I’ll let you into a bit of a secret about Micky Dolenz. Of course we all know about his zany, goon-like, mad-cap personality which fairly bubbles through whenever he’s in front of the public. But like most natural-born clowns, there is a very serious side, too. And when you’re chatting him up on the phone, you never know what mood he’s going to be in.
Sometimes it’s a mistake to open up the conversation with a couple of quick jokes, because it could be that Micky just isn’t in the mood… and wants to talk seriously and pensively about things. I learned that lesson when I first started doing these monthly phone-calls to the boys. I learned, in fact, to let him do the talking first of all so that I could judge just how he was feeling.
Right, then, that’s set the scene for this month’s phone call. As usual with Micky, the call came through pretty well on time. He’s got a surprisingly good memory, has Micky, and he hates letting people down. Actually the telephone bell went off so suddenly that I misjudged picking up the receiver, juggled with it and felt awful as I dropped it with a resounding crack on the table. Micky was on right away…
“Hello, Jackie—you okay? Just heard something that sounded as if your ceiling had fallen in or something equally tragic. You okay?”
Me: Fine Micky… I guess I was just a bit over-excited.
“Well, I wondered at one time whether I was gonna get time to call you. There’s so much action going on over here in the Dolenz household what with plans for the baby an’ all and I’ve got this feeling that I want to move house, which is not the easiest thing in the world to organise.”
Me: Move? But I thought you’d settled in nicely, Micky—and I know you’ve done a great deal of work to your home, What’s happening?
“I dunno, Jackie, it’s just that there are some things about the attitudes of people here in California that kind of turns me off. I guess it’s all to do with the political scene and these people with intolerance in their hearts and well, it’s hard to just analyse. Right now, nothing’s fixed, but I’ve been kicking over ideas with Sammy that a change might be a good thing.
Me: But it would obviously be a big wrench to leave your present home.
“Of course it would, I’m not so much a night-clubber these days and I’ve got things pretty well organised here. You’d be surprised how relaxing it is, specially after a long day in the television studios, to get home here and maybe build something with my own hands. I suppose there’s a creative thing inside me, because I just love to get out into the workshop and use the lathe and knock up maybe a wooden ash-tray or a flowerbowl. Somethin’ like that. It relaxes me, Jackie, and that’s very important, you know, when you think how we’ve been rushing round the world in the past year or so.”
Me: I understand, Micky. Do you ever do much reading these days?
“Not as much as I’d like. But there are piles of things like magazines all over the house—I’m not the most tidy person in the world. But honestly I don’t even buy too many of the show-business papers—I can relax much more by buying stuff like ‘Popular Mechanics’ or ‘Science Illustrated’. It takes me off into another world, a world where people learn to make things, build things, for themselves rather than just go off into the shops and buy them. I have to know how things are made and how they work.”
Me: But if you did move house, would you take all that equipment with you?
“Sure would. My recording studio, for instance, is a very proud possession of mine. Electronic things interest me… like my Moog. Oh yeah, you know about a Moog? It’s like a computer for sounds… you feed things in and it programmes all kinds of effects. I’ve got more equipment in the cinema section, too—get the gang over and they all sit round on cushions and watch movies, maybe like ‘Alice in Wonderland’. We don’t stand on ceremony in the Dolenz home, you know… everybody just comes over to relax and use the place like they’d use their own home.”
Me: And the Monkees as a group—any news?
“Well, I think you are probably as up-to-date as I am right now. Every so often we get these big upsets, like Peter not being around any more, but we’re very much aware of our responsibilities. A lot happened in a short time and for every team like us there has to be a breathing space. Say, I think I’ll one day become a laser scientist—how about that?”
Me: A WHAT?
“You know, a laser expert. People are researching on it right now. It’s a form of light production which can cut through things. You can use it for anything—from warfare to maybe a delicate brain operation. Maybe that sounds like a joke to you, but I often go off in flights of fantasy about being a real important scientist. You know, actually discovering something that can help humanity.
“But I’ll get back to the Monkees, ’cos I know you have to find out about everything. Well, we figured that we were completely free to make our own decisions but it simply doesn’t work out quite like that. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I can’t go into this in detail, Jackie, but unfortunately there is always some kind of backroom politics for any show-business team. So let’s put it this way—if sometimes it seems that things aren’t happening quick enough for you, and believe me we do appreciate your interest, well… if you can only be patient I’m sure you’ll find that things will always work out in the end.”
Me: Sounds a bit mysterious, that.
“Yeah, I know Jackie. But let’s get onto other things. Do you think much about religion and things like that? I do—much more now than I used to do. You probably know that my folks are strong on Christian Science. Well, I don’t go all the way on that but one of the things that gets me unsettled, like this moving house idea, is that I just don’t like war, no matter at what level. I talk to people with different ideas, just so I can learn more… the more different sides you hear the more likely you are to go in the right direction yourself. Maybe it’s being married, and you know the father bit but I feel instinctively that I’m a much more serious guy right now.”
Me: Anyway we’re seeing quite a lot of you on television these days.
“Me? Oh sure, I remember that old Corky the Circus Boy series. Hmmm… I feel a bit embarrassed about that, but they told me it was getting a whole re-run on television in your country. Well, let me just say this. At the time I made it, it represented a big break for me. But any similarity between that blond-haired smiler and the Micky Dolenz of today is purely co-incidental. I saw some of those old films myself the other day and I just about squirmed in my seat I was that embarrassed. I guess anybody in the same position would feel that way, though. Why some of the early Monkees’ editions don’t exactly knock me out right now.”
Me: Anyway, Micky, please send our love to all the others and, believe me, we can’t wait until you come back to visit us.
“Thanks a lot, Jackie—our love to all the fans wherever they may be. As usual, it’s been real nice talking with you—why you sound as if you are just in the next block.”
Me: Huh, I just wish I was in the next block. It’s freezing cold here…
And Micky was gone. No funny voices, no crazy jokes—this was the serious side of Micky almost all the way through. Know something? I think I love him even more when he’s in this mood!