The Inside Story on the Far East Tour

Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Peter Tork
Info The Monkees answer questions at their first-ever Australian press conference.

It was, as the Monkees themselves say, one tremendous, memorable, fascinating trip. The boys, plus their entourage, went to Australia, then Japan breaking new ground and bringing great joy to a few more million fans. One could write a book about what the Monkees saw and did, even though it was a fairly shortish tour.

But we haven’t got a whole book to spare. So here are some of the highlights, compiled by the boys themselves… and passed on to readers of Monkees Monthly with love from Davy and Mike and Peter and Micky. Ready? Off we go.

They flew from San Francisco, by Quantas Airways, and stopped off in Fiji for a short while before arriving in Sydney, Australia. And at Fiji were the national drill team colourful characters who wear navy blue skirts. Maybe you can remember them from State occasions when they’ve often been in the news.

Peter Tork
Info [Above]: Peter waves to a crowd of fans on the opposite side of the street facing their Hotel.

Well, Peter got them all to do the “V”-for-peace sign. He started it off and they followed on. That was quite a sight, believe us. But on to Sydney, a city literally afire with enthusiasm for the Monkees. Literally afire? Well, the boys were greeted with fireworks and sparklers, as well as banners and flags… and that despite the fact that it was shortly before breakfast-time when they actually arrived!

A short flight to Melbourne and there they were, ready for the first two evening concerts at the 6,700-seater Festival Hall. But getting to the centre of Melbourne from the airport was a pretty amazing scene. An eight-mile journey, yet there were people lining the route at every part of it. Not exactly ten deep, mind you, because Australia has a comparatively small population… but at every point there was SOMEBODY.

Mechanics in overalls poured out of the garages and workshops, to give the Monkees the thumbs-up sign as the motorcade moved past. And 2,000 pupils from the convent came out, all in special uniform, to wave to the boys and cheer them on. The nuns came out too, to add to a very colourful occasion.

Press conferences all the way, of course. Wherever the boys go, journalists gather to tempt them into talking about world affairs as well as show business. But the Aussie conferences are, by common agreement, rather tougher than in other countries

So the boys had to take turns talking about such subjects as drugs and Vietnam and world peace and the like. As ever, they came out of the ordeal well… ad-libbing among themselves and obviously making a lot of sense to the assembled newspapermen.

But a word or two here about the actual concerts. Australian teenagers like pretty much the same Monkee music as fans in America or Britain. Where they are different, though, is in what they throw on stage to the boys during shows. Most other places they throw rings, or autograph books or sweets. But the Aussie fans threw up paper streamers and lots of beads—love-beads, I mean—made up in rows and rings.

Davy Jones
Info [Above]: Davy pictured on the roof of the Sydney Hotel they stayed at during their Australian tour.

On stage, it goes without saying, the boys were in tremendous form. They all had suits specially made for the tour, with Mike the most colourful in a jacket made out of the United States flag which he wore for his special solo spot.

Those shows were triumphs and then it was back to Sydney, with a bit of time to spare before the shows at the 11,000-seater Sydney Stadium. Most of the party went out shopping… to a place where they sold “antique clothes”. Weird stuff but the boys were specially sold on some incense and candles, which they carted back to the hotel… the Sheraton Motor Hotel, a plush establishment in Sydney.

This meant that the hotels had lower-than-usual electricity bills for a while because the boys lit the candles in their rooms and relaxed in an aura of incense. Trust them to come up with something a bit off-beat to greet all the visitors to their suites.

Funny things happened too at the shows. This Sydney Stadium, a super-massive place, has a revolving stage, which is one of the highlights of most shows there. But there was such a shower of paper streamers for the boys that the paper gummed up the works and it took a posse of technicians to free the stage and let the show go on.

Pause here to explain that the Cherokees, a five-piece Aussie group with hit records of their own, did the backing for the Monkees on stage… and earned high praise and thanks from the boys. The other group on the bill were Marcy Jones and the Cookies, four Australian girls who also went down well with the huge audiences.

Right near the Hotel Sheraton was what the Americans call an R and R Centre, which is actually a rest and recreation centre for the U.S. Forces. Staying there, on vacation, were quite a few soldiers fresh from fighting in Vietnam. Again, Peter came up with one of his special ideas. He hung a big “PEACE” sign out of the window of his suite and spent a lot of time giving his “peace” signals in the general direction of the Service depot.

At Brisbane, the boys stayed at Lennons Hotel… NOT named after the Beatle of the same name, by the way. The shows there were at the 4,500-seater Festival Hall where again two shows on a Monday evening were sold out ages before the boys even arrived.

Phyllis Barbour Nesmith, Mike Nesmith, Samantha Juste Dolenz, Micky Dolenz
Info Above: Phyllis and Samantha, with husbands Mike and Micky in Australia.

From Brisbane, the party split up for the leisure hours. On one occasion, Davy and Rick Klein and David Pearl drove fifty miles up the coast to the spectacular Surfers’ Paradise—where they enjoyed the scenery and strolled happily along the wide sandy beaches. They also found a fish ’n’ chip shop, English style. Davy explained how great this delicacy was… and Rick and David agreed. A nice relaxed evening, while most of the others stayed in the hotel.

Oh yes, they also went to a big animal reserve and bird sanctuary and Davy went off alone to look over some botanical gardens.

Adelaide was next on schedule, with shows at the 3,000-seater Centennial Hall. And it was here that Phyllis Nesmith flew in from Los Angeles for a happy reunion with Mike. The Nesmiths went to a game reserve with Micky and Samantha, which gave Micky a chance to show off his Goon-type sense of humour. What happened was that there were a lot of kangaroos around… and two of them were engaged in a boxing match! Micky, moved in to break up the fight, rushed after them and ended up chasing kangaroos all over the place.

  • Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz
    Info Above: Davy and Micky get ready to shoot the kangaroos with their cine-cameras when they visited a game reserve near Adelaide.
  • Micky Dolenz
    Info [Above]: Micky kept his left eye screwed up for so long he forgot to open it again when he glanced away from his cine-camera, which looks like a really proffessional [sic] job.
  • Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz
    Info [Above]: Mike tries to persuade Micky’s koala bear to eat some eucalyptus leaves.

Said Micky: “I’d give anything to take a kangaroo home with me to America.” He’s still making plans to “import” one. But the party, the two married couples, also fell in love with koala bears, a sort of animal symbol of Australia. Furry, cuddly little things with twinkling, expressive eyes. Both Sammy and Phyllis wanted one each… but not even a Monkee could do anything about that. For these bears are in very short supply… in danger of becoming extinct, in fact.

However a fan gave Mike a big stuffed koala bear, made out of kangaroo-skin, which he instantly named Nelson. Mike really fell for this souvenir and took the bear everywhere with him… to bed, on stage, on the plane… everywhere. Some of the others tried to kid him along, by “nicking” the bear, but Mike developed a sort of intuition about Nelson and always knew exactly where he’d been hidden. Maybe he did it by smell!

Back in Sydney, most of the party visited some discotheques, like “Hear” and “The Whiskey”, but the difficulty was getting out of the hotel—there was only one entrance and fans were gathered round it from dawn to dusk. The Monkees are pretty good at solving security problems, but even they can be defeated sometimes.

And the next exciting step was the move to Japan…

But this flight was full of danger. The boys’ plane ran smack into a typhoon which had sprung up in the area. They stopped on the way at Manila in the Philippines and were given the alternative of either staying on there or getting on a plane to Hong Kong. If they stayed it meant having some unpleasant cholera injections, so they moved on to Hong Kong, caught up with the tailend of the typhoon… and had a very bumpy hour or so in the air.

At Hong Kong, knocked out to be on Chinese soil as it were, they sent postcards home. And then on to Tokyo, where ten thousand fans were massed at the airport… on the roof, out of every window, just a mass of Japanese faces which lit up with pleasure at the first sight of the boys. The concerts also were in 10,000-seater halls, and later on to Osaka from Kyoto on that amazing 150-mile “bullet” train developed in Japan.

Only problem in Japan is that the left-wing element politically are very anti-American. In fact, there were threats uttered that somebody would kill the Monkees… but the boys kept plugging on and didn’t let it worry them. Because of crowd problems, however, most of their shopping was done in the hotel rooms… local stores sent big selections of goods, like silks and fans, up to their rooms. But some of the party also went on shopping trips to the ginza (like a trade arcade) and Rick Klein went to the schinjuku, the local beatnik area—not exactly the most pleasant place in the world.

Tours were arranged round the Nikon camera factory and round the Honda motor (car and cycle) organisation. Incidentally Micky bought a very powerful microscope and he and Mike spent the rest of that evening looking at slides of bugs and hairs and droplets of blood which they got by pricking their own fingers.

In Japan, they were backed on stage by five Japanese boys known as the Floral, and one of the concerts was televised for future showing. There was plenty to see in Japan. And plenty of fans to make it a truly memorable visit.

But all good things have to end. The boys and their entourage left Japan on a Tuesday at 8.30 a.m. And arrived back in Los Angeles at 7.30 a.m. the SAME DAY! Funny how time differences work out… half-way round the world and yet you get home earlier than you left!

Magazine: Monkees Monthly
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Issue: 22
Publisher: Monkees Monthly
Pages: 4, 7, 10, 13, 26