While the proverb claims that a “cat has nine lives,” it may actually be another mammal that has an extended longevity, particularly Monkees, as in Micky (Dolenz), Peter (Tork), Mike (Nesmith) and the late, great Davy Jones.
The Monkees recently celebrated 50 years since the hit TV show of the same name made its debut Sept. 12, 1966, on NBC, where it ran until 1968. To commemorate their five decades of rock ‘n’ roll, Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith released a new Monkees album in 2016, “Good Times,” which was produced mostly by Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. It featured songs written by the likes of Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Ben Gibbard. It also features an unheard Davy Jones track. “Good Times” was a critical and commercial success, making several “best of 2016” lists.
The “comeback” was about 20 years after the band’s first resurgence in the mid-’80s, when MTV started airing the TV show, and the band, minus Nesmith, had a hit song with “That Was Then, This Is Now.”
Through all of the downs and ups of The Monkees, Dolenz has always been there — Nesmith left, Tork left and Jones died. He sang many of the band’s biggest hits, including “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer.”
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He’s also had a successful solo career, and he spent some time both in front of and behind the camera.
It’s hard not to enjoy singing songs when the whole audience is singing along with you. It’s kind of like someone throwing you a birthday party every night. The audience size doesn’t matter. They are there because they want to hear those songs.
Micky Dolenz on singing the hits of The Monkees
Dolenz will bring his solo show, which he tells the Sun Herald will be full of songs of The Monkees, to the Island View Casino in Gulfport at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $30 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
Q: Fifty years into your career with the Monkees, and you guys release a new album that made several 2016 best-of lists.
Was it fun to work with Adam Schlesinger and the other artists on that record?
A: It was unbelievable. It was so much fun. It was amazing. It was like lightning in a bottle. We got lucky. We’ve always been blessed with great songwriters like Carole King and Neil Diamond and all of those people. We found those old tracks in the vault with some of Davy’s vocals and some by Harry Nilsson, and that’s what sparked the whole thing — I could sing a duet with my old friend Harry Nilsson — and we had some tracks with Davy on vocals. Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne was on board, and all of these great songwriters contributed, like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Paul Weller — all of the sudden, we got inundated with all of this amazing material. We just got lucky and I’m very proud of that album. I do several of the songs in my show.
Q: You sing one of my favorite songs, “Me and Magdelena,” written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. You also sing the Rivers Coumo song “She Makes Me Laugh,” which has a great chorus. Would you work with these guys again?
A: Absolutely. We do have other tracks that we found and we’re going to listen and see if they are appropriate, but we’ve received a whole lot of interest in other people writing stuff. I’m not sure it’s going to happen this year; it may be a bit early. I don’t know how in the hell you follow that up. How do you that?
It’s so bizarre that we had a hit album. It’s the equivalent of having Enrico Caruso having a hit record in 1966. I hand it to the writers. It always starts with the songwriters and it always had. When you have that quality of songwriters, how do you go wrong? It’s almost hard to screw it up.
Q: I think you’re being humble and there’s more to it. You guys did a great job of executing those songs and created a warm, sort of analog environment.
A: It does. We wanted to capture that sound — that jangly guitar pop that bands like Weezer and Death Cab are doing. I think they call it “indie rock” now. The songs also have great melodies. We got some great songs that stand the tests of time. I can’t say enough about Adam Schlesinger and how he was able to capture all of this. It was a perfect call. I feel blessed to have been a part of it.
Q: Do you have any plans to make a solo record in the near future?
A: I’ve done a couple over the last decade or so. I did one called “King For a Day,” which was an album of Carole King covers. I did another one called “Remember,” which is sort of a musical diary of my life. I wrote a couple of the songs, and others are songs that had an impact on me. I do a version of “Johnny B. Goode,” which is nothing like the original, and I do it in concert, because it was my audition piece for The Monkees. I also do all of The Monkees’ hits in their entirety and I do a few other things, like “Purple Haze,” because Jimi Hendrix was our first opening act. I also tell stories about the songs. The show is basically a Monkees show with a lot of multimedia video.
Q: Is it hard to put together a set list? There’s always going to be someone who tells you that you didn’t play their favorite song.
A: I don’t do it. I won’t make the set list. I leave that to my producer and musical director. I gave up trying to do that a long time ago because there’s just so much material. I leave that up to the people that know how to do that.
Q: What’s you favorite Monkees song or songs? Mine are “Porpoise Song” and “DW Washburn.”
A: Those are two of mine. I also love “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Stepping Stone” — you know, any of the big hits. It’s hard not to enjoy singing songs when the whole audience is singing along with you. It’s kind of like someone throwing you a birthday party every night. The audience size doesn’t matter. They are there because they want to hear those songs. I learned a long time ago that as long as you give them those hits, they are happy. Then you can kind of do whatever else you want.
If you go
Micky Dolenz of The Monkees
Island View Casino at 3300 W Beach Blvd. in Gulfport
8 p.m. on Saturday, July 8
Tickets are $30 and are available at Tickemaster.com