame are not about honoring an idea; they're about seizing control and squeezing the life out of it. Sure, the Rock Hall does this with the best of intentions, like a physically strong but mentally disabled man. So, it's like Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men in that way. ("Oh, look, George! I killed it. I killed Little Richard. And all that he stood for.") The Monkees, with their TV pedigree and session musicians, confound Lennie Small's simplistic worldview of infallible idols. So he doesn't take them up in his meat-vice grip. Instead, he reaches for cute and furry Stephen Stills, an inductee who auditioned for the Monkees but was turned down. True story.
3. For 25 years, Monkees albums have been distributed by the great label Rhino Records.
Which is a prestigious feat that is best left untarnished by a partnership with the Rock Hall's gift shop.