“Elvis Drugs”! Michael Nesmith & The Dawn Of MTV! Elephant Parts! The Monkees!

Elvis Drugs!

Check out this video – it’s the dawn of MTV!

Introducing The Origins of MTV!

Intrigued? How is this comedy sketch the beginning of MTV? Well, not only will I answer that queston, but it’s time to celebrate a great singer/songwriter, who just happened to be one of TV’s biggest pop stars in the late 60’s – yes, it’s Mr. “Elephant Parts” himself, Michael Nesmith of “The Monkees!”

Michael Nesmith is a musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist, best known as a member of the musical group The Monkees, who were a late 60’s phenomenon on TV.

Aside from being the deadpan Monkee, Nesmith is also a really good songwriter, including the hit “Different Drum”, which was sung by Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poneys…

Meet The Monkees!

For fans of classic TV, The Monkees were a musical group in the late 60’s, originally formed as a TV project – a comedic spin on The Beatles – which is why their first album evokes early Beatles…

The Monkees were Davy Jones, Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork. Even though the show was for laughs, The Monkees had lots of hit songs, and Michael Nesmith was a musician as well, always known as the most musically inclined of The Monkees…

Nesmith actually wrote many of the group’s songs as well as played multiple instruments on the albums….

The group had one of TV’s biggest hit shows in the late 60’s, as well as a number of top ten hits including “Last Train To Clarksville” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday”…

“People Say We’re Monkeying Around…”

Of course the show’s theme song rocketed the group to stardom, with the classic chorus of “Hey Hey We’re The Monkees, people say we’re monkeying around, but we’re too busy singing, to put anybody down…”

“We’re The Young Generation, And We’ve Got Something To Say…”

For a brief time, they sure were. The Monkees have sold over 65 million records, and even with the recent tragic death of singer Davy Jones, the group reformed this fall for a small tour…

Nesmith continued to record music long after the end of The Monkees, with many hits and a devoted fan base. Among his many hits is the beautiful ballad “Joanne” and the upbeat “Rio.”

Now, Here Comes MTV…

Nesmith was always interested in music videos and comedy, and he launched a music video company, Pacific Arts, that created a number of iconic music videos….more on that in a moment. Interestingly, he was also the Executive Producer of the cult film “Repo Man”.

And He Created MTV!

The most interesting aspect of Michael Nesmith’s career is this: he is credited with creating the genre of the televised music video, which leads to the dawn of MTV.

Behold “Elephant Parts!”

In the late 70’s, Nesmith created “Elephant Parts”, a collection of comedy skits and music videos, such as a game-show spoof called “Name That Drug”, the “Elvis Drugs” bit you saw before, and this gem, a man providing translation of a Mexican serenade for his girlfriend.

Mariachi Translator

Art By The Pound!

“Elephant Parts” had many quick blackout sketches and fake ads, like this one, with Nesmith as a shady TV pitchman…

Grammy Gold!

“Elephant Parts” was a huge success, and it won the First EVER ‘Video of the Year’ GRAMMY awarded! This was at the forefront of the era of the music video. I first discovered “Elephant Parts” thanks to “Lucy and Ramona”….

“Crusin’ – aka Lucy and Ramona and Sunset Sam!”

As I said, “Elephant Parts” won the first Grammy in the Music Video category, and was later followed by two TV series: “PopClips” for Nickelodeon (in 1980), and “Television Parts” for NBC in 1985.


“Popclips” was broadcast weekly on Nickelodeon in late 1980 and early 1981. This was a collection of music videos and comedic blackout bits, formatted in a manner that would turn out to be very similar to what MTV would become…

The Dawn Of MTV!

Here is what wikipedia says happened next: after the success of “Popclips” as a TV show, Nickelodeon’s parent company, Warner Cable, wanted to buy the “PopClips” copyright outright, to be expanded into an all-music video channel, but after Nesmith declined the offer, Warner Cable started work on what would become MTV.

“PopClips” is considered to be the birth of what became MTV, all from the guy who got his start as a Monkee…


You can buy all of Nesmith music, videos and other stuff at videoranch.com…he has a lot of great work, including this classic song – the beautiful ballad “Joanne”…performed live…

Michael Nesmith Performs “Joanne” Live…

Quite a career with some fascinating facts that are little known….Thank you Michael Nesmith for entertaining us throughout the years!

Categories: 70's Cinema, Awards, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Music, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Todd Rundgren: Inventor Of MTV? A “Hollywood Square”? « johnrieber
  2. “Elephant Parts!” Michael Nesmith’s Creation Of MTV! « Music Platter
  3. Jack Nicholson’s Musical “Head!” The Monkees Sing A Jack Nicholson Cult Classic! « johnrieber
  4. “The Last Detail!” Jack Nicholson’s *#@!!#* Monkees “Head” Trip! Classic Cult 70’s Cinema! | johnrieber
  5. “Infinite Tuesday”! The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith’s Autobiography! Jim Hendrix Toured With Them! Jack Nicholson Wrote For Them! Monkee Madness!! – johnrieber
  6. RIP Michael Nesmith…From The Monkees To “Elephant Parts” and More… – johnrieber

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