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Micky Dolenz talks Monkees, Beatles and the joy of playing live

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Micky Dolenz of the beloved 1960s hit-making group The Monkees says he’d like to be on stage this summer with that band’s other surviving member, Mike Nesmith.

The duo had plotted a 2020 tour in support of the new live album “The Mike & Micky Show,” only to see those dates postponed to next spring due to the pandemic.

The rarely idle Dolenz says he and Nesmith had a blast during their first-ever outing as “The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show” last year, and claims the seeds for his shows with Nesmith were planted during The Monkees’ 1960s heyday.

“Even back in the old days, we joked about some day doing ‘The Mike & Micky Show,’” Dolenz told The Maine Edge. “Nez (shorthand for Nesmith) and I always had a special kind of camaraderie in music and comedy, and very similar tastes in both. We used to talk about one day doing a show together, and here we are.”

The Monkees formed in Los Angeles in 1966 for the titular TV series that lasted for two seasons. Dolenz, Nesmith, the late Davy Jones and the late Peter Tork released nine albums through 1970, and placed a dozen songs in the American top 40, including three #1 singles. The group has sold well over 75 million records to date.

“The Monkees: The Mike & Micky Show” (Rhino Records) features The Monkees stars backed by a stellar 11-piece band on a 24-track mix of big hits and deep cuts, including songs the original foursome never performed live.

“The majority of the audience wants to hear our hits like ‘I’m a Believer,’ ‘Last Train to Clarksville,’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday,’ ‘Daydream Believer,’ ‘Stepping Stone’ and the others, but we recorded such a wealth of material during that very short period of time, songs written by incredible songwriters, including Mike Nesmith, who wrote some of the best songs we ever did.”

Dolenz says he’s currently selecting songs for a “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” solo record, consisting entirely of songs written by Mike Nesmith dating back to his pre-Monkess fame in the early 1960s to the present.

In addition to Monkees hits written by Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart, and Goffin & King, “The Mike & Micky Show” includes a number of Nesmith-penned tunes, including “St. Matthew,” “Auntie’s Municipal Court,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” “Listen to the Band” and “You Told Me.”

The record was produced by The Monkees’ archivist Andrew Sandoval and mixed by Christian Nesmith, Mike’s eldest son and a musician in both the live Monkees band and his father’s First National Band.

Sandoval is a Grammy-nominated musical curator, producer, boxed set compiler and engineer of historical recordings, with a special emphasis on music from the 1960s. He’s a journalist, DJ, songwriter, musician and author of the exhaustively researched book “The Monkees: The Day by Day Story of the 1960s TV Pop Sensation.”

Sandoval has been involved with most of the Monkees-related business that has occurred over the last three decades.

“For a number of years now, Andrew has had a tremendous influence on what I’ve done, just speaking for myself,” Dolenz says of the producer. “He’s very objective, but as you say, he has this clarity of vision about classic music, and not just music by The Monkees. He’s dedicated to the caretaking and curating of this music, and he does it with a tremendous amount of love and affection.”

The last full tour in which Dolenz took part was last autumn’s all-star tribute to The Beatles’ “White Album” that brought him to the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, along with musicians Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Jason Scheff of Chicago and Joey Molland of Badfinger to perform a mix of their own hits and songs from The Beatles classic LP.

Dolenz in particular was in excellent form that evening as he took the lead on Beatles songs like “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Rocky Raccoon” and “Why Don’t We Do It in The Road.”

“Was it as much fun for the band as it was for us in the audience?” I asked Dolenz of that all-star Beatles show.

“More,” he said, laughing. “A lot more. It would be illegal if they knew how much fun we had. To sing those songs with those people – when will I ever have the chance to do that again? To be amongst that hierarchy, I honestly spent most of my time just trying to keep up.”

Dolenz says he’s looking ahead to next spring’s rescheduled tour with Nesmith (“same dates, same venues,” he says) and hopes fans will enjoy the new “Mike & Micky Show” live album until everyone can be in the same room together.

“It was a massive group effort,” he says of the recording, of which he’s especially proud. “I’m very grateful. We caught lightning in a bottle.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 August 2020 10:05

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