Spend 24 Groovy Hours in Heavenly Palm Springs with Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter

There’s nothing quite as much fun as being in the same hotel as the Monkees. Seeing them on the set is one thing, but spending day and night with them is such an outasite experience that you’d have to be there to understand. So, why not come along with us and be right across the hall from Davy’s room… go swimming with Peter and Micky… and have lunch with Mike.

The Monkees were spending three days in Palm Springs filming their full-length movie, “Untitled.” For those of you who don’t know about Palm Springs, it’s a beautiful desert resort about two hours away from Hollywood. Most of the movie stars have homes there so the Palm Springs kids are used to seeing celebrities, but when the Monkees hit town it was a different story. More about this later.

Anyway, we arrived at the Erawan Gardens Hotel in Palm Desert about 5 o’clock on Monday evening. The Monkees had been there since Sunday, but only one scene of the movie had been shot because the tank that Micky was supposed to drive across the desert had broken down. The first Monkee we saw was Mike. He was having some tomato juice in the coffee shop with Bruce Barbour, Phyllis’ brother.

Mike was tired and explained why. “We were out on the desert almost all day and it was really hot. The treads on the tank had broken so new ones had to be flown in from Hollywood. By the time they arrived it was too late in the afternoon to shoot any more scenes.”

Mike was wearing his usual blue jeans and boots, but his hair was especially well-groomed for being on the desert in the sun. His career is branching out because he just sold his first album, one he produced himself, to MGM-Verve records. It will be out in a few months. He said we’d have to hear it, but admitted it was a “different kind of music than you’d expect.”

Bruce, Phyllis’ brother, told us Phyllis had been down with Mike the day before but had to return to Hollywood because of little Jonathan. She loved the Palm Springs sun, though, and hoped to come back soon. Lucky Bruce gets to be Mike’s stand-in for the whole movie.

After sympathizing with Mike about the day’s bad luck we headed for our rooms which were directly across the lawn from Davy’s. Davy took time out from playing lawn soccer with Neko Chohlis to say “Hi.” He was in great spirits because he hadn’t worked at all that day. Neko and Davy had spent the whole time just swimming and laying in the sun with Peter, who also got the day off.

Davy was wearing white slacks and his favorite Indian rajah coat which you’ve seen many times in Monkee Spec. He told us all about what he’d done since he arrived.

“Neko and I got here early yesterday and didn’t miss a minute of sun. We went driving over the desert in a four-wheel drive jeep. Man, you should have been with us. It knocked down everything in its way… just like a tank. Pretty rough riding, though.

“Then we came back to the hotel and played water polo with Ric Klein and David Pearl. Next some tennis and then lawn soccer. Micky was out flying around in a one man glider all day. He’s really got the flying bug.”

Davy told us everyone was scheduled to shoot the next day at 6:30 in the morning so all the Monkees planned to have an early dinner and get some sleep.

That night Micky came back to the hotel so tired that he fell asleep without watching the Monkees TV show. He was the only one who worked the whole day, but he smiled and said, “I really had fun. That tank is groovy!”

Bright and early the next A.M. we all hit the dining room for a big breakfast. Micky arrived at 6:30 and claimed he was really hungry. He was wearing beige cords and a slip over white knit shirt with brown stripes. He filled up his plate twice, eating a huge helping of corned beef hash, bacon, rolls, orange juice and cereal. He saw us zeroing in on his plate and admitted, “I’m still trying to gain weight.”

But when you spend some time with Micky, you’ll have to see why he’s so thin. Micky never sits still. He’s always moving, looking over someone’s shoulder or working on some project that requires energy. He’s full of pep, but this keeps him so thin that sometimes it’s a worry.

After breakfast we all headed out to the site of the location which was only about a mile from the hotel. The company, complete with cameras, wind machines, extras, wardrobe trucks, and dressing room trailers were parked on a dead end street. There were regular houses on the street which looked right across to the sand dunes where they were filming the movie. Fans from ages 2 to 13 stood in front of their own homes and watched the Monkees walk back and forth on their way to the shooting site.

Micky joked as he headed up one of the sand dunes to begin filming the tank sequence again, “It looks as though I’m the only Monkee in this movie.”

We stood and watched as director Bob Rafelson put Micky through his scene over and over again. Here’s what’s happening. Micky is out on the desert alone and along comes this tank. He signals it to stop and an Italian soldier comes up from inside the tank. The soldier waves his arms and yells at Micky to get out of the way. Soon, over the hill marches an army of Italian soldiers coming right for Micky. Director Rafelson shoots this scene. from all angles until he gets what he wants.

Micky is a real professional and does everything he’s told correctly. It’s getting pretty hot on the desert now and the clock shows 10 A.M. and still no sign of the other Monkees. We wonder what’s happening back at the hotel so decide to hop in the car and find out for ourselves. Micky goes along, too, since he’s finished with his part of the scene.

Just as we arrive back at the hotel, Mike is pulling away in his black Buick Riviera. It must be time for him to start shooting his scene. Sure enough, when we hit the pool area, who should be lying in the sun but Davy and Peter along with Neko and several girls who are staying at the hotel.

Davy waves and tells us to get in our suits and swim. “I don’t know when they need us on the set today,” Davy laughs, “so we might just as well make the most of it.” Davy already has a very good tan, but he never burns so he can lie in the sun as long as he wants. Peter, on the other hand, just can’t seem to get tan at all. He complains, “All I’m getting is more freckles. I never had freckles up until just a year ago. Now I have freckles on what used to be my hairline.”

Micky came running out of his room toward the pool asking, “Has anyone seen my bathing suit?” Davy said, “You can borrow one of mine, man.” Micky headed over to Davy’s room and disappeared yelling, “Thanks.”

When Micky came back to the pool he was wearing Davy’s beige bathing suit and it seemed funny that the suit would fit since Micky is so much taller than Davy. But actually, they’re pretty much the same size around the waist.

Peter, Davy, and Micky all dove in the pool together and swam for about 30 minutes. The guests at the hotel watched them diving and riding on each other’s shoulders. Peter has gotten to be quite an expert diver. He swam up to the side of the pool and pushed his hair all back from falling over his forehead. “This is the only time I look like my old self,” he laughed, kidding about his Monkee haircut. He’s very pleased with the new sideburns he’s grown for the film. They’re coming in very black and this is quite a contrast to his reddish brown hair. Micky’s hair is not as dark as it looks on the screen or in photos. It’s really a sandy colored brown. Also he’s not wearing it as curly as he once did and it looks very groovy.

Brendan Cahill came over the side of the pool where Davy was swimming and asked if he had time to do a tape recorded interview to be played on a radio station in New York. Davy nodded O.K., but then changed his mind. He was beginning to get impatient about his call for shooting and asked Brendan to hold off the interview until later that evening.

The boys were getting hungry so Davy ordered sandwiches and drinks for everyone and we ate by the pool. Mike had come back from location by now but he didn’t join the crowd. He ate in the dining room all by himself. During the entire time Mike seemed to be spending most of his moments alone. He’s not unfriendly, but he does do a lot of thinking and you have to be alone to think. When Mike walks he always looks down at the ground and keeps a serious expression on his face.

Davy started laughing with Neko about the card game they’d had the night before. “I lost again,” Davy admitted. “We watched the show together, then played cards and went to bed early.”

“I was too tired to watch the show,” Micky yawned. Peter said he watched but didn’t think it was one of their stronger shows.

By this time it is 12:30 and all the Monkees are told to be out on location by 12:45. Peter is talking to Micky about what would happen “if all the flowers on earth were wiped out what would become of the animals?” Peter likes to talk and he spends a great deal of time doing just that. He’s about as opposite in this way from Mike as you can get.

Micky heads away from the pool to get dressed for the shooting complaining that his nose is getting red from too much sun. “I don’t tan too easily,” he admits, “but my nose sure gets red!”

By one o’clock we’re all back in the sand dunes ready to shoot. Davy’s wearing tight yellow horsehide trousers with his bright colored rajah coat and a dark purple cowboy hat; Mike’s dressed in a white turtle neck sweater and dark trousers; Peter has on an orange shirt, dark green leg hugging slacks and beige knee-high moccasins; and Micky has on the same outfit he wore for the morning shooting.

Fans are clustered around watching every move closely. Peter has to have the makeup man work on him before he steps in front of the cameras. The other three Monkees aren’t wearing makeup today because the shooting is all outside. Micky is busy hopping all around talking to fans carrying a small yellow flower in his hand and generally seeing what every member of the crew is doing. He likes to check the camera angles, talk to the extras, watch director Rafelson plotting a scene and try out any new prop that might be used in the filming process. The other three Monkees aren’t as interested in the technical end of filming as Micky is. Mike likes to go riding in groovy custom cars while he waits to shoot his scene. Dean Jeffries has brought down some special cars to be used in the film and Mike keeps himself busy driving them around the location set. If he could own more automobiles he would buy them. Currently Mike has seven cars.

The scene being shot next is one in which the Monkees face a group of Arabs on top of the sand dunes. There are also Indians sitting on horses shooting arrows at the Monkees. Davy, Peter, Micky and Mike have a ball working in this scene. They seem to be enjoying themselves much more here than they used to on the set of the Monkees’ TV show.

It is about 3:30 P.M. as all the fans start to arrive. School has let out and the word that the Monkees are in Palm Springs is spreading. There are about 150 girls and boys watching the filming now. Whenever the Monkees are not in front of the cameras they come to the sidelines and sign autographs. Peter enjoys talking to the fans and kids them along about school, music, dating etc. Davy poses for many pictures with fans and Micky is still busy going from place to place and from activity to activity.

At 4:30 director Rafelson stops filming because a dust storm has begun and it makes the photography too difficult. The Monkees are happy because they can get back to the hotel and swim for a few hours.

Davy waves goodbye to the fans and the boys all get into the studio limousine and return to the hotel. It’s been an easy day for the Monkees and much, much fun for all their fans. And for us, too!

  • Davy Jones
    Info Lawn soccer is one of Davy’s favorite sports. He played this right outside of his hotel suite with Neko Chohlis. He had a lot of time off waiting for his set call.
  • Davy Jones
  • Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork
    Info Lucky young fan met Micky and Peter in the hotel’s swimming pool.
  • Info Where Monkees stayed in Palm Desert. This is Erawan Gardens Hotel.
  • Davy Jones
    Info Davy swims just like a fish. All the Monkees are good swimmers, but Mike doesn’t usually spend much time sitting around a pool. When the Monkees weren’t swimming, they were out on the desert riding in a jeep, singing songs in their rooms or playing lawn soccer.
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info Girl guests at the hotel enjoyed talking and swimming with the Monkees. Below, Micky chats about how he’s excited making full-length movie.
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info That’s Micky above crawling up a lonely sand dune. Micky worked more than the others in this location shooting in Palm Desert.
  • Info Indians as well as Arabs and Italian soldiers appear in movie.
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info [Above], that’s Micky emoting.
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info [Above], Micky does his tank scene. He really dug driving this groovy tank, but during the first day of shooting it broke down and the whole production had to wait a day.
  • Peter Tork
    Info Trying to tan in the warm Palm Springs sun is a groovy thing to do. Unfortunately, Peter has a very hard time getting a good tan. He’s beginning to get more freckles. His complexion is very fair.
  • Peter Tork
    Info Goofing off in the pool between takes, Peter and Micky talked about serious things like war and love. “It would help if your right arm was shorter than your left, in playing the guitar,” says Micky to Peter. These two always have great discussions.
  • Micky Dolenz
  • Mike Nesmith
    Info Mike in groovy car spent most of his time driving over the sand dunes. The car was brought to location by stylist Dean Jeffries.
  • Peter Tork
  • Davy Jones
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info Trying to gain weight, Micky eats as often as he can but if you watched his action for just one day you’d know why this is impossible. He moves constantly, checking out everyone and everything on the set. His interest span is so great that he keeps going from morning until way into late hours of the night.
  • Micky Dolenz
  • Micky Dolenz

[Scans by This Lovin’ Time]

Magazine: Monkee Spectacular
Editor: Ralph Benner
Volume: 1
Issue: 14
Publisher: Laufer Publishing Co.
Pages: 4–9