When Monkees Go Bad

- October 8th, 2012

Monkees-still

 

That Michael Nesmith is some kidder.

 

Really.

 

The 1960s TV Monkee — the one with the wool toque — is a Facebook “friend” of mine, has been for years.

mike-nesmithnesmith-now

Michael Nesmith, then and now

 

Not that that’s a big deal. I’m also FB “friends” with Barak Obama (since looong before he was president, I might add) and the Russian lawyer for Pussy Riot (whose Cyrillic posts I have to Google Translate) and all sorts of interesting people from the nutbar far left (more anarchistic than I am) to the nutbar far right (more libertarian than I am).

 

I know “friends” aren’t friends, but they’re all interesting people with a wide variety of different perspectives on the world.

 

I like my “friends” and hearing what they have to say — including Michael Nesmith.

 

Anyway…

 

A couple of days ago, Nesmith posted a wacky message on Facebook.

 

If I had to describe it (which I do), I would call it a midnight ramble.

 

Maybe it was or maybe it was wasn’t. You decide.

 

The Monkees, by the way, are getting together again for another reunion tour in a few weeks. Three of the four Monkees, anyway. Usually — over the past three or four decades — the “three of the four Monkees” have been Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones, with Mike Nesmith sitting out the dance.

the-monkees-tour-2011

Tork, Jones and Dolenz in 2011

 

With Jones having died of a heart attack on Feb. 29, 2012, the “three of the four” this time are obviously Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith.

 

The Monkees, if you don’t remember or are too young to know, were a created band, auditioned and hired to fill the roles of members of a wacky, loveable rock band on a 1960s TV music-comedy show.

 

The show (of which I was an actual fan) was on NBC from 1966-68, but the four hired actors/musicians actually morphed into a real group that became bigger, more popular and more successful than the TV show.

 

From the very beginning, the Monkees had a string of hit songs, mostly written (and often performed in the recording sessions) by the song-writing team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

 

Last Train To Clarksville, I’m A Believer, Daydream Believer and a few more Monkees songs were No. 1 on pop music charts around the world. They were even more popular in Canada than the U.S., with (I’m not Your) Stepping Stone and Pleasant Valley Sunday hitting No. 1 in Canada while topping out lower down the charts in the U.S.

 

It was a wild, wacky and rather fiery ride — almost like a surrealistic TV show — that was cancelled by NBC in 1968 and in real life in 1971 when the Monkees — the group — called it quits as a performing act.

 

You have to understand that pop culture in the 1960s — including television — was not as controlled and programmed as it is today. Everybody knew the old model was broken but nobody knew exactly what the new model was — so there was an incredible amount of leeway and experimentation allowed.

Zappa-Nesmith-grab

Michael Nesmith as Frank Zappa and Frank Zappa as Mike Nesmith on a 1968 episode of The Monkees

 

Frank Zappa, for example, was a guest on the TV show and in the 1968 Monkees movie Head (along with boxer Sonny Liston, stripper Carol Doda and a strange collection of other celebs). And Jimi Hendrix was the opening act for a Monkees tour in 1967 (although he quit mid-tour because the teenie-bopper Monkees fans kept shouting “Foxy Davy” on the chorus of Hendrix’s Foxy Lady).

hendrix-monkees-opening

Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork listen to Jimi Hendrix early in the 1967 tour

 

A few years later, Dolenz and Jones teamed up with Boyce and Hart for a while, then Dolenz, Jones and Tork went out on tour as the Monkees again in the late ’80s (tied to the group’s 20th anniversary and the awarding of their Hollywood star).

 

In 1996, all four Monkees regrouped for a 30th anniversary recap — but Nesmith pulled a Hendrix and walked out halfway through the tour.

 

Last year Dolenz, Jones and Tork headed out again for a successful 45th anniversary tour.

 

And then, in February, Davy Jones died of a massive heart attack while tending his  stable of race horses in Florida.

 

But Jones’ death brought Nesmith back into the fold and the three remaining Monkees — Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith — are now preparing to head out on a short tour starting Nov. 8 in Escondido, California, and ending Dec. 2 in New York City (with a few more casino/resort dates lined up in March 2013). They’ll be in Buffalo on Nov. 18 if anyone in southern Ontario wants to catch the show.

 

Sooo…..

 

We’re finally up to Michael Nesmith’s wacky Facebook posting from last week.

 

According to Nesmith, there’s an incipient boycott of the current Monkees tour brewing — unless actor Kevin Spacey is allowed to sing Daydream Believer “as a tribute to Davy.”

kevin-spacey-singing

It’s a joke, of course, a publicity stunt, a whatever-you-want-call-it into which Nesmith has dragged his pal Spacey. Or is it?

 

It really doesn’t matter. The Facebook post stirred up a buzz — on social media if not in the mainstream media. I didn’t know the Monkees were going out on tour again before Nesmith posted his message and you probably didn’t either. Now we do. (And my bet is Spacey will show up to sing Daydream Believer for at least one show on the November tour.)

 

Here’s with Nesmith wrote. It’s worth a read:

 

OK now this is getting out of hand — or maybe out of control — or something.

Apparently there is a fan group — Monkees fans — who have formed a large contingent to boycott the upcoming tour unless and until we invite Kevin Spacey to sing ‘Daydream Believer’ as a tribute to Davy.

Now, I like Kevin. He is a close friend that calls all the time, at least he says he is Kevin Spacey, and we talk a lot, but there are too many things that are just plain wrong with this, if I may be so bold as to scold.

First Micky and Peter and I are in rehearsals now and working very hard to put together a great show that includes a solution to what to do about ‘Daydream Believer.’ We have some very good ideas, and we think they will work out well.

None of them include having Kevin sing, and as good a friend as he is — he calls all the time, really, like at 3 a.m. and so forth — I just can’t agree to this.

Yes, I think David would like the Bobby Darin connection, and, yes, Kevin is a good singer, a really fantastic impressionist, but he is waaay too old, and he cannot, as far as I know do the Davy dance. Not that he would ever need to, but I don’t think he can do it.

I mean, he limped a little in ‘Usual Suspects’ — but that is a very long way from the Davy dance — a really, very, very long way.

And now these so-called ‘fans,’ as they call themselves, want to boycott this concert tour unless and until we invite Kevin to sing ‘Daydream Believer’ at the end of the show.

I am beside myself with worry over this, and don’t know what to do. To have such a revolution among people who should know better and who have never even talked to Kevin as I have, sometimes for hours and hours when he was thinking about maybe leaving show biz, just makes me so sad and confused.

But for you ‘Spacey Cadets,’ as I will now call you disparagingly, Peter and Micky and I have got this whole Daydream Believer thing right at the top of our list of things to bring to the concert in the best and right way. It is important to us, and we don’t intend to mess around with this. There are times when the Monkees just have to get serious and this is certainly one of them.

So, pushing us around, and making the three of us have agonizing conversations in the rehearsal studio, and sometimes during meals, even, is just not helping at all.

Please stop — and please do not boycott the shows, and please do not poison anyone else into boycotting the shows. I am asking nicely because I just don’t know what else to do.

These shows are going to be so much fun, and will represent the whole Monkees part of our lives so well, that you just don’t want to miss them. (Micky and Peter are sounding better than ever, BTW).

 

BTW, even though Davy Jones was the designated “cute” front man/lead singer on the TV show, Micky Dolenz sang lead on most of the hits — except Daydream Believer, of course — and is the real “voice” of the Monkees. So their sound is pretty much intact — apart from the occasional age-related quaver.

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1 comment

  1. Teenage Monkee Lover says:

    Who would be so rude to Nez and the rest of the Monkees!!!! This is a Monkees tour and if I remember correctly from the last time I watched their show yesterday, Kevin Spacey was Not a Monkee. I think we should trust the Monkees like we have for the last 50 years. Don’t worry Mike! I wont boycott the show if my life depended on it! And I AM going!!! YAY!!! It may not be quite the same without Davy, but we can’t fix that and i’m sure the show will still be a sensation. I trust in you, Monkees!!!

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