Thanks to Facebook live feeds by The Monkees' official Facebook page and Valerie Kairys Venet, you can listen to Micky, Michael, and the band at yesterday's dress rehearsals, which included performances of "The Door Into Summer," "I'm a Believer," "Different Drum," "Steppin' Stone," "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?", "Some of Shelly's Blues," "Birth of an Accidental Hipster," "St. Matthew," "Steam Engine," "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," "You Just May Be the One," "Mary, Mary," "You Told Me," and "For Pete's Sake."
UPDATE 5/31/2018: Valerie Kairys Venet has deleted the live stream videos originally posted on her Facebook page, and as a result, those videos previously embedded below have been removed.
Monkees fans have been buzzing since it was announced that Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz will tour together starting June 1. The shows start in Arizona and hits California, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and includes two dates in Canada. Both Dolenz and Nesmith, who talked to Billboard in recent phone interviews, said the tour developed out of a mutual friendship and respect for each other that began early in the Monkees' career and has lasted through the years.
"I've always been a fan of his and he's been a fan of mine," said Dolenz. "We always got along great creatively. (We have) similar tastes in music and style and stuff like that. I've had an enormous amount of respect for him as a musician, singer and songwriter. And over the years, whether it was just myself solo, or with David and Peter, or if it was just Peter, just David, (we've) always done Nesmith's tunes. Always. A lot more than he probably has," said Dolenz with a laugh. "(And) it always comes up at some point, 'You guys want to go on the road?' said Dolenz. "I tour pretty extensively as a solo artist and always have. Peter and Mike and I did a tour not long ago. This time, Peter wasn't available." More recently, Nesmith joined Dolenz at a couple of his solo gigs in Southern California. "I invited Nez to come down and sing on the shows and do a couple of songs. And at that point is when we started chatting about it."
Nesmith traces the roots of the tour back even earlier -- to the beginning days of The Monkees TV series. "When I was sitting around before we were filming, I just decided I need to know these guys that I was working with, who they are, where they come from. I had run into Peter a little bit at the Troubadour. (I) didn't know Micky at all and Davy was a mystery. So I extended myself. And the guy I liked the most was Mick. And the reason I liked him the most was because he was funny. And he was spontaneously funny. He can be that. And that was the wind I set my sails in.
"And so we got on well," Nesmith said. "He could make me laugh hard and I could make him laugh hard. So we were playmates on that level. And the very first couple of episodes, he and I riffed on – I don't want to call them extemporaneous or improvisational, but there were things outside the script that were comments on the time. So when Mick and I would have fun we would have fun with that whole space, that whole social space that was developing. Now I was coming at the whole thing from a missed understanding. I thought I was hired to play music and to be in a band and to all this stuff. And it took a long time, long past the show, for me to understand I was in a television show. So it took a lot of time and all of that, Mick and I still continue to be friends and so forth. And when we would start to get silly, which would usually happen at dinner or someplace or someplace when we had a long time to sit and talk, that silliness would go over and we would identify ourselves to each other when we were riffing in that space that the space was 'The Mike and Micky Show.' And I had it in my mind that 'The Mike and Micky Show' was a real television show and that we were rehearsing it. But it was kind of a relief valve and Micky was the guy who poured the Pepsi over Don Kirshner's head, which was one of the great endearing acts that he did in my life."
The story of Dolenz pouring a drink over the head of Kirshner, then the Screen Gems music head who helped choose their songs and whose work became a contentious issue with them as time went on, is well known among Monkees fans, but as Dolenz says now, "It sounds a little more dramatic than it was. We were in the studio and we were just being silly as we usually were. And they encouraged us, the producers, to be silly all the time. And I had a cup of Coca-Cola, but it was empty except for the ice. And Donny said something I just thought was silly or something. And I frankly didn't know what he did because he was from New York. In retrospect, I realize he was head of Screen Gems publishing music and was responsible partly in picking music and crafting the music of the show. And so he said something and I just thought it was silly.
"And I said 'Oh, Donnie.' and I put the ice on the top of his head like a hat and didn't really think much of it. He did take me out in the hallway and he was quite polite considering what I had done. And he was very polite about it, saying 'I've got to maintain some kind of respect here.' And that was it. That was the extent of it. Nothing else was ever said. Expect of course it went down in urban myth. (But) it was much less dramatic than people want to make out."
So what do Nesmith and Dolenz have planned for their stage show? "I've been asking myself the question since Micky and I decided to do this," says Nez. "And I don't mean to be flip but I don't really know. We've got 36 songs. There are a lot of deep cuts that people have asked to hear but we never just felt like had as much traction as the Big Six. And he and Davy when they were out as a duo and he and Peter when they were out as a duo they stayed with the Big Six and would run through these other things as offbeat stuff and then when they would get to the Big Six they would build the show up to a grand finale.
"But," he continues, "I'm not like that and Micky and I aren't like that. We love the stuff that's been sitting in the margins and sitting in the private rooms. And so we're going to roll that out. These are going to be very deep cuts. They're all Monkees songs. It is a Monkees show but without The Monkees."
Then he pauses. "Maybe I shouldn't have said that. But there's a treasure of great material that the New York Monkees music people didn't want to use at all. They had scolded me for singing with a twang which is like scolding somebody in a wheelchair for not walking. It was mysterious what my role was so I just persisted and wrote these songs but every time I would submit them they would get shuttled off like a flipper on a pinball machine into a corner 'Do Not Use.' And so they sat there for years and years. They ended up on albums. And we knew about them."
Nez comes up with an example. "There's a song called 'St. Matthew.' But I don't think anybody in the world has heard it," he said. "But then when we went into rehearsal and started singing, we both felt the electricity of it. Mick said it made his hair stand up … what hair he's got left. He and I are about the same with that. I think maybe he was talking about the hair on his arms. He loved it. He said this will be such a hit with the audience because they haven't heard us sing it."
On the other hand, at the time of the interview, Nesmith said no decision had been made as to whether any solo songs by either of them, such as "Joanne" or "Rio" in Nez's case, would be in the show. "They're under serious discussion. Right now the answer's no (for those two songs) because they're so associated with my solo career," he said, and then added, "I think any dyed-in-the-wool Monkees fan is going to be satisfied with this show. And I don't know that 'Joanne' or 'Rio' will contribute to that."
Is there a possibility of the shows being recorded and released in the future? "We have talked about that," says Dolenz. "I don't know if that's a done deal for sure, but we have talked about it. Right now we're just trying to get in to get the rehearsals all figured out and stuff. Because a lot of this stuff we've never done before."
The Monkees' history has been filled with amazing moments, such as when Jimi Hendrix spent a short-lived time opening for them. The idea for The Monkees show had been to fashion them after the Beatles. It was almost inevitable that members of the two groups would meet as they did in England during the recording sessions for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Dolenz recalls it was he and the four Beatles with producer George Martin in the studio.
"I was all alone with just the four of us and of course George Martin, the producer. And it was quite funny. I don't know what I was expecting when they invited me. I'd met Paul the night before at his house. He had a dinner and he invited me to this session for this new album they're doing called Sgt. Pepper and I'm like, 'Oh, cool.' I showed up all dressed up. I guess I was expecting some kind of Beatles fun fest freakout, you know, psycho Jell-O love-in kind of thing and I got dressed accordingly in my paisley bell-bottoms and tie dyed underwear. And I looked like a cross between Ronald McDonald and Charlie Manson. Something like that. And it was just four of them sitting there playing.
"And John said, 'You wanna hear what we're working on?' And I said, 'Yeah, cool,' and they played the (then unreleased) tracks to 'Good Morning, Good Morning.' And I always remember that and I will for the rest of my life."
Dolenz and Nesmith told Billboard they each plan to do solo tours after The Mike & Micky Tour ends. "I've got a nice tour locked in that starts in September for the First National Band Redux," Nesmith says. The tour will start in the South and go up the East Coast to Boston. He said there is also talk the tour will hit the U.K. and Europe. Dolenz also said he has more solo dates in the works: "I have a few coming up after the tour."
Peter Tork, when contacted by Billboard, said in a statement that a solo project is the reason he won't be along for this tour. "I'm glad to report that I spend my time these days enjoying our growing family and working on music projects that I've had on the back burner for the several recent years of Monkees related activity," he said in a statement issued through his representatives. "Musically, so far this year we've released Relax Your Mind, a Leadbelly tribute CD with my blues band, Shoe Suede Blues, which features a couple of tracks with my brother Nick, and which has been very well received. Leadbelly was an early and important influence on us as kids and it has been a joy to share that music and work together on this project.
"I have some additional eclectic recordings squirreled away over the years that I'm sorting through for mastering and compiling for later release, so stay tuned. I'm delighted that Micky and Mike are touring again, and heartily wish them well in their adventures. Historically, the Monkees team up in various configurations, depending on interest and availability. I'd never say never to the possibility of future projects, but at the moment I'm very happily very busy here in my world."
Dolenz also spoke of the absence of fellow Monkee Davy Jones, who died in 2012 from a heart attack. "He's left an indelible impression forever that we pay tribute to with every show. There's a big hole that can never be filled. We still sing his songs, but they don't belong to me anymore. They belong to the fans, because they're the ones that go crazy when we sing. If I keep that in mind, it helps make the hurt of his loss easier."
Both are pragmatic on the subject of The Monkees getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something their fans have been wishing for. "Jann Wenner and his minions have the right to do what they want to do with their private collection of rock 'n' roll records," says Nesmith. "And if they want to say (this) is the best one and put it on the top of their fireplace, then they can do that and that is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's being run like a living room best of, not to say they're the best. Some of those bands that have acknowledged and brought in the Hall of Fame are, without question, some of the better writers and players."
Says Dolenz, "I was so thrilled to get an Emmy because I was a child of television. I was so thrilled to get two Emmys (for The Monkees TV series in 1967) that everything else after that is kind of icing on the cake. But I also know and understand that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was and I believe still is not a public democratic sort of thing. It's a country club, kind of, that those three guys started. It's a private club like a country club. And they can have in whoever they want. It's their club."
The two Monkees are philosophical on what the group and the show has meant to their legacy and music history. "I'd like to think that I did some good work in music and in the TV show in comedy," Dolenz says. "Because don't forget. The Monkees started out and was first and foremost a sitcom, a TV show about a rock 'n' roll group. It wasn't a rock 'n 'roll group to start with. It was a TV show. If you look at The Monkees more as a Broadway musical like a Marx Brothers musical on television, a little a half hour Marx Brothers musical with some singing and dancing and playing and a bad guy and maybe a good guy and maybe a chase and some girls and stuff, if you look at it like that, the whole thing makes a whole lot more sense."
He compares it to the show Glee. "Glee is a show about an imaginary glee club that doesn't really exist. And The Monkees was a TV show about an imaginary band that didn't really exist. We lived in this beach house in Malibu, which is a set, of course, which does beg the question of how we could afford a Malibu beach house when we never got any work," he says with a laugh. "But that's what it was about. And like Glee, we could actually all do it. We could sing and act and play."
Nesmith gets a little deeper on the television aspect. "I think (The Monkees) main legacy lies in television. And at the present time I don't see television paying much attention to the '60s," he says. "And so as I look back on it now, I hope that the treasure trove that is television won't get overlooked. I have a feeling the way it will come into the general consciousness in the next 50 years is as one of those extraordinary things that happened in the '50s and '60s."
Marvelous Monkee's Multifaceted Career Still Going Strong: Teaming With Michael Nesmith for Upcoming Tour
Pop Culture Classics:
Any discussion of a follow-up album by The Monkees?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, actually there is. I can’t really talk about it or describe it, because it’s such early days. It’s such early days that I would be doing everyone a disservice, if I sort of spoke out of turn. But absolutely, there is talk.
Nez can be seen below playing a Gretsch sunburst guitar that Andrew Sandoval gave to him in 2013 to have as an alternate to Michael's blonde Gretsch. He'll be playing both on the upcoming tour! Photos of today's rehearsals are courtesy of Videoranch and The Monkees Tour Facebook page.
Back in February, when The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show was announced, The Monkees Live Almanac asked fans to select songs from two different polls that they would like to hear performed by the duo. With promises of deep cuts in the set list, the options spanned The Monkees' career, right up to 2016's Good Times!, along with many songs never previously performed in a live setting, including "All the King's Horses," "Tear Drop City," "Auntie's Municipal Court," and "Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye."
After over 6,000 votes between both polls, the final tallies are in! And based on an early sneak peek at songs being rehearsed for the shows, it certainly seems that the fans have indeed been heard!
Over the years, longtime Monkees fan Jennifer Winkle has attended numerous Monkees concerts, and she has recently shared her rich catalog of photos with the Live Almanac. Here's a collection from a show I also attended on August 3, 1996 at a sold-out Valley Forge Music Fair outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was a great (theatre in the round) venue, and I've always remembered how enthusiastic the crowd was that evening. Thanks, Jennifer!
This was the set list from the show at Valley Forge:
Here's a bootleg from the concert in two parts, and I believe this is the first time this has been made available online. I'm going to try and post this on the Live Almanac's YouTube channel at some point as well!
The photos below emanate from Circe Link's Instagram account and show Micky, Nez, Christian Nesmith, and Wayne Avers during this week's rehearsals at Videoranch for the upcoming tour.
The next photo shows Wayne and his music stand with a list of songs. In the event you don't want a preview of some of the songs being rehearsed for the tour (and just to note, there are more songs being rehearsed than what is seen below), you might want to quickly scroll past this photo and the text that follows it!
Here are the selections that appear on Wayne's music stand above:
Good Clean Fun
The Door Into Summer
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
Love Is Only Sleeping
Birth of an Accidental Hipster
Me & Magdalena
Papa Gene's Blues
Randy Scouse Git
Nine Times Blue
I'll Spend My Life With You
Take a Giant Step
Auntie's Municipal Court
You Told Me
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?
Thanks for the emails about being unable to leave a comment on the blog posts. I contacted my host company and they are aware of the issue and are working on a fix.
UPDATE 5/29/2018: The issue has been resolved and the "Comments" function here on the blog is working once again!
Get ready to purchase some brand new Monkees memorabilia this June at stops on "The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show" concert tour. Below you will find the very first preview of items that will be for sale at the shows. Thank you very much to both John Hughes at Rhino Records and Andrew Sandoval for passing along these images to The Monkees Live Almanac. Happy shopping!
Beach Towel ($40)
Black T-shirt ($35)
Button Set ($15)
Coffee Mug ($20)
Grey Hoodie ($60)
Red T-shirt ($35)
Tour Program ($20)
White T-shirt ($35)
UPDATE 6/1/2018: Other merchandise for sale at the first show in Chandler, Arizona included the following items:
"The Monkees - The Complete Series" on Blu-ray ($200)
Micky Dolenz Poncho ($75)
Michael Nesmith Button Wool Hat ($30)
"More of The Monkees" Super Deluxe Edition 3-CD Box Set ($60)
Michael Nesmith's "Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff" in paperback
Michael Nesmith "Infinite Tuesday: The Music" Vinyl LP
First National Band 3-CD Collection
Micky, Michael, and the band continued rehearsals today at Videoranch, and you can listen to a run- through of "You Told Me" below. Don't forget to check out yesterday's piece in Rolling Stone about the upcoming tour along with more rehearsal footage (including "Auntie's Municipal Court"!).
By Andy Greene
From the earliest days of the Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith had a special bond. Their harmony blend was a crucial part of the group's signature sound, and on the group's television show they shared impeccable comic timing and loved nothing more than to go off script and improv with one another. "We even had this odd idea about doing the Mike and Micky Show because we enjoyed playing together and singing together so much," says Nesmith. "We just never had the big money support for it because it was all about the Monkees, so we'd just set up on some of the set furniture and sing songs while the crew set up lights."
It has taken over 50 years, but their dream of the Mike and Micky Show is finally coming true in June when the "The Monkees Present: The Mike and Micky Show" kicks off a month-long run of dates in Chandler, Arizona. It's going to be a very different show than anything any incarnation of the Monkees has ever presented since there won't be screens displaying vintage clips of the group and they're dipping deep into the catalog to resurrect songs that have never been played live. "It's been a lot of work because Nez is quite the perfectionist," says Dolenz. "But it's so exciting to hear these songs done in their original context and harmonies. It's so great to recapture all these moments."
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the tour is that Nesmith agreed to it in the first place. Less than two years ago, he retired "Monkee Mike" after an emotional farewell show at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. The group was in the middle of a huge 50th-anniversary tour, but Nez sat out nearly every date, leaving Dolenz and Peter Tork to carry the Monkee banner as a duo. But once those dates wrapped in December 2016, Tork told Dolenz that he wouldn't be available for any shows in the foreseeable future. "I realized if there was going to be any more Monkees music played live that Micky and I were going to have to do it," says Nesmith. "From the old Mike and Micky stuff I felt there may be some creative fun to be had here."
Rehearsals began at Nesmith's home in Carmel, California, a couple of months ago. At first, it was just the two of them and Nesmith's son Christian poring through the 12 Monkees studio albums, picking tunes they felt like singing and trying them out vocally without any band. "We did a version of [the 1967 Headquarters song] 'You Told Me,' the vocal part, that was really electrifying," says Nesmith. "I was like, 'Wow, this song does well under a little rock & roll power when you get away from the pop shampoo commercial stuff.'"
Special attention was paid to latter-day Monkees LPs The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees, Instant Replay and The Monkees Present. These came out after the peak of Monkee-mania and are packed with Nesmith originals he wrote while beginning to plant the seeds for his groundbreaking country rock group the First National Band. "One of the first songs we dusted off was 'St. Matthew' and 'Some of Shelly's Blues' [from the sessions for 1969's Instant Replay]," says Nesmith. "Mick asked if I wanted to sing 'Joanne' [a minor hit for the First National Band in 1970], but I felt it was way too much off into my own corner and not associated with the Monkees at all. But we are doing 'Different Drum' since that fell into the Monkee stew because Coco [Dolenz] started singing it in the live shows."
The show will also feature all of the band's biggest hits, including "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," "Daydream Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Stepping Stone." They call these the "can't cannot play" songs. "Those will always be about half to one third of any Monkees show," says Dolenz. "Nez likes some of the early Monkees hits more than others and I do too, but it goes without saying that we're doing all of them. I've learned over the years that once the audience knows they are getting those hits they will listen to just about anything else."
Once they had a working list of songs they wanted to do, Dolenz and Nesmith went into a rehearsal space with a band that includes Wayne Avers on guitar, Christian Nesmith on guitar and vocals, Alex Jules on keyboards, John Billings on bass, Rich Dart on drums, Coco Dolenz and Circe Link on background vocals, Pete Finney on pedal steel, and Paul Kramer on banjo, fiddle and guitar. The latter two will help them flesh out Nez's country rock tunes. "It's an astoundingly good band," says Nesmith. "This band and this iteration of the Monkees music is the best I've ever heard. It's the most fun to play, too."
They're going to rehearse all the way up to opening night on June 1st, and they have yet to settle on a final set list. "Good Clean Fun" from 1969's The Monkees Present is provisionally slated as the opening tune and "Me & Magdalena," "Circle Sky," "Porpoise Song" and "Birth of an Accidental Hipster" are near certainties. Dolenz is pushing very hard to get Nesmith to sign off on a version of the First National Band's "Grand Ennui" the ensemble has worked up. "I have been begging him to do that," says Dolenz. "Wait unit you hear it. It friggin' rocks!" Nez isn't quite convinced. "I told him it couldn't be any further from a Monkees thing, from subject matter to the way it's performed," he says. "When we started doing it, it jumped up to its full bright, sprightly self and we realized this would be a great song to sing. But so would, you know, the Beatles catalog and we have to stop at some point and say, 'This is a Monkees show.'"
One thing they aren't doing is any song originally performed by the late Davy Jones beyond "Daydream Believer." "Nobody can sing what David sang," says Nesmith. "He was so sweet and generous and the songs need this voice there when we play them. We made a decision to not do them."
Lingering over the whole tour is the absence of Peter Tork. The singer-guitarist successfully battled a rare form of oral cancer in 2009 and was an eager participant on every Monkees tour between 2011 and 2016, though he kept an extremely low profile in 2017. Earlier this year, he said he wasn't going to be involved in the tour because he was focused on his Lead Belly tribute LP Relax Your Mind. But the disc came out in January and he hasn't announced any tour plans behind it. "I've always had a certain distance from Peter," says Nesmith. "I don't really know what he's doing or what he's thinking."
Dolenz is slightly more willing to talk about the situation. "Last year when we talked about reconnecting he said, 'I'm not available,'" he says. "He told me a couple of years ago that he wanted to pursue his dream project, which is the Lead Belly album. He worked on it for a long time and he's going to tour with [his band] Shoe Suede Blues. My understanding was that Peter was just not available for this tour. That's his business and you'd have to ask him for more about it."
Tork's absence is a big reason Dolenz and Nesmith aren't touring as the Monkees, though when you ask them whether or not the band on the stage will be the Monkees you get a very long and philosophical answers about what the group was in the first place. "The Monkees is a television show," says Nesmith. "It was a group we played on television. Once it steps outside that show, people have to nourish it and make it something on their own. When you play the songs in your car or in headphones at your office it starts to integrate itself into your life like a real band. But that doesn't mean the television show is coming to life. You, however, might see it as a band. There's a real bifurcation in the way it exists in my mind. In some ways, it's a creative extension of the job I get called up to do every once in a while and really enjoy."
Dolenz looks at it from a bit of a different angle. "There's no short answer to this," he says. "It's like saying, 'What is Star Trek?' How many casts have been in Star Trek? But it's all Star Trek. You can't reduce these things in any scientific sense. We've never controlled the brand name and we have to pay [Rhino] every time we tour and use it, which we're happy to do."
Whatever you call the band, they have no plans beyond the end of the tour in Red Bank, New Jersey, on June 25th. Michael Nesmith already has a First National Band tour booked that will take him to the southern United States and up the East Coast in the fall. Dolenz is booking solo shows and is in talks with producers about returning to the stage on Broadway or the West End of London. But they both say they are very open to resuming the Mike and Micky Show at some point in the future when their schedules permit. "You just don't say no to anything right now," says Nesmith. "Who knows what's going to happen?
The Monkees Tour Facebook page posted videos of Micky, Michael, and the band rehearsing "Sunny Girlfriend," "Auntie's Municipal Court" (!), and "Different Drum" today at Videoranch:
Andrew Sandoval shared a photo from today's rehearsals on Instagram:
And courtesy of Videoranch on Facebook, here's a look at Michael's guitars at rehearsals:
Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith