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Throwback: The Monkees

50 years ago today: 'Daydream Believer'

monkees-67

Davy Jones was a little annoyed when producer Chip Douglas insisted on yet another take during a recording session with the Monkees in 1967.

"What number is this, Chip?" the otherwise affable singer asked in an exchange caught on tape.

The rest of the band joined Douglas in a frustrated response that every Monkees fan now knows by heart: "7A."

The impromptu give-and-take wound up being the preamble to "Daydream Believer," which began its four-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 exactly 50 years ago this week.

The Monkees' third and final No. 1 single was especially notable because each member of the Fab Faux performed on it (unlike, say, "Last Train to Clarksville," which featured only Micky Dolenz's lead vocal). Peter Tork came up with the catchy piano intro, Mike Nesmith played guitar and Jones' sweet vocal was backed by Dolenz.

The song, however, was written by John Stewart, the folk singer who parlayed his stint in the Kingston Trio into a solo career. In 1976, he'd score a Top 10 hit of his own, "Gold," which featured backing vocals by Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks.

Stewart originally offered "Daydream Believer" to '60s folk rockers We Five ("You Were on My Mind") and Spanky and Our Gang ("Sunday Will Never Be the Same"). Then the Monkees agreed to sing it—but only if Stewart changed one word in the lyrics.

"You once thought of me as a white knight on a steed," Stewart wrote. "Now you know how funky I can be."

The Monkees' record label thought the wholesome teen idols should be "happy," not "funky."

"Funky meant oily and greasy and sexy," drummer Micky Dolenz noted, "and they weren't going to have us say it."

Fair enough. But imagine how different the 1970s would've sounded if the Monkees stepped in for Wild Cherry and sang, "Play that happy music, white boy…"

Photo: Getty Images

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