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May 22, 2011 by  
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The touring trio of Tork, Jones and Dolenz
Andy Welch

16 May 2011

The Monkees have been closeted in a small room all day doing interviews.

It’s a nice room, of course, a book-filled nook of a well-known London members’ club, and there’s endless tea and biscuits, but it’s a small room nonetheless.

Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz are here to talk about their 45th anniversary tour and two-CD Best Of, Monkeemania.

In the morning they were probably fresh and full of the joys of spring, but several hours in to their promotional duties, the trio are starting to flag.

The band’s drummer, Micky Dolenz, is sitting, nay lying, on the end of the couch, hat pulled over his eyes like a cowboy catching an afternoon nap.

He’s snatched a few hours off from performing in an award-winning touring production of Sixties-set musical Hairspray. “Eight shows a week,” he smiles, raising his head slightly. “Brutal.” He sinks back down.

Peter Tork, the keyboard player, is sitting to his left, taking everything in and not saying very much. He’s quiet and, unless he’s making one of his quick jokes, only really speaks when spoken to.

Davy Jones, however, is up on his feet. He’s 65 now but still has the glint in his eye of a former teen idol, with a tan that would sit somewhere between sun-kissed and old handbag on a beauty salon colour chart.

Despite being born in Manchester, Jones is full of the can-do attitude of the USA, his adopted homeland, and only a trace of a British accent remains. Despite this, he doesn’t sound American either.

“I’m doing great,” Jones says. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do, I’m still riding my horses, I’ve got beautiful kids and I’m with my lovely wife,” he adds, referring to his 33-year-old third spouse Jessica Pacheco, a rather beautiful model.

“And here I am with my buddies. We’re here to play music and I do that all the time, but it’s not the same if I’m not with them.”

The Monkees were the first made-for-TV band, formed when two young film-makers, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, inspired by The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, pitched an idea for a TV show about a band.

Dolenz and Jones were already child stars of stage and screen; Tork and Mike Nesmith answered the casting call and starred in the series for two years. The band made the show, and released albums of songs written by the best on offer at the “Brill Building”

We’ve just got so many hits! That’s the problem when we’re picking a set list

Davy Jones

The New York hit factory boasted Neil Sedaka, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond and, chiefly, prolific duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart among its ranks of songwriters.

The formula, however contrived, worked a treat. In 1967 The Monkees outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined in the US, and sold 50 million records worldwide.

Strangely, when the trio talk today about their songs, they get confused over which of the writers was responsible for which hit.

As Jones explains, though, it’s understandable. “We’ve just got so many hits! That’s the problem when we’re picking a set list.”

Dolenz adds: “The last time we were together like this in a room was 2002. Davy and I haven’t spoken or seen each other for a few years, but the things we all went through in the Sixties and the time we spent together means we’re just as tight now as we were then.”

Mike Nesmith, the band’s former guitarist, opted not to join the reunion. Jones says he just didn’t fancy it, but he was asked and there’s no animosity.

Jones adds there was a point a couple of years ago when he thought he wouldn’t do it again (this is technically the band’s fourth reformation).

“I’ve enjoyed doing my own shows for the past few years – cabaret, singing hit after hit and all that schtick.

“But it’s just not the same playing I’m A Believer or Stepping Stone without these guys. I have other songs I do, a bit of country, big band stuff, but it’s The Monkees songs people want to hear.”

Jones remains optimistic and believes that as long as they keep performing the hits such as Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarkesville and the aforementioned Stepping Stone, audiences will accept other material, like the soundtrack to the 1968 film Head.

A commercial flop, the stream-of-consciousness epic has now garnered a cult following.

Ultimately, the threesome are just excited to be back on the road after all this time.

“It’s like someone throwing you a birthday party every night,” offers Dolenz, while Tork best sums up the band’s attitude toward the tour: “Basically, we play for free every night. We just get paid to commute.”

The Monkees – Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith – in 1967

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