Micky Dolenz of The Monkees has had an incredible career, with music that has had astounding longevity. The Monkees television show was on from 1966 – 1968 — Micky sang their breakout hit Last Train to Clarksville in the show’s debut season and it’s been all systems go ever since. Today, he is cooking his favorite chili con carne and, of course, his signature Micky D cocktail (see below for his recipe). After a lifetime of performing, the current situation is giving him time to breathe in a way that he hasn’t before.
“To be honest, I hate to say that I’m enjoying it because of all the people who have suffered so tragically. My normal lifestyle is in and out of airports, concerts, trains, planes, buses, and it has been for years. I’ll have to go somewhere for a week and come back for a few days, wash my clothes, and leave again. That’s been pretty consistent. But now, for the first time in I don’t know how long, my suitcase is empty in the garage. It has been a wonderful time, actually, being able to be here at home with my wife and just living, not getting ready to go to a show.”
He has a brand new record out, “The Monkees Live: The Mike and Micky Show,” that he is very proud of. As much as he is enjoying his time off, what he naturally wants to be doing now is touring with his friend and longtime fellow Monkee, Mike Nesmith, performing The Mike and Micky Show for fans around the country. But other matters have intervened, and he hopes they will be back performing as currently scheduled in March 2021.
Still Innovating at 75
At 75 years old, having sold millions of records, directed shows, written and performed in a range of stage, TV and movie roles, why does he keep pushing ahead? We all want to be doing what we love doing, and Micky, who comes from a showbiz family, has worked as a performer his entire life and doesn’t see any reason to stop. Why does he keep innovating, playing new material, and working with new collaborators? As Micky puts it, “I’m a moving target, and those are harder to hit.”
The Monkees always had great material, working with fantastic songwriters – Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Diamond, Carole King, Harry Nilsson and Neil Sedaka. Recently, on their 2016 release “Good Times!,” they worked with The Jam’s Paul Weller, Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Rolling Stone selected Gibbard’s gorgeous “Me & Magdalena” as one of the 50 best songs of the 2010s.
“I just go with the music I relate to”
How does Micky choose what he wants to work on and who he wants to work with, between all the offers and demos that come his way? He has learned that he needs to listen to his own heart; it has to be a project or a song that resonates with him personally. “I never think about what other people are going to like. You can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all the time. I just go with the music I relate to; it’s always been like that. For example, The White Album tour was an incredible experience, I almost would have paid them to do that tour.”
Time With Family
Being at home also means more time with his wife Donna. They met on a blind date. “We had a mutual friend who asked her about her favorite band and, guess what, she said The Monkees, so he made a call and we met. She was a NYC-based flight attendant, and her relationship was ending as was mine. We did long distance for a while, then when 9/11 happened, we both realized that she could have been on one of those planes, and we decided to move in together. She is incredible how she puts up with me. I used to think dealing with hundreds of unruly air passengers was tough, but I am much more difficult! I’m so grateful for having her in my life, especially now.”
The Mike and Micky Show
With the passing of Davy Jones, he knew that the remaining band couldn’t go out solely as The Monkees. They called the tour The Mike and Micky Show, which is a reference to the special relationship between Micky and Mike Nesmith. “On the show, we discovered we both were big Monty Python fans. And we just connected. We started improvising. We started doing it, and we would just go off on these crazy improvs. And then we’d finish it up and look at each other and go, ‘Mike and Micky Show!’ Serious, that’s how it happened.”
Theirs was not only an often comic friendship from the TV show, they also shared a great deal of musical heritage. “Mike and I, right from day one it seems, we really connected in a lot of ways, musically and sonically. He was from Texas and my mom was from Texas, so we both had that “Everly-Monkees” kind of two-part harmony sound together. On this recent tour and the new live record we performed a number of the big Monkees hits, but also a number of songs that Nez wrote outside of The Monkees.”
The result has been a pleasant surprise for Micky. ”It’s been very successful. We made the charts — who would have thought that of a couple of guys in their 70s?” The new record includes 25 hits and fan favorites spanning the band’s entire career from 1966’s “Last Train to Clarksville” to 2016’s “Me & Magdalena,” along with some lesser-known gems.
A Joyous Record
The band is all-pro — many are also members of Micky’s solo band, and others are musicians that have played on and off with The Monkees for decades. His sister, with whom he has played for decades, is on backing vocals. Nez brought in a few of his favorite players, and the result is a highly experienced tight band that produced a joyous record, just the right prescription for the world we are in now.
Jimi Hendrix opened for 8 Monkees shows in 1967. As Micky recalls, “He was an incredibly sweet, sensitive guy, nothing like his stage persona, but the two fanbases did not really mix, if you know what I mean.”
Frank Zappa guest starred in a meta performance on a Monkees episode playing Mike Nesmith, with Mike playing Zappa. Rollicking humor as one would expect from Zappa.
Jack Nicholson wrote their madcap movie Head allegedly while on acid, which makes sense if you see the film.
Micky Dolenz auditioned for the role of The Fonz in Happy Days, but at 6’4” lost out to Henry Winkler at 5’6” because he would have been towering over the rest of the cast.
The 2016 Monkees album Good Times! became the highest-charting Monkees album in the US since 1968.
The Micky D Cocktail
* 2 ounces Tito’s Vodka
* “An insinuation” of St. Germain
* A muddled orange in shaker…strain into a rocks glass
* Drink and smile