If you were to see John Lennon and Mike Nesmith standing together on a street corner, talking and waiting for the light to change, you’d wonder what the two of them could possibly have in common. True, they’d have the bond of music to discuss, but aside from that—tall, lanky Mike and the shorter, stable looking John seem as different as the sun and moon and as far apart in their past lives and thoughts as Houston is from Liverpool.
Are they different?
Are they really so different though? Let’s stop and take a deeper look at these two brown haired, brown eyed, slouching young men. John and Mike though different in many ways, have more in common than their fame and love for music. Each is the second oldest member of his group and both had things in common when they were children.
John grew up in Liverpool where he lived with his Aunt Mimi in some comfort. There were times when things were a little tight, but mostly it wasn’t terribly bad for them. Of course, John’s school story is something else. He attended high school and later visited the Liverpool College of Art. John was an inattentive child, who just didn’t apply himself to his work. School held no interest for him, because there were too many things he wanted to know that just weren’t taught in school. As a result he cut classes several times and did miserably in his grades. He was a bright, quick boy who just refused to work.
Mike’s difficult life!
Mike Nesmith was the kind of child who wanted to know why water dripped down instead of up and why dead chickens couldn’t lay eggs. His life wasn’t easy as a child and he once said that a meal was like Christmas. He lived with his mother in Dallas and was thought of as weird by the other kids in school. Mike cut classes at every opportunity, got really bad grades and never finished high school. He got into college in San Antonio after completing an entrance exam. School still did not interest Mike.
Meanwhile, back in school in Liverpool, John had picked up the guitar and his love for music occupied his mind almost completely. After teaching himself how to play he joined Paul McCartney and, eventually, the other Beatles in the long fight for recognition. They played clubs on the Liverpool–Hamburg circuit and John’s music eventually became so much his life that he never finished college.
A quick switch back to Texas where Mike got hold of a guitar at 19 and taught himself a few chords. He didn’t know any songs, so he wrote one. He became so engrossed in music that he played clubs in San Antonio and Hollywood in his battle to become a well known singer. He, too, dropped college for the glory of the music field.
One very important thing happened to both of them during the time they attended college—they both met their wives. John married slim, blonde, blue-eyed Cynthia and Mike married blonde, slim, blue-eyed Phyllis. (Both wives, incidentally, have seven letters in their first names.) Both weddings were small and quiet and this was not due to a need for secrecy because of great fame, for both of them were married before fame hit them over the head. Though people knew about both weddings, it was in John’s case at least, a secret for approximately two months after the Beatles smashed the charts. In Mike’s case, it was printed in the official biography, but the public was not really conscious of a marriage until almost two months after the Monkees crashed the scene.
Both men freely admitted that they were married and each had one son, but they refused to let the public in on a great deal of their private lives because both of them believe that their private lives should be kept private and that their families have a right to be protected from the limelight as much as possible. They like the fans who respect the privacy they have asked for, the nice, polite fans—not the noisy, rowdy ones. Both John and Mike are touched by certain letters and gifts that people send them.
They are both sensitive people, but quick with a sharp verbal comeback when people are rude or stupid just for the sake of being nasty and deliberately dumb. John is very aware of everything that goes on around him and Mike is very sharp and has great insight. John and Mike can both get right to the heart of what’s going on and neither one is fooled by the appearance of the situation. They look directly at the facts. They are both witty, intelligent and impulsive. They are stimulating people to be with. because they are both individuals. They value their freedom to be themselves before anything else and neither will totally subject himself to discipline of any kind. The courage to say and do what they wish is another common bond Mike and John share.
Ambition rules both of them. Mike is coolly ambitious and John admits to being lazy about everything, but he gets what he wants when he wants it. They always feel that things will somehow come out right for them. Mike can find a joke in anything he sees and John’s ability to find a laugh in any situation is well known throughout the world.
Though both Mike and John have a quiet way about them, they are apt to pull some really crazy stunts on those around them. They are both eccentric guys and their eccentricity shows up in a number of different ways. John’s clothes’ combinations are unbelievable and Mike’s clothes run a close second. John loves putting T-shirts with striped blazers and sandals and things and on him it looks really groovy.
Mike grew up in Texas and that has a lot to do with the knee high moccasins, mod boots, and western type clothes he wears. Of course, if he wore anything else, he wouldn’t be Mike Nesmith.
They both live in older houses. Mike’s is a sparsely furnished Spanish and John’s is a partially painted Tudor with red and green blinking light boxes (that don’t blink anymore) sitting in a corner of the house. He bought them as Christmas jollies for his mates and then forgot to deliver them to everybody. Perhaps you think that there is no common bond uniting Mike and John and blinking lights, Well, all you really have to do is step inside Mike’s dressing room, full of safety pins, letters from fans and—red and white tubular lights that blink on and off at one second intervals. In fact both their houses are full of so many different weird objects that they’ve collected, that I’m sure you’ll find that they have more in common than the blinking bulbs.
Since they have become stars, they’ve both had to be careful about new friends. Neither likes to be taken by people close to them and for this reason John and Mike have very small groups of friends whom they can trust. Most of these people have been friends for years—you know, the people who grew up with them and the people who have no reason to use them or their talents so that it would hurt them.
Talents in common
Both Mike and John have an amazing number of talents in common. Though music is their main interest and both of them play at least two instruments, they are also very good actors, song writers and excellent mimics. Mike can imitate anybody around with alarming accuracy and John’s different accents are fantastically exact. They both write songs on inspiration and John is always rearranging words and sentences in his mind, which makes it a bit hard for him to carry on casual conversations without getting all muddled. Mike doesn’t go about rearranging words—he rearranges situations in his mind. He tends to get very involved in his daydreams.
They are both very good at weaving stories out of nothing. John puts his stories down in books or tells them to friends. Mike usually tells his tales to anyone who happens to be around when the inspiration hits him. These stories are always funny bits in a weird sort of way because that’s the way Mike and John are. They are different in the way they express things, but not in what they are really trying to say to us.
So there they are, standing on a street corner together, talking, and now the light has changed and you can see that they do have more in common than just the musical world that surrounds the lives of John Lennon and Mike Nesmith.