The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz discusses new live album
The Monkees were beloved in the late ’60s and early ’70s, thanks to the massive popularity of their TV show, which helped them sell more than 75 million records worldwide.
Comprised of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones, the foursome had a catalogue of hits that included “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Mary, Mary” and “Daydream Believer.”
While Jones died in 2012 and Tork early last year, the remaining duo of Dolenz and Nesmith have kept the Monkees legacy alive by continuing to tour and recording “The Mike & Micky Show Live,” a new live album released on April 10.
Though their tour is currently in a holding pattern, Dolenz took some time to talk about what’s ahead.
Keith Loria: How have you been passing the time during the pandemic?
Micky Dolenz: Given my normal lifestyle, I’m never home, or if I am, I’m home for three to four days. I have been living out of my suitcase for years and this is the first time in I don’t know how long that I unpacked my suitcase completely and brought it back into the garage. So, I’ve been going through drawers I haven’t looked at in years and spending some fun time at home. I just live with my wife, and I like the privacy and the quiet and the solitude of it. And I love cooking, so I’m taking some classes on the internet and cooking every night. I’m also planting my garden, and this year I might actually be around for the harvest. Still, it’s just tragic what is happening to so many people.
KL: You, Mike and Peter were touring together as The Monkees when Tork passed away. Did you think then you would continue touring?
MD: When Peter passed, Nez and I wondered what we would do now. We talked to the record company and some fans who were big on the internet with social media and everyone came back with very positive feedback about Mike and I going out together on tour, so we decided to hit the road again. It was a very successful first tour. Mike had a medical problem, but he’s doing fine now and we were supposed to go out again pretty soon.
KL: The new live album came out this month. How did that come about?
MD: It was a collaborative event between not just Nez and I, but the record company (Rhino) and our tour producer. We’ve recorded concerts before but never released a live album, so it just came to be organically. When we decided to go on the road, it just seemed like a natural progression. We recorded a few of the shows and we liked what we heard.
KL: It charted at number 87 during its first week of release. How does that make you feel?
MD: Well, I can’t think of any other act that’s over 50 years old that could do that! We started in 1966 and the equivalent to what we’ve done would be an act like Al Jolson from the ’20s come back with a top album back when we began.
KL: The two of you have great chemistry both on stage and on the record, which isn’t surprising considering you’ve known each other so long.
MD: We have this marvelous blend and always did. When Nez and I sing and do harmonies, I call us the Everly Monkees. He is from Dallas, Texas, and my mom is from Austin, Texas, so when I grew up, I tended to listen to things my mom listened to — Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sons of the Pioneers — so I had that influence early on. And I became a huge Everly Brothers fan, so when I started singing with Nez, we had this automatic blend. We definitely capitalized on that on this record. We’ve also always connected on a comic level and improv.
KL: With such a strong catalogue of songs to choose from, how did you decide which tunes to put on the album?
MD: It all came from the tour. You get requests all the time, especially from hardcore fans. Sometimes you play something you think will work fine and it doesn’t and other times you play something you don’t think in a million years will work on stage, and it does. You just never know.
KL: Why do you think the legacy of the Monkees is so strong and the songs still hold up today?
MD: I don’t think you can reduce something like the success of the Monkees or any art form to just one thing. You can’t do that with “Casablanca” or “Star Trek” or anything. The way I look at it is you surround yourself with talented people who are going to work hard, you hope you have a good idea, and at some point, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The fans will probably be able to answer that question better than I. But we surrounded ourselves with great songwriters — Neil Diamond, Carole King, Paul Williams — and then you hope you just don’t screw it up. The creator of our show once said, “we just caught lightning in a bottle,” and I think that’s a great answer as well.