By September 1, 2023 Read More →

I’m a Daydream Believer: An Interview with Micky Dolenz

I’m a Daydream Believer: An Interview with Micky Dolenz
by Middagh Goodwin

On September 14th, nearly 57 years after the Monkees first appeared on TV(September 12, 1966), Micky Dolenz will celebrate the Monkees at the Gallo Center for the Arts by playing hits such as “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” and more, as well as songs off the band’s #1 selling third album Headquarters.

MV: So, I’m very excited to talk to you and have you coming back to the Gallo Center on September 14th, I believe the last time you played here was in 2016. What can fans expect to see and hear?
MD: Yes, I do. I am happy to pay tribute to each of the guys with their own video stuff. I do all the hits. That’s important to note. I always have, and I always will because I know that the audience is there to hear those big hits. “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Not Your Stepping Stone,” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” And then a lot of the album cuts from Headquarter which is the album that they gave us permission to create. It did very well and ended up at number one for many weeks until we were kicked out of number one by Sergeant Pepper by The Beatles. That’s not a bad way to go, right?

MV: The Monkees played their first show in Hawaii back in December 1967. You pretty much innovated the use of multimedia having bits from the TV show in the live performance, that you now use to bring to life the rest of the band.
MD: You’re right, as far as I know, we were the first ones to ever bring multimedia. And it was pretty crude. It was literally big 16-millimeter theater projectors. Well, it could have been 35. Yeah. But it probably was 16, stuck up behind us. It was the first time to my knowledge that anybody has done that, which is an incredible feat.

MV: And then, of course, it’s no coincidence that in the 80s, MTV brought the Monkees back, you were kind of the first videos to be created.
MD: It was a big hit on MTV. We didn’t call them videos at the time, but it’s what they became. They were romps, videos didn’t exist. That was the way to get the songs into the show. Usually, it was a charge or maybe Davy walking along the beach looking for the girl or something

.MV: Not many bands have a fan base that you guys have created over the years. And it’s pretty incredible, some of the bands that have covered your music, are the Sex Pistols, the Untouchables, Smashmouth, Shonen Knife, and Run DMC. The influence crosses generations and genres. That must make you feel good.
MD: It does. It does, but I have to give credit where credit is due and that is to the songwriters. We had some of the most incredible songwriters of our generation, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Carole King, and Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Neil Sadaka, Harry Nielsen, and David Gates, incredible songwriters. When you start with good material, it’s kind of hard to screw it up.

MV: I’ve read is the intention was almost from the beginning that you guys would be playing live and touring.
MD: Yes otherwise, they wouldn’t have bothered casting musicians. They would have said, Okay, we’re just going to do this TV show, we don’t need musicians. But each one of us could play. Peter was the most proficient in different instruments. He went to a music conservatory. Mike was excellent on the guitar, especially the 12-string. I played the guitar at the time. Acoustic. But not drums. My audition piece was “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, on the guitar. And then they told me, you’re going to be the drummer. I’m an actor. I’ve been on TV. I had my own series. And so I knew the drill. I said, you know, okay, fine, I do play guitar. They said we have enough guitar players. You’re the drummer. And I said, great. Where do I start? I had a few months to learn what I had to learn. But that’s how it all came together.

MV: Yeah, it’s definitely an incredible story to see, especially with some of the guys who tried out for the parts to see you four guys connect and create something magical and beautiful. It has been said that The Monkees wanted to be the Beatles in the show. Did you ever meet the Beatles?
MD: Oh, yes, many times. And they got it. It’s actually funny because a lot of the groups and people in England got the Monkees more than some of the people here. Probably because there was already a tradition of comedy, satirical kind of shows, and goofy kind of shows on television in England more than it was here. I think it was John Lennon who said the Monkees are like the Marx Brothers. And he was absolutely correct. Great compliment. We made our contribution, I think, to the cultural landscape.

John Lennon, Anne Murray, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper and Micky Dolenz

MV: I believe 100% you guys did. Now on a different note, another musical icon outside the Monkees and the Beatles. How did Jimmy Hendrix become the opening act for the 67 tour?
MD: That was me, I had seen him in New York as a sideman for another group. And he was getting hot and known as, well, he was Jimmy James at the time. But this guy, he could play guitar with his teeth. I saw him again at the Monterey Pop Festival. I brought it up to the production team and the rest of the guys for Jimi to be the opening act. I guess his people liked the idea and lo and behold, he was on tour and I got some wonderful photographs that I took of him backstage.

MV: How did the audience take Hendrix?
MD: Well, some okay, but It’s kind of typical in that situation opening act for a big headliner and 99% of the fans are there to see the headliner and his music was quite different from ours. We loved it We thought it was unbelievable But the fans, were anxious and they wanted to hear the Monkees Jimi was a lovely guy very quiet and kind of shy a little naive, totally unlike his persona on stage a great guy, very cool.

MV: Let’s go off-topic a little bit. This is a question our Publisher asked: Who was your favorite musician from Laurel Canyon?
MD: Oh, wow. That’s impossible. It would depend on the genre that you’re talking about because there was everybody from Frank Zappa to Joni Mitchell to the Turtles and Alice Cooper… it is a hard question with the wealth of talent that came out of that area.

MV – It’s said that between ’67 and ’68, the Monkees outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. So with that said, this is the patented ModestoView question: Beatles or Rolling Stones?
MD – Oh, again, I can’t. The music is so different. That’s like saying Alice Cooper or Tony Bennett. I love both. I love Tony Bennett and love Alice Cooper, and I love the Stones and I love the Beatles and I love Sinatra and, you know.

MV: Anything more you would like to add?
MD: I would also like to mention that I have a book coming out called “I’m Told I Had a Good Time.” It’s a picture book of things from my archives, mostly pictures that I took of us, the Monkees. I mention Jimi Hendrix and other friends of mine at the time, such as Stephen Stills and Mama Cass, and all kinds of stuff. It’s coming out in November. I just wanted to make a note of it. But that’s what you can expect. If you liked any of the Monkees’ music from that era, then you won’t be disappointed.

Tickets available at the box office or

About the Author:

Middagh Goodwin LIVES Music. He has been booking and promoting Music, Art, and Comedy in the Central Valley for years. He ran the award-winning Plea for Peace Center in Stockton for 5 Years and has booked bands from A-Z. In addition, he is the managing editor of ModestoView and writes the MAMAView and GeekView. Middagh works with the Modesto Area Music Association and books Music in the Plaza. In addition, he owns and operates Graffiti-Con, where cars and pop culture intersects. More recently, Middagh has been working with the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum, helping to create unique events that help raise funds and awareness of the museum and its mission. On top of that, you can tune into one of two shows that Middagh Goodwin hosts on KCBP 95.5 FM; This is SKA and MAMA Radio.