“Sammy” tells it like it was when the Monkees hit England on their summer concert tour!
Probably the greatest thing to hit England since the “Beatle Invasion” of several years ago was the arrival of the Monkees for their series of London concerts this past summer. They were to perform in our Wembley Pool, which is one of our largest arenas—and all the tickets had been sold out for weeks and weeks in advance.
The Monkees’ opening concert was on a Friday evening and they decided to spend that entire afternoon rehearsing. Getting Mike, Micky, Peter and Davy to and from Wembley was handled like a military operation. The boys arrived for rehearsal in a clapped-out old catering truck that looked like it was delivering bread and rolls more than anything else! A security guard sneaked them in right under the noses of thousands of fans who had crowded around hoping to see a real live Monkee off-stage. After a very long and tiring rehearsal, it came time to leave and a second security team went into action. They put four boys—who (from a distance) looked just like the Monkees—into a limousine with smoked dark windows and drove off. The limousine took a real beating, but the decoy worked and the Monkees themselves were spirited away right behind it in a less obvious car.
The Monkees were rather nervous about their first London concert and each boy was secretly hoping for a good reception. Well, they needn’t have worried. The greeting their English fans gave them surpassed their wildest dream! The Pool was packed and the audience was well behaved while Lulu and the other performers gave a very good show.
After intermission, Micky, Mike, Davy and Peter hopped upon the stage and it was like millions of sky rockets had been shot off! One was literally caught up into the vibrating sea of sound which greeted each move the Monkees made and each song they sang! There is no way to describe it. I only hope you are lucky enough—if you have not already had the experience—to get to see a real, live Monkee concert one day, then you will know what I mean.
The following Saturday morning, Micky went to our newest mod shopping area, King’s Road, to see what he could find. He stopped in Dandy Fashions, one of London’s newest boutiques, where he bought a long Edwardian jacket in shiny white brocade, an orange silk shirt and red boots!
Of course, he was spotted right off and I witnessed what can only be called “the magical Dolenz touch”—when it comes to handling excited crowds. Micky stood in the doorway and held up his hand until everyone was quiet. Then he spoke to them.
“If you don’t mind sort of lining up,” he said gently, “I will be glad to sign all the autographs you want. But please don’t push and shove me.”
The fans calmed down and happily did exactly what Micky had asked—and every last one of them got a personal Micky Dolenz autograph without any trouble at all before he left!
The next two concerts were also smashes, and everyone was rather amazed that there weren’t any catastrophes among the more than 50,000 people who came to see the Monkees. One 14-year-old girl fell off the balcony where she had been jumping up and down with great enthusiasm. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but the Monkees didn’t want to leave the hall after the show until each of them had been personally assured that she was all right. One lucky girl got to do what every Monkee fan dreams of doing—during the show she somehow broke through the cordon of police and jumped onto the stage. She was hugging Micky (who hugged her back, but kept right on singing) before the guards literally unwrapped her arms from him and took her away!
Vic Lewis, of Nems Enterprises (the organization in charge of the series of Monkee concerts), threw a tremendous party for the Monkees at London’s swinging Speakeasy Club after their last concert. Davy who had gone off to see his father, was not there—but everyone else was. John Lennon arrived with his wife Cynthia, and George and Pattie Harrison came with Paul McCartney and Jane Asher. Eric Clapton of the Cream was there, as were Keith Moon of the Who, Manfred Mann and Mike d’Abo (of the Mann group), Lulu and swarms of other pop people. The rave-up didn’t end until long after midnight!
When the Monkees arrived back at the Royal Garden Hotel, where they were staying, Micky saw a crowd of patient fans still waiting around outside. He stopped and talked to them for a while, then he led them into Hyde Park (which is right next door)—sort of like the Pied Piper. He got up on an old-fashioned bandstand and gave a non-stop performance of singing, joking, talking and clowning around for over an hour! Most of those fans were in tears by the time the police eventually broke up the “Dolenz concert.” They were completely swept away, because a famous star had gone to all that trouble and effort just for them.
The next day the Monkees and most of their guests from the night before went to shop some more on King’s Road. This time, they went to the Antique Supermarket, where the boys bought everything from beads to bells to Chinese robes!
All of a sudden it was time for the Monkees to leave England, and some of us went back to Heathrow Airport to see them off. As I waved goodbye, I mentally jotted down my very clear impression of each of the boys.
Peter is quiet and very calm. He seems vague at times, but he has definite opinions and expresses them. He is very much a musician and everywhere he goes, the guitar goes too.
Davy is very conscientious and works tremendously hard. At the same time, he seems very warm and cuddly—and the girls go wildest over him.
Mike is very serious and much quieter—but when he does say something, it is pretty much to the point and can often be devastating. He hides his fantastic sense of humor behind his reserve.
Micky is the livewire of the group. He has got more energy than one dozen people and he literally never seems to stop.
As a group, the Monkees are unique. I have never known a group who think so much of and care so much about one another. At the same time, they are completely frank and honest among themselves and never hesitate to speak their minds if they think one or another is goofing around too much.
By the time you read this, Peter, Mike, Micky and Davy will have finished their summer tour of the States and will be back working on future records and TV episodes. I only hope that somehow I can be around to continue to see them and perhaps be lucky enough to write more about them for you in 16 Magazine.