News Column

Micky still digs that; Dolenz on the band's never-ending appeal and new, bittersweet tour-- with Michael and without Davy.

July 23, 2013

YellowBrix

Forty-seven years ago, a former child actor named Micky Dolenz gota call about "this TV show project called 'The Monkees,'" that camewith an unexpected flourish of fans, hit records and fame. A coupleof years later, it was gone just as fast as it came.

Or so it seemed.

"When it went off the air, the whole enterprise ceased to exist,"he remembers. "That was it. It's like when 'Star Trek' went off theair, and (William) Shatner and (Leonard) Nimoy went home. I don'tthink Nimoy called him every day and said 'Beam me up,William.'~HOA~128~128~"

But we all know that eventually, the starship Enterprise gang was,indeed, beamed back up into a successful run of feature films andThe Monkees became a true pop culture phenomenon, accented by themusic of some of the best songwriters of that or any age -- NeilDiamond, Boyce and Hart, Goffin and King and others.

And it looks like it'll be that way for a while, as far as Dolenzis concerned.

"As long as somebody keeps asking," Dolenz, 68, says from his homein California as he and fellow Monkees Peter Tork and MichaelNesmith prepare to come to Boca Raton's Mizner Park AmphitheaterSaturday night for part of the latest "six weeks of Monkeemadness," a reunion that started in 1986 and never quite completelyended.

This version has its roots in a bit of tragedy: the three gottogether in November after the death of fellow Monkee andIndiantown resident Davy Jones. The remaining members "all met upat a private memorial for him, and one of the ideas was to do amemorial concert. We started discussing it, and Michael said he'dlove to be involved. It sort of blossomed from there."

Dolenz cautioned that this isn't "the Davy Jones Memorial Tour,"but it's a way to give "all of our fans some closure -- and us,(too)." There is an homage to Jones that will undoubtedly bringtears to the audience, but otherwise, fans should expect "a goodold, flat-out Monkees concert."

Before November, Nesmith, the group's serious iconoclast, hadn'tplayed with The Monkees since a U.K. tour and TV special in 1997.Dolenz says that he "definitely brings a different dynamic to it.All of us do. Michael brings to it a lot of his material. (Withouthim) I would sing one or two of his, but it's nice to have him herebringing his own material. It's been refreshing. We're lookingforward to it."

Being, as Dolenz admits, a project created for a TV show, manycritics and industry experts were slow to give the so- called"Pre-Fab Four" any credit for, well, anything.

But it's easy to look back now and see how many areas theypioneered in, from "the visual aspects" of the show and its earlymusic videos to being "one of the first acts, if not the first, whoactually brought a film projector and put up a movie screen (atlive shows) and showed clips from the TV show."

Almost 50 years later, the Monkees are heralded in many circles asartistes, for those things, for their groundbreaking psychedelicfilm "Head," directed by Bob Rafelson and co-produced by him andJack Nicholson. "The Porpoise Song," one of the soundtrack'strippier numbers, has been featured in such films as Tom Cruise's"Vanilla Sky" and the closing credits of an episode from "Mad Men"last season. There's even now an annual call from fans for them tobe inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

"It doesn't surprise me anymore. It did at one point. I'd moved toEngland after (the show) ended, and ended up getting into TV andfilm production, and writing TV shows for a big British company,"Dolenz says. "I didn't have any recording, acting or Monkeebusiness for about 10 years. But when we got back together for ahuge reunion in 1986, it was the first time I realized what a hugeimpact the project had on the whole cultural landscape.

"I was doing a musical in New York on Broadway called 'Aida,' andif you added up all the performances I'd done, I did that showlonger than I worked on 'The Monkees.'~HOA~128~128~"

But like most genuine pop culture phenomena, 'The Monkees" wasbigger than a short-lived TV show. And Dolenz is happy to still bein the Monkees business.

"We were very, very fortunate. ... It's important to acknowledge alot of the people involved. It was the combination of the writingand the acting, surrounding yourself with talented people who knowwhat they're doing. You leave it up to the universe, and at somepoint, if you're lucky, the whole thing becomes greater than thesum of its parts."

lstreeter@pbpost.com Twitter: @LeslieStreeter

The Monkees

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mizner Park Amphitheater

Info: Ticketmaster.com

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