We left Micky last month at the stage where he decided the best way to woo and win as the Great Romantic Schoolboy was to sing and play his guitar outside the home of the girl he most liked. And as he changed his girl friends roughly every five days, he had to have a pretty good knowledge of the geography of his hometown!
Generally speaking, the mixture of his lively charm and high-piping voice did the trick. Girls loved to be in his company. All he missed out on was being allowed to drive a car: he COULD drive, as it happens, but he wasn’t allowed to have a licence on account of being so young…
Here’s another link, early on, between the Monkees. At High School Micky also liked to be involved in the dramatic productions. But like certain other Monkees he was always brought down because he just wasn’t tall enough to take the leading romantic roles. “For a start I was so much younger than the others,” he recalls, “but also I guess I just didn’t start shooting upwards until rather late in life. Anyway I felt even smaller than I really was…”
Very keen on sporting events, Micky went through one very nasty spell. The doctors found a bad weakness in one of his legs and told him he couldn’t take part in the really active sports. Up to that point he’d been pretty good at basketball and general gymnastics but after the warning he slowed down for the best part of a couple of years. “It didn’t handicap me half as much as some of the newspapers said later on, but it made me feel kinda down because at High School there’s a whole lot of emphasis put on sporting ability.
“I knew that I was good at sports and really dug the open-air life, but what was the point of that when the doctors said I could end up a cripple for life if I went on overstraining my bad leg.” Obviously Micky’s leg troubles have cleared up completely as anyone who has seen him leap and cavort round a stage will agree!
So Micky’s schooldays went their explosive way. At sixteen he got a tremendous thrill from being invited to go on a hunting trip through New Zealand, the Fiji Islands and Hawaii.
Said Micky, recalling this exciting moment in his life: “It was the family doctor who organised the trip and I guess he thought it would do a lot for me, like getting my mind off the problems I’d had with my bad leg. Anyway, whatever the reason, this was just about the most groovy thing that could have happened.
“Okay, you’ll probably want to put me down as a great big line-shooter but even before we got to leave I was thinking about the stories I’d be able to tell my buddies at school—none of THEM had had the chance of going half-way round the world. But, as it turned out, I didn’t have to make up a single thing. It was the most interesting few weeks of my whole life—even allowing for all the travelling I’ve done since we formed the Monkees.”
But there were a lot of difficulties. The party was due to virtually “live native”. They were going to places where they’d simply have to rough it. Now Micky, at 16, didn’t mind about that; but the local education authorities did. They said: “It is illegal for a child to miss education for such a spell unless he has a very special reason, like illness.” Micky just about broke up at this… he could see the trip finishing for him even before it had started.
However one thing saved him. When he’d been filming the TV series as “Circus Boy”, he’d had to have a tutor on the set so he could continue his education. Micky didn’t much like studying maths and geography there while the older folk in the cast had a coffee-break, but he did buckle down and behave himself properly. So he said that he’d take his school-books to New Zealand and so on and promised faithfully that he’d do some studying every single day.
So Micky won his point. And took off by plane for New Zealand…
There, in his roughest, oldest clothes he moved by car and boat through different areas, some of them virtually uncharted. He learned to cook stew and find his own food. And he hunted animals with strange-sounding names, like a Shamy, which is a kind of antelope; and a Tar, which is like a goat but moves with the speed of a greyhound.
But Micky did keep his word over studying. And he certainly knew a great deal more about a lot of things when he did get back to his school in his home town. He was the hero of the hour. All his mates wanted to hear his stories. So maybe he did exaggerate some of the incidents. He didn’t REALLY wrestle with two angry lions at the same time. In fact, he didn’t even see a lion. And if he HAD seen one, he’d have broken the all-time sprint record for moving out of the area. But all the same, Micky was very funny indeed talking about his other-side-of-the-world experiences…
ANOTHER EXCITING EPISODE NEXT MONTH