The Difficult Art of Being a Monkee

Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones

Read on and see why it isn’t always groovy being famous!

Groovy things happen to the Monkees—everyone knows that. They get fame, fortune and travel. Except for the ground rules laid down by Screen Gems when they are filming something, they can do almost anything they want.

Like, if Peter suddenly decided he wanted to visit the North Pole on a vacation, he could—providing he got back in time for shooting or a tour.

But sometimes, the Monkees can’t even eat dinner in peace. And when that thought sinks into your brain, you begin to realize that being a Monkee can be a difficult art!

Davy Jones

Take for instance the Grammy Award Presentations in Hollywood back in March. All the Monkees showed up except Peter. Davy was with a girl named Linda, Mike and Phyllis were there and Micky attended with Samantha.

They all sat at a round table—but then all the tables were round—at the far end of the huge California Room of a plush hotel-convention center called Century Plaza. Though the Monkees had obviously been seated at that table to keep them somewhat out of the way of traffic, it looked like a Los Angeles Freeway at 5 p.m. once the guys sat down.

The minute they arrived, photographers and reporters all but ran over to their table to peek and stare and take pictures. In fact, light bulbs were flashing so rapidly it actually seemed like high noon in their corner.

Peter Tork

Now look at it from the guys’ point of view. It’s nice to get attention, but not after you’ve spent an entire day—about 12 hours—on a movie set. They were really tired, and they all looked it.

They had to go to the presentations whether they wanted to or not because some of their songs were up for awards and in Hollywood it’s considered extremely bad manners not to show up—unless you’re a Beatle, perhaps. Anyhow, the Monkees had to rush home from the set, scrub off their make-up and get dressed up once more so they could sit at an awards presentation until midnight or so.

It might not have been so bad if they hadn’t been on camera, so to speak, all night long, too. The minute they pulled up in their cars, the photographers were all lenses, shutters, flash bulbs and light meters.

Micky Dolenz

And just imagine trying to keep your cool all the time! Not only can a Monkee not frown or even look bored or puzzled at the proceedings, he has to smile 24 hours a day. To top it off, some bright young starlet probably just stepped on his toe and he can’t even flinch. After all, just think what it would look like to have a big photo of a Monkee frowning while some lovely young thing was standing on his right foot. Every paper in the country would probably run it—and that would be only a little embarrassing!

But back to the story. After the Monkees had fought their way through the crowds and finally collapsed at their table, they discovered their problems had just begun.

Have you ever tried to eat a salad before 1,000 eyes or cameras? It’s not easy. Everyone at the Monkee table had to keep his mind on the fact that each bite was liable to wind up being photographed—and nothing looks worse than seeing a picture of yourself in a paper while you were trying to maneuver a tomato slice into your mouth, or try not to leave cracker crumbs all over your portion of the table. Doesn’t do much for the appetite.

Mike Nesmith

But perhaps the hardest part of the whole difficult art of being a Monkee is that you can’t always say what you think. Well, you can, but because you’re a Monkee people don’t let your remarks slip by lightly.

When Davy Jones was reading off the nominations for Best Documentary Recording Of The Year, he came to “Open Letter To My Teenage Son” by Victor Lundberg, and most teens know what they think about that!

Well, so did Davy and when he had to read the title off as one of the nominees, he just couldn’t take it anymore. Right before hundreds of people, he thought about it for half a second and finally blurted out, “And I hope it doesn’t win!”

Well, if anyone else had said the same thing, probably no one in the audience would have said a word. But a Monkee! People just couldn’t believe it and they started whispering and talking and Davy probably wished he could take back his words.

So the difficult art of being a Monkee demands that you watch your tongue at all times.

After the presentations, all the Monkees probably wanted to do was go home and go to bed—it was midnight and they had to be up at least by six if not earlier.

But they had to smile and wave to photographers and not look too disappointed when they lost out to other singers in the categories for which their songs were nominated.

It was a pretty tiring evening for all concerned. And it wasn’t particularly unusual either. The Monkees have to go through that sort of thing more often than they’d like. The difficult art of being a Monkee is sometimes enough to want to make all four of them take a vacation to the North Pole, and stay forever!

Magazine: Monkee Spectacular
Editor: Ralph Benner
Volume: 1
Issue: 15
Publisher: Laufer Publishing Co.
Pages: 44–45