The Word - Vol 18
Hey Hey He’s a Monkee
He’s the last Monkee standing, he’s Micky Dolenz.
I met Micky when he was a celebrity guest on a game show I hosted called Acting Crazy. It was a show that was created and produced by Blair Murdoch of West Vancouver. We taped the show at CKVU studios in Vancouver and it ran across the Global Television Network in 1991-92 and then again in 1994-95, with re-runs on Prime TV and also Game TV.
It was a fun show based on the old parlour game of Charades. There were two teams of 4 people. 2 regulars, picked from the group of Sue Burge, Melody Davies, Gary Jones, Billy Mitchell, and Denis Simpson. Plus one contestant and one celebrity guest.
Some of the celebrities included comedians, Jack Carter, Rip Taylor, Jimmy Walker, and Joanne Worley. Actors, Jackson Davies, Meredith MacRae, and Sally Struthers. And musicians Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. from the 5th Dimension, and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees. We would record 5 shows a day for 2 days, and that would give us 2 weeks' worth of Monday-to-Friday programming.
I was a big Monkee fan when their show originally aired on TV in 1966. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith were put together following a casting call for actors to play a band on a tv show. The tv show eventually was responsible for making them a recording and touring band, with hits like "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Daydream Believer,” selling in excess of 65 million copies.
The Monkees TV show was just a fun show, nothing serious, and as John Lennon once said, “The Monkees was like an old Marx Brothers movie.”
I was looking forward to shooting Acting Crazy with Micky Dolenz, and on the taping day I went to the Green Room to introduce myself, and Micky was sitting on the couch playing his guitar. After the introductions, I noticed he was looking a little sad. I asked him if everything was alright and he said “No, not really, my wife just left me and went back to England with the kids.”
This is not the kind of news the host of a show called “Acting Crazy” wants to hear. Part of the charm of the show was that people were playing Charades, with excitement and laughs, and having fun. It didn’t seem like Micky was in that kind of a mood. But he was a professional actor, he put on his happy face when the cameras came on, and all was good.
On the second day of taping, I had a chance to talk with him again and asked him about his old TV show, and the band’s touring. One story he told me I couldn’t believe. He said when the Monkees first toured, their opening act was Jimi Hendrix! Jimi Hendrix and the Monkees? What genius put that pairing together! He said he and the band would sit backstage waiting to go on and could hear the young girls who had come to see the show with their mothers, chanting 'Davy, Davy, Davy, we want Davy', while Jimi Hendrix was shredding his way through the opening act. Micky said they were so embarrassed because they knew what an amazing talent Hendrix was. Hendrix only lasted a couple of shows on the tour, before being replaced. It just wasn’t a good fit!
I asked Micky what he had done after the Monkees show ended. He said he had gone to London’s West End, where he performed and directed in musical theatre. He got involved in directing and producing TV shows for the BBC. He had only planned on staying there for a few months, but ended up staying for 12 years! He did return to the States to continue directing, playing music, and staging a few reunion tours with some of the original group.
What happened to the other Monkees? Davy Jones died of a heart attack at age 66 in February 2012. Peter Tork passed away from cancer at 77 in 2019 and Michael Nesmith, 78 from heart failure in December 2021.
Dolenz is now touring as a solo act, showcasing his 2021 album, “Dolenz Sings Nesmith.” The setlist features all the classic Monkees hits, as well as songs from the album.
Micky Dolenz, the last Monkee standing, has had quite a career. And it’s not over yet.
Until next week...
Watch the episode of Acting Crazy with Wayne & Micky
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