In 1972 The Monarchs were invited by columnist Billy Reed to re-unite as the subject for a Courier Journal newspaper article. Band members saw each other, many for the first time, in years. They introduced wives, showed-off pictures of the kids, laughed and reminisced about the "good old days." Musical instruments were brought along and a few of the old songs were sung. Someone in the crowd jokingly asked, "Just how much would it take to get you all back together again?"
The equally lighthearted answer was shouted, "$1,000!"
That may have been the first time that was said in a number of years but it certainly wouldn't be the last. The catch phrase of the day had become, "Where were you in '62?" following the release of American Grafitti. This movie classic had spawned a nostalgia craze across the country involving everything from our television programming to our music.
The Monarchs musical re-entry was for a dance held in Pleasure Ridge Park. Following the newspaper reunion party, the band members spent several days practicing and put together an hour's worth of material. The "guest spot" they did was so well received by the crowd, they knew there was still a demand for their kind of music. Occasional performances at other dances led to more and more requests. Phone calls began coming in from high school reunion committees, wanting not only the music from their youth but they wanted it provided by the band that had made so many memories. As the frequency of bookings picked up, so did the discussions about whether or not to give the music business another shot. The Monarchs decided to officially come out of "retirement."
The demand for their live performances was backed with hundreds of requests for recordings of their music. In 1973, an album, entitled simply The Monarchs, was released containing a collection of their recorded music spanning the previous 10 year period. The tremendous response promoted a follow-up LP. The Monarchs II, released in 1977, contained a variety of '50s and '60s music favorites. Both albums have had numerous pressings and sold thousands of copies. They continue to sell well at record shops, dances and live performances.
One of the crowd pleasing features of the dances in the '70s was the Monarchs Trivia Contest, a forerunner to Trivial Pursuit. Questions like, "What was the Mickey Mouse Club leader's full name?" and "Can you name Danny and the Juniors' song that sold over 4 million copies?" were asked. The first person with the correct answer received a R 'o' C and a Moon Pie.
While The Monarchs maintain a polished stageshow presence, dances have been the group's forte. The music selection has always been of the utmost importance. The most critical question asked when choosing their material is, "Can you dance to it?" This, along with their ability to draw a repeat audience, has made them the band of choice by political fund raising committees and large churches like St. Polycarp, where regular dances featuring The Monarchs continue to be "sell-outs." All native to the area, The Monarchs have a strong civic conscience. They want to give a little in return to the community that has been so good to them. Evidence of their commitment is their continuing participation in civic and charitable fund raisers. They are particularly proud of their involvement with The WHAS Crusade For Children since the early sixties.
Since the 1972 reunion, The Monarchs' following has continued to grow. Television appearances have helped them gain an even wider audience. They have appeared on WAVE-TV's Front Row Center and WKPC, Channel 15's special, "Yesterday's Memories" broadcast from Armando's Nightclub. Pepsi Cola has sponsored two Christmas specials featuring The Monarchs.
No matter where they play, The Monarchs have the ability to capture the heart of the audience, earning them the title of "Louisville's Musical Ambassadors." The Belvedere is the frequent scene for local music festivals. Whether it be WAVE-TV's Hot Summer or Louisville's Musicfest, The Monarchs are always a favorite. While maintaining their ardent admirers from the '60s they have successfully captured fans of all ages from multiple generations. When Jim Porter's began a Monday night showcase for the groups of the '60s, The Monarchs repeatedly packed the house with record crowds.
Seasoned professionals that they are, The Monarchs have been chosen to open the show for noted national performers. Their concert appearances include Brook Benton, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, B. J. Thomas, Ray Peterson, Gene Hughes of The Casinos and others.
The most valuable asset The Monarchs have is the absolute loyalty of their fans, whether it's the fans from the '60s, the '70s or the ones from the '80s. Even in their wildest dreams when this eager young group first formed, could they have imagined the lasting effect they would have on Louisville's music? Their releases of "This Old Heart" and "Look Homeward Angel" still remain among the largest selling national recordings to be performed by any Louisville artist. Enjoying more than a 50 year reign of regional popularity in the music business is no minor accomplishment. The "British Invasion" came and went; The Monarchs endured.