When the Monkees telephone or write to us, or even send those crazy-mixed-up tapes, there’s one special message that comes through loud and clear. And that is that they all have come to regard Britain as being very much their second home. Which is quite a compliment to us on our tight little Island, especially as the Monkees have covered most of the world in their travels.
Of course there’s every reason for Davy having this “I-Love-Britain” thing, because he was born here, but it’s also no secret that for a time he regarded America as being his real home—that was when he first made a big impression on the showbiz scene. Then he returned on a flying visit… and said: “There’s definitely no place like home.” Or words to that effect!
Why, then, are the Monkees so sold on Britain? Is it the scenery? The weather? Or what! The answers are revealed in what they say about us! Listen to Micky: “From the first time I got in to London, I felt at home. The people are friendly, courteous, real interested in what’s going on—and they don’t try to put performers down like they do in the States.
“When you go into a restaurant in England there’s a friendly atmosphere. Life hustles along in London like in Los Angeles, but it seems to me that the British people take more time out to be helpful and kinda give you a smile to help things along.”
Well, that’s one part of the explanation. But for Peter Tork most of the “feeling” about Britain comes from what he describes as “the air of history about the place”. We all know Peter is a bit of a loner, the sort of character who likes to get off on his own and discover the local landmarks for himself. Several times during his last visit to London he more or less got lost… wandered off without telling anyone where he was going.
He said: “I’m not putting America down, obviously, but there is that British heritage thing which knocks me out. You can see relics of a past that stretches back for ages and ages. I guess I’m a strange mixture… I live out my professional life in the hectic pop music scene but privately I like to read about the past and kinda wallow in the old days gone by. The airport at London is pretty much like any other airport, but once I get in a car and get near the centre of London… well, I really FEEL that I’m in a different country.
“One day I’m gonna take a few months off and just wander round the whole country, stopping off where I want and soaking up that atmosphere.”
See what I mean? These Monkees really are sold on Britain. Of course it works the other way… we’re sold on THEM. Mike keeps on talking about this “atmosphere” here, too. He says part of the love-Britain thing he has is that the language is the same as in America… “well, nearly the same,” he drawls. He owns up that a broad accent, be it Cockney or North-country, throws him a little—he has to have time to let his ears get attuned to pick up the different sounds. But he stresses: “It’s easy for me to make friends with British people. Somehow they seem so much less complicated than you find in the big cities in the States.”
Davy was the guy who started off the Monkees’ mania for our country. He regaled them with stories of life here, of how the people lived—it was rather like him giving a lecture on how the American Monkees should behave once they got here! His routine on how it was vital to eat fish ’n’ chips from a newspaper wrapping was somethin’ else! “You’re putting us on”, said the others. But they couldn’t wait to try our “national dish”.
And binding all the Monkees together is a very real, very genuine regard and love for the fans. Which means us. So everyone can now bask in a little reflected glory! Remember that when the boys first started coming to Britain, in trickles as it were, they didn’t KNOW in advance just how they were going to be accepted.
But from the first appearance at London Airport all was well. Recalls Micky: “The fans were so patient, so understanding. It’s not like that in a lot of different countries. But in London, when we were there for the concerts, fans waited around pretty well all night. Just for a glimpse. It makes us feel good. Feel wanted. And that’s good for the soul.”
Whenever Monkee plans are discussed, a visit to Britain comes high on the agenda. We know that they are terribly busy, but they WILL be back—and that’s for sure. Their hope is to go right round the country, playing at key centres.
It’s too much to hope that they’ll ever actually LIVE here. But surely it’s enough to know that they all, each and every one, regard Britain as being truly a second home. And I think we can all give ourselves a pat on the back for having created the atmosphere which Davy and Peter, Micky and Mike love so much.