Who is the most incredible, the most unpredictable pop star of ’em all? Well, at the risk of offending supporters of other members of the Monkees, it’s Micky Dolenz who currently holds the title. And it’s all because he put on the most incredible, most unpredictable pop performance of all time when the boys were in London.
Wanna know more? well, here’s how, where, and why it all happened.
All night vigil
Let’s set the scene. Daylight is just about managing to creep up over Hyde Park, one of the wide open spaces in London. The Monkees are staying in the Royal Garden Hotel, which overlooks the park. And what’s more, the fans KNOW they’re staying there, so there is virtually an all-night and all-day vigil kept, either in the parkland itself or out on busy Kensington High Street. Some have camped out all night for a glimpse of the fantastic foursome.
The date is July 4, which also happens to be Independence Day, a highlight for all Americans. After a very late, all-night party, celebrating their successes at the Wembley Pool, the Monkees make their way back to the hotel. They are dead tired, whacked out. All they really want is some sleep, though they own up that they are really too tired to be able to nod off.
They’ve gone through a hectic spell of sheer hard work, appearing on stage, rehearsing, filming (in Paris), signing pictures, catching up on their shopping. So in this semi-dazed mood, Micky gets back to the hotel and ponders the question of whether it’s worth ordering some solid breakfast—or whether a Coke, or orange juice, would be best.
And as his car speeds up towards the highly-decorative front of the plush hotel, he notices that crowds of Monkee fans are gathered there, hoping to catch sight of at least ONE Monkee. And Micky thinks about this—marvelling at the sheer loyalty of the fans. And he reckons the least he can do is to get out of the car and talk to them.
Now this is a very risky thing to do… but Micky thrives on doing risky things. There could have been chaos and confusion, but he explained his position to the fans. He pointed out that he was “no different” to them, simply because he was a pop star. That they were all human beings together and there was no reason for him not to talk to them, and answer their questions and tell them about the zany life he leads, twenty-four hours a day.
But he urged the fans not to start rushing him, because that would only cause trouble and panic and he wanted to avoid that. So it happened that around 200 fans followed Micky on a chat and a walk round the park. Micky was, despite his tiredness, in happy mood. He obviously enjoyed this off-beat way of meeting the fans.
Gradually the crowd of fans got bigger and bigger. In the hotel, in safety, members of the Monkees’ party were getting a bit worried for Micky, thinking the whole scene could get out of control. Said one: “Well, it’s what he wants to do—he loves getting through to people.”
Meanwhile, Pied Piper Micky led his “Team” of followers over to a large covered platform right in the middle of the park. He got them all gathered round him, as he clambered up on the boards. Every few minutes, another gang arrived to swell his audience. His “Bodyguard”, standing behind the crowd of fans, kept an eye on things, looked dead worried, but let Micky get on with the greatest fan get together of all time.
He did his impressions of James Cagney and others. Sang some of his favourite songs, all unaccompanied, but still very well done. He tried to teach the audience an Indian song, which he had learned from Beatle George Harrison at the night before’s party…
There were screams, obviously—it would have been difficult to just stand there so near to Micky Monkee and not show SOME reaction. And the crowd grew to around nine hundred, cheering every move by the tireless Mr. Dolenz. Every so often, one of the party in the hotel would go out and see that everything was still all right. But Micky had complete control. He treated the fans like real human beings and they respected him for it—treated him properly out there in the sunshine and the open air of this London Park.
Eventually sheer tiredness forced Micky to give up. He asked the fans if they’d enjoyed “our little chat”. “Yeah”, they yelled. They made way for him as he climbed from the platform and they followed him in a gigantic procession back to the hotel where Micky’s plush bed was waiting to lull him into his first “kip” in a long, long time.
He padded in through the foyer, with members of his “Guard” in close attendance. Pressed the button of the lift and got up to the fifth floor and his apartment, his suite of rooms. And even there, as he sank pretty well exhausted on a settee in the hallway, he suddenly had a thought about one of the fans who’d been on his marathon walk and talk-in performance.
He summoned one of the party, Bill Chadwick. Said to him: “I want you to go back downstairs and try and find a girl, about twelve years of age, named Veronica. Bring her up here because I promised her I’d sign a load of autograph books she’d brought along with her. She’s waited around for a long time to get to meet one of us Monkees.”
Off padded Bill, eventually finding Veronica among the crowd still waiting outside the hotel. And you should have heard the comments from those still-waiting fans… about how nice Micky was and how you don’t get that sort of attention from many pop stars.
And they were still marvelling at the way he’d given up so much of his time, just to walk and talk and hear what the fans were thinking about.
Said one member of the party: “I think the police are on their way to the park now, thinking there MUST be trouble.”
And maybe that’s part of the trouble that is so often caused. Leave the star to work out his own relationship with the fans, and plead with them to give him “elbow-room” and you don’t get the panic.
That apart, however, Micky brought an awful lot of happiness to an awful lot of people. He performed, on that platform, as if he was getting a massive fee for doing so. He didn’t think about his own tired self, only that the fans were enjoying themselves and that it was his way of repaying them for their long vigils outside the hotel.
I’ve written this because it’s something that should be known by all the fans. Being there was an unforgettable experience. It’s only right that this new chapter of Monkee history should be shared with ALL of you, not just the lucky few who happened to be in the right spot at the right time.
And I’ll say again that Micky stays right there where I said he was: the chart-topping most incredible and unpredictable pop star of them all.