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The Monkees celebrate 45 years with nearby shows

July 14, 2011 by  
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There has never been a band like the Monkees.

Although the successful quartet was actually brought together when they were cast to appear in a weekly NBC-TV series in 1966, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz sang, played instruments, performed live and even wrote some of the outfit’s best material.

And while the groundbreaking series won two Emmys, the group’s musical accomplishments still astound – the Monkees earned a dozen Billboard Top 40 hits and outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1967. In fact, they remain the only artist to ever have scored four No. 1 albums in the same year.

Forty-five years after the Monkees’ show became a hit, Jones, Tork and Dolenz are playing the final dates of a successful summer tour that includes two nights in Southern California. The group will perform at Morongo Casino in Cabazon on Friday and at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday. Monkeemania is alive and well.

“Well, the shows are always fun; we’ve always had a great time doing the shows,” said Dolenz during a recent phone interview from Detroit, where the band was preparing to perform at the Fox Theatre.

“For me personally – you’d have to ask the other guys how they feel about it – the traveling is just brutal. I tell people, ‘They pay me to travel; I sing for free.'”

Those who dismiss Monkeemania have likely not heard the group’s vast catalog. Although few would compare the group’s original music to the masterworks of the Fab Four or the Stones, there really is a vast range of styles and winning performances stretching from the group’s melodic rock heard on their earliest efforts to the more experimental “Headquarters” and “Head” albums and the handful of studio discs that followed.

In particular, a recent series of wonderful reissues of the group’s sadly overlooked “The Monkees Present” (1969) and “Changes” (1970), courtesy of Huntington Beach-based Friday Music, showcase the blend of lyrical wit, songwriting ability and memorable voices that helped make the Monkees such a success in the first place.

“We also had great producers and we had great writers. I mean if you look at the list of writers that we had writing for us, that was pretty impressive itself,” said Dolenz. Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Carole King, David Gates and the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were among the notables who wrote songs recorded by the Monkees in the late 1960s.

Time has been kind to the Monkees, with critics and fans recognizing the lasting influence of the group’s energetic performances on both the small and big screen (in the cult movie “Head” released in 1968), as well as in the recording studio. The four members of the band grew into solid songwriters, too, with Dolenz’s “Randy Scouse Git” often recognized as one of the group’s best songs. All those dimensions of the Monkees will be revived on stage this weekend.

“There’s so much material, great material in the catalog, it just kind of fell together that way,” Dolenz said the 2011 tour, which features the Monkees performing about 30 songs at each concert.

“There were so many songs that fans wanted to hear, so much material that we had never played together live; also this time around we were fortunate enough to have someone that put together some pretty amazing video from the whole history of the Monkees, not only from the show but from the movie ‘Head,’ old commercials, old interviews … So between that and wanting to get so many songs in, yeah I’m very pleased with the way it’s going and also with the reviews. They’ve been pretty good. I don’t read reviews myself personally, but I let my wife (Donna) read them and she tells me only the good ones,” he said.

Dolenz is not one to keep idle between the occasional revival tours with the Monkees. In addition to his success singing in musical theater in both England and America over the past few decades, he issued “King for a Day” in 2010, a 14-song collection where he sings some of his favorite songs penned by the aforementioned Carole King. Dolenz’ distinctive voice brings power and magic to the material, including “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Go Away Little Girl” and even a tender reworking of “Sometime in the Morning” (first recorded by the Monkees in 1967).

“I’m very proud of it; I always loved her material,” Dolenz said of King, whom he recalls first meeting in the early days of shooting ‘The Monkees’ in 1966.

Dolenz, who enjoys striking off on solo backpacking hikes in California’s Sierras and has hiked the 14,500-foot Mount Whitney a number of times, has no plans to sit back and relax.

“Well I tried to retire once when I was in my forties and I got so bored I was nearly suicidal,” Dolenz mused.

via The Monkees celebrate 45 years with nearby shows | monkees, dolenz, group – Entertainment – The Orange County Register.

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