To me, Micky Dolenz was always the coolest Monkee. Plus he’s one of the first three people ever to own a Moog synthesizer, having bought one after seeing it demonstrated by electronic music pioneers Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 (Wendy Carlos and Buck Owens bought the other two).
Here’s Micky sportin’ some seriously futuristic shades. At first I described his sunglasses as “retro-futuristic,” but such a concept wouldn’t really have existed at the time, so I changed it.
Below, Micky Dolenz and the boys do “Daily Nightly”:
Gathering up the reactions of remaining Monkees Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter to the passing of Davy Jones
All the lovely people. Where do they all come from?
So many lovely and heartfelt messages of condolence and sympathy, I don’t know what to say, except my sincere thank you to all. I share and appreciate your feelings.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange, this transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal experience that we know almost nothing about. I am of the mind that it is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of existence. While I don’t exactly know what happens in these times, there is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity.
That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you. I will miss him, but I won’t abandon him to mortality. I will think of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all the contrary appearances on the mortal plane.
David’s spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us.
I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels.
Peter Tork posted the following on his Facebook fan page:
”It is with great sadness that I reflect on the sudden passing of my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer, David Jones. His talent will be much missed; his gifts will be with us always. My deepest sympathy to Jessica and the rest of his family. Adios, to the Manchester Cowboy.
Peace and love, Peter T.”
Micky Dolenz released a statement:
“I am in a state of shock; Davy and I grew up together and shared in the unique success of what became The Monkees phenomena. The time we worked together and had together is something I’ll never forget. He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart. The memories have and will last a lifetime. My condolences go out to his family.”
Below a forever young Davy Jones makes a prom date with Marcia Brady.
“This series, which as been quite successful, features four young men who dress as ‘beatnik types’ and is geared primarily to the teenage market.”
A lot of it is still redacted, but here is the pertinent description of the concert from the file:
“…that ‘The Monkees’ concert was using a device in the form of a screen set up behind the performers who played certain instruments and sang as a ‘combo’. During the concert, subliminal messages were depicted on the screen which, in the opinion of [redacted] constituted ‘left wing innovations of a political nature.’ These messages and pictures were flashes of riots in Berkeley, anti-U.S. messages on the war in Vietnam, racial riots in Selma, Alabama, and similar messages which had received unfavorable response from the audience.”
There is a second Monkees-related document that remains classified!
Below, “Daily Nightly,” thought to be the first use of the Moog synthesizer in a pop song. Micky Dolenz saw one demonstrated at the Monterey Pop Festival and was amongst the first people to own one.
One more Monkees-related post: a seldom-seen clip of them (sans Peter) performing “Nine Times Blue” in 1969 on The Johnny Cash Show. And let’s not forget that “The Man in Black” was born today in 1932.
Continuing on with my recent, rampant bout of middle-aged man Monkeemania, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t post about Eric Lefcowitz’s fine new group biography, Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-for-TV Band. Author of a previous Monkees book, Lefcowitz was early on the curve that saw the Monkees’ reputation rehabilitated when MTV began screening the Pre-Fab Four’s antics to a new generation in the mid-80s. In 2011, decades after the fact, who really cares that they were a “manufactured” group when they left behind so much amazing music in their wake? In the context of today’s pop music, the concept is practically meaningless. It’s not like this held back the Spice Girls, NKOTB or Gorillaz, is it?
For Monkee Business, Eric Lefcowitz has expanded his earlier bio, The Monkees’ Tale, with additional information on the big money cottage industry that sprung up practically overnight to surround the project and the four over-whelmed young men at the heart of it. The fact is that the Monkess were a pop culture “product” that had an awful lot of money put behind it and it paid off handsomely. The Monkees generated unbelievable amounts of cash. Selling over 50 million records is not exactly a small accomplishment as Lefcowitz makes clear and it took something of a “machine” to make it happen (It’s also something that might attract the attention of the mob, as it reportedly did…). What I particularly like about the approach of looking at the business side of things when examining the phenomenon of the Monkees, is that it properly ascribes credit to the apparatus that made all of this great music possible, while the author also makes it plain to see that none of it ever would have worked in the first place sans the lucky accident of casting exactly these four guys and the charisma and the individual and collective talents of Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.
[Try to imagine Stephen Stills in Peter Tork’s role or Neil Young wearing a wool cap playing “Mike” (or Frank Zappa for that matter!). Could say, Steve Marriott, have made a better “Davy”? It falls apart quickly doesn’t it? All I know is that I’m glad I was born into this universe and not a parallel one where the Monkees, exactly as we know and love them, never existed.]
Lefcowitz also pays careful attention to the roles that some major behind-the-scenes talent had on the success of The Monkees: Series creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider who would go on to make films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, and The Last Picture Show; the late millionaire music mogul Don Kirshner; Head’s co-writer/producer, a then-unknown Jack Nicholson; and of course the A-list songwriting talent who wrote for the Monkees like Neil Diamond, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Harry Nilsson and Boyce & Hart and the studio musicians and producers who made their records so memorable, like Glen Campbell, the Wrecking Crew, Chip Douglas and others.
Along the way we also learn of the various other luminaries the Monkees’ orbits collided with, including The Beatles (who were big fans and threw the Pre-Fabs a party when they were in London) and Jimi Hendrix, who infamously opened for part of their first American tour. Lefcowitz also comes up with a few amusing anecdotes about drug use (well, Micky and Peter’s), over-inflated egos and the madness of being thrust into instant worldwide celebrity (Peter Tork would compose a newspaper editorial about this subject after the death of Michael Jackson). He also follows their post 1970 careers closely, whether together or apart, including the various reunion tours.
While Dangerous Minds’ co-founder Richard Metzger is in the thrall of Monkeemania, I’d thought I’d share something with you and him that I found quite charming. This is Patti Smith (who I am always in the thrall of) doing an acoustic version of “Daydream Believer” last week in Paris. Lenny Kaye on guitar. Enjoy.
If you haven’t been able to tell from all of the Monkees posts I’ve been doing recently, I’m going through a bit of a Monkees “phase” right now and probably annoying the hell out of Tara with it. It started when I was listening to “Sunny Girlfriend” from Headquarters. I must have played that song fifty times last week. I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s so catchy!
Then I moved on to other of their hits featuring Mike Nesmith. Pretty much 100% of the songs he wrote and sang (and even the material he sang but did not write, for that matter) with the Monkees are total winners. And distinctively his.
After Nesmith bought himself out of this Monkees contract in 1970, he formed a country-rock group called Michael Nesmith and The First National Band. Nesmith and the group released two albums in 1970, Loose Salute and Magnetic South. If you like the sound of his Monkees contributions, you’ll find no surprises with the First (and later “Second”) National Band material. Clearly it’s the same songwriter and voice we all know so well, but with a more mature style that compares favorably with The Flying Burrito Brothers. And the songs are still as catchy as hell. The guy’s an absolutely ace songwriter.
The reason Michael Nesmith doesn’t get as much credit for birthing the country-rock genre as he should is simple: the stigma of being involved with such a commercial proposition as the Monkees tapped his street cred. That’s too bad, because from the vantage point of 2010, Loose Salute and Magnetic South seem like criminally overlooked classics overripe to be critically reassessed.
Here’s a sampling of three of my favorite tracks from Michael Nesmith and the First National Band:
“Silver Moon” (dig the pedal steel guitar solo from longtime Nesmith collaborator, Red Rhodes):
“Tumbling Tumbleweeds” (from the 1935 Gene Autry movie of the same title)
We have the knowledge—evil though it be—
To twist the mind to any lunacy we wish.
Through this Electro-Thought Machine, I’ll demonstrate exactly what I mean.
We’ll take the means of mass communication, use them for commercial exploitation,
Create the new 4-part phenomena: 4 simple minds with talent (little or none),
And through the latest fad of rock and roll, conduct experiments in mind control!
On an unsuspecting public they’ll be turned!
I’ll brainwash them, and they’ll brainwash the world!!!!
—Brian Auger in 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee
After they made Head, the four original Monkees completed one final project together, the 1969 NBC television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. Peter Tork, citing exhaustion, bought himself out of the final years of his Monkees contract immediately following production of the program.
Produced by Shindig! creator Jack Good and directed by Art Fisher (whose claim to fame is that he gave the Marx Brothers their names), 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee is basically, as Peter Tork called it “the TV Version of Head.” The “plot,” as such, centers on a fiendish plot hatched by a devilish duo, played by guest stars Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger, to control minds via the commercialization of pop music. The Monkees are stripped of their identities in giant test tubes and turned into “safe” doo-woppers. Along the way they wear monkey suits and there is something about Darwin, too, but I didn’t really understand that bit…
Musical guests on the show included Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Clara Ward Singers, The Buddy Miles Express, Paul Arnold and The Moon Express, and We Three. The show’s big finale was an utterly cacophonous version of “Listen to the Band” that seemed to be wanting to evoke the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” satellite performance and the final noisy ending of “A Day in the Life.” You might say, however, that the spotty 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee was really much more like the Pre-Fab Four’s own Magical Mystery Tour. The program marked the Monkees’ final appearance as a quartet until 1986.
I’ve been on a bit of a Monkees kick recently. The other day I was listening to Headquarters album—something I’ve not put on in years and years—and within seconds of the track “Zilch” starting, Tara and I looked at one another like “Hey, this is where the sample from “Mistadobalina” comes from!”
“Zilch” is a nonsensical, dada fugue composed and performed by all four Monekees. It begins with Peter Tork saying “Mr. Dobolina, Mr. Bob Dobolina. Mr. Dobolina, Mr. Bob Dobolina,” etc., before Davy Jones comes in with “Zilch. China clipper calling Alameda. China clipper calling Alameda,” etc., before Micky Dolenz comes in with “Zilch. Never mind the furthermore, the plea is self defense. Never mind the furthermore, the plea is self defense,” (which is a line from Oklahoma) and Mike finally joins in with “Zilch. It is of my opinion that the people are intending. It is of my opinion that the people are intending,” etc. Ultimately the four repeat these lines faster and faster until they break up in laughter.
The Monkees would sometimes sing “Zilch” as they entered a public performance. It was also used in one episode where they’re being interrogated by a police sergeant and a bit of “Zilch” is what they respond with.
Below, the video for Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s hip-hop classic, “Mistadobalina”:
The other samples used by Del tha Funkee Homosapien in “Mistadobalina” are “Pin the Tail on the Funky” by Parliament and James Brown’s “Stone To The Bone.”
“Zilch” is also referenced in the film Honeymoon in Vegas when “Bob Dobalina” is paged over a PA system.
The Monkees are often referred to as the “Pre-Fab Four” in reference to the fact that they were obviously a TV knock-off of the Beatles, recruited from a help wanted ad in Variety. Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Harry Nilsson all auditioned to become Monkees. Stills was even cast, but stepped aside over royalties issues, recommending his then-roommate Peter Tork for the role in instead.
Still, no matter how “uncool” they were supposed to be—and I think you’ll agree that the above trio were all pretty hip young guys— the Monkees casting was a rare example of stroke of genius by committee. It’s difficult to imagine anyone but the four of them having the same chemistry, both comedically and (eventually) musically. And to further refute their “uncool” rep, John Lennon called them “the Marx Brothers of Rock” and the Beatles even hosted a party for them in London when they toured England. (Furthermore, Mike Nesmith was at the Abbey Road recording sessions for “A Day in the Life” and Peter Tork played banjo on George Harrison’s Wonderwall soundtrack).
Even that most far-out of the really far-out musicians of the day, Frank Zappa himself, made not just one, but two onscreen appearances with the Monkees: First in a TV segment where Mike pretended to be Frank and vice versa (which certainly foreshadowed Ringo’s portrayal of Zappa in 200 Motels) before they destroyed a car with a sledgehammer to the tune of “Mother People,” and again in a brief cameo in Head..
Zappa’s Head cameo, offering Davey Jones some musical advice while walking a cow through the Screen Gems studio lot.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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