flip reporter jeremy pascall introduces mike and phyllis to london—and mike introduces himself to jeremy!
Mike Nesmith strode into London on those long Texan legs with wife Phyllis jiggling beside him trying to keep up!
When I went to see him at his London office, the legs were stretched out on the piano top and Phyllis was frantically shopping in and around Carnaby Street.
Mike looked less of a pop singer than a well-scrubbed cowboy with his long “sidies”, Levi suit and soft tasselled boots. He was munching a Texas-sized sandwich and sipping from a Coke bottle. Unfortunately the one thing he didn’t like about London was the Coke—apparently we serve the wrong kind for the Nesmith taste!
I had been warned that Mike was a raunchy, touchy guy in the true tradition of John Lennon. He was, I was told, as likely to bust me in the mouth as shake my hand. He shook my hand and talked quietly, intelligently and very, very politely. He appeared to be somewhat taken aback by my Carnaby Street clothes which Micky Dolenz and I had bought from the same shop and Micky had assured me were groovy.
“Ah looked into Carnaby Street this morning. Ah didn’t really like the place or the clothes. Ah feel uncomfortable in that kinda gear. Ah’m a very simple person, all Ah need is a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes to cover me, and I’m content. The fact that my house cost $100,000 is beside the point!”
Mike looked a little bewildered by London; I think he found the pace fast even compared to Hollywood! As we talked, I got the impression that the whole Monkees bit exploded faster than he had anticipated.
It would be easy to take Mr. Nesmith as a country hick. He has the kind of home-spun philosophy and earthy good sense we in England generally associate with TV westerns. Just as Mike would have expected every English man to wear a bowler and carry an umbrella and every chick to be dressed in a maxi-belt so I expected Mike to be as Texan as he was—it was almost unbelievable!
We talked around a lot of subjects from race discrimination to movie techniques, from his childhood to Christian Duval. From the piano we moved to the floor where we sprawled as we talked.
Mike was very happy because he had just bought a custom built Mini car and he explained to me in detail the construction and refinements of this and his three motor bikes. Some of his conversation was very technical and left me nodding and/or shaking my head politely without understanding a word! The time wore on and eventually I had to wind up and go. I picked myself up off the floor and we made a date to meet the next day at the television studios where Britain’s top TV pop show “Top Of The Pops” was being put out. Micky and Mike were to guest, pick up an award and hold a short conversation.
I went to the studios with Peter ‘Herman’ Noone and Lek Leckenby and we met Mike and Micky in the reception lounge where Peter’s record producer Mickie Most was already deep in conversation with the two Monkees. The whole thing was to be kept secret and there were giant security precautions. Mike brought Phyllis with him and Micky was, as ever, accompanied by best buddy Ric Klein (who is also my FLIP colleague) who snapped continuously with his camera.
Mike is not a guy who takes well to being told what to do and he and some of the press photographers did not see eye to eye about pictures but they ended up the best of friends after Mike had given them a short course in Texan manners.
“Ah don’t like to be called Wool Hat. Ah mean to say how would you like it if Ah addressed you as ‘Hey, dark blue shirt with yellow tie?’”. As ever, this was spoken with a quiet dignity and I’m sure that the photographers were impressed.
However, when it came to Mike and Micky’s appearance before the hippy studio audience the reaction was anything but quiet and the boys were trapped in the studio for half an hour with Mike looking very worried about the whole thing.
“Ah’m just a quiet guy, Ah’m a private person and Ah don’t want to be mixed up in all kindsa trouble. If somebody comes up to me while Ah’m plunking around on my guitar and says ‘Ah don’t believe you play your instruments, Ah don’t believe you can play guitar’ Ah just say to them, ‘that’s right bud, Ah’m not playing this here guitar—Ah don’t even know how to!’ Ah’ve spent so much money in London—Ah bought a car and clothes for Phyllis and I think I might have bought Manchester yesterday!”
I bid a reluctant goodbye to the fascinating Mr. Nesmith and wondered how two such opposite people as Mike and Micky could get on so well together as they obviously do. Mike and I did have a date for lunch over that weekend but he had to call it off. He had received an invitation to spend a couple of days in Weybridge with John and Cynthia Lennon—and who could refuse an invitation like that?