While on tour in 1967, the Monkees stopped at a store in Cleveland and were shocked to find that a new album was for sale with their name on it. Overseen by music supervisor Don Kirshner, More of the Monkees was rush-released amid the chaos of Monkeemania, a mere three months after the release of their first record.
Decked out in Sixties avocado green, the front cover featured a shot of the group from a JCPenney photoshoot. “The record was timed to come out specifically to go with a fashion thing where you could buy the clothes that were on the cover of the record,” reissue producer Andrew Sandoval later said.
Though the group was angered by the release, many of its 12 songs would become Monkees classics, such as “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and the Neil Diamond–penned “I’m a Believer.” “I can’t explain why it’s proven to be so popular,” Micky Dolenz told Rolling Stone of the latter. “With anything collaborative, at some point the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.”
“Your Auntie Grizelda,” the fifth track on the record, was the first Monkees song to feature bassist Peter Tork on lead vocals. “It was a total comedy thing,” recalled co-producer Jack Keller. “He did that all in one take … he made up the whole thing. I was in a total state of shock when I heard it.”
Tork would regularly perform the whimsical song at Monkees shows. In the video above, he frolics around the stage while singing, “I know she’s having a fit/She doesn’t like me a bit/No bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizelda.”
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Tork died today at 77 from unknown causes. “I can only pray his songs reach the heights that can lift us and that our childhood lives forever — that special sparkle that was the Monkees,” Michael Nesmith said in a statement. “I will miss him — a brother in arms. Take flight my Brother.”