Jackie Richmond hits out at the rumour-mongers
Take a red-hot super-duper group—like the Monkees! Take a world-wide popular outfit—like the Monkees! Their aim is to give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. They just get on with their job, coping with problems as they arise, and they set very high standards for themselves.
But then take the rumour-mongers. You HAVE to take them, because they latch on to any new sensation and, on the flimsiest excuse, put round stories which embarrass the boys.
Most big-time groups get it. One even had to call a Press conference to put down rumours that (a) one of the members was fast going blind; (b) the group was going to split up; (c) that another member had only a year to live. But the Monkees are getting it thicker and faster than anybody else. Mostly one reads that they are having arguments with each other. So you get headlines like: “Davy Leaving Monkees?”, or “Should The Monkees Split Now”. Or “Could This Row Split Monkees?”… “Big Monkees Row”… “Struggle for Power Could Split Group”.
You get the personalised bits, too. “Sammy To Wed Micky Monkee?”… that was one only a short time ago. “Monkee to Live in Britain” was another. Or the misleading ones like “Monkees Fans in Big Uproar”. Or an out-of-context item which had Micky Dolenz saying: “I’m a Hollywood Phoney,” which he obviously said as a joke.
“Monkees on Trial” is a favourite—you’d think the police had stepped in. I saw one which said clearly: “BBC-TV Not To Take Second Monkees Series”… and that was ages before anyone at the BBC had said anything at all about it!
As for Davy and the call-up: well, you’d have thought two burly military policemen had actually grabbed him by the shoulders and marched him off to Vietnam, the way some rumour-mongers go on about it.
Of course, journalists have to look for the story—and it’s the headline which forces people to read that story once it’s written. But if you don’t read the story too carefully, you are left only with the headline, which often isn’t exactly the truth… or has a question mark at the end of it which most people don’t actually see.
But how do these rumours start? Well, sometimes they’re put about purely as a joke by somebody who pretends to be “in the know”. You can see how they build. Someone says: “The Monkees want to live in London because they dig the scene.” It’s repeated. Then somebody, going one better, says they actually know somebody, who works in an estate agent’s office, who has been asked to find them flats. What started out as a rumour becomes hard fact before it’s proved completely wrong.
That sort of thing doesn’t matter very much. It’s when it gets to the more personal side that the trouble starts. I could mention, but won’t because we here are NOT rumour-mongers, stories we’ve heard about each individual Monkee. When I say they’d make your hair curl, you’ll know what I mean. We get letters asking us to confirm or deny a lot of the rumours. Trouble is they spread like wildfire. And they can do the boys a tremendous amount of harm.
In the States, for instance, I know that Peter Tork’s grandmother has been telephoned by fans asking HER about rumours of her grandson… and some of them have been really terrifying. Believe me, ’cos I know.
As for the newspaper stories… well, they just don’t get fully denied. You don’t print a story one week and then change it the next! So the damage is done on the widest possible scale. And the boys, often unaware of what has been written, don’t get a chance to weigh in with their side of the story.
Take the headlines about Samantha Juste and Micky Dolenz. THEY aren’t saying anything at all… not about their friendship. So the rumour boys weigh in and make up their own theories… hence stories of “marriage”, “engagement” and anything else that goes. Whats’ [sic] the point in speculating, Micky will tell us all about it when he wants to.
There’s only one way round it. Take notice of stories that come direct from the Monkees themselves, or are in Monkees’ Monthly. For the rest, read ’em very carefully and see whether anything definite is said, or whether it’s purely a matter of guess-work helped along by a blazing head-line.
Some rumours are worrying to all of us. I mean, we all like to know where we stand and where the boys stand. But a lot of them are a darned sight more worrying to Mike, Micky, Peter and Davy themselves.
We should start a Stamp Out The Rumourmongers campaign! Or would it be… only a rumour! ENDS