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Dolenz reflects on 50 years of Monkee business

November 2, 2017 by  
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BY TOM FINKMadness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running Parts for 4 insane boys, age 17-21. Want spirited Ben Frank’s types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview.

While it may seem like an improbable start to a career spanning more than five decades and still going strong, such was the impetus for the birth of the 1960s band, The Monkees.

From the more than 430 applicants who replied to the ad as it appeared in 1965 in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the final four who would go on to become the now-legendary group, The Monkees, were Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Micky Dolenz.

While the band may no longer be together, one of its respective members, Micky Dolenz, continues to carry The Monkees torch, still writing and recording new music, and this weekend, Dolenz will bring his Monkees magic and musical talents to Rogers County with a live performance in The Joint at Hard Rock Tulsa in Catoosa.

Before he takes the stage on Sunday, Dolenz took a few minutes from his touring schedule to reflect on his historic career, his current projects, and the longevity of the band with which he’s strongly associated.

“Last year, we (The Monkees) had our 50th anniversary tour — isn’t that crazy?” Dolenz said. “Hard to believe it’s been that long, but we also had a new album ‘Good Times!’out that hit the charts — 50 years after the band originally got together. Not a lot of groups get a top ten album 50 years after they first get started. I guess the equivalent of that would be something like, in 1966, if Al Jolson or Enrico Caruso had put out a top ten album. Like I it said, it’s crazy.”

For his upcoming show in Oklahoma, Dolenz said fans can expect much of the music for which he’s known, as well as a few surprises in a “good old-fashioned rock and roll show.”

“At my shows, I’ll always play a lot of Monkees music — I was basically the lead singer of the group, and did a majority of the hits and the cuts, so at the concerts, people can look forward to that,” he said. “If anyone’s a fan of that era, they won’t be disappointed — it’s a great show.

“I make sure to always play the (Monkees) hits — Pleasant Valley Sunday, Last Train to Clarksville, etc. — people expect it, they want to hear those, so I don’t want to disappoint them,” he said. “I’ve always felt there’s an unspoken contract that you have with the audience, especially in my situation, to play the hits — people like them, they want to hear them, and not just in a medley — I do all of them in their entirety, so the fans are very pleased.”

When he’s not performing the better-known songs, Dolenz says he may play a deep cut or non-Monkee material.

“When I’m doing any non-Monkee material, it usually has a story attached to it,” he said. “For instance, I may tell the audience that I’m going to do a Chuck Berry tune — the late, great Chuck Berry, and they may be wondering why. Well, I did a Chuck Berry song for my audition piece for The Monkees, so the Chuck Berry song I may sing is the one that got me the gig.

“If you bring an audience along with you, you share stories with them about yourself, your work, the songs you perform, you can pretty much go anywhere in a show,” he said. “Plus, I play lots of wonderful video from that era (at the concerts), so it’s a nice trip down memory lane for the audience, and it really works in the right venue, like the Hard Rock — it feels more intimate, more personal, but at the same time, it’s still a flat-out rock and roll show.”

Dolenz’s shows also are a family affair, as his sister, Coco, tours with him, singing backup and sometimes taking the lead microphone.

“My sister sang background on some of the original Monkees songs, and she sings backup on nearly everything when I’m performing in concert, as well as a couple of songs herself,” he said. “I like to tell the story of Mike (Nesmith) writing the song ‘Different Drum’ for Linda Ronstadt and The Stone Ponies, which was a big hit for them. Coco sings that one when we’re in concert, as well as ‘Me and Magdalena’ with me — I just love that song so much.”

While perhaps lesser known than some of The Monkees hits, “Me and Magdalena” was on the 2016 album “Good Times!”, issued in conjunction with the group’s 50th anniversary and tour.

“’Working on ‘Good Times!’ was a phenomenal experience — there were so many talented people involved in the making of that album,” Dolenz said. “It was very successful, and includes songs written by some of the group’s original writers from the 1960s, as well as including tracks from the original recordings, including a vocal by Davy Jones and another one by my friend, Harry Nilsson, my dearly departed friend, with whom I do a duet. It’s very special to me.

“Wow, who else was involved in that — Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Paul Weller, Carole King, so many others,” he said. “It was a great, great project, with some wonderful, wonderful material. It was pretty cool. Honestly, I feel pretty blessed.”

In addition to his sister, Coco, on occasion, Dolenz welcomes friends and familiar faces onstage with him.

“I was performing at a show in Los Angeles a few weeks back, and Mike (Nesmith) happened to be in town, so he came onstage for a couple of tunes — that was great, very cool,” he said.

Working in the business for as many decades as he has, Dolenz has sadly seen the passing many of his contemporaries, among them, Glen Campbell, who passed away in August.

“Man, Glen — what a talent, that guy, what a man,” he said. “He was a very good friend, I’ve known him for years and years. Back in the day, he was one of The Wrecking Crew, those musicians who were in L.A. and just playing on everyone’s stuff, ours (The Monkees), The Beach Boys, The Byrds, you name it.

“One day, after we’d become friends and were just hanging out, just having dinner or something, he asked me about a recording session I had, before The Monkees, one of my first, which I did — I was 19 years old and recorded a couple of singles for these record producers. He told me he was the guitar player on that, so we’d been friends for ages. What a loss.”

Fortunately, many of Dolenz’s contemporaries are still around, some of whom, he works with.

“I’ve been doing a tour with Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere and the Raiders on a compilation show called ‘50 Summers of Love’,” he said. “We’re actually doing a show in Kansas City on Friday — just before my show in Oklahoma. It’s a little bit different, kind of like a show I’ve wanted to do for a while in that, usually in a compilation show, one act comes out and does their 20 minutes, then the next act comes out and does the same, and so on.

“In ‘50 Summers of Love’ though, we’re on the stage at the same time, so we’re backing up one another, singing each other’s material,” he said. “You’ll hear the songs but you’ll hear me singing background on Paul Revere and the Raiders tunes, and Mark singing backup on Monkees songs. It’s going really well. Everybody loves it.”

When he’s not recording or touring, Dolenz sometimes makes time to perform, oftentimes, in musical theatre.

“I’ve done a ton of theatre, mostly musical theatre,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of work on Broadway, I did ‘Hairspray’ in the west end, ‘Grease’, I did the Elton John musical ‘Aida’, ‘Pippin’, I’ve done quite a lot over the past few decades. I really love it, but I’ll also take the odd gig on television or in a movie, for example, I just did a cameo guest on a show called ‘Difficult People’ which was a wonderful part for me. Had a lot of fun doing it.”

Between performing on stage or in front of a camera, Dolenz said it all depends on the project.

“I just follow my nose,” he said. “My dad always used to say ‘Just follow the fish, the fish aren’t going to follow you’, so I get offers to do television and stage, films, recordings, whatever, all the time. It’s not like a person always has the option to pick and choose, but for me, it really comes down to the material — it’s all in the material — that dictates my projects.”

One project unrelated to entertainment, but literally related to Dolenz is a business he’s started with his daughter Georgia, Dolenz & Daughters Handmade Furniture Company.

“Georgia’s very talented in her own right,” Dolenz said, proudly. “She wrote a TV pilot — interent pilot — which is in the final stages of editing, and it’s really very funny. She wrote, produced and stars in that, and she and I have started our own furniture making company. After several years of building our own pieces of furniture, we decided to expand the idea into something greater and, in 2013, we founded the company and design each piece from scratch. I’m very proud of it.”

Still rocking at 72, Dolenz has a career that shows little sign of slowing down, and that many would envy.

Musician, actor, director, producer, star of stage, screen, and radio, and now furniture company owner, is there anything Dolenz hasn’t done yet which he’d still like to do?

“Hmm — I would like to finish my degree in Physics,” Dolenz said, “but that’s probably not going to happen. I’m pretty busy with other things.”

Dolenz will perform in The Joint at The Hard Rock Tulsa in Catoosa this Sunday, Nov. 5. For more information, call 1-800-760-6700.

For more information about Dolenz, visit his page on Facework, his official website at wraw.micropyle.coma, or to learn more about his daughter’s furniture company, visit


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