It may have taken me over forty years, but on June 16, 2011 I finally got to see one of my all-time favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands, The Monkees in concert.
Sure, at the highly tender age of eight-and-a-half I was undoubtedly, along with at least 73 million others, the ideal candidate to contract a terminal case of Beatlemania when Paul, George, Ringo and “Sorry girls, He’s Married” Britishly invaded The Ed Sullivan Show all those years ago. Instantly, I will admit, all aspirations of becoming an archaeologist and/or Formula One racer forever vanished beneath a monophonic haze of swirling seven-inch Capitol 45’s upon my parents’ hitherto genteel hi-fi console …that is, when I wasn’t Lennon’ing around the basement strumming one of dad’s old tennis racquets attached via kite string to an upturned cardboard washing machine Vox – I mean box.
No, life for me and my immediate family out in the suburbs of Toronto was just not going to be quite the same, not to mention sane, ever again.
But when I look back with what I’d like to think is at least a measure of retrospective perspective and perhaps even maturity regarding my own personal Swinging Sixties, I now realize that while various Beatles, Pacemakers, Hermits and DC-Fifths provided the initial cultural Great Big Bang to my existence, it was actually another fab combo altogether who put into razor-sharp focus my very socio-musical destiny. Who provided the indelible epiphany which fused my innermost dreams and desires. And who, yes, set me forever down that path of life, liberty, and the pursuit of not finishing school.
“We were never really a rock and roll band,” Micky Dolenz continues to insist whenever the opportunity arises. “We were a television show about a rock and roll band.” To which follows the drummer’s inevitable, yet quite ridiculous comparisons to the Cartwrights never living on a ranch in real life, or the Enterprise crew not beaming themselves away from one another off set …though I’d bet sometimes the latter at least wish it were possible.
Nevertheless, with the premiere airing of The Monkees series over the livingroom Admiral 23-inch one fateful September of ’66 dinner hour, I was first shown precisely how a (sorry, Micky) rock and roll band was put together, how they dressed, how they chowed down communal Kellogg’s every morning, how they rehearsed, how they (didn’t) work, how they tricked the landlord out of paying their rent on time… in short, downright essential life lessons which in the not-too-distant-at-all future would prove extremely handy as I embarked upon my own role playing an r ‘n’ r singer/guitarist. Indeed, these Monkees were in fact providing the kind of career tools a scheming youngster such as I simply couldn’t acquire from even repeated viewings of Help! or even Having a Wild Weekend, truth be told.
So, although I’ve Rock and Roll Reported it many, many times before online, and even out there in what remains of the real world, let me just say, once again: THANK YOU. Thank You SO Much, Davy, Peter, Mike and even Micky.
P.S.: and No, it wasn’t always easy being a Monkees fan(atic). Especially during those dank, dark years circa early Seventies when all of one’s most regarded peers were forsaking their old Headquarters albums for the latest Carole King or slabs of Sabbath. Why, even the presence of no less than “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” on the Sex Pistols’ early demo tapes failed to fully redeem the Prefabs in the eyes or ears of those self-anointed hipsters later to be found bathing beneath the supposed new wave.
Nor do I fully absolve myself of such flagrante crimes against pop either. While standing on my local transit platform one hot August afternoon in 1969, I shamelessly mocked my oldest friend who was awaiting the same train so he could go see the Monkees perform at the Canadian National Exhibition. Did I want to join him, dear Doug graciously asked? After all, he had an extra ticket (which he’d spent weeks trying in vain to give to someone …anyone). “The Monkees? No way!” I undoubtedly sneered. For you see, I had much more important things to do that day. As in head downtown to get in line to buy a copy of the just-released Abbey Road, sheesh!
Forty-two years later I’d, of course, come to my senses and jammed into New York’s gorgeous Beacon Theatre alongside a couple of thousand other Monkeemaniacs both old and new to watch Davy, Peter and Micky (no Mike, of course) perform for over two hours – yes, on their own instruments – in one of the absolute finest, funnest, most fulfilling concert experiences of my entire music-saturated life. And I was so glad I did, as a mere eight months later Davy was gone… and with him an extremely large portion of my musical soul, I must confess.
Truly, his sudden and totally unexpected passing threw me for a loop: It’s “funny” how we never really ever imagined one of The Monkees dying, right? Because, and perhaps Micky knew of what he spoke after all, they always did seem more like a television show than a “real” band. And as such could and would easily, endlessly, well, re-run for us on the road.
No such luck. And now comes word that the three surviving Monkees – yep, including Mike, believe it or not, it has been assured – are about to embark upon a dozen American concerts come November in honor of our dearly departed Manchester cowboy, David Thomas Jones.
Well. In a world that has already had to deal with “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” in particular, not to mention multiple Moon and even Entwistle-less “Who” [sic!] recordings and tours …and What’s this I hear about a fine new Beach Boys revue and even album with two out of three Wilsons MIA?!!… well, I only hope that Micky, Peter and Mike will do their fallen comrade’s memory, as well as reputation, the courtesy and utmost respect it, he, and lifelong Monkeemen such as myself all deserve.
We’ll see. And hear. Until then, in the fresh-off-Facebook words of Papa Nez himself, That’s really all I’ve got. Going to bed now. I’ll post pictures of the cracker and the gazpacho tomorrow, maybe. Maybe not.