We all loved The Monkees. The Beatles stopped performing. But The Monkees were in our living rooms every Monday at 7:30pm Eastern (6:30pm Central). We bought the singles, the albums, and the magazines. We sang and danced to all the songs. When they toured some of us were lucky enough to see them (with Jimi Hendrix as opening act). We wrote them love letters and drew pictures of them all over our notebooks.
I didn’t get to see them until many years later for their 20th anniversary when Davy, Mickey, and Peter were touring. It had been a long time since they’d released an album but the pier was full and everyone stood as soon as they came on stage. Unfortunately that meant that I never got to see the show unless I was standing on top of my toolbox on top of a folding chair. Since I couldn’t do that and dance, I didn’t spend much time like that.
Then they played in Coney Island last year and I skipped it and then Davy died and I was never going to get the see The Monkees again. But Mike was in negotiations to tour with them and the three decided to go out without Davy.
When rtb and I sat down we could see the stage setup and a screen showing scenes, bloopers, and commercials from the original series. The musicians came on stage and played a medley of The Monkees’ hits while the screen showed a history of the band. Then the three come out and sing “Last Train to Clarksville” and I have to stop myself from screaming like a 10yo girl. Their fans are rabid. People of all ages screaming and singing and dancing. Monkees t-shirts and one old guy in a wool hat. The entire night the videos played behind them. Sometimes when Davy’s face appeared there would be spontaneous applause. When they showed the cover of one of my favorite issues of Monkees Magazine I yelped with joy.
Are the Monkees more than the pre-fab four? You bet they are. Listen to Mike’s original songs – they’re the start of that LA sound that the Eagles and Jackson Browne made famous. Mickey was the first to play the Moog synthesizer on a pop record. They duplicated “Daily Nightly” with Mickey having to read Mike’s indecipherable lyrics while he sang and Mike making the noises – loudly – of the Moog. There were lots of other funny moments. From how they kept introducing themselves to doing old and new gags.
Sometimes they let a video play of Davy singing. It made the hole on stage wider and deeper and more present. For “Daydream Believer” Mickey brought a fan up on stage (wearing an “I Love Davy” t-shirt) to lead the audience singing the song. I had goosebumps and came close to tears.
One of the videos was a trailer from Head. The movie didn’t do well but watching the trailer I remembered what a fun study it was of a celebrities trapped by image and their handlers.
It was the last night of their tour and when they were saying goodbye, Peter was crying. The band included Mickey’s sister Coco on background vocals and keyboards and Mike’s son Christian on electric bass. There were also other keyboard players, a drummer, and other guitarists. Mike played electric guitar and wore silver sequined boots. Mickey played guitars, box drum, bongos, drums and kettle drum (while wearing his poncho) for “Randy Scouse Git.” Peter played guitar and banjo. Some people will remember that his song, “For Pete’s Sake” was the closing theme for the show’s second season.
There was a set where they played a lot of songs from Headquarters and Head and it was just the three of them on stage.
The room was electric with excitement – the tour with Mike was something the fans had been waiting for a long time. It’s a shame that he waited too long to say yes.
By Carene Lydia Lopez