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Monkees in Royal Oak, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic onTwit

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019

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Hey, hey, they're still the Monkees -- even if only half the band is still with us.

The group's fans have mourned the deaths of Davy Jones, in 2012, and Peter Tork just last month. That's certainly put some different emotional fuel behind The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show, the tour conducted by surviving band members Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, playing the group's hits and paying tribute to their late bandmates.

It's part of what's been a notable decade for the Monkees, which formed in 1966 for a Beatles-inspired NBC TV show and lived beyond that thanks to hits such as "Daydream Believer," "I'm a Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday," among others. The group released the well-received "Good Times!" album in 2016, followed by last year's equally solid "Christmas Party."

What lies ahead is uncertain, but Dolenz says he and Nesmith are happy to still be Monkee-ing around right now...

Dolenz, 74, say by phone that he and Nesmith are well-suited working together. "Nez and I always got along really good, musically and comedically on the television show. Mike is the one who got me writing music back then. We just always liked a lot of the same kind of music and we're both consummate professionals. We take it seriously but we like to have fun and all that. It's almost more surprising that we haven't worked together before this."

Dolenz says he and Nesmith began mourning Tork's passing last year, when he couldn't join them on tour. "It did not come as a surprise, not like David's did (from a heart attack). Peter acknowledged a few years ago, in fact, that he had some health issues. So Mike and I sorta went through (the mourning) last year, 'cause we had an idea what was coming."

Dolenz and Nesmith pay tribute to their fallen Monkees mates with specific songs during their shows -- including "Daydream Believer" for Jones and Tork's "For Pete's Sake," which was the closing theme of "The Monkees" TV show. There's also as an intermission video of Tork, who was part of the Monkees' 50th anniversary tour in 2016, playing guitar along to a recording of the Mills Brothers' "Till Then." "It's nothing too maudlin," Dolenz says, "but definitely a tip of the hat and a little bit of a tribute to Peter and his music. I would imagine the audience is always coming out to celebrate the Monkees, but I would imagine there's something emotionally greater to that celebration now, after you've lost one of your guys. When it's in front of a public forum like this, it's obviously very emotional, 'cause music is. Hopefully we're sharing that with the fans."

Dolenz -- who also performs as a solo artist and makes custom furniture with his daughter -- says there hasn't been discussion about recording more new Monkees music, nor have he and Nesmith thought about doing another TV series. "It's never come up, frankly, over the years," he says of the latter. "The four of us did a TV special back in the 90s (1997's "Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees" on ABC) but then nothing else really came up over the years. And then of course when Davy passed that sort of put the kibosh on a genuine, full-cast reboot, and now with Peter gone I can't imagine what we would do, frankly. I wouldn't expect anything, but I also know never to say never in this business."

Though some critics might feel otherwise, the Monkees are considered one of the greatest snubs by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- and the subject of a strong fan campaign to get them in. But Dolenz says he's not sweating it. "I've never been one to chase that stuff, ever. My greatest thrill was winning an Emmy in '66. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is, like, a private country club, and 'We're not gonna let in who we don't want in our club.' It's their prerogative. So I'm not going to chase it. I'm very, very flattered that the fans have done petitions and written letters and pushed as hard as they can. That kind of devotion is as good as getting in (to the Rock Hall), really."

The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show on Tuesday, March 12, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors at 7 p.m. $45-$125. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.ro9yaloakmusictheatre.com

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