Neil Diamond Opens Up About Giving the Monkees One of Their Biggest Hits

by Joe Rutland

In the world of rock music, it might seem weird to put Neil Diamond together with The Monkees. But there is a connection, Outsiders.

See, Diamond, who has had hits like Solitary Man and Sweet Caroline to his name, happened to give television’s Fab Four one of their biggest hit songs.

Let’s see what the connection is all about for I’m a Believer in this article from Ultimate Classic Rock.

The Monkees have been in the news recently but not for cheerful reasons. Sadly, guitarist and songwriter Michael Nesmith died late in 2021. It marked the third of four Monkees to have now died along with singer Davy Jones and guitarist Peter Tork. Drummer Micky Dolenz is the last surviving member of the group.

Back in January 1967, The Monkees had a No. 1 hit thanks to the Neil Diamond-written song I’m a Believer.

Neil Diamond Says That His Record Label Boss ‘Went Through The Roof’ Over Recording

Diamond says that his record label boss “freaked” at first and “went through the roof” over The Monkees’ recording.

Why? Neil Diamond talks about it in a 2008 interview for Mojo magazine.

That label boss “felt that I had given No. 1 records away to another group.” Diamond, though, says he “couldn’t have cared less, because I had to pay the rent, and the Monkees were selling records, and I wasn’t being paid for my records!”

The Monkees recorded I’m a Believer for their 1966 album More of the Monkees. Hey, even Neil Diamond put the song on his 1967 album Just For You. The song became a cover hit for the band put together for an NBC sitcom.

Singer-Songwriter Readily Admits ‘I Was Thrilled’ About The Monkees’ Hit Song

Did Neil Diamond hate that The Monkees had success with his song?

“I was thrilled,” he says, “because at heart I was still a songwriter and I wanted my songs on the charts…”

Outsiders, would you believe that I’m a Believer almost was a country song?

Diamond wanted legendary country singer Eddy Arnold to record the song. But the song reached Don Kirshner, The Monkees’ producer and talent manager. Kirshner turned it into pop-rock history through the made-for-TV band. Session guitarist Al Gorgoni played on The Monkees’ recording.

Hell, even Neil Diamond himself played acoustic guitar on the track.

It was the biggest-selling single of 1967. With more than one million advanced orders, it went platinum within two days of its release.

The Monkees was a hit show on NBC but the band would take their music into their own hands. Fans can see this occur in the shows’ later episodes. It especially becomes a reality in the band’s movie, Head.