The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz & Me

Posted by Frankly Francis on September 19, 2012 under Music/Musicians, Personal | Be the First to Comment

Having recently heard of the latest Monkees reunion tour, sans Davey of course, I got to thinking of one of the threads of my youth that came to fruition much later along my pathway.

It’s very important to take the space time continuum seriously… especially when you are not much of a believer in fate, destiny or that things always happen for a purpose, like myself.  For me things can be summed up pretty neatly with the words of Douglas Adams, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

Back in the 60’s, music was exploding.  It seemed like every day there was a new sound or a new artist adding to ever expanding genres.  I tried to take it all in.  We all tried to take it all in.  I think we may still be trying to take it all in. It was an incredible time musically!

I love music in every form, but I have always been a sucker for a good pop hook. The Beatles were astounding.  They were everywhere.  They changed pop music with each new album, and they changed pop culture each time as well.  The rest of the English Invasion was a musical force to be reckoned with.

America had to respond.  And respond it did on every front. Admirably too.

One of those fronts was sheer profit. The Monkees were assembled as a money making business, pure Hollywood corporatism. Yet it was so wonderfully American.

And I loved the Monkees! Their job was making music! They had the Monkeemobile! They were hanging out and having fun! They got in (and then out of) the most ridiculous situations as a way of life!

My take on them, then and now: Davey had charm that was contagious, Mike was a serious thinker, but someone had to be, and Peter was just goofy. Mickey was just too cool and my undeniable favorite.

In the 60’s, when the Monkees came to town for a concert at the venerable War Memorial Auditorium, I heard on the AM wireless that they were arriving at the airport.  My brother and I convinced my mother to drive us over there so that we could meet them in person.  I was never more excited.  I tried to think of what I might say to them.  Maybe they would give me tickets to their concert.  Maybe they would ask me backstage.  Maybe they would ask me to be a Monkee. Maybe they would ask me to tour with them…

Of course we were at the wrong airport.  The Monkees flew into the private airfield right next to where we were.   Dreams dashed in the sad realization that we were not going to meet them.

But I knew one thing for certain from the Monkees – I had to be in a rock band.  As a result of that, I had the incredible opportunity to perform with musicians who, to this day, I am deeply honored to have shared a stage with – times I will always cherish and be thankful for.

Real good stuff.

Fast forward a few decades. I’m doing the corporate gig as CFO of a rapidly expanding Internet company. We make generous donations to “Computers for Kids.” We get preferential treatment at their annual gala fundraiser. Mickey Dolenz is the performer. I get a private post performance party invite.

I am going to finally meet Mickey Dolenz. Did I mention that Mickey was my favorite Monkee?

It’s not that I am star struck, well maybe a little, but it’s that I like to meet the people who have had a profound influence upon me and thank them. And if possible, have as much conversation as the opportunity presents.

The show was great and it’s time to fulfill a boyhood dream. I’m cool, but yet I am as over-excited as a child. Finally, Mickey joins the party. He situates himself right next to me at the bar in the private room. I seize the moment and request a photo of me and Mickey.

As the photo is about to be snapped, I place my arm around Mickey, and in doing so, I push his drink right off of the bar. Horrors! Mickey looks at me and tells me that it took 20 minutes for the staff to find his particular drink of choice. He is not happy. Nightmare! I sincerely apologize. They replenish his drink.  It gets better. I get my picture.

We talk. I feel so good.  I tell him that “Shades of Gray” remains my favorite Monkees song. I tell him that Davey did a great job on the vocals. He tells me that it is his favorite too, but he sang the song. I am pretty sure that my memory is good in this regard, but this is Mickey Dolenz contradicting me here. I have to cede to him. Meeting summary to that point: Oh no, bad start that got better now taking a negative turn.

But things went back to good between me and Mickey, and as it turned out, I had the most delightful time talking with him.

When I had the later opportunity to listen to “Shades of Gray,” I realized that Davey did indeed sing most of the lead with Mickey singing along, but mostly harmonizing. Well at least Mickey and I consider it our favorite Monkees song.

Sometimes we get what we want in our childhood, when we are adults…