The Monkees come to Cincinnati
By Gary Spencer
Surely, everyone reading this knows who The Monkees are, even nearly half a century after they first graced television screens all over America as their first hit single “Last Train to Clarksville” shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The three remaining Monkees – Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork – are still thrilling audiences all over the globe with their boyish charm and some of the best pop/rock songs ever laid to wax. Sure, some people out there still snicker about how The Monkees were the “pre-fab four” manufactured for TV. If anything, the last three years have been a testament to the remaining Monkees’ legacy as a hard-working rock ‘n’ roll traveling show. The three remaining Monkees are pushing the age of 70, and with the passing of Davy Jones in 2012, it’s hard to believe the band isn’t slowing down. Instead, they will embark on their fourth tour since 2012, are working on new material and were even inducted into the American Pop Music Hall of Fame earlier this year.
It’s been a very busy year for Micky Dolenz, the man many believe to be the voice of the Monkees, but Dayton City Paper caught up with him to talk about the latest wave of Monkeemania.
You’ve been doing a lot of touring in the last few years. That plus the reissuing of your classic albums and visiting Monkee conventions, what has triggered all this renewed activity for The Monkees?
It’s always been the same sort of dynamic – every eight or 10 years or so there’s always some re-interest. Somebody calls us and asks if we want to get back together and tour or make a record, and depending on our availabilities and other commitments and we say yes or no. It’s been like that since the first reunion in 1986. This most recent one, frankly, did have something to do with the passing of David (Jones), and Mike and Peter and I got together for a memorial type of thing and Mike expressed interest in performing. We started talking and the idea was to have a one-off concert to memorialize him. That blossomed into two or three shows and then it became a tour. That was the first tour. Mike seemed to enjoy it, and our first tour morphed into the second tour and now here we are again! – Micky Dolenz
What’s your live show like in the year 2014?
It’s a rock ‘n’ roll concert featuring all of our big hits from the ’60s and the ’80s, like “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.” We play some deep album cuts and songs from our movie “Head” that Jack Nicholson wrote. We play all these songs and that’s what everyone seems to love. We also had that TV show – 62 episodes – so we’ve built up a lot of video over the years. We have a video wall and show a lot of that. – MD
Has it been difficult doing The Monkees without Davy?
It’s different, of course. He brought a lot to the party and the show. I wasn’t sure we could put together a complete show [without him], but it’s worked. But Mike brings a lot to the table – he wrote some amazing songs, not just for The Monkees but other people, too. I think for the fans it’s an opportunity to see him perform material no one’s heard him do in 40 years. It’s just different. – MD
Many fans consider it an injustice The Monkees aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Does it bother you?
I’ve never been one to chase awards and inductions and whatnot. I’ve been very flattered and honored over the years though. You have to keep in mind that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not a public organization, or a democratic organization representing the entire music industry. It’s like a private club, basically, and they have the right to invite whoever they want to their club, or not. It’s not a public choice award or a Grammy or something. – MD
But you were inducted into the American Pop Music Hall of Fame.
Yeah, two months ago. I’m very flattered the fans have done petitions and the like. – MD
Who’s your audience coming to see you these days?
It’s a pretty wide demographic. We, of course, have the original fans and the fans from our resurgence in the ’80s and then a new generation of people who’ve discovered our music.
It’s not unusual to have two or three generations of fans there. – MD
I did some research and found The Monkees played at Cincinnati Gardens on its 1967 tour. Any memories of that?
I’m afraid not! (laughs) That was a long time ago. We were doing one-nighters, getting flown in and out after we played, I don’t even remember where I’m playing on THIS tour! – MD
If you could change or do anything different about The Monkees, what would it be?
Good question! I don’t know that I’d change anything. I’m not sure it could have been any more successful than it was. – MD
Do you have any aspirations for The Monkees at this stage of your career?
Not really. We’ve always played it by ear, ever since the ’60s. At this time we’re doing the tour, we’ve talked about doing another [TV] show. Who knows? We might go back to the studio and do some recording. There’s never been any master plan. We’re going to do this tour and see how it goes. – MD
The Monkees will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 6 at PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. Tickets range from $39.50 to $85.00. For more information, please visit monkees.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.