THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………on December 31st of 1966 The Monkees topped the Billboard Hot 100 with the Neil Diamond composition, “I’m A Believer”. Because of over a million advance orders, the single went Gold two days after its release and has now sold over ten million copies worldwide. Its reign at #1 lasted for seven weeks. Diamond had his first big hit earlier in 1966 with “Cherry, Cherry,” which got the attention of Don Kirshner, who was looking for material for The Monkees. Kirshner was sold on “I’m A Believer,” and as part of the deal, allowed Diamond to record the song as well. Diamond’s version was released on his 1967 album Just For You. The Monkees version benefited from exposure on their television series. The Monkees sang on this, but did not play any instruments. The producers used session musicians (The Wrecking Crew) because they were not convinced The Monkees could play like a real band. This became a huge point of contention, as the group fought to play their own songs. Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz sang lead on this. Dolenz also handled lead vocals on “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Mary Mary” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” Neil Diamond had intended the song to be recorded by the Country artist Eddy Arnold, and was surprised when record executive Don Kirshner passed it instead to The Monkees. Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith didn’t believe this would be a hit, complaining to the producer, Jeff Barry, “I’m a songwriter, and that’s no hit.” Jeff Barry banned him from the studio while Micky Dolenz recorded his lead vocal. The song also reached #1 in the UK.