Born in New York City, he began his music career early in his life, honing his skills throughout the 1970s. Monk’s destiny was sealed when Art Blakey gave him his first drum set at the age of 15, and began lessons with Max Roach. After earning a reputation in school as a rabble-rouser (and graduating), the young Monk joined his father’s trio and toured with his dad until the elder Monk’s retirement in 1975. Monk then launched into the music that had captivated him and his generation, R&B. He first toured with a group called Natural Essence and afterward, along with his sister Barbara, formed his own band.
By the dawning of the 1980s, he had formed his eponymous band, which featured him on drums and occasional lead vocals. The group’s début album, 1980’s House of Music, featured several hits that placed on the Billboard R&B chart, including “Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)“, which featured Monk on lead vocals, and “Candidate for Love”. The tracks peaked at No. 63 and No. 58 respectively, in the UK Singles Chart. The band went on to release two more albums throughout the early 1980s, though singles released from these albums did not fare as well as those on the début. The band broke up shortly thereafter.