Leave it to the English (the BBC World Service to be precise) to host an interview with one of The Monkees (Micky) that takes things seriously and asks interesting questions – beginning with “What was the music played in your childhood home?” I’m particularly pleased that Cerys Matthews mentions the show right up front as a ‘true cultural phenomenon’ – because it was!
Born in Los Angeles in 1945, George Michael Dolenz, Jr. became famous at the age of 10 with his own TV show. He has since established himself as an actor on television, film, and musical theatre, and directed a number of movies and music videos. He will always be best known, though, as the drummer and lead singer of the pop-rock band The Monkees.
Dolenz described the Monkees as initially being “a TV show about an imaginary band…that wanted to be the Beatles, that was never successful”. The four actor-musicians, however, soon became a real band, going on to sell more than 75 million records worldwide. At their peak in 1967 they outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.
Dolenz reflects in his outrageously successful career with Cerys, and spins some of the tunes that have defined his life.
Ann Moses played a huge part in establishing the public persona of each of the actors on The Monkees – I discuss the difference between their many personas in the chapter on Identity Construction (named whimsically for the song A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You). The Monkees was a rare show in which the characters used the names of the actual actors – which begged the question “Where did the actors end and the characters begin in the audience’s mind?”
50 years less one day ago, I met the Monkees for the first time. I was on the “Last Train to Clarksville” – a promotional trip the day before their show aired in 1966. I met all four boys – and while I knew they would be a huge hit, I had no idea of the rousing years ahead, going on tour with them, trips every week to their indoor and outdoor sets as they filmed their magical show. It’s been a great experience and I can’t wait for my reunion with Peter and Micky this Thursday. 50 years later I’ll be doing video interviews with them – no tape recorders, no transcribing, no waiting 1-2 months before the story is in print. It’s definitely has been a wild ride!
In today’s radio interview on Mornings with Nicole Dyer from Brisbane, Australia we can hear the wonderful happiness in her voice as she introduces her interview with Micky. It was great to hear that their radio station has been playing several tracks from Good Times – unlike American radio stations which seem so stuck in pre-planned song lists that we’re lucky to hear “Last Train to Clarksville”. Granted, she speaks more about the new album than the show (my focus in the book) but I appreciated that she clearly knew – and loved – the Monkees.
On September 8, 1965, an ad appeared in the entertainment trade magazine ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ seeking ‘Folk & Rock musicians, singers, for acting roles in new TV series, running parts for 4 insane boys, Age 17-21″. Over 400 young men applied – but for the four who were chosen, it would change their life.This week marks 50 years since we first heard the Monkees theme song, and this year, the Monkees released an album of new material. And 2 of the Monkees, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz, are heading to Australia as a part of their 50th anniversary tour, and they’re playing on the Gold Coast in December. Nicole Dyer spoke to Micky Dolenz…