While the world knows him best as a member of the Monkees, there is another side to Micky Dolenz... it's behind the camera as a successful director of film and video that might surprise people.
After selling more than 60 million records and Micky churning out the lyrics to the #1 hit "I'm a Believer" and other hits, the Monkees dominated televison for two crazy years.
His successes didn't stop when the Monkees TV show went deep six. He was smart enough to know that he can't stay a pop star forever and talented enough to carry out the transition from star to director.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata sat down with the former Monkee to see what's on his mind.
Livewire: So what prompted the Monkees to go on the road again?
Micky: You know that's what we do. Over the years what's happened is there hasn't been this big Monkee kind of organization that drives the train and keeps the fire burning. You know there's no Monkee office or no Monkee Enterprises. So what usually happens and why it's so successful is a promoter or producer or agent or someone will determine the need in the marketplace for it and they will contact us individually and we'll either say yeah or nay. We like to follow the grassroots following rather than go out every year whether anyone wants to see us or not.(chuckles)
Livewire: Will you be performing any new material?
Micky: We have new material in the works We will be doing stuff off of Justus our last album and we also throw in, which has been a tradition for each one of us, to throw in one tune that inspired us when we were younger. I for instance do an old blues tune my mother used to sing for me and I tell the story of my mom singing this song to me. It gives the audience the idea of where each one of us came from individually rather than just doing all Monkees songs. Peter does a Little Richard tune. Davey sings a Broadway number. My audition piece for the Monkees was "Johnny B. Goode." I sometimes do that because it's a way for the audience to come along with us.
Livewire: Is your relationship with the rest of the Monkees purely business or do you socialize with any of them when you're not working together?
Micky: We don't even live in the same city, but after this length of time it can't be just business. The guys are like brothers. I've known them longer than anybody in my life. No amount of money in the world is worth it if you're miserable at work.
Livewire: Do you keep in touch with Mike Nesmith?
Micky: I was with him a couple of years ago when we toured England together. He lives in New Mexico and I live in L.A.
Livewire: Were you happy the Lakers won the NBA championship?
Micky: I'm sorry I don't follow sports at all. I play a lot of sports, but I've never been a fan or a follower.
Livewire: Do you prefer performing live or staying behind the camera as a director?
Micky: It depends on the project. I'd rather direct a good film rather than perform in a bad show. I'd rather perform in a good show rather than direct a bad film. I don't really have a preference.
Livewire: What's your next directing project?
Micky: I just sold a series to Disney called "Natural Dad." It's a weekly series.
Livewire: What do you think of today's music videos and have you directed any yourself?
Micky: Yes I have over the years. Music video is a really a camera's medium. I come from the old school - acting, script and dialogue. I have done some and some I've liked, but I need something more to get me fired up.
Livewire: How influential was the Monkees TV show on MTV?
Micky: That tour we did in '86 was huge, it helped put MTV on the map. We didn't call them videos back then when we were doing the show, in the show we called them romps. Actually, we had a wild chase scene and include that week's hit record. You can't say that the Monkees were the first to mix film and music. Look at the Beatles with "A Hard Day's Night " and "Help" and before that were the "Beach Bingo" movies with Frankie Avalon. The tradition certainly didn't start with the Monkees.
Livewire: Besides touring are there any new Monkees projects in the works?
Micky: Oh yeah, we're talking about doing a film and Broadway.
Livewire: Where do you think the Monkees place in rock history is?
Micky: That's a very good question. I'm not exactly sure from where I sit. Timothy Leary said that the Monkees brought long hair into the living room. I think that there might be something to that. The only times you saw kids with long hair on television was when they were being arrested. Then the Monkees came along and showed them four rather sanitized long haired hippies with bell bottoms. It was just being normal nice kids. But, as Leary said we did legitimize it by "bringing long hair into the living room." As far as the rock n' roll we had all the great songwriters... Carole King, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka and the list goes on and on.
Livewire: You toured with Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and worked with a very young Jack Nicholson on the cult film "HEAD," what was it like working with both of these legends?
Micky: Well, Jack Nicholson, of course, at the time was a B movie actor, totally unknown. He was just getting into writing. He was so powerful and such an incredibly charismatic character. We hit it off really, really well and stayed friends for years and of course his career just exploded. Hendrix was very theatrical in his presentation and so were we. The fans at these concerts are there to see the headliners and they don't really care who else is there. You know Hendrix would be up there belting out "Foxy Lady" and the kids would be screaming for the Monkees. It was kinda strange!
Livewire: What's in your CD player right now?
Micky: Shaggy. Yeah, I like Shaggy. His music is fun. I don't know what it is. I'm not a huge rap fan, but Shaggy mixes reggae with rap and I like his voice. My daughter turned me on to it. Actually, it's the first CD that I've bought in a long time.
Livewire: What can fans in the Midwest expect to get when they see you live Wednesday night in Rockford?
Micky: Like I said we do all the Monkees hits. I'm very careful about keeping it pure. We don't do medleys and we don't do "Spinal Tap" versions. (laughs) We do go off and diversify in other areas. We talk about Jimi Hendrix and about Jack Nicholson and we talk about our roots. We do other non Monkees material that I think people will get a kick out of.