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Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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Micky Dolenz on Monkeemania, Sketchfest, and the band's enduring...

Micky Dolenz on Monkeemania, Sketchfest, and the band’s enduring appeal

Appearing with Michael Nesmith, the beloved Monkee talks about his favorite songs and their new album.

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Even with 75 million records sold and 12 Top 40 singles under their belts, The Monkees haven’t yet been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But founding member Micky Dolenz told 48 Hills he doesn’t care.

“As I’ve said before, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is like a private club,” says Dolenz, 74, who appears along with band mate Michael Nesmith at the SF Sketchfest Tribute to The Monkees on Sunday. “You’re either invited or you’re not.”

It was almost 55 years ago that Dolenz was selected from among 400 applicants for a spot on a new TV show about a Beatles-inspired rock quartet called The Monkees.

Dolenz and his fellow TV bandmates Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones soon became musical superstars thanks to the success of their eponymous show and no. 1 singles “Last Train To Clarksville,” “I’m A Believer,” and “Daydream Believer,” and an initial tour that featured rock legend Jimi Hendrix as an opener.

Since splitting up in the early ‘70s, The Monkees members have reunited for tours, two new albums including 2016’s Good Times, and a TV special. In 1986, the band achieved “Monkeemania” once again after their classic show made waves again — this time in syndication — and their first new track in years, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” hit the Top 20.

In the wake of Davy Jones’s death in 2012 and Peter Tork’s passing in 2019, Dolenz and Nesmith (who continue to perform as The Monkees) are celebrating the release of their first live album as a duo on April 3 with a companion tour hitting San Jose Civic Auditorium on April 8.

Dolenz opened up about returning to Sketchfest for the second year, his favorite Monkees memories, the group’s legacy, and how he’s coped with the loss of ”the brothers [he] never had.“

48 HILLS What do you hope to accomplish at your Sketchfest event? Why is now the perfect time for a tribute?

MICKY DOLENZ I did Sketchfest last year and had a terrific time. It’ll be a good dialogue with Mike as we’re going to tour this April.

48 HILLS What are your funnest memories with The Monkees from the show or the road?

MICKY DOLENZ We worked with some terrific actors and directors, including James Frawley who passed last year. And, we had some terrific songwriters: Neil Sedaka, Boyce & Hart, Carole King, and Neil Diamond. We were blessed for their contributions.

48 HILLS What are your favorite songs to perform with The Monkees?

MICKY DOLENZ That’s a hard question, but definitely the ones I sing lead on. But, in total, it’s just great music.

48 HILLS What is The Monkees’ legacy?

MICKY DOLENZ I think the fact that the impact is still being felt and appreciated. We have people from ages eight to 80 at the shows and that’s a tremendous compliment.

48 HILLS The Monkees were early adopters of Moog synthesizers and many argue that the band pioneered the music video and even set the template for the future boy band movement.

MICKY DOLENZ I definitely would agree with that. The videos and the shows were innovative for their time and are still making an impact.

48 HILLS Do The Monkees get the credit they deserve? Why or why not?

MICKY DOLENZ I’ll leave that to others to answer.

48 HILLS How have you coped with the passing of Davy Jones and Peter Tork?

MICKY DOLENZ By remembering the good times and the camaraderie. They were the brothers I never had.

48 HILLS What can you tell me about the upcoming tour and the band’s first live album as a duo?

MICKY DOLENZ The live album is from the first Mike & Micky tour last year, where we had the chance to perform some deep cuts. The shows were tremendous with a great band.

SF SKETCHFEST TRIBUTE TO THE MONKEES: A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL NESMITH & MICKY DOLENZ
Sun/12 4pm, $40-$50
Marines’ Memorial Theatre, SF.
More info here.

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.
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