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Exclusive Interview w/ Micky Dolenz of The Monkees

May 14, 2013 by  
Filed under micky, news feed

Live for Live Music spoke with Micky Dolenz the other day about his recent album REMEMBER, his upcoming reunion tour with The Monkees, and some of the memories he was generous enough to share. Micky began his career in the television show “Circus Boy” using the name Mickey Braddock, an orphaned water boy who fed the elephants in a circus in 1956. The son of actors George Dolenz and Janelle Johnson, Micky would lose the “e” in his name, and hang with The Beatles in Picadilly Circus on the way to selling more than 65 million records worldwide.

Remember comes at a time when the Monkees are mourning the loss of Davy Jones (who passed away in Feb. 2012) but the name and song were chosen prior to his death. Micky “made note of his passing” in the albums liner notes, but the record had been 3 years in the making. Davy’s sudden death last February had “nothing to do with” the choosing of the title. It was actually a tribute to his friend and song’s author, the late Harry Nilsson.

Nilsson was in the mix of ex-Beatles and Monkees, and seems to have had a profound effect on them as a musician and a friend. Dolenz stressed the point that the background vocals are all his on this release, and were in the style of Nilsson and The Beatles. “After all, they were my influences”, he remarked. Studio “trickery” was avoided on Remember, and all of the background vocals are his own. They were recorded the “way they were in the old days”.

The old days included Micky being invited by Paul McCartney to Abbey Road Studios for the recording of “Good Morning, Good Morning”. “It was the first Beatles session I’d ever been at, and it burned into my brain”. Dolenz recorded the song for REMEMBER after having played it live at his concerts over the years. Here he plays it acoustically, with a flute accompaniment in a nice little arrangement. He remarked that he “proved you can revisit those songs”, and that “The Beatles originally were a cover band” when they started out. Monkees fans seem to agree with Dolenz in their collective response, and warm embrace of his work.

Remember was an idea to do an album that was a sort of a scrapbook of Dolenz’s life. The Monkees catalog is revisited several times, including new arrangements of “I’m A Believer”, and “Randy Scouse Git”. The latter being a composition that Dolenz penned himself in 1967, documenting the reflections of his “experiences with The Beatles and swinging London” in the height of the era that left such an indelible mark on the history of rock and roll.

The Monkees were scheduled to record possibly the most notable “bubblegum song” ever in “Sugar Sugar”, but the band rebelled against the control of the band’s corporate handlers. Dolenz left for England to visit Paul McCartney missing the session, and Mike Nesmith stayed behind and fought for the group to have more creative control over their music. The discrepancy led to Don Kirshner being dismissed by The Monkees, and taking the Jeff Barry/Andy Kim song with him. This led to the creation of The Archies by Kirshner, and the song climbing to being a number one hit that almost anyone alive at the time can hum for you from memory today. The new arrangement is noteworthy for the backstory alone, and is an enjoyable listen that fans will enjoy.

Paul Williams offered The Monkees his composition “Old Fashioned Love Song”, and warned that Three Dog Night wanted to snap it up. Snap it up they did, and earned a Top Ten Hit with it. The fine vocal work of Dolenz makes the track shine here, and The Monkees were not hurting for hits at the time they passed on the song. After all, the band incredibly sold more records than either The Beatles or the Rolling Stones in 1967. Still, it makes one pause at being in a position to act so casually regarding such a finely crafted pop tune.

Dolenz will hit the road to tour with the Monkees this summer, and will play the hits that the fans love. With songwriters from the Brill Building like Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Boyce & Hart penning the songs, and Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz singing them, it would be hard to go far wrong. They gave us some of the most memorable tunes of the 1960′s, including “I’m A Believer”, “Daydream Believer”, and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”. Micky promises “all classic hits, in an homage to Davy” that the fans should be delighted by. Come out and revisit some of the music that filled the air during the summer of 1967, and still brings joy to fans at each stop along the tracks on the last train to Clarksville.

-Bob Wilson

via Exclusive Interview w/ Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees.

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