Share a cuppa tea with…
MICKY DOLENZ as he spills a few secrets, chats about physics, tells us why he has no tree house, and all about his dreams coming true.
By Jane Quinn
IN 1958, Micky Dolenz was TV’s Circus Boy and I became a fan. In 1966, Micky Dolenz was a Monkee and I became a bigger fan!
Now I find we are talking and laughing and drinking tea together, and I love him even more. What a genuine, nice, caring, patient man. If you are sitting comfortably, let us begin.
Q: USA or UK?
A: Neither or both. I’ve lived in both countries, and I was married to a Brit and lived in the UK for a number of years. I love England. We raised our daughter Amy in a very British way. As I was away a lot touring, she spent much of her time with her British mom as well as her British grandparents.
Then I married another English girl and moved back to the UK where I worked producing television shows. Anyway, the countries are so different that you really can’t compare.
Q: Who is your favourite Beatle?
A: (laughs) I knew them all, so that is difficult. I knew Ringo best, and we had a good mutual friend, Harry Nilsson. I met Ringo through Harry who I met through a good friend, Derek Taylor, who had been The Beatles press agent.
So I got to know Ringo best, although I met Paul first when I went to his home for a press junket in early 1967. I actually just met up again with Paul a couple of years ago. And I knew John also and was at his house a couple of times for parties for his kids and such.
Q: Where do you keep your moral compass?
A: In a drawer in the garage under lock and key.
Q: Tell us a secret.
A: My hobby is the study of quantum physics. Not many people know that, but it is one of the loves of my life. I don’t talk about this and no-one ever asks me about it, but that is my bedside reading.
Q: Do you sing in the shower?
A: No, I need money first. It’s my job.
Q: What is your Frank Zappa connection?
A: Frank was a neighbour of mine, and he was also in The Monkees’ movie, Head, which was written by Jack Nicholson who did a marvellous job. We all hung out together. Frank was a fan of the Monkees. He just “got it”. A lot of people did not get it because The Monkees was quite unique in its day which was before Fame or Glee or any of those shows. There was, at that time, very little crossover from music to TV. It was just a very, very different world.
After The Monkees got cancelled, Frank rang me to invite me to be his new drummer for The Mothers of Invention. Of course, I was incredibly flattered but knew in my heart that I was not a trained studio drummer capable of what he needed. Frank said that I would naturally have to get out of my recording contract so I could record with The Mothers, but that was not possible.
So it didn’t work out.
Q: What is your favourite comic book ever?
A: I really only read comics as a kid, and I
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think my favourite would have to have been Superman. And then there was Blackhawk which my sister and I read. Afterwards, we would race around on our bicycles saving the neighbourhood.
Q: Did Circus Boy bleach his hair?
A: Definitely! Some TV producer somewhere decided that Corky was a little Midwestern American boy and should be blonde. It never bothered me because I came from a showbiz family, and my earliest memories are when I went on the set with my dad and saw him getting his hair and make-up done. Same with my mother; so when they told me I was going to bleach my hair, I just said, “OK. When?”
Q: Who was the Randy Scouse Git?
A: Well, I was in England in the late Sixties where the Beatles had thrown us a party at the Speak Easy. Afterwards, I went back to my hotel room and started rambling off a song. In the background was a BBC TV show called Till Death Us Do Part. I didn’t know the show then, or any of the actors. Suddenly, the father on the show called his son-in-law a randy scouse git. It just sounded funny so that’s what I named the song. The Monkees recorded the song on an album called Headquarters.
Later I got a call from our record company saying they wanted to release the song in England but that we would have to come up with an alternate title. I said, “Why?” They told me that the title was rude and needed to be changed. I said that I had heard it on the BBC at 7:00 in the evening, but they just kept saying we had to change it. I gave in and changed the name in the UK to Alternate Title.
That is still what the song is called in England. Funnily, only a couple of years ago I had a phone call from Olivia Harrison saying she had something for me. It turned out to be, much to my surprise, the original letter from the UK music publisher to our LA team saying that we must change the title of this song. Olivia said George Harrison, her husband, had been given the letter by our old friend, Derek Taylor. I have no idea how Derek got it but was sure surprised.
Q: Do you have a tree house?
A: No, but I live up in the hills so have always lived in and around trees. I never have had a proper tree house unless I had a couple of boards up in a tree as a kid.
Q: Who have you asked for an autograph?
A: (After a brief quiet spell) Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, and Bob Hope. They were all at the Inauguration of President Nixon. Don’t ask me why I was there because it’s a long story. I have all their autographs on the same program for the event.
Q: If you could have invited anyone to our tea party today, living or dead/famous or not famous, who would it have been?
A: Albert Einstein because, as I said, I am a great fan of Physics or all science, actually.
Q: Did your dreams come true?
A: As a kid, I got into show business quite young, and it has treated me well. Before The Monkees I planned to be an architect.
I am not an architect but I have had a wonderful life. I am so blessed with four great children and two wonderful grandchildren. I have my own woodworking shop with my daughter, which I love.
I still have a wish list, a bucket list with places I’d like to go. At the top of that list is CERN in Switzerland. It stands for something in French and is a particle accelerator. (NOTE: CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research – as a result, numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN through international collaborations.)
Q: Tell me about the LA Softball League and Hollywood Vampires.
A: Alice Cooper and I put together a softball team to raise money for charity. We played local games with other organisations and artists.
Q: What’s new?
A: I am touring Australia with Mike Nesmith and am also doing solo shows. I did the musical Hairspray in London’s West End. I also have two new grandchildren, so keeping busy.
The teapot is running low but not so the conversation. There is so much to talk about, such as how Micky and The Monkees introduced the rock world to the Moog synthesizers. Or how Mike Nesmith invented the famous ‘Monkee walk’.
Perhaps of most interest is the charity work by Micky alongside his longtime friend, Alice Cooper, in aid of Alice’s charity, Solid Rock, which helps LA’s youth to learn an art or a craft while, at the same time, protecting them. Speaking of Alice Cooper, how about the times that he babysat for Micky’s daughter Amy?
Maybe we need another cuppa…