Relive The Monkees’ Psychedelic 'Circle Sky' Live in 1968

Relive The Monkees’ Psychedelic 'Circle Sky' Live in 1968

monkees 1969
The Monkees. Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images.

The Monkees were not your average rock and roll band. The group were formed in Los Angeles in 1965 specifically for the TV series, The Monkees, which ran from 1966 to 1968, The carefully selected, musical acting quartet featured English actor and singer, Davy Jones, alongside American musicians, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork; who were selected from 437 hopeful respondents to an ad in the Hollywood Reporter that read:

"Madness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running Parts for 4 insane boys, age 17-21. Want spirited Ben Frank's types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview."

Thanks to the popularity of the show, the Monkees' debut LP spent 13 weeks at number one and stayed in the Billboard charts for 78 weeks in total. Their debut live performance in December of 1966 went out to a sold-out stadium crowd.

After The Monkees show wrapped in February 1968, the band was directed in a feature film titled, Head. The film, conceived and edited in a stream of consciousness style, featured oddball cameo appearances by boxer Sonny Liston, famous stripper Carol Doda, Green Bay Packer linebacker Ray Nitschke, and musician Frank Zappa

While the film was not an overwhelming commercial success, it did produce this psychedelic gem, shining a whole new light on the polished pop band. Enjoy The Monkee's hypnotic performance of Circle Sky below. 

Co-ordinated, futuristic white outfits, mirrored editing transitions and Davy Jones’ inspired maraca dance make for a transcendent scene, amplified by the crowd of hysterical girls who seem to melt in their presence.

Written by Nesmith, Circle Sky shows a grittier, garage edge to The Monkees, signature squeaky-clean persona. In true 1960’s fashion, Nesmith credited the song’s lyrical inspiration to political corruption. In editing, the producers cut scenes of the live performance with shocking, juxtaposing images of the Vietnam War to further illustrate his point. 

“I can remember when I first saw it, I was so disturbed by the footage; it was so graphic … at the time, seeing that on the big screen over one of my songs was really shocking. I was extremely anti-war, I really thought the Vietnam War was a serious policy mistake, not to mention moral and humanitarian disaster. So [in that sense] I was happy.” – Michael Nesmith


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