It’s been 56 years since Micky Dolenz appeared to audition for a Beatles-inspired TV show “A Hard Day’s Night” in response to a Hollywood Reporter ad looking for “4 Crazy Boys, ages 17-21” .
He got the part.
Now he and Michael Nesmith, the singer-guitarist he met during a wardrobe fitting for the pilot, are heading to Phoenix for a farewell tour. The Monkees perform at the Celebrity Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 19.
“It’s about time,” he said.
Davy Jones’ death in 2012 brought together the three surviving Monkees at the time for a series of well-received reunion tours and the recording of their most successful album since the 1960s, “Good Times!”
The album’s release in 2016 was scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the hit TV show.
Dolenz and Nesmith toured as the Mike and Micky Show in 2018. A year later they lost another Monkee, Peter Tork.
At this point, Dolenz says, he and Nesmith have decided, “We can’t continue playing the role of the Two-kees.”
‘The Monkees’ aired for 2 seasons
The Monkees’ TV show only lasted two seasons, for a total of 58 episodes.
But teammates quickly became true teammates, as the series itself enjoyed a healthy second life in syndication with a revival of MTV in the ’80s, expanding its reach to a new generation.
“If you think of the Monkees as some sort of traditional biological group, that won’t make sense,” says Dolenz.
He compares her to “Glee,” the Fox television series that ran for six seasons from 2009.
“This show was about an imaginary glee club, but actors can do it all,” Dolenz said. “They can sing, play and dance. That’s what ‘The Monkees’ was. A show about an imaginary band who lived in this Malibu beach house who wanted to be the Beatles.”
They just morphed into something bigger as their first four albums topped the charts while releasing such timeless singles as “Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”, “A Little Bit Me. , A Little Bit You “and” Believer in Daydreams “.
“The fact that we ended up on the road playing huge gigs, Nesmith always said it was like Pinocchio was turning into a real little boy,” Dolenz laughs.
“But obviously the producers had that in mind. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have bothered to have people who could sing and act and act and do everything. They would just have hired actors. But they didn’t. not done.”
John Lennon understood the Monkees
Dolenz is very proud to note that John Lennon once compared them to the Marx Brothers.
“John Lennon got it,” he says. “A lot of people got that. We were that musical number that goes on stage and does it all.”
The fact that it all started with a casting made it difficult for detractors to appreciate the Monkees and their music at face value – as a group that cut a string of classic records while inspiring a generation of young fans.
“To a certain extent,” Dolenz says, “I don’t blame them.”
After all, in 1966, the year “The Monkees” debuted as the Monday night headliner of “I Dream of Jeanie” on NBC, rock and roll was taken very seriously.
“For a lot of people, rock and roll wasn’t meant to be funny, not meant to be light,” Dolenz says.
“It was political. It was socially conscious. In the 50s it was hip to be funny and sexy. In the 60s it became something very different. Trying to be friendly. C ‘is in the theme song. “
For Dolenz, this song has drawn a line in the sand.
“It was about recognizing that the young kids back then, they didn’t want to get involved in politics or anything like that (expletive),” he says. “They just wanted to sing and have fun. And that’s basically what the Monkees presented.”
In 1966, laughs Dolenz, the only time you saw young children like them on television was because they were being arrested.
“And the Monkees come up and say, ‘Look, it’s good to wear elephant legs and have long hair. It does not necessarily mean that you are committing crimes against humanity. “”
Dolenz was studying to become an architect
Dolenz was in contention for roles on at least three musical shows when he landed the role of drummer for the Monkees.
At the time, he was going to school to become an architect.
“I was going to fall back on showbiz if I couldn’t be successful as an architect,” he recalls, laughing.
He could tell from the start that “The Monkees” was a very different perspective from those other shows.
“I was like ‘Wow, this is a good movie’ because the producers, Bob (Rafelson) and Bert (Schneider), were very young for the producers in Hollywood. Not much older than me. Fresh. ‘ “
It was obvious that they were doing everything to get the most out of Beatlemania.
“But the brilliance of their concept was that ‘The Monkees’ was about this band that really wants to be The Beatles but we never were – not on the TV show,” he says.
“It was that struggle for success that made him dear to so many people. It spoke to all those kids around the world who were in their basements, in their living rooms. They were trying to be famous.”
What life after television was like for the Monkees
A year after the show ended, the Monkees began to go their separate ways when Tork became the first to leave, citing exhaustion. Nesmith resigned in 1970 to focus on his solo music. Jones and Dolenz released a final album under the Monkees’ name, “Changes”, before closing this first chapter in 1971.
They have met several times over the years, including all four members on occasion.
Jones’ last outing as Monkee was the 45th Anniversary Tour, which Nesmith was not on, a year before his death.
In 2018, Nesmith told the Republic: “Davy’s passing was the key factor” in bringing him back to Monkees in 2012 for the first time since touring the UK in 1997.
Dolenz recalls that the first reunion after Jones’ death was difficult.
“It was tricky,” he says. “It was emotional. It was a lot of stuff. But we debated it. We said, ‘How do we do that? How can we do that?’”
Then they asked the fans what to do.
“The general fan consensus was’ We really want to see you again. We understand Davy is not here, but we want to hear these songs. And let’s face it. In concert, everything revolves around songs. “
Four years after that reunion, they gave these fans their first new batch of Monkees songs since the 1996 album “Justus”.
Dolenz says of “Good Times!”, An album produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, who died last year of COVID-19, “I think this is one of the best albums we’ve ever made, frankly. And a lot of that comes down to Adam Schlesinger. God loves him. May he rest in peace. “
In addition to Schlesinger, the album features songs by Andy Partridge (XTC), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Noel Gallagher (Oasis) and Paul Weller (the Jam) among others.
“It has always been the case with the Monkees,” says Dolenz. “Incredible songwriters.”
Speaking of songwriters, his latest solo effort, released in March, is a collection of songs by a writer he has always admired, Michael Nesmith.
“I think he’s one of the greatest poets, the greatest composers of his genre from the start,” Dolenz said. “He was always the one who wrote these amazingly beautiful songs.”
He got the idea for “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” from his old friend Harry Nilsson, who composed an iconic collection of Randy Newman songs, called “Nilsson Sings Newman”, in the 1970s.
“I mentioned it to Nez and he loved the idea,” says Dolenz.
He and Nesmith have always been close.
“We’ve always had a wonderful relationship,” says Dolenz.
“It’s like siblings. One day I was introduced to Mike, Davy and Peter on a wardrobe fitting. Because that’s the first thing that happens when you get a pilot. . And we hit it off immediately. If you get that, then everything else about the Monkees makes a lot more sense. “
The Monkees farewell tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 19.
Or: Celebrity Theater, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix.
Admission: $ 40 to $ 204.
Details: 602-267-1600, celebritetheatre.com. Proof of complete vaccination or negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the required event.
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